October 29, 2013

Reparations for West Indies?

Have you noticed that the more we get into the Age of Obama, the more we are lectured to focus on the Age of Slavery? Here, for example, is an op-ed in the NYT:
Confronting the Legacies of Slavery 
By LAURENT DUBOIS 
Late one afternoon in March, officials unveiled a new monument at the University of the West Indies, in Cave Hill, Barbados. The ceremony featured African drumming, a historian’s lecture, a bishop’s prayer and a song performed by a school choir with the chorus, “We cry for the ancestors!” 
Those ancestors, 295 of whom have their names on the monument, were slaves who once lived where the campus now stands. What today is a university was once a plantation. What is now a nation was once a colony. In Barbados and throughout the Caribbean, slavery remains a vivid and potent metaphor, and a cultivated memory. 
Presiding over the event was Sir Hilary Beckles, the head of the university and a prolific historian. He and his Jamaican colleague Verene Shepherd have spurred on the recent call by the 15-member Caribbean Community for Britain, France and the Netherlands to pay an undefined amount of reparations for slavery and the slave trade. The group plans to file suit in national courts; if that fails, it will go to the International Court of Justice. 
Uniting the Caribbean around any kind of policy is not easy. The region is linguistically and politically fragmented, with links to former colonial powers or the United States often trumping cooperation. But with this new call, the community, known as Caricom, is tapping into one thing that all its member states have in common: the lingering effects of slavery.

One irony of history is that, with the exception of Haiti, average per capita incomes of the descendants of slaves in Caribbean countries are well above those in West African countries. Even more ironically, many of today's impoverished West Africans are descended from the people who sold the West Indians' ancestors into slavery.

The graph from Google above features two West Indian countries and the two most affluent West African countries (leaving aside two super-corrupt oil countries: Gabon and the nightmarish Equatorial Guinea). Nigeria has oil and corruption, while Ghana only began exporting oil three years ago. I haven't been following the news lately, but Ghana, after a bad start in the 1960s-70s, has usually been said to be the best governed West African country. It looks like its economy was turning up even before the oil started flowing.

While not the richest West Indian country (Trinidad, for example, has oil, but also, more impressively, refining; and some very small islands are wealthy tax refuges), Barbados has long been seen as the nicest West Indian country. Jamaica, not so much. So, the Jamaica to Ghana comparison seems not unreasonable.

60 comments:

Power Child said...

How big would the gaps be once you control for proximity to the US (kinda like Moynihan's Law)?

Anonymous said...

Is the U of the WI not the U where you can buy yourself a place in med school even if you are not particularly intelligent?

GC

Monroe Ficus said...

St Kitts should just stick to selling citizenship and offshore trusts, isn't that a de facto reparation?

RS said...

It is time to confront the much more recent legacies of the Spanish-American war begun in 1899. By way of direct aggressive action, American military-industrial privilege and exploitation stripped Spain down from a minor world power to something like a geopolitical non-entity, and it could briefly recover its former relevance only by staging an incredibly topical civil war that would have attracted limited interest in most contexts.

This hurt a lot of feelings, deeply, and it's time for helicopter Ben to send Spain the first tranche of what should eventually be $4 trillion.

Maybe then the Western world will finally be ready for a serious, truthful conversation about the very real pain and aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars.

Anonymous said...

Reparations coupled with mandatory repatriation would be a bargain at any price.

fredyetagain

Bert said...

The women in Jamaica are a hell of a lot better looking than the women in Barbados, I'll give them that.

The NY Times seems like it's going into full "black empowerment" mode lately.

irishman said...

The neck of these people is astonishing. The got reparations and then some. They got really nice islands in the Caribbean that were not theirs before the English showed up. Do you think they'll hand those back should they get their cheque from her majesty?

rightsaidfred said...

The Geneva convention outlawed group punishment, i.e. you can't machine gun the village for the partisan activities of the few members.

Maybe we can use this clause to avoid the financial machine gunning of the historically non-slave owners in this country.

Anonymous said...

"West Africans are descended from the ancestors of the people who sold the West Indians' ancestors into slavery..."

say what?

"West Africans are descendants of the people who sold the West Indians' ancestors into slavery..."

