Something I would like to know about David Olusoga

Those who grew rich on slavery and the slave trade were not neutral and no achievement or act of philanthropy justifies airbrushing their involvement from history. This is because forgetting slavery means forgetting its victims. As a nation, we still have only a dim understanding of the slave system that funded Sloane’s collecting. Ironically, one of the sources we can turn to in order to learn more is his own accounts of late 17th-century Jamaica.

The system he witnessed and wrote about was one in which human beings were worked to death. One in which enslaved people suffered and even died from malnutrition, as the economics of the slave trade meant that it was cheaper, at times, to starve people and then replace them than it was to provide them with food.

Sloane witnessed and later became part of a system ruled by terror. He saw how enslaved people who had risen up were burnt to death, castrated or mutilated, punishments he regarded as “merited”. In the system that made Sloane wealthy, black women sought out herbs, plant species that he carefully identified and categorised, and used them to induce abortions, determined as many were not to bring into the world children who would be born items of property and destined to live short, brutalised lives.

Olusoga is of – half – Nigerian descent. Various among the societies that were agglomerated into Nigeria were more or less involved in that slave trade from the supply end. Which of those societies does Olusoga’s ancestry come from?

Reasonable estimates have some 50% of the inhabitants of the Sokoto Caliphate – as late as the late 19th cent – being slaves….

This is indeed tu quoque. But it is Olusoga who keeps insisting that it’s the Brits who are uniquely responsible…..

57 thoughts on “Something I would like to know about David Olusoga”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Olusoga was born in Lagos to a White mother and a Nigerian father – who, I hate to say nautrally, did a runner. So he calls himself a Geordie. His exposure to Nigerian culture seems quite limited.

    He also studied at the University of Liverpool and so benefits from slavery as much as anyone else.

    I assume he is not very bright and Race Hustling is very lucrative.

    (As the first person to mention the Sokoto Caliphate … ahh, forget it.)

  2. The thing we British are ancestrally responsible for is beginning and continuing to pursue the extinction of the sordid business of slavery.

  3. It’s a shame
    He seems to be an interesting social historian and his TV series on the occupants of a single house over the centuries is very good, although I suspect a lot of the research is done by others

    I look forward to an even handed expose of the entire slave trade from birth to capture, imprisonment, sale, transportation, arrival, sale, treatment and life while enslaved as well as the UK’s role in stopping it

    But it won’t be on the BBC, and he won’t be writing it I fear

  4. @smfs
    Good point, I wonder how he squares the obviously comfortable living he has writing, opining and broadcasting about slavery with his principles

  5. “it was cheaper, at times, to starve people and then replace them”
    Presumably there were normal times when food was cheap that you fed your workers and didn’t seek to replace them in the way Olusoga means. So there were times when food was expensive, we can call those shortages or famines. How does importing new labour from West Africa solve the food shortage in the West Indies? I just don’t really get what Olusoga is saying.

  6. We could just cut to the chase, and impose a reparations tax on anyone who is descended from from anyone who did something, er, wrong.

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    One in which enslaved people suffered and even died from malnutrition, as the economics of the slave trade meant that it was cheaper, at times, to starve people and then replace them than it was to provide them with food.

    This seems rather unlikely. It does not take people long to starve to death – and slaves were paid for. It may have made sense for the SS to starve labourers to death. They did not pay for them and were going to kill a lot of them anyway.

    The economics of the slave trade may have meant that it was cheaper to work someone to death rather than allowing him a comfortable old age.

    But it is also likely that disease played a role. Slaves were crowded in a new environment with new diseases. The evidence of this is that “seasoned” slaves, those exposed to the environment, sold for up to 50% more than new ones.

  8. Britain should be proud of helping to stop (African to America) slavery, like the Republican Party and unlike the Democrats. But Muslims were enslaving white Europeans into Africa long before the Atlantic route, usually castrating the males. In America few were castrated, which is why there are now >40 million descendants there.
    In the UK it’s not white people enslaving blacks anymore, but Asians enslaving other Asians, as in Leicester’s clothing sweatshops.
    This ignorant fellow should study historical facts, rather than believing and repeating lies and half-truths.

  9. “Those who grew rich on slavery and the slave trade were not neutral and no achievement or act of philanthropy justifies airbrushing their involvement from history.“

    Like the Nigerian slavers who enslaved and sold the slaves, you mean? They are pretty much airbrushed from history, whereas the transatlantic slave trade seems to be wall-to-wall on our TV screens and in our school textbooks.

    Don’t even get me started on the Moors, Arabs and Ottomans…

    As for getting rich – many African tribes kept slaves and their societies did not get rich. So wherever the wealth came from, it wasn’t just slavery (or even mainly)

    Olusoga’s an alright presenter but a class A race hustler

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    Edward Lud August 30, 2020 at 9:12 am – “We could just cut to the chase, and impose a reparations tax on anyone who is descended from from anyone who did something, er, wrong.”

    I am happy with Olusogo paying reparations to himself. As would Beyonce.

    But as someone who is damaged by slavery – I have lived in racially mixed communities – and I am happy to see Obama and Kamala pay up.

