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CHAPTER 12

"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 plantations.

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.

Estimates 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

The monstrosity 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 him.

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 But, colonial legislation, which gave landowners in the New World entrenched net advantages over their slaves, has been replaced by modern Acts that give net advantages to lenders, franchisers, producers, employers, landlords, etc.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.

 


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1 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 (slave-trade statistics).

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.

  

 


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