FIFY

el supremo said...

I look forward to when the North African countries pay Spain and Italy reparations for hundreds of years of Berber piracy, capture of hundreds of thousands of slaves with many sold into sex slavery, and the ensuing desolation of what had been prosperous coastal lands since Roman times.

DPG said...

I once met a 30ish Barbadian of white British descent who made his living on tour boats. He was in the States with his American girlfriend; she'd met him while studying abroad. He was one of the most frank people when discussing race I've ever met, mostly because he was too naive about Americans to know that his comments were gauche. A sample: "Whites are only 3% of the island but we've got 95% of the wealth, mostly because they're too lazy to hold down a regular job. All I really want to do is sit on the beach and drink rum, and even I manage to make a living." Another interesting thing he mentioned is that a large source of income for young black men is the sex tourism of British white females.

Anonymous said...

Trinidad has lots of Indians (real Indians, as in 7-11's instead of casinos). That may explain a good bit of their West Indian outperformance.

Bert said...

"Another interesting thing he mentioned is that a large source of income for young black men is the sex tourism of British white females."

I've heard the exact same thing.

I guess BBC is really alluring to those ladies.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean is taking the lead on this reparations stuff. You would think they would have the least need for reparations, but that may be the point.

Perhaps the successful Barbadians are simply seeking to emulate the elite discourse of major Western powers. What better way to show you've arrived in the First World than by articulating the sort of worldview that one expects to find in the NYT? The celebration of victimhood is an elite status marker.

It may be that Barbados is aspiring less to black empowerment than to SWPL-ness.

ysv_rao said...

I am glad you brought this up as it brings up the interesting question of how my people(Indians,dot not feathers) ended up in Caribbean,Mauritius,Guyana,Suriname and Fiji to begin with:
Indentured servitude courtesy of the "anti slavery" Brits

I have to really admire their chutzpah! Campaign against African slavery with much gusto while simultaneously introduce a soft version of the same abhorrent practice to another set of heathen darkies

I dont think any Indo Caribbean or Fijian care for reparations but they are shocked that not many know of their plight of their forefathers.

I dont want them to get reparations.Just exposing this British legerdemain and hypocrisy will do as long as it puts another nail in the coffin of the supposed morality of the British Empire and drown Britannia deeper and deeper into malaise and despair under our Jodhpur boots

Some things are worth a lot more than money

I doubt the baniya (mercantile) Americans who insist on monetizing everything will ever understand this.

Anonymous said...

Rao - is indentured servitude a form of slavery? I would have thought the big difference is its voluntary nature.

500,000 Europeans went to the West Indies as indentured servants, so I'd cool down the hate and learn the history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servant#Caribbean

I wonder if the white slaves sent to Barbados made any difference between that and Jamaica? Various rebels/criminals at various times were "Barbadoed".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlegs



Anonymous said...

I wonder if the author was a descendent of W.E. Dubois but no indication.

http://romancestudies.duke.edu/people?Gurl=/aas/Romance&Uil=ld48&subpage=profile

Anonymous said...

Yet the average IQs of Jamaicans and Barbadians are only a few points higher than the average (per Rindermann) for sub-Saharan Africa.

Even well-nourished Barbadians average lower IQs than African-Americans.

Dave Pinsen said...

"I have to really admire their chutzpah! Campaign against African slavery with much gusto while simultaneously introduce a soft version of the same abhorrent practice to another set of heathen darkies"

Plenty of whites came to the New World as indentured servants as well. And as for British morality with respect to India, give them credit at least for eventually banning one of Indians' more abhorrent practices.

peterike said...

It's only a shakedown in an old shakedown town.

Anonymous said...

"I dont want them to get reparations.Just exposing this British legerdemain and hypocrisy will do as long as it puts another nail in the coffin of the supposed morality of the British Empire and drown Britannia deeper and deeper into malaise and despair under our Jodhpur boots"

The one weakness of the new learning of the British was that it did not teach Anglicised Indians self awareness.



Anonymous said...

"I doubt the baniya (mercantile) Americans who insist on monetizing everything will ever understand this." - You're probably thinking of materialist more than mercantile, but no, we recognize that some things shouldn't be monetized. Which is why we gave our friends the British the specs for the trident series SLBMs.