  11. Thankfully the Woke have gifted us an all purpos3e response to this sort of crap.
    “”Writing in english is cultural appropriation so STFU”

  12. Oblong,
    ” – many African tribes kept slaves….”
    I know. My great, great, grandfather was one. Shipwrecked off the coast of Africa, he, and other survivors, were taken by an African tribe as captives. Some were sold to other African tribes and the rest kept as slaves. Two men managed to escape and were rescued, but not before my great, great, grandfather was beaten, starved and worked to death, his body thrown into the jungle for the animals and insects to dispose of. If Olusoga is looking for apologies or compensation for slavery, I am quite prepared to meet him, accept his apology, togehr with cash, cheque or even a postal order. I can then give him the details of other descendants, he can apologise to and compensate.

  13. I’ve always agreed that the Africans should pay reparations to the rest of us for dumping all those people they wanted to get rid of on us. But oddly enough, people like Olusoga haven’t given me the cash yet.

    Instead the racket still goes on with endless boatloads of illegals swarming into Europe. Needless to say they should pay us reparations for this too.

  14. Under English law, damages are assessed as being that amount needed to restore them to the position they would have been, had the event claimed against not occurred. Just how much should Olusoga receive?

  15. No doubt life expectancy of a slave was shorter than that for a free man. But any planter who deliberately starved his slaves to death would quickly go bust. It costs money to replace them and after a famine the price of slaves would rise.

    Jamaicans and Nigerians used to hate each other. I doubt that they are now firmly united in a common cause. The race obsessed Department of Education goes to considerable lengths to distinguish Caribbeans and West Africans.

    All in all your typical West African is far more likely to have ancestral connections to the slave trade than your typical Brit.

  16. Sugar plantations were bad. They deliberately bought skewed – mostly male – gender balance. Thy did not try to grow or raise the next generation. 7 years was the average working lifespan so it is said.

    Cotton was a completely different slave economy. One of the reasons why the American and Caribbean experiences were very different. Very little sugar on the mainland.

  17. Nautical Nick

    Well one economist has worked out the amount to be paid (although not on a damages basis, when one imagines blacks might end up paying whites, but on a close the wealth gap basis):

    A renowned economist has said that $12 trillion should be afforded to black Americans in reparation for slavery to help the close wealth gap.

    Duke University professor, William Darity Jr, and writer, Kirsten Mullen, jointly published a report for The Roosevelt Institute, an American liberal think tank, laying out a case for slavery reparations.

    Prof Darity and Ms Mullen outline that to eliminate the existing Black-White wealth gap an allocation of between $10 trillion and $12 trillion, or about $800,000 per black household, should be paid.

  18. Is slavery bad?

    Olusoga unloads all sorts of characterizations. They are stupid false for America. Tim says there might be some truth to them for the Caribbean.

    Why are these characterizations needed? Slavery is bad or it isn’t. If one disproves his assertions would slavery then be okay?

    His rhetoric is to inflame the reader. Pretty much everybody in the West is against slavery. Inflaming the reader has no purpose relative to slavery. It’s been banned for two centuries in Britain. Over 150 years in America.

    He is a Cultural Marxist trying to destroy the West. He writes to inflame white guilt, so that you will ACCEPT destruction of your culture. He talks about slavery because YOU care.

    Sooner or later, we whites are going to have to take a stand, and say we ain’t taking this any more. The good news is that Black Lives Matter may be that trigger.

  19. I have that estimate saved and ready to be critiqued as part of a larger project. Man’s a loon. He’s insisting that a household headed by a 21 year old black should have the average wealth of all white households. You know, entirely ignoring lifetime effects?

  20. That’s fine, BraveFart. Though I don’t know where we’d get $12 trillion in Confederate currency. Guess we’d have to print it.

  21. Slavery within West African societies being different again – I don’t think the places with very high rates of local slavery were anything like the sugar plantations. Not to say it was “nice”.

    One issue about Westerners buying slaves via a chain of commerce that often ultimately involved Africans selling other Africans at traditional slave-trading locations (there was some slave-raiding by Europeans directly, but rarer) is that the extra demand distorted the market, led directly to more armed slave-raiding expeditions against rival tribes and so on. Again, not that these market forces absolve the sellers of a moral responsibility, but there is an argument occasionally deployed that slaves would have been slaves anyway. Some other buyer would have taken them if they weren’t shipped out, and Western (or Arab) traders were just changing the ownership and location, the sins of the slave-raiders being theirs alone to bear. But that ignores how the demand of outsiders led inevitably to far more supply being provided, so I don’t think the traders can be given a pass on this front either. Just means they weren’t alone in being in the wrong.

