It’s preposterous to claim that capitalism caused slavery, by Jamie Whyte.
International slavery has been practised all around the world and all through history: ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Rome, pre-colonial Polynesia and parts of Africa to this day, to name but a few examples. Given that people are inclined to enslave others, whether or not they live in a capitalist economy, it is strange to attribute slavery to capitalism.
But the claim is even more far-fetched than that. [Socialist commentator Owen Jones who made the claim in his Guardian column] can hardly have failed to notice that the slave trade was outlawed in the United Kingdom in the 19th century, just when modern capitalism was developing. And it wasn’t a mere coincidence. The individualistic ideas that motivated market liberalism also motivated a repugnance for slavery.