FirkinRidiculous said...

Barbados is colloquially known as Little England, because the population and influence of whites remained much greater than in other islands of the British Caribbean.

Geoff Matthews said...

ysv_rao,

It wasn't just brown people who were taken into indentured servitude. Some of my own (anglo) ancestors got to the Americas by that very route.
Its a rich vs poor thing.
And in spite of the British Empire's failings, the fact that they ended Sati makes up for a lot of them.
India, before the British, was a nasty place to be. And it may have continued to be a nasty place while they were there. But if it weren't for the British influence, it would be far worse today than it is now. Count your blessings that it wasn't the Chinese, or the Arabs, that turned India into a colony.

Mike said...

ysv_rao, and, I guess, Geoff Matthews:

Saturday is the 179th anniversary of the first indentured servants arriving in Mauritius from India. One can notice that indentured servitude is nothing more than regulatory arbitrage. As the Slavery Abolition Act went into effect in 1834 and the first indentured servants arrived in Mauritius that same year.

There have always been economic elites that don't have to play by the same rules as the plebes.

It is interesting to note that the descendants of those indentured servants speak a Creole that is a mixture of African languages and French. This in a country that has had English as its official language for 210 years.

It is said that Mauritians and the Creoles of Louisiana, having the same roots of their language, can understand each other quite well.

Anonymous said...

Rao - is indentured servitude a form of slavery? I would have thought the big difference is its voluntary nature.

500,000 Europeans went to the West Indies as indentured servants, so I'd cool down the hate and learn the history.


To an Indian, history doesn't matter. It's all about what happened to his ancestors, which is uniquely brutal in spite of the fact that it's not uniquely brutal. Indians are a superior breed and shouldn't have to put up with the impositions placed upon lesser races like Europeans, Amerindians, Africans, Orientals, et al.

Anonymous said...

One group of people played an inordinate part in the slave trade - Bibi Netanyahu claims to be the world political leader of their descendants - perhaps these unhappy islanders should look for compensation there?

Anonymous said...

Steve, have you actually ever been to Barbados or Trinidad ? I ask because I can't possibly think that you would hold any of these places in high regard after experiencing them for at least a month. There are many white beaches around this planet that are located in much safer and interesting countries.GDP numbers simply don't tell the whole story. Both "countries" harbor a significant amount of social dysfunction and are main hubs for cocaine trafficking into North America.

slumber_j said...

One strange thing about Equatorial Guinea is that it looks like someone turned the State of Washington upside-down. If they could get it righted somehow--and maybe slot it into a different continent...

Harry Baldwin said...

Steve's right about the big focus on slavery lately in all the liberal forums. The movie "12 Years a Slave" has been featured on all the NPR news and interview shows.

Smithsonian magazine has a feature story about a black man who goes to old plantations and gets permission to sleep in the old slave quarters, if they still exist. The article didn't make it clear why this was of any significance, but you know, slavery.

There's always news stories when excavation turns up any artifacts from the slave days.

I don't think there's that much new news about slavery, but it keeps coming up anyway.

Anonymous said...

Repair-ations would be better: genetically altering blacks so that they will be mellower, that is if we had the bio-technology.

Meanwhile, Chinese and Russians still await reparations from the Mongols.

Anonymous said...

Sephardic Jews started the atlantic slave trade on the Portuguese owned islands off the west coast of africa after they were pushed out of Spain by the Inquisition.

Jews dominated and ran the slave trade from that point onwards first to Brazil and then to the rest of the americas.

The descendents of mixed Jewish-Black slaves from the atlantic islands make up a very significant chunk of the mixed central american population as shown by the genetics.

Any reparations to the West Indies should be paid by Jews - at least the Sephardic descended ones.

Anonymous said...

"The NY Times seems like it's going into full "black empowerment" mode lately."

It's to deflect atention from the New York media trying to ethnically cleanse black people from Manhattan.

Anonymous said...

The main reason for the high GDP is the bankstas looting the west need lots of tax havens to stash their money in.

Anonymous said...

"One irony of history is that, with the exception of Haiti, average per capita incomes of the descendants of slaves in Caribbean countries are well above those in West African countries."