    The strongest argument I can see for reparations is not that white people bear some kind of ancestral blame. Rather that certain western states, still in existence therefore potentially still liable, regulated and indeed encouraged the development of both the transatlantic slave trade and the slave-labour economic systems of the colonies, at scales that were unusual in the long and varied history of slavery, and levels of brutality that stood out too. Arguably wrong in a “crimes against humanity” way (similar language of natural justice and universal morality indeed being used by the abolitionists and the UK itself when it tried to enforce a ban on the trade) that made it inherently illegal even when governments tried to put it on a legal footing. If there were African states with legal continuity to those political entities which established and encouraged the African slave markets, they would be on the hook too, but there’s a discontinuity due to colonialism and besides, everyone knows to sue the rich guy not the poor guy.

    Now I’m trying to imagine just what the strongest case for reparations might be, but even in this thought experiment it’s hard to see what the eligibility criteria for receiving payment should be, what sum should be due, how much proof is required of eligibility – not everyone will have a good set of family records etc. The point about slave descendants in Georgia being better off than descendants of slave sellers from West Africa is reasonably strong (though look back in everyone’s ancestry and you’re likely to find, far back enough, a mix of slaves, owners and probably traders too).

    There is an alternative argument that it is their ancestors who were wronged hence deserve compensation and as descendants they’re entitled to an inherited share (so their portion depends on how many slaves at what position in the family tree) plus interest, regardless of how well they’re doing now. Would also apply even if down a different family line there had been beneficiaries of the slave trade. If we went down this route there’d be goodness knows how much fun and games to be had with legal claims over the treatment of Irish by Cromwell, the clearing of the Highlands and so on, before you even get on to the globe-spanning imperial stuff. And I don’t think this is what reparations campaigners are calling for either, as I understand it their argument includes systematic legacy issues not just the period of slavery itself, so the harm relates more directly to them not just their ancestors. I personally don’t find that as convincing as the case that slaves themselves deserved compensation, and while there were strong political and practical reasons owners were compensated upon abolition but not their former slaves, it doesn’t leave a great moral taste in the mouth that ’twas so.

  22. MBE, do not entertain these people, not for one second.

    This is nothing to do with slavery or as with black lives matter, blacks being shot, and everything to do with a shakedown of the white man.

    If black lives really mattered these people would be protesting the 500 shot dead so far by predominantly black men in Chicago this year.
    If slavery really mattered they’d be campaigning for reparations from the blacks and arabs/moslems who were doing it long before the white man arrived in Africa and was far more devastating.
    By a Senegalese author: ‘The veiled genocide’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jxc5ENT8ajg

  23. So Much For Subtlety

    MyBurningEars August 30, 2020 at 11:52 am – “Slavery within West African societies being different again – I don’t think the places with very high rates of local slavery were anything like the sugar plantations. Not to say it was “nice”.”

    I do not see what is different between a plantation in Africa and a plantation in Virginia. Nor do I think that sugar is worse than cotton. Rather the constitution banned the slave trade and so it become economically worth it to make sure slaves lived longer.

    The rest of this looks like the usual white washing (so to speak) of African slavery. Africans had a demand for female slaves. They did not care much for adult males. I assume these were usually killed before Europeans turned up and bought them. Certainly they killed them casually – often for religious reasons. There is no reason to think that slavery was nicer in Africa.

    “is that the extra demand distorted the market, led directly to more armed slave-raiding expeditions against rival tribes and so on.”

    Sure. There is the Push argument and the Pull argument. Maybe Europeans did increase demand. But maybe they did not. After all, adult males were all but worthless – and demand for women might have been enough to drive the trade anyway. We do not know for sure.

    “But that ignores how the demand of outsiders led inevitably to far more supply being provided”

    That assumes an increase in demand. They may have been turning people they would have killed into a profitable commodity. We do not know enough to be sure.

    “at scales that were unusual in the long and varied history of slavery, and levels of brutality that stood out too.”

    Both of these need proof. The Sokoto Caliphate probably had as many slaves – and a lot fewer free men – as the Old South. There is no reason to think one system was more or less brutal than the other.

    The problem with slavery is that it left us with their descendents – and weak minded White populations. The Russians do not have these problems because they are not ashamed.

  24. Shouldn’t Olusoga be writing in Ubangi bantu-language? See, five years ago I wouldn’t have written a crass comment like that, but hey, times a’changing and as financially independent with some FU-money, I don’t have to worry about cancellation culture, LOL.

  25. “I don’t think the traders can be given a pass on this front either.”

    They’re dead, Jim.

    “Just means they weren’t alone in being in the wrong.”

    Wrong ?!?! Cheap ass presentism. You should know better.

  26. . . . at scales that were unusual in the long and varied history of slavery, and levels of brutality that stood out too.

    Absolute bollocks.

  27. @SMFS

    There’s a flaw in arguments of the form “frankly you should be glad I murdered your sister, since had I not done so, it’s quite possible – though we cannot be sure – that someone else would have tortured her then murdered her, which is even worse, so who’s the real criminal?” Which is that I still murdered your sister. And that still stands even if there really are a bunch of torturing murderers out there too.

