Isn’t this a nice demand concerning slavery and reparations?
An Oxford College is facing demands for reparations by the Antiguan Prime Minister over donations from an 18th century slave owner who gave it money to build a library.
Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, wrote to Sir John Vickers, the Warden of All Souls College, asking for repayment of money he said had been earned from the slave labour of people from his country.
Our Gaston here is making the insistence that Antiguans are the property of the Government of Antigua. This is not an insistence that anyone should be making given the subject under discussion really.
Look at what is being insisted. Folks were indeed trafficked from Africa to Antigua and there forced into vile chattel slavery on the sugar plantations. The Codrington family most certainly benefited from that vile chattel slavery. As it happens the family still exists – I’ve served the last but one (I think) Baronet a pint more than once. They had an estate just north of Bath which they finally sold off once the cash money ran out. Gained tens of millions from just the furniture in fact.
Yep, exploitation definitely happened. Even expropriation.
The insistence then becomes that the money be repaid to the Government of Antigua. Or the collective of Antigua at least. Which is to insist upon the slavery of the people of Antigua to the Government of Antigua, isn’t it?
All your wages are belong to us sorta thing.
It’s possible to insist that those who suffered the slavery be compensated for their vile durance. That they’re all dead means that’s more than a little difficult. It’s entirely possible to think that we should raise the descendants of those slaves to where they would be in the absence of slavery having happened. That is, of course, impossible, given that Antiguans today are vastly better off being in Antigua than they would be if they were still in West or Central Africa. But to demand that the wages of those dead belong to the Government of Antigua is indeed to make that all your wages are belong to us argument. You know, chattel slavery – the incomes of Antiguans are to be disposed of as Our Gaston insists.
That we all got rid of slavery is an excellent thing. Better not try to deal with it having happened by reimposing it, eh?