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Do Americans Think That Britain Had Slavery Like They Did?

Started by Dr Rock, August 06, 2022, 10:23:48 AM

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Dr Rock

Quote from: Video Game Fan 2000 on August 06, 2022, 01:37:09 PMThe mythology I'm talking about is dependent on the idea that progress is tied to social order and a cheerily maintained hierarchy. Ideologically I think it depends on making England exceptional within the British Isles as Britain is exceptional in the world. There's probably a lot of "body politic" stuff still kicking around, with southern English cities as the leader or head of the nation and the rest as the muscle and backbone. England's supposed stewardship or industrial driving of the other British nations allegedly mirror how Britain as a whole was somehow responsible for the fate of the entire world. Hey Ireland, Scotland and Wales: you have your place at the head of the great system, so understand that other nations have their place in the wider order. So don't lets have you express any sympathy for Indians or or Africans. You speak our language, don't you? Which is another point: the focus we've had over last decades on "national identity" English v British, as a cultural rather than economic legacy of Empire, has do a great deal to obscure the fact that colonial racism was expressed as much through language as skin colour or national borders. The more Englishness is tied to language, a mercantile language prized for perspicacity, the harder it is to take a critical look at the ideological frame that leads narrower questions of culture and identity because the alleged "clarity" of English itself is inseperable from sedimented philosophical prejudice and the repressions that prejudice served to justify.




PARKLIFE!

Mr Vegetables

I think this thread is being a bit too kind to us Scots here, given that we made an awful lot of money from slavery and haven't been fantastic at squaring that with how we see ourselves. We literally have a big column in Edinburgh dedicated to the man who delayed abolition, in which Les Bubb from Hubbub lives as he gets up to comical scrapes.

bgmnts

We were being enslaved and enslaving millenia before yank cunts even existed so they can't take their pathetic transatlantic slave trade and go back to the rookie leagues.

touchingcloth

Quote from: Terence Bowl on August 06, 2022, 01:28:11 PMAre you getting the war of independence mixed up with the American civil war?

No, I was talking about the DoI. Signed 1776, and Britain abolished the trade in slaves in 1807.

Britain then abolished the institution of slavery in 1833, and the Emancipation proclamation was 1862.

I was using the DoI as roughly the point where it starts to make sense to treat American attitude towards slavery as subject to their own laws rather than inheriting the British laws via the colonies.

~250 years from the start of the triangular trade in slaves across the Atlantic to the signing of the DoI. 250 years where American and British laws regarding slavery are literally the same.

~30 years from then until the abolition of slave trade in British law. 30 years in which keeping of slaves was de facto legal in both countries.

~25 years from then until slavery was fully abolished in British law.

~30 years from then until slavery was abolished in American law.

It's really only that period from 1833 to 1862 where the law was fundamentally different. Britain wasn't enlightened leaps beyond America.

TrenterPercenter

Errr it has been pointed out that the UK, not having the land or climate for plantations, and being closer to Africa mainly engaged with slavery via colonialism (in the US as well) rather than slavery at home.   This didn't end with the abolition of slavery act.

Dr Rock

Ok but yer average Brit didn't know what was going on in the colonies. The average Brit would not have seen other human beings bought and sold and whipped and being treated as slaves were in the southern US states unless you go back many centuries and even then, it wasn't based on naked racism.

What the nobility or the slave trade industry did wasn't part of most Brits lives.  What was, was workhouses, or being a prostitute in olde London Town, or Serfdom or being press-ganged into the navy. Your average 'working class peasant' was at the bottom of a rigid class system and was shat on from all directions. 

Lets make a distinction between those at the top profiting from the slave trade, and those at the bottom (where I imagine me and mine would've been) who bore no responsibility, and had it fucking rough themselves.

Dr Rock


Buelligan

If you want to see some naked racism viewed or enacted, by the average Brit, you've only to look at the average British soldier or civil servant and their families anywhere, during say, the Victorian period (or earlier or later).  Or think about the treatment of Romani people.  Or ordinary everyday folks hanging a monkey because they thought it a French person.  Lads used to walk from one village to another just fight the outsiders.  No one is innocent, dear heart.

touchingcloth

Quote from: Dr Rock on August 06, 2022, 03:17:28 PMOk but yer average Brit didn't know what was going on in the colonies. The average Brit would not have seen other human beings bought and sold and whipped and being treated as slaves were in the southern US states unless you go back many centuries and even then, it wasn't based on naked racism.