    There’s no point pretending Europeans who profited from either the transatlantic slave trade or the use of slave labour in the Americas were somehow ‘doing a favour’ to the slaves involved, even if, as it happens but their owners could not have predicted, their surviving descendants ended up financially better off on average than the counterfactual of remaining in Africa. There’s an argument about judging people by the standard of their times, though even in the 1500s moral and religious objections to the slave trade had been made and the rationale of “crimes against humanity” is that some things are so abhorrent they could never truly be legal no matter what moral code the perpetrators justified themselves with. (I’m just presenting the case here – in reality there are obviously some big questions about the logic of Nuremberg etc, just as there are questions about how judges in Common Law occasionally summon up things as if they had always and forever been a part of the Law, albeit previously unrecorded, rather than something the judge just made up.)

    The strongest case I can see against reparations is not fundamentally a legal one but perhaps one degree abstracted the law – if we can litigate that, we can litigate a heck of a lot of stuff from centuries past, tie our legal systems up in knots with no obvious limits in sight. Would, say, Huguenot-descended South Africans suing France over the 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, or Cornish people suing HMG for the suppression of the 1497 Rebellion, “deserve” compensation? Both groups today, especially the former, could reasonably claim historic persecution has reduced their present income and wealth. Yet they’re so many centuries and generations removed from the crime, everybody involved with the decision-making is long-dead and while the responsible state still exists, in practice compensation comes from taxes paid by citizens who had no part in it all. Indeed in many cases, whose ancestors didn’t even live in France or England at the relevant time.

    Moreover it’s arguably unjust that only victims of still-extant states have a route to compensation whereas people from ethnic groups roughly contemporaneously massacred, enslaved and sacrificed by the Aztec Empire have nobody to sue. That’s before you get on to the Khoisan and the Zulus, the Carthaginians and Romans, the Vikings versus pretty much anyone else who lived within raiding distance…

    There’s a fundamental weakness with all theories of universal law or justice, which is that across time and space, the human conception of what is right and just seems to be extremely varied and rarely (to modern Western eyes) pleasant. Very often shaped by the political, technological and economic forces of the times – if the Western way of life had remained utterly dependent on Roman-style slavery, I’m not sure we’d ever have abolished it even amongst our own inhabitants. Nevertheless, we live in a society that generally regards slavery as an absolute and eternal wrong, and a grave one at that, yet which has historically (at least certain people and places, and including the state itself) benefited from imposing slavery on others. It’s an interesting exercise to consider, given we live within such a system, how or whether that contradiction can be settled. (“Britain expended blood and treasure on ending the slave trade, and thereby paid its moral debt already” is one way of trying to resolve it, but rather unsatisfactory at righting the wrongs done to those who had already fallen victim to the trade.) And even if you personally disagree with it, what would be the strongest argument for some form of legal settlement? I know there are posters on here who see stepping into their opponent’s perspective as a dangerous and pointless endeavour that gives undue worth to a viewpoint they despise, but purely as a mental exercise there’s usually something to be said for examining your opponent’s strongest argument instead of their weakest…

  28. @PJF

    Deliberately shipping that many people that far in order to participate in a newly-created society whose economic system was designed, pretty much from the ground up, around slave labour? That was at the least unusual, particularly from a West European perspective – bearing in mind the practice of slavery had pretty much fizzled out there. True that unlike certain other examples of slavery, you weren’t likely to be killed as part of a religious sacrifice or as part of your owner’s funeral. But there have been other societies with slavery where slaves had more autonomy and a greater chance of buying their freedom. Looking at what happened in Haiti or Jamaica or chunks of Latin America, I don’t find either “well, could have been much worse” or “what do you expect, Early Modern West Europeans, how could they have known better?” to be particularly convincing responses. I can’t see the point of denying it was all pretty awful.

    And yes, grand scheme of things, forced choice between living in a central Asian city about to be captured by ticked-off Mongols and an African tribal group about to be captured by profit-hungry slavers then fine, I take the latter hands down. But it’s still awful, even on a historical scale.

  29. All right, Mr Ears. You first.

    A fifty quid note in the hand of the first black bloke you encounter.

    Then the second. And the third, fourth, fifth, and so on.

    Get back to us when your sin/privilege is expunged.

    Get back to us when you’ve developed your historicalguiltometer

  30. @Lud

    I haven’t said anything about my personal sense of guilt or responsibility. As it happens, I don’t believe in “sins of the fathers” passing down the generations. Like I said, as a mental exercise, if I do my best good faith effort to imagine an argument for reparations, I reckon it would concern harms committed by the state (which unlike the slave traders and owners, is still about today) and an argument that it breached some alleged fundamental/universal doctrine of law so that even the state’s efforts to put the slave industry on a legal footing were null and void. I’m not even saying that’s a convincing argument, it has some very serious weak points, just that I reckon it’s a stronger one than a general appeal about current inequality.

    It’s entirely possible to think something was awful without feeling the slightest twinge of guilt or personal responsibility. Have you ever read the account by Ibn Fadlan of a Viking funeral in Russia? Full text must be online somewhere but there’s an extract at https://www.history.co.uk/shows/the-real-vikings/articles/eyewitness-to-the-vikings

    My first reaction, years and years ago, was “that’s awful”. Perhaps I’m a bit more culturally relativist these days, but just read it again, still absolutely awful. Not a big fan of the odd human sacrifice I’m afraid, even though I might just be of very partial Scandinavian descent myself. Do I feel like I had anything to do it? Like I need to hand my cash to the next lass of Rus descent I see, lest she remind me of some unlucky slave-girl that may or may not have perished at the hands of my maybe-ancestors? No.

