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Did slavery make Britain rich?

Decolonisation and Progressive Masochism

by Doug Stokes

Slavery has been common across all human civilisations as an institution. The dominant ‘decolonial’ narrative we now have in the UK, primarily due to the wholesale importation of America’s culture war psychodrama, seeks to attribute responsibility and guilt to the UK in the present day, not least by attributing its past and present wealth to slavery. What is the evidence?

brittish slave wealth
Interior of a boiling house, 1823, West Indies; William Clark / British Library

Many decolonial theorists draw upon a one-sided view of history to give a moral impetus to their critique. They argue that the UK’s pre-eminence did not emerge from its science and the advent of the industrial revolution. Instead, “we need to trace how genocide, slavery and colonialism are the key foundation stones upon which the West was built” argues Kehinde Andrews, one of the UK’s leading critical race theorists.  Echoing the rejection of the enlightenment tradition, he continues that its legacy “was essential in providing the intellectual basis for Western imperialism, justifying White supremacy through scientific rationality”.

To continue reading, switch to the History Reclaimend-webite, Novermber 7, 2022, conclusive paragraph:

History is essential, and these debates are ongoing. Still, the claim of the collective guilt or that cultural institutions should continue to self-flagellate is a simplistic narrative weaponised by activists to provide a moral impetus to their broader goals of political transformation.

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