Interestingly, I overheard a Dominican and a Haitian discussing/debating this decision today, which was rife with iSteve-y themes: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/24/world/americas/dominicans-of-haitian-descent-cast-into-legal-limbo-by-court.html?_r=0 . Without having read about the decision, I was able to quickly understand the background context just from overhearing (I tried to not eavesdrop, but they were very close), thanks to Mr. Sailer.

Gilbert Ratchet said...

In answer to your headline: yes.

Gilbert Ratchet said...

I meant: first sentence. About the age of Obama focussing attention on the age of slavery.

Anonymous said...


Those West Indian nations wouldn't exist without European colonialism. They were not invaded; they were created. To sue for reparations is like suing your father for siring you.

Anonymous said...


Meanwhile, Chinese and Russians still await reparations from the Mongols.

And the Arabs! Start with the sack of Baghdad and the resultant desolation of Mesopotamia for the next couple hundred years.

ysv_rao said...


To an Indian, history doesn't matter. It's all about what happened to his ancestors, which is uniquely brutal in spite of the fact that it's not uniquely brutal. Indians are a superior breed and shouldn't have to put up with the impositions placed upon lesser races like Europeans, Amerindians, Africans, Orientals, et al."

Oh shut up you nauseatingly stupid creature

No one said anything about uniquely brutal nature. I was using it to illustrate British hypocrisy.

ysv_rao said...


Plenty of whites came to the New World as indentured servants as well."

Err...I was talking about indentured servitude AFTER the abolition of slavery .Not before.
And why is white servitude any of my business?You want to brutalize your own people- go nuts!

And as for British morality with respect to India, give them credit at least for eventually banning one of Indians' more abhorrent practices."

Im sorry, is the lecturing barely a couple of centuries ago was barely witches at the stake before entering India on "its civilizing mission" lecturing us on how wrong it is to burn women?
Anyhow how is that any of your fucking businss ,pardon my French?
Would a Moorish invasion and conquest be justified in the 14th century to put an end to the witch burnings in England?

ysv_rao said...


And in spite of the British Empire's failings, the fact that they ended Sati makes up for a lot of them.
India, before the British, was a nasty place to be. And it may have continued to be a nasty place while they were there. But if it weren't for the British influence, it would be far worse today than it is now. Count your blessings that it wasn't the Chinese, or the Arabs, that turned India into a colony."

Hey Geoff, go fuck yourself.Its the usual nonsense. If we hadnt stolen from you, someone else wouldve.
And FYI Arabs did try and colonize ,they were repelled eventually.
India before the conquest by Britain (completed in 1857) was a far less nasty place than Britain was.
And we never had any problem from China before it turned communist and that too was because of your bungled borders.You are too happy to take credit for what works well in the subcontinent but somehow political instability,riots,wars,classism/casteism is purely our fault..Funny how that works
Why do you think you snaggle toothed barbarians were there in the first place?
And the only reason you didnt behave in India as the Spanish did in South America is not because you wouldnt but couldnt.We may have not been united but we were civilized and well armed so you couldnt pull wool over our eyes as easily as you could with the natives of that continent.
Oh and but you did in the end. Where valor failed, perfidy triumphed. Damn East India company had more dirty tricks than a whore!

Anonymous said...

You will note that while they complain about slavery and try for a shakedown, that no Caribbean blacks ever go back to Africa. How many Haitians have accepted Senegal's offer to return there? Instead they invite themselves to Canada, the U.K., France, the USA etc.

Reg C├Žsar said...

Plantation slavery wasn't all that healthy for white folks, either. George Washington left Barbados in disgust at the corruption of the English gentry there. Apparently my Quaker forebears did the same 75 years earlier, arriving in Rhode Island just in time for King Philip's War. Today's milky Bajans are just carrying on the tradition of their whiter ancestors.

Anonymous said...

Oh shut up you nauseatingly stupid creature

No one said anything about uniquely brutal nature. I was using it to illustrate British hypocrisy.


