Home Black Lives Matter It's Astonishing How Stupid Some People Can Be About Slavery Reparations

It’s Astonishing How Stupid Some People Can Be About Slavery Reparations

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The Guardian – where else – carries a piece calling for slavery reparations. Which has some interesting bits in it, to be honest. I’d not known that Union Island even existed, let alone that it made up the one estate. I also had to look up to check the claim that it was a cotton (using South Sea, therefore long thread) producing island, not sugar.

All interesting stuff. It appears that Samuel Span, the Bristolian who owned the place, partook of his female slaves as well. Partake having the flexible meaning anywhere between raping them and they desiring children by him to current taste in language. One complaint being made by the writer – a descendant –  is that his wholly white family inherited all the money, not all his biological children.

Well, OK, but wills are wills and there’s no state action today that’s going to change that decision made around 1800.

Then the argument rather deteriorates. For our lady came from Union Island and went to university in Bristol. We could just say how cool or we could observe that those past inequalities of 1800 seem to have largely ameliorated by now. But still, she’s asking for reparations – or, perhaps, insisting that reparations on a larger scale, not just to or about her, should happen:

We in the UK need to begin a national debate on reparations for slavery, a crime which heralded the age of capitalism and provided the basis for racism that continues to endanger black life globally. It will follow a landmark US Congress hearing on the topic last year.

Protesters making demands of British institutions and examining the individuals who profited from slavery, must also follow the money trail to places such as Union Island. Our vision for change must be global because Britain, after all, was a vast empire.

But reparations for what? This young lady has not been harmed by slavery. Far from it, in fact she’s very much richer than if slavery had not happened. For here’s what she does now:

Amandla Thomas-Johnson is a freelance foreign correspondent based in Dakar, Senegal

Thus she has direct personal experience of this:

She now lives in a place one sixth as rich as the place she comes from. Or, if we prefer, she comes from a place where slaves were sent which is 6 times richer than that West Africa the slaves came from. Or, as is obvious, the descendants of victims of the slave trade are richer than the descendants of not-victims of the slave trade. At which point reparations for what?

What grates about the demand is that she can look out her front door any day of the week and see this obvious truth. And isn’t there some line about none so stupid as those that will not see?

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Plus, 100 years of breaking international law and spending a quarter of the state treasurery engaged in state-sponsored piracy intercepting slave ships and liberating the slaves is reparation enough. Where’s my statue?!?

  2. Worstall at his usual best again. In 2017 he argued that India was better off by the time the British left but unfortunately it was a Malthusian growth as he put it. His argument usually is “hey you natives you should be happy that we the British came, looted you, but look- your economy grew hence what should you be unhappy about?”

    In this article too he make a compares the fate of St Vincent great progress over Senegal. The point being that the petitioner asking for reparations should be happy that the British enslaved her ancestors and bought them over from Africa to the carribean. For this economist at the Adam Smith Institute, I presume there is a no moral compass. All matters are purely numbers-driven and happiness can be this be inferred. I dare say then that Worstall is not unhappy about the great exodus of wealth from the UK post-Covid and the freetrade marriage that the Americans will force upon Old Blightly. I can forsee an essay from Worstall in 2025 “The US free trade has left the UK with a grand reduction in prices, but this growth was Malthusian and hence our living standards are lower, but hey, what the heck, free trade won.”

    • “His argument usually is “hey you natives you should be happy that we the British came, looted you, but look- your economy grew hence what should you be unhappy about?””

      That isn’t actually what my argument is, no. Rather, the claim that the Indian economy shrank over those years is wrong. Simply not true. It was, as you say, Malthusian growth, but correcting error is useful, no?

      “the petitioner asking for reparations should be happy that the British enslaved her ancestors and bought them over from Africa to the carribean. ”

      No, I also do not say that. I say that no harm has been done to her. I agree that great harm was done to those ancestors of her that were enslaved. But she has ended up better off. Therefore there is nothing to pay reparations for.

  3. It’s a pretty preposterous argument he makes whether you agree with reparations or not, especially if the nature and manner in which they are distributed is not thought through.

    To take up the argument against one black voice whilst ignoring the plight of the myriad more who suffer to this day through lack of access to education, healthcare, jobs and liberty wrought upon them by the children of slaves who have until 2015 been paid their own reparations following the abolishment of slavery is a little much to swallow. Worstall is a master wordsmith. In another essay he seems to defend that GBP20M (40% of gdp in 1800s) to slave owners was justified whereas the slaves being freed is their “reparation”. He claims in that essay that he is indeed not supportive of this, but it is buried in obfuscations and calumny. A master wordsmith I say. For a more rounded and nuanced argument on reparations, here Lexs analysis in FT yesterday……https://www.ft.com/stream/d8e8f5dc-4ed0-44e4-b5f0-aad68b3ff946

    • Again, you strawman my argument so as to argue against it.

      “ignoring the plight of the myriad more who suffer to this day through lack of access to education, healthcare, jobs and liberty”

      I don’t ignore this nor argue against it. I spend much of my time writing about how to make the world a better place. I just insist that doing so isn’t a matter of sending large amounts to the descendants of slaves. Better education, for example, is to be gained by killing off the current mismanagement of the education system. My preferred method being charter schools (academies in the UK). For yes, there are iniquities in education currently, we should get rid of them, now, what’s the best method of doing so?

      ” In another essay he seems to defend that GBP20M (40% of gdp in 1800s) to slave owners was justified whereas the slaves being freed is their “reparation”.”

      Again, you twist my argument. What I in fact argued was that the £20 million was a bribe to get the law through. And a worthwhile one to pay too. I also do not say that the freedom of the slaves was their reparation – it wasn’t. What it was though was something of value which freedom indeeed is. If it wasn’t, or isn’t, then we’d not be having this discussion at all, would we?

    • Prasad is just lying. There is no lack of access to education, healthcare, jobs and liberty. In fact the government spend per person is higher.

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