    But I’ll tell you what, slavery and human sacrifice, still awful. Should almost go without saying – except of course that it doesn’t, since clearly not every culture has the same moral gut reaction to it that I do.

    And the transatlantic slave trade? Well what’s the point of pretending it doesn’t also induce moral disgust in me, just in case someone mistakes it for guilt, or an admission of liability?

  31. My great grandfather fought ‘to end slavery’ in a war. No member of my family ever owned slaves. I am of Ulster Scot heritage, who were originally John Knox’s Cumberland Presbyterians, VERY MUCH against slavery.

    So this race baiter can try his guilt trip on someone else. I have done nothing. My family did nothing. Even did something positive. That someone did something 200 years ago means double ought nothing.

    “I know there are posters on here who see stepping into their opponent’s perspective as a dangerous and pointless endeavour that gives undue worth to a viewpoint they despise, but purely as a mental exercise there’s usually something to be said for examining your opponent’s strongest argument instead of their weakest…”

    So how much have considered paedophilia? What do you think their stongest argument is?

  32. Tell you what, Mr Ears.

    Here’s a wine list.

    Get back to me in seven years, when you’re ready to order.

  33. I’d say this to Mr Olusoga. That he’s able to write this article is because he’s living in what is, by historical standards, a remarkably tolerant society. He’s welcome to pursue his line of thought but he should bear in mind that tolerance is, by its nature, in the gift of the powerful. And tolerance is not a given. It can be withdrawn. And he might not find the society withdraws it nearly as comfortable for him to live in. So my advice would be, for his own health, STFU.

  34. And this of course neatly addresses MBE’s arguments. We ain’t paying no goddam reparations & no-one’s gonna make us. Might, in this case, being 100% of the debating point.

  35. Gamecock:

    Consent?

    Used to be on a long-dead and much missed forum where the topics of debate ranged far wider than they do here (as did the viewpoints – I think it would be useful if us right-wing brexity mob didn’t chase off the sensible non-right-wing non-brexity types so much). But those were in those long-lost days when democrats and republicans could talk to each other and agree to disagree while both leaving the conversation a little the wiser. Anyway, I digress, we did have at some point, a gang of pedos turn up and put their case, reasonably, and were tolerated and conversed with.

    While I don’t think they persuaded anyone, they did shift perspectives a bit. Particularly as nowadays anyone who dares even look at someone a few days below the age of consent is believed to be an incorrigible nonce who deserves hanging, castration, or castration by hanging.

  36. @GC

    “That someone did something 200 years ago means double ought nothing.”

    To me personally, this is the thing. Shouldn’t matter whether some long-dead relative fought long ago for or against (not at all to disparage your ancestors GC, who all sound very sound) in terms of whether something’s ‘your fault’. I generally reckon ‘can’t blame me, my distant relative was on your side’ arguments are pretty weak since relying on a doctrine of ‘virtues of the fathers’ risks implicitly accepting ‘sins of the fathers’. (I suppose it makes a point about blame not being distributed homogeneously, or that a certain group of people shouldn’t be guilted just because they share the same colour of skin with another bunch of people you do think are guilty. But you need a different approach if you don’t think great-grandkids of the Confederacy are still fair game.) There’s probably more mileage in ‘my country, or at least its historical incarnation, fought against it’ – because unlike the actual people involved, the state is still around.

    I have a peeve about the BBC genealogical show “Who do you think you are?” which I don’t know whether has been inflected upon the Left Pond. Because it isn’t about who you are, it’s about who your ancestors were. And the fact you’re moved to tears by discovering for the first time a great-great-great-grandmother of yours was a prostitute single-mum with seven kids or a great-x5-uncle you had never heard of was imprisoned for murder, well, your utter lack of knowledge simply reveals how little you’ve been influenced by them, so you’re hardly discovering a new facet of yourself at all. Would the good professor really be so different if genealogical records could prove he had African ancestors who owned African slaves? That’s what I don’t like about the angle of Tim’s header. I suspect that whether records could prove it or not, it’s overwhelmingly likely to be true, especially since high-status individuals tend to make a bigger contribution to the gene pool. Pretty sure if you could, implausibly, trace my family tree through various not-very-literate eras you’d pass through at least one Anglo-Saxon who owned a bunch of Britons. Quite possibly slave-raiding Gaels before that.

