Home Class Politics No Slavery Reparations Are Payable To Jamaica

No Slavery Reparations Are Payable To Jamaica

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It’s not true that the slaves taken to Jamaica all came from Ghana. It is however true that Ghana is a reasonable example of living standards in West Africa where most of those Jamaican slaves came from.

OK. So, Jamaica is arguing that there should be slavery reparations. Because, you know, ancestors were hard done by therefore money must be paid now:

Jamaica will seek billions of pounds in reparations from Britain over its slavery past, with the country, a former British colony, once the centre of the global slave trade.

The Spanish, then the British, forcibly transported Africans to work on plantations of sugar cane, bananas and other crops that created fortunes for many of their owners.

Olivia Grange, minister of sports, youth and culture, told Reuters in an interview at the weekend: “We are hoping for reparatory justice in all forms that one would expect if they are to really ensure that we get justice from injustices to repair the damages that our ancestors experienced.

“Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labour to the benefit of the British Empire,” she added. “Redress is well overdue.”

Well, yes, and then again maybe no.

There’s no doubt that being enslaved was a cost. Even leaving aside the loss of liberty part, slaves in sugar plantations were appallingly treated. There was a very real divide between sugar and cotton on this basis.

So, yes, slavery was bad.

Leave aside also all the things we could say about who sold the slaves and so on – Europeans didn’t really go ashore in Africa until the 1870s or so. On the grounds, reasonable enough, that those who did died of fever.

Think instead of the situation now:

GDP isn’t everything, this is true. GDP is, however, a useful guide to economic richness and wealth.

The descendants of the slaves in Jamaica are substantially richer than the descendants of the non-slaves in Ghana. There’s nothing to compensate those alive today for.

Think on it for a moment. The legal position is that if a harm has been done to you then compensation is indeed due. That amount to be sufficient – and no more – to get you back to where you would have been without the harm having been done to you.

So, how much do we have to take off Jamaicans to get them to where they would be if slavery had never happened?

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps the Jamaican government might like to lodge a compo claim with Kamala Harris – according to numerous accounts the Jamaican side of her family benefitted greatly from ownership of slaves…..

  2. I naturally feel that the UK is owed very considerable reparations for all the criminals, paupers and wicked enemies that the Ghanaians dumped on it. They even made them pay money to remove these undesirables.

    Clearly the sum owed must be huge!!!

  3. We reparated the blacks in Jamaica by liberating them from their slave traders by engaging in international piracy in contravention to the Westphalian Settlement, risking actual war with many nations, seizing slave ships, and – instead of giving the slaves back to the slave masters in Africa – liberating them and giving them free land, free citizenship, equality before the law, in Jamaica and the right to travel anywhere in the British Empire, and the freedom to even *leave* any British territory and remove themselves entirely from British soverignty. The fact they are *ALIVE* is evidence of reparations paid.

  4. It’s an interesting argument, but quite wrong. To see why, consider an imaginary case involving Bob the billionaire. Bob buys a Ming vase for a million dollars. He pays a parcel delivery company, ParDel, to fly it home. Unfortunately, Ted the thief works for ParDel and secretly steals the package just as it is about to be loaded onto a private plane. The plane takes off, but crashes into a mountain, destroying everything on board. The vase was not insured and the terms of the deal was that ParDel did not accept liability for loss. It looks like Bob has no recourse. However, it is now discovered that Ted took the vase, so Bob sues ParDel and Ted to get it back. Ted is so enraged at being discovered he smashes the vase.

    If ParDel and Ted try claiming in court that Bob has lost nothing since the vase would have been destroyed only for the theft, the judge will think they’re wasting the court’s time with a hopeless argument. Similarly, if instead of being lost in a plane crash, it could be shown that Bob would have lost it some other way.

    The legal principle is that compensation is to put you back in the position you would have been at the instant the wrong occurred – not to put you in any position which reflects subsequent circumstances.

    A much better argument over long periods of time would be to challenge the current claimants belief that they are the correct heirs. While the person who was originally wronged may have a clear case for compensation, after several generations, especially if they have not been particularly wealthy, so heirs have not been diligently sought for inheritance purposes, the people currently alive today mak not be clearly the right heirs. In England, the time limit for claims is twelve years – so not much chance of claming anything for what happened over a hundred years ago.

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expunct

in British English
expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

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