Birth of an Empire (Part 2) – Slavery

On the second Monday of every October the people of the United States of America, and various other countries, celebrate an annual holiday called ‘Columbus Day’. This is a celebration of the day Christopher Columbus “discovered” the Americas and also where the start of Europe’s rise from a group of small warring states into the most powerful region on Earth can be traced. From this new found land would come imperialism from the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.

Christopher Columbus arrived on the islands of the Bahamas and made friends with the local King, who owned a trade network across various Caribbean islands. They gave each other gifts and the King felt that Columbus would become a new trading partner.

Columbus left and would then return, this time as a conqueror. He would take over the land, build mines and make the natives into slaves. Thousands of slaves were made to work in the mines and help make Spain rich, so you can see the Europeans link with slavery has been present since they first came to America and it would soon grow into one of the worst crimes of all time.

In the days when England was still a small state, hardly known to the civilized world, it was run by a system called Feudalism. Chairman Omali Yeshitela, of the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement, said of feudalism: “It’s the next closest thing to slavery. It wasn’t slavery where they were selling each other, but the people who lived there were tied to the land. If the landlord sold the land they went with the land

From there the Irish people on the island next to Britain were made into slaves, but they were too small in number. Soon the British along with other European states would take slaves from Africa and the numbers would go into the millions.

It is very hard for many people to really understand what it must have been like at a time when a human could be seen as property just like a cow, or to understand how the people then could have forced themselves to believe that such a crime could be justified, especially in a Christian world. They had to tell themselves that black people were only three-fifths of a human being and therefore didn’t need to be treated by the same biblical moral standards as white people. Also there is a verse in the Bible, where Noah (peace be upon him) cursed one of his sons:

Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers

They said that Canaan was the ancestor of all black people and from his brothers Shem and Japheth would come white people and Asian people. They said that this was proof that black people were meant to be slaves. It is crazy to believe, but there are black people today who still interpret the story the same way.

The idea that slaves were meant to be sex objects as well is already quite known, but one part that is glossed over is how many of the homosexual slave owners would rape their male slaves.

As the industrial revolution happened in Britain, the British set up up something which became known as the “Triangle of Shame”. They would take slaves from Africa to the Americas, where they would work in plantations. In the US it was usually cotton, whilst in the Caribbean it would be sugar. These resources would be taken to Britain where the factories would hire the poor to work in horrible conditions for hardly anything, making mostly clothes from the cotton and biscuits from the sugar. The triangle of shame would help Britain become rich and powerful enough to conquer a quarter of the world. This is where capitalism was born, in slavery and the industrial revolution, it was the advancement of feudalism into an international and imperialist version, which was far more profitable.

The plantation owners in the US became so rich that they decided they no longer needed to pay taxes and that they were so rich they would no longer need to answer to the royal family back in their homeland. So the slave traders of thirteen of the colonial possessions of the British in the United States decided to split off and start their own country. This would later become known as the “War of Independence” and Americans would celebrate this annually with the celebration known as “Independence Day”. However this was not, as the name would suggest, a valiant freedom struggle by the native Americans against the English colonialists, but a war between the Royal Family of Britain and the Slave Corporations of Britain, fighting over which set of Brits should control slavery. Therefore ironically it was not a war of Independence, but in fact a war of Slavery. The slave traders won and created the United States as a separate entity to Britain.

From when the United States was formed there was slavery in both North and South and so when the US make out that it was in the South were slavery was and in the North they were so liberal and enlightened, this was only true for a period of a few decades. In fact Abraham Lincoln who finally made slavery illegal in the United States only did so to encourage slaves in the South to revolt against there owners.

The United States is a country built on two Holocausts, first the Native American Genocide and land grab and then the African Slave Trade. It is important to understand this point when looking at the mentality of America today and its actions in the rest of the world. Although slavery was abolished and the killing of a Native American illegal in America today, they have evolved their tactics in order to create the largest empire on Earth, an Empire run by the corporations rather than by monarchies as traditionally Empires have been. Corporations do not answer to the people, the leaders that the people elect and believe they chose have become the corporations’ scapegoats. Wage slaves in much of the third world work for these corporations in mines and factories, often getting paid just enough to survive. The genocide continues across the world wherever people are getting too strong. But this leads us onto the next part of America’s history, Imperialism.


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