    Re putting the argument for paedophilia – they actually gave Gide the Nobel prize for literature didn’t they? Long after he had published Corydon, his defence of pederasty. Not sure they’d do that with modern sensibilities mind you. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/André_Gide

    Less flippantly, Western countries are not of one mind when it comes to the age of consent – sex with a 14 year-old is legal in some countries, criminal in others (yes yes, paedophilia versus ephebophilia etc, you got me…). If you think 14 is the wrong decision for the boundary, a “better” argument is a rebuttal of the strongest case for 14 rather than a rebuttal of a straw-man version of it. Intellectually more convincing anyway – for practical and political purposes, demolishing a straw-man often makes a better video or audio clip while simultaneously making your opponent’s position sound stupid. Back in the heyday of blogging, perhaps ten years ago or so, there was a blogger calling him/herself “The Heresiarch” who enjoyed running against received opinions. Would probably have taken your suggestion as a challenge. Had a “vault” for the more inflammatory pieces. Was never entirely sure which bits were believed and which bits were just a fun bit of intellectual muscle-flexing – couldn’t all have been intended seriously since so many posts contradicted each other. Reckon they found commenters guessing which parts of a hypothetical argument were “meant” all part of the fun…

  37. @bis

    In many respects you’re one of the posters here whose views on morality I’m closest to – our personal moralities probably being quite far apart, but I recognise mine as very much the product of my upbringing and surrounding society and know enough about other places and times to realise just how contingent that makes them. I could just as well feel something else entirely, and I’m sceptical of all approaches to impose a supposedly universal, timeless – or even just coherent, that’s a challenge in itself – ethical system. (If the likes of SMFS believe Western society will fall apart without a return to traditional Christian-inspired values, I suggest they either don a pessimist’s crash-helmet or just cling on and enjoy the ride to Hell in their top-gear handcart.)

    Who is “fundamentally” right about reparations for slavery? Well the universe has a law of gravity but it doesn’t have a law of “should there be reparations”. Different people can argue the toss from different viewpoints and perspectives but in many ways their arguments pass each other like ships in the night, because they haven’t all got – nobody’s got – an absolute frame of reference to judge things with respect to. I still find arguing the toss, or watching others doing so, interesting – partly because it shows how the viewpoints are divergent, how many arguments are self-interested, what social, cultural and economic forces are at work behind it all…

    In the end, who’ll be “proven right” about the matter practically, in terms of what the outcome is and what the first drafts of history say? Whoever has the upper-hand in power – political, cultural, economic, military or whatever other form is decisive at that moment. Just as how in the 16th century the anti-slavery voices in Europe were overwhelmed, and in the 19th century the abolitionists won out.

    Purely speculatively, and as a matter of prediction rather than judging what’s best, it’s hard to imagine large-scale reparations ever being adopted in Blighty because the ratio of losers to winners with the vote (presuming eg British Asians would be ineligible for compensation) is going to remain unfavourable and the cost of reparations across the relevant parts of the old Empire (if you’re compensating British Jamaicans, presumably you’re going to compensate all the Jamaicans in Jamaica once you’ve accepted the principle) would be considerable. Wider “imperialism” reparations that include South Asia, China for the Opium Wars and so on, surely even more prohibitively costly, regardless of how effective the education system gets at making young Brits feel a vague sense of guilt about it all. In the USA? Don’t know if I would rule it out entirely because the demographics are different but it might need a change in the voting dynamics. If more African-Americans started to vote Republican and the Democrats felt they needed something radical to boost their offer, and had enough support from liberal whites and other groups to risk further losses among blue-collar whites, for example.

  38. MBE: The problem with the UK paying reparations is that people like Olusoga would have to pay their share of the greatly increased taxes. Of course if a rule was instituted that only people with white skins had to pay taxes, it might happen.

    I’d agree that attitudes in the UK are approaching that situation, but there’s still a long, long way to go yet.

  39. It’s very noticable how nobody’s mentioning that the Spanish Empire were doing this for several centuries before the British got involved.

  40. “Pretty much everybody in the West is against slavery. … It’s been banned for two centuries in Britain.”
    BZZZTT!! Over 1000 years in Britain. It died out with the Romans leaving, and its non-legality repeatedly reaffirmed from the reign of the early Normans onwards.

    “A renowned economist has said that $12 trillion should be afforded to black Americans in reparation for slavery to help the close wealth gap.”

    Surely the US has already spent much more than that on black Americans. What difference has it made?

  41. You’re right, MBE. This is a moral argument. For some peculiar reason – possibly because there’s a section of Western society has become very insecure about its own position – it’s being some credence. But morals are very transient things. Societies have what morals suit them. I can’t see this one surviving people being expected to dig into their pockets for a few trillion. Like I said before, tolerance is in the gift of the powerful. At the moment it seems to regarded as a “good thing”. It wasn’t always so & it may not be in the future. Blacks like Mr Olusoga – despite endlessly banging on about it – seem to overlook the fact that they are in a minority. Societies have had a long history of treating minorities harshly. Maybe someone should advise him to button his lip before he stirs up something he may not like.
    I’d say the same to the Black Lives Matter people. Or they may discover how little black lives do matter.

  42. “not at all to disparage your ancestors GC”

    I’ll disparage them. I was doing some genealogy research when I discovered my great grandfather was a well known member of the 18th Kentucky Infantry. Fought to STOP southern independence. Not good.

    “arguments are pretty weak since relying on a doctrine of ‘virtues of the fathers’ risks implicitly accepting ‘sins of the fathers’.”