What British hypocrisy? Did they burn their widows? Did they have an untouchable caste whose mere touch required elaborate purification rites? Wasn't bonded labor part of South Asia's economy before the British showed up? I do think Indians are stupefied by their own BS and very unself-aware, although they're probably not the worst offenders out there.

wheelwright said...

ysv_rao is Dr van Nostrand, by the way. He went away for a while but is now back and the anti-British hate appears to be stronger than ever in him.

Buddy, please let it go for goodness' sake. We are no longer any kind of threat to you. The karmic vengeance you seek will harm only the ordinary people who never had any interest in exploiting India and will not harm - no, in fact will actively strengthen - the imperial elite who saw and continue to see us merely as paler and less intetesting analogues of you and yours.

a certain perspective said...

As noted, the British outlawed sati and female infanticide. I always thought it odd that these alien foreigners would care more about the peoples' girls than they themselves seemed to. The opposite of genocide, in a way.
In one Rajput family, c. 1900, they were planning a wedding for a daughter and had no past experience with such events. Their English visitor was suprised--had they not married off daughters before? The Rajput patiently explained, "yes, of course daughters had been born but you know our customs; but none had been raised in 200 years."
Mother India, Mayo, 1932.

"Mother India" has been criticized even by Ghandi who was quite progressive, and it was said to have lacked perspective. But that didn't much alter the case. These things still went on and characterized huge parts (not all) of the south Indian peninsula.
I don't think anybody would argue that the British were terribly nice or superior. But they were in SOME ways. Just as other races may be "superior" in SOME ways.
It's just the way it is. No Indian, especially no Indian woman, would want to go back to India the way it was before the British raj. Or during, of course.

Anonymous said...

Despite what you might have seen on 'Roots' many, many moons ago, it was seldom, if ever the practice of European slave dealers to actually invade the continent of Africa with the intent of forming 'raiding parties' to literally carry off likely slaves.
The Arabs did this - and perhaps still do this is Sudan - but, basically, by the time of the big upswing in the slave trade in the 18th century, this seldom, if ever happened.
Instead slaves were purchased, in purely commercial transactions from various native chiefs and merchants who waxed fat on the human merchandise. When the British attempted to stamp out the slave trade, it was these self-same Africans who screamed loudest in protest.
The direct descendants of these slave dealing chiefs now form the leadership caste of many a leading African nation.
So perhaps it's worth the while of the lefties to sue after them in the same manner that drug dealers are judged more harshly than drug users.

inorakamala said...

Factually wrong. The African continent was destroyed through centuries of violence for enslavement imposed by Europeans. Before transatlantic slavery, the average life standard of Africans was well above that of Europeans at that time and above what it is today, for both continental and diaspora Africans. And transatlantic enslavement started with massive European military intervention and kidnapping razzias, until a situation persisted throughout large of the continent where either as an African you get enslaved or you get European guns to protect your community. And the only way you would get guns from Europeans is if you trade them slaves. Global African reparations are due by international law, no doubt about it! Check out http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=slavery%20reparations%20time%20is%20now for full documentation and analysis.

pat said...

"The legacy of slavery" is like "force at a distance". Just how is it supposed to work?

In fact blacks, especially US blacks, have had much less slavery than almost any other group.

The math is simple.

Slavery began about six thousand years ago with the Neolithic Revolution in the Fertile Crescent. Hunter gatherers didn't keep slaves but agriculturists did.

By the way this connection between agriculture and slavery transcends the human species. Agricultural ants enslave other ants.

But black slavery - meaning exporting slaves from black Africa - is quite recent. The first black slaves in the English colonies were at Jamestown around 1610. Three hundred years later England abolished chattel slavery. So American blacks were slaves for only about five percent of the slave period. Slavs and Germans and Irish were enslaved for maybe 90% of the slave period.

American blacks also were better treated than most slaves. Frederick Douglas when he visited Ireland said the Irish peasants were worse off than black slave sin America. Brazilian slaves were easier to replace because of the shorter access to Africa. Therefore Brazilian slaves were more often worked to death. American slaves had families and children.

It is true that American blacks were often whipped but remember that at this time the British flogged soldiers and sailors - often to death. The Russians figured a hundred lashes was a death sentence. In the Peninsula War they would give out sentences of a thousand or more lashes. No one lived through that. They had to keep reviving the victim for days to keep up the beating. This isn't just a capital sentence. It is death by slow torture.