I'm not sure how true this is. When o lived in Bristol, the locations of the ports and the slave markets are pretty central and prominent today, and I suspect they would have been visible to many people back when they were thriving hubs. I don't think the fact that slavery was a source of prosperity was kept particularly hush-hush - one of the most appalling things about slavery isn't that it happened and was kept quiet, but that wasn't seen as something immoral in the first place. 

Goldentony

Quote from: Dr Rock on August 06, 2022, 12:45:10 PMyet I can't think of any British films about how shit it was to be a serf.

ITS BECAUSE EVERY LITTLE ENGLISH WANKER WHO VOTES LIB DEM WANTS SECRETLY TO BE A SERF AND HAVE TENNERS STUFFED IN THEIR BUMHOLES BY LAUGHING MP'S


not like those not white people from the colonies who are just waiting for the opportunity to cave in a plantation owners skull with a rifle butt

they dont understand individualism and dignity like what we do

TrenterPercenter

Quote from: Dr Rock on August 06, 2022, 03:17:28 PMOk but yer average Brit didn't know what was going on in the colonies. The average Brit would not have seen other human beings bought and sold and whipped and being treated as slaves were in the southern US states unless you go back many centuries and even then, it wasn't based on naked racism.

What the nobility or the slave trade industry did wasn't part of most Brits lives.  What was, was workhouses, or being a prostitute in olde London Town, or Serfdom or being press-ganged into the navy. Your average 'working class peasant' was at the bottom of a rigid class system and was shat on from all directions. 

Lets make a distinction between those at the top profiting from the slave trade, and those at the bottom (where I imagine me and mine would've been) who bore no responsibility, and had it fucking rough themselves.

Hmmmm I'm not sure if I agree with this.  On one hand they were aware of benefits from the colonies and were proud of their imperial reach and engaged in open racist to sustain this.  On the other hand it was less visible and therefore interaction of owning a slave was only reserved for the very rich which is going to have an impact.

It's an interesting topic for sure.

Dr Rock

I'm genuinely curious as to what yer average person especially a peasant/poor person in the 17-1800s knew about anything. Depends where they lived to some extent, as has been mentioned. There was a slave trade, there were abolitionists against the slave trade, and those who didn't know about either because they worked down the pit or on a farm.

TrenterPercenter

Quote from: Dr Rock on August 06, 2022, 06:21:59 PMI'm genuinely curious as to what yer average person especially a peasant/poor person in the 17-1800s knew about anything. Depends where they lived to some extent, as has been mentioned. There was a slave trade, there were abolitionists against the slave trade, and those who didn't know about either because they worked down the pit or on a farm.

something that might interest you.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/transactions-of-the-royal-historical-society/article/slavery-and-the-birth-of-workingclass-racism-in-england-18141833the-alexander-prize-essay/3EE614F0996A6C28F811E272195A42C2

Noodle Lizard

Is there something someone's said recently that'd make you think this? If anything, the Americans I've met have spoken as if America was the only nation with that burden.

I can imagine some saying the British Empire was worse pound for pound, but they're not wrong. We had a big headstart.

Buelligan

Quote from: Dr Rock on August 06, 2022, 06:21:59 PMI'm genuinely curious as to what yer average person especially a peasant/poor person in the 17-1800s knew about anything. Depends where they lived to some extent, as has been mentioned. There was a slave trade, there were abolitionists against the slave trade, and those who didn't know about either because they worked down the pit or on a farm.

In Britain we also had the lovely situation where mine or mill owners (and landed gentry, of course) owned all the places of work, almost all the shops and all the houses in an area.  They even minted their own currency (so, if you were paid in that, it'd be harder to go elsewhere to shop or find a new home).  You were born in a place, if you wanted to eat or have a roof over your head or that of your family, you'd better obey the owner for your entire life. Not far off slavery, that.

bgmnts

Quote from: Noodle Lizard on August 06, 2022, 06:33:53 PMIs there something someone's said recently that'd make you think this? If anything, the Americans I've met have spoken as if America was the only nation with that burden.

I can imagine some saying the British Empire was worse pound for pound, but they're not wrong. We had a big headstart.

Presumably pound for pound France has to be up there as well.

Dr Rock


Fambo Number Mive


Buelligan

Quote from: bgmnts on August 06, 2022, 07:17:16 PMPresumably pound for pound France has to be up there as well.