    Fair point. I was uncomfortable using it. However, it applies to at least 80% of Americans. Olusoga is making an appeal to white guilt. The vast majority of Americans are not guilty. Whether they are too stupid to think of that remains to be seen.

    I brought up paedophilia to demonstrate that there are things not worth my time.

    “But those were in those long-lost days when democrats and republicans could talk to each other and agree to disagree while both leaving the conversation a little the wiser.”

    That was when the Democrats were still Americans. They are now CM scum and couldn’t care less about America. Even Bill Clinton had affinity for the USA. Obama had none.

    “Less flippantly, Western countries are not of one mind when it comes to the age of consent – sex with a 14 year-old is legal in some countries, criminal in others (yes yes, paedophilia versus ephebophilia etc, you got me…).”

    You are a sick MF.

  43. If you want to pay more tax, just write a cheque to HMRC and send it off. A covering letter would be a courtesy but probably not a necessity. Anybody can do this. I imagine few do.

    You can pay all the reparation for historical slavery related wrongs, real or imaginary, you want. There are probably a thousand organisations, “charities” and assorted grifters who would happily cash your cheque. What would happen to that money, who knows, but as its (or was) your money, that’s between you and your grifter of choice.

    If you are wracked with guilt, ashamed of your forebears, do it! Nobody will stop you, honest.

  44. @jgh

    “Over 1000 years in Britain. It died out with the Romans leaving, and its non-legality repeatedly reaffirmed from the reign of the early Normans onwards.”

    Definitely didn’t die out with the Romans. The Celtic version of slavery (which ran to quite a different model…) was still going on in the places the Romans didn’t reach. You might have heard of a Romano-British chap called Patrick, got enslaved and nabbed to Ireland? I haven’t the faintest idea whether slavery in the Roman controlled areas of Britain was more along the continental Roman model or retained Celtic characteristics.

    Welsh slave-raids into England continued until early Norman times. Anglo-Saxons had slaves. Vikings took slaves, including exporting Anglo-Saxons (you must have heard the quote “Non Angli, sed Angeli” about the English slaves being sold in Italy? Maybe heard of Saint Balthild, seventh-century English lass sold into slavery, exported to the Continent, served in a palace and ended up marrying the Frankish King?). Viking Dublin was a major slave-trading centre (English, Irish, Scots, anyone else they could get their hands on). The Westman Islands of Iceland have an interesting history in terms of European slavery – a major rebellion of presumably mostly Irish (“Westmen”) slaves was put down there in the typically brutal Scandinavian manner, hence the name, but in the 1600s the local inhabitants were themselves enslaved by Barbary pirates and taken to Algiers, from where a few were ransomed back and one wrote about the experience. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestmannaeyjar

    Slavery in England definitely continued for a couple of generations after the Norman Conquest and Bristol was a major export centre, though there were attempts to ban the export trade in particular (https://www.historytoday.com/archive/normans-and-slavery-breaking-bonds has some interesting quotes from the time). And the Domesday Book even counts slaves as a separate category below the “unfree peasants” (villans, bordars and cottars) – those owed service to a Lord who could order them to move about and could say yes or no to their proposed marriages, but unlike slaves he didn’t “own” them, couldn’t sell them, and they had property rights to at least a smallholding. Slavery didn’t last much longer for various reasons, fizzled out in a century or so, but we have the records to show it was still part of the system after twenty years of Norman rule: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/domesday/world-of-domesday/order.htm

    @GC

    Within the EU the two most common ages of consent are 14 and 15 (if I’ve done my counting correctly), though in some but not all cases that’s with additional restrictions on permissible age gaps. The UK, Norway, Benelux, Spain, Malta and Switzerland are, I believe, the only western European countries to set it at 16. The rest apart from Ireland (17, partly due to influence of aforementioned Patrick) set it younger. Now sixteen sounds about okay to me if you’re going to stick a limit somewhere, but then being British I suppose I’m more likely to think the system I’m accustomed to is normal and reasonable. Not sure how sick this makes me. If someone from Portugal or France wants to explain why their country has done a better job of getting the balance right, I’m open to hearing it.

  45. So Much For Subtlety

    BurningEars August 30, 2020 at 3:07 pm – “There’s a flaw in arguments of the form “frankly you should be glad I murdered your sister”

    But that is not the argument I am making. Although I would expect the Germans, and perhaps even the Japanese, to be happy they lost the war. They may not be happy about Dresden or Hiroshima but their lives are much better.

    My argument is that Africans were probably happily killing each other for women before the West turned up. That involved killing the adult men. Then the adult men became profitable too. That may have caused more violence. It may not. We do not know how great the demand for women was.

    “There’s no point pretending Europeans who profited from either the transatlantic slave trade or the use of slave labour in the Americas were somehow ‘doing a favour’ to the slaves involved”

    If the alternative was that they were killed? I think a case could be made. The German survivors of Stalingrad were sent to camps and most of them worked to death. But weren’t they lucky compared to the other Germans in Stalingrad?