But no one beat a field hand to death. That made no economic sense. The British Navy continued floggings until 1879 - long after all black slaves had been freed.

Vespasian enslaved a lot of Jews. They built the Coliseum and were all worked to death. Cromwell enslaved a lot of Irish who also were worked to death. By world history standards the slavery experience of American blacks was short and mild.

Albertosaurus

Fake Herzog said...

"Bert said...
The women in Jamaica are a hell of a lot better looking than the women in Barbados, I'll give them that."

I don't know, I always thought Rihanna was kind of hot.

Anonymous said...

Slavery exists in Africa to this day so articles not pointing this out leaves you to think why they are pursuing the historical aspect of it.

Camlost said...

According to Skip Gates, Western Academia tends to ignore the African role in the slave trade:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/opinion/23gates.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

He says that reparations should be paid, but by whom?

Camlost said...

Despite what you might have seen on 'Roots' many, many moons ago, it was seldom, if ever the practice of European slave dealers to actually invade the continent of Africa with the intent of forming 'raiding parties' to literally carry off likely slaves.

"King and chief probably had a big beef... because of that now I grit my teeth"

-- Public Enemy

Yes, that opening scene of "Roots" makes for great cinema. But, would European slavers really need to go on expeditions into Africa's rugged interior to obtain slaves when they could just pull up to the coast with a few bottles of rum and have their slaves hand-delivered to them by other Africans?

Anonymous said...

pat

"But black slavery - meaning exporting slaves from black Africa - is quite recent. The first black slaves in the English colonies were at Jamestown around 1610."

That is true if the spotlight is rigidly fixed on the north european phase of black slavery but not if you look at the entire history.

The north european phase was very short as you say but the atlantic part of the slave-trade started on the Portuguese owned islands along the west coast of Africa and into Brazil a century or two earlier.

Before (and all the way through) that period Arabs had been raiding black Africa for slaves back to the Arab conquests so c. 1500 years.

And long before that there were slave-traders on the border of Ancient Egypt and Nubia in 1500 BC and before that people from the Yemen area who had learned about sugar from India setting up sugar plantations on the coast of Ethiopia using slaves.

(Sugar is an integral part of the history of slavery because of its very labor-intensive nature.)

So yes the northern euro phase of african slavery was a small part of the total history but the total history stretchs back more than 3000 years.

#

inorakamala

"The African continent was destroyed through centuries of violence for enslavement imposed by Europeans."

After 3000 years of violence for enslavement imposed by non-europeans.

Anonymous said...

"But, would European slavers really need to go on expeditions into Africa's rugged interior"

They couldn't do it that way because they had no resistance to tropical diseases. They did it the same way the Arabs and others had done it for millenia - they stayed on the coast.

Dave Pinsen said...

It's interesting to consider what Africa and other less-developed regions of the world would look like without western agricultural and medical advances that made possible population explosions. Although these innovations saved lots of lives they may have lowered the quality of life and worsened civil society in those regions. Maybe with slower growing populations, civil society could have better kept pace and local takes on modern forms of government could have gradually developed. Perhaps they still will. There have a few encouraging developments in parts of Africa recently.

Anonymous said...

No Indian, especially no Indian woman, would want to go back to India the way it was before the British raj. Or during, of course.

Would Indians prefer British rule if India's GDP per capita were 4x its present level (1/4 of China's)? No way to tell short of an East Germany/West Germany type of divide. Are Goans better off under Indian rule? Thanks to the Indian invasion, they never had a choice.

Anonymous said...

No no no! Black Africans achieved wonderful civilizations that were greatly superior to anything in Europe for centuries. Not one African sold his brother into slavery, so quit trying to drag Africans into this with the evil Europeans. How crackers conquered their superiors is still a mystery, but the barbarians sacked Rome, right?

All that said, now these nations have a great opportunity. After ObamaCare fails and the President wisely switches us by decree over to single payer health insurance, the rich will want to sneak off to new hospitals offshore to get hip replacements, etc. rather than wait 5 years to get them in the United States. The brothers will get rich driving these patients from the airport to the new hospitals that will spring up.

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