The End of Empires: African Americans and India
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History; in the Service of Solidarity
Community was turned against community, neighbor against neighbor. Simultaneously, the agents of this apocalypse profited handsomely. London was a prime beneficiary of this systemic cruelty.
England had a 33 percent share of the slave trade in and 74 percent by Of that dreadful total, the Royal African Company, under the thumb of the Crown, held a hefty 90 percent share in , but with deregulation and the entrance into this sinfully profitable market by freelance merchants, this total had shrunk to 8 percent by As scholar William Pettigrew has argued forcefully, the African slave trade rested at the heart of what is still held dear in capitalist societies: free trade, anti-monarchism, and a racially sharpened and class-based democracy.
However, the surging merchants so essential to the fomenting of the so-called Glorious Revolution in , which was a kind of Magna Carta for racialized bourgeois democracy, contained aching contradictions beyond the obvious of being immersed in flesh peddling. In order to undermine Madrid, London in the late sixteenth century commissioned pirates to hound the vessels groaning with wealth purloined from the Americas. These swashbucklers found sanctuary in Jamaica, particularly in , a true turning point that marked the decline of the ousted Spanish Empire and the rise of its London-based counterpart.
Similarly, as the religious conflicts that animated the seventeenth century began to recede—Christian vs. Muslim, Catholic vs. Protestant—and as the filthy wealth generated by slavery and dispossession accelerated, capitalism and profit became the new god, with its curia in the basilicas of Wall Street.
Business schools are cathedrals of capitalism. Consultants are its traveling friars. Just as the clergy in the days of feudalism spoke in Latin to give their words an air of authority, the myrmidons of capitalism speak in a similarly indecipherable mumbo-jumbo. Moreover, underdevelopment, particularly in Africa, is not only a product of the depopulation of the halest and heartiest delivered by the ignominious slave trade. It is the almost casual destruction of Africa, as when Vasco da Gama whimsically bombarded Mogadishu in the late fifteenth century—then continued his rapacious journey—followed shortly thereafter by one of his comrades leaving in his wake a trail of blood along the Swahili coast, not to mention the brutal reconfiguration of what is now Eritrea, leaving tensions and contradictions that have yet to be resolved.
Like a seesaw, as London rose, Africa and the Americas fell. Surely, if one seeks to understand how and why it is that so many Africans reside in North America speaking a language with roots in Western Europe, an intimate understanding of the seventeenth century is a requisite. Enslaved Africans constituted two-thirds of the total migration into the Americas between and During the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries and continuing into following centuries, Europeans advanced the technology of war-fighting vessels, a boon for the elite of the British Isles.
Between and the rate of successful handgun fire multiplied by a factor of ten. It was during the s, driven by seemingly unceasing conflicts between and among them, that European powers developed not just muskets but also countermarch drilling, whereby the front row of gunners fire off their charges, then march to the back of the formation in order to reload.
An island monarchy, England had a felt need to develop a formidable navy, which included broadside ships with multiple tiers of cannon and the capacity to sail close to the wind. Another innovation that guaranteed rising European power was the building of thick walled forts with angled bastions