It’s preposterous to claim that capitalism caused slavery

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.

hat-tip Matthew