"The Commercial Ideal of Individual Freedom
and of English Comfort"
I have argued earlier that,
technically, the Money Trust can take control of almost every aspect of economic
life. But is economic totalitarianism possible today? Can millions be subjugated
economically? Can submission be taught? Of course.
In The Road to Serfdom,
Hayek, who abhorred Communism and Nazism, wrote with admiration about "the commercial
ideal of individual freedom and of English comfort."1 Hayek was right about the horrors
of collectivism; but he appears to have been badly misinformed about "English
comforts." Consider the case of the civilized, God-fearing Englishmen who operated
the plantations in the colonies. They were labor hungry, but they had "commercial
ideals." So what did they do? They made long-term investments in slaves --
inexpensive, genetically self-reproducing labor -- so they could cultivate their
Slavery. If I understand Peter Kolchin's American
Slavery, 1619-1877, correctly, the ROYAL AFRICAN COMPANY was the world's first
transnational corporation dedicated to slave trade.2 British-dominated transatlantic
trade created the world's first global marketplace for humans as property.
reported in Kolchin put the number of living slaves, who were bought on one side of
the Atlantic and sold on the other -- in the New World --, from the 16th through the 19th
century, at 10 to 11 million!3 In 1860, only one year after the
publication of Darwin's The Origin of Species, only 488,070 (or 11%) of the total
black population of the United States were free.4
and evil of the marketplace have no bounds. Howard Zinn reported this rough estimate:
" . . . Africa lost 50 million human beings to death and slavery . . . at the
hands of slave traders and plantation owners in . . . the countries deemed the most
advanced in the world"5 [my emphasis].
As I mentioned earlier, if
Darwin did not exist, the seekers of "English comforts" would have had to invent
Today, traffic in slaves is
not permitted in the marketplaces of the developed world. But, colonial legislation, which
gave landowners in the New World entrenched net advantages over their slaves, has
been replaced by modern Acts that give net advantages to lenders, franchisers,
producers, employers, landlords, etc. The reality, then, is that hundreds of millions of
citizens have, it appears, already been subjugated economically -- via mortgages, leases,
loans, credit lines, etc.
See Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, 1944, 1972, and 1994, at 186-187
("English commercial ideals").
2 See Peter Kolchin, American
Slavery, 1619-1877, 1993, 12 (Royal African Company). For additional information, see
Jacob M. Price, Credit in the Slave Trade and Plantation Economies, in Slavery and the
Rise of the Atlantic System, edited by Barbara L. Solow, 1991, at 293-339.
3 Ibid., at 22
4 Ibid., at
241 (Table 2, Free Black Population, in Absolute Numbers and as a Percentage of Total
Black Population, 1790-1860; cited source: Ira Berlin, Slaves Without Masters: The Free
Negro in the Antebellum South, 1974, at 46-47, 136-137).
5 See Howard Zinn, A
People's History of the United States, 1492-Present, 1995, at 29.