Pretty sure we had a peoples' revolution which put paid to a lot of this stuff about a century before the Americans and Brits.

bgmnts

Quote from: Buelligan on August 06, 2022, 07:22:19 PMPretty sure we had a peoples' revolution which put paid to a lot of this stuff about a century before the Americans and Brits.

Well it took Haiti about 10/15 years to overthrow the French even after the French revolution I think.

Didn't even give up Algeria til what? 60s?

Quote from: Buelligan on August 06, 2022, 07:22:19 PMPretty sure we had a peoples' revolution which put paid to a lot of this stuff about a century before the Americans and Brits.

Napoleon did later reinstate some of it again for a while, admittedly.

Although - while I'm open to correction if anyone knows of any earlier examples - I believe that the 1793 elections to the French National Convention may have been the first time a black MP or representative was elected to a European parliament? Jean-Baptiste Belley was originally from Senegal and had formerly been enslaved in his youth in Saint Domingue, as it was then known. The convention went on to abolish slavery in France and its territories in a debate in February 1794, the following year, which Belley also took part in.

Buelligan

Quote from: bgmnts on August 06, 2022, 07:28:10 PMWell it took Haiti about 10/15 years to overthrow the French even after the French revolution I think.

Didn't even give up Algeria til what? 60s?

Algerian colonialism was very wrong, obviously, but I thought you were talking about slavery.  I misunderstood.  And the Haiti situation was in a world before things like peoples' revolutions were online.  I'm sure the rich ruling class in Haiti was glad of that.

bgmnts

Quote from: Buelligan on August 06, 2022, 08:59:23 PMAlgerian colonialism was very wrong, obviously, but I thought you were talking about slavery.  I misunderstood.  And the Haiti situation was in a world before things like peoples' revolutions were online.  I'm sure the rich ruling class in Haiti was glad of that.

Well yeah I'm combining the two but France had colonies all over the world and there was surely slavery prevalent as much as Britain.

Buelligan

Yes I'm sure they were.  All I was saying is that slavery was ended (as a legal condition) in French law quite a long time before that happened in either Britain or America and I'd put that down to the fact that the French had a revolution that displaced the ruling class.

Zero Gravitas

Good oldé code de l'indigénat, not slavery, just mandated productive output for the benefit of the French state.

Bum bum ba ba bum bum baaaaa bum ba, bum ba bumm baa bum, ba bum!

In Ireland, we grew up, at least people of my generation (I'm 49), with history classes that kind of told us not to trust the Brits, while in English class we learned about Shelley, and TS Eliot and so on.  There's a weird dichotomy about this, at least for me. My excellent English teacher, still alive as far as I know, was a great English scholar while also being a proud 32 county Irish republican.

Like 'em or 'loathe them, the most successful rock band in history, U2, are less Irish than me (only one, the drummer comes from what might be called traditional Irish RC background, the other three members have mainly or at least partially English, Welsh roots - both the Edge's parents were Welsh, both of Adam Clayton's parents were English home counties RAF, Bono's parents were working class Irish but his mum's parents were ex-British army). The Beatles are more 'Irish' than U2, funnily enough, as were the Smiths (7 of the 8 parents of the four Smiths parents were born in Ireland)

I remember feeling an instinctive desire that Argentina won the Falklands conflict (myself and my 8 year old buddies were very pro-Falklands), in spite of the fact that my parents were the complete opposite of Anglophobic and were kind of saying the opposite.

In the relatively privileged bubble of suburban south Dublin where I grew up, Top of the Pops was a release from the fucking mundane reality and drudgery of day-to-day life. For me personally, most of my heroes are Brits, but not the politicians or slave traders - the musicians (but a disproportionate % of great Brit pop and rock musicians are of partially Irish descent).

H-O-W-L

Quote from: bgmnts on August 06, 2022, 07:28:10 PMWell it took Haiti about 10/15 years to overthrow the French even after the French revolution I think.

Didn't even give up Algeria til what? 60s?

Don't forget Cambodia and Vietnam either.

Buelligan

Yes, these are colonies.  Wrong, absolutely.  But not slavery.  Britain had the British Empire, you know that thing that turned the map of the world pink?  It still had colonial connections to places like Hong Kong that didn't end until the last decade of the twentieth century so, yeah, France did some appalling shit but it legally ended slavery (which we were talking about) many decades before Britain or America.