    “Would, say, Huguenot-descended South Africans suing France over the 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, or Cornish people suing HMG for the suppression of the 1497 Rebellion, “deserve” compensation?”

    Hey, we do not even have to go that far. White communities suffer huge losses from Black crime. Hundreds of White women raped every day. By this logic, we ought to sue the African American community.

    “and while the responsible state still exists”

    That is arguable.

    “There’s a fundamental weakness with all theories of universal law or justice, which is that across time and space, the human conception of what is right and just seems to be extremely varied and rarely (to modern Western eyes) pleasant.”

    I am not so sure about that – although it is another argument. People seem pretty much agreed on what is right and what is wrong. The details of difference are fairly minor.

    “Nevertheless, we live in a society that generally regards slavery as an absolute and eternal wrong, and a grave one at that, yet which has historically (at least certain people and places, and including the state itself) benefited from imposing slavery on others.”

    That is not true. We pretend we do not like slavery but actually we do not like slave traders. It is a form of self-loathing. There is plenty of slavery about we just do not call it that. Britain was happy to force the Bevan Boys down coal mines. The best and brightest minds in the UK defended Stalin’s slavery. The world has seen more slavery since its abolition than before.

    “I know there are posters on here who see stepping into their opponent’s perspective as a dangerous and pointless endeavour that gives undue worth to a viewpoint they despise, but purely as a mental exercise there’s usually something to be said for examining your opponent’s strongest argument instead of their weakest…”

    That is a strawman argument at its best. No one has said we should not consider someone else’s viewpoint. Although the bottom line is that no Black person remembers slavery. Or anything to do with slavery. Not many remember anything about segregation either. They all get it from White people inciting violence. From “Roots”.

    What is their strongest argument? Whitey bad, give me cash?

    MyBurningEars August 30, 2020 at 3:31 pm – “Deliberately shipping that many people that far in order to participate in a newly-created society whose economic system was designed, pretty much from the ground up, around slave labour?”

    Designed? Who designed it?

    “True that unlike certain other examples of slavery, you weren’t likely to be killed as part of a religious sacrifice or as part of your owner’s funeral.”

    Or eaten.

    “But there have been other societies with slavery where slaves had more autonomy and a greater chance of buying their freedom.”

    Sure. Latin America for instance. Probably few other societies had as much chance of buying freedom.

    “But it’s still awful, even on a historical scale.”

    History is just one awful thing after another. There is no reason to single White people out for unique levels of criticism.

  46. @ Boganboy
    people like Olusoga would have to pay their share of the greatly increased taxes
    And, of course, being half white, he is only entitled to half the reparation payment.

  47. I’d say there’s enormous dangers in treating this as if it was some public school debating society gig. It doesn’t end with the parties saying “Well that was pleasantly intellectually stimulating, now let’s have a nice game of cricket” You’re opponents are not playing by the same rules as you are. Even discussing it gives your opponent’s arguments merit. You may concede a point here, a point there. They aren’t going to concede anything. It’s a replay of the ecology nutters & the trannies. They have a game plan & you’re falling for it. You lost those two.
    The argument isn’t whether historical slavery was right or wrong or who should accept responsibility for it. It happened. It isn’t happening now. (At least in our society) Get over it. The argument’s do you want to get shaken down for several trillion? No? Then don’t discuss it. ‘Fuck right off” As a winning debating strategy. It isn’t going to happen anyway. Make sure it doesn’t happen in the least costly way.

  48. ‘The argument’s do you want to get shaken down for several trillion?’

    I agree BIS. That’s why when the question is raised, I always point out that they owe me lots and lots of money.

  49. And, of course, being half white, he is only entitled to half the reparation payment.

    His black half can get the half-payment direct from his white half. David’s all done.

  50. Exactly, bis. You don’t have esoteric discussions with paedophiles any more than you would with serial killers.

    I learned the hard way. I had a girlfriend whose mother was a Nazi. “Everyone was.” Grew up in Quedlinburg. Married an American GI after the war. When I met her, ~1995, I started asking her questions about the war, as I thought she was a fabulous resource of information. I hadn’t gotten far when she stopped me cold, pointing out that her best friend, a 15 year old girl knitting beside a window in her house, was machine gunned by an American P-51 pilot. She had no interest in esoteric discussions of the war. It was far too real to her. She wasn’t interested in my academic pursuit.

  51. There is no reason to single White people out for unique levels of criticism.

    White people are unique in ending slavery across the world*. No other race / culture was willing and able to do that.
    It is a good deed that must not go unpunished.

    * the legal institution and pretty much the practice
    (and “white people” was pretty much the British)

  52. White people will take it. That’s why we get it. The people in Portland, Seattle and Kenosha are too decadent to fight back. Their cities, as well as their comfort, will rapidly decay.

    Kyle Rittenhouse, unlike the rest of their sorry asses, did something.

    Speaking of decadence:

    “Country Star Kacey Musgraves: Voting for Trump ‘Is an Act of Violence’”

    That “star” stuff won’t last. Flyover Americans aren’t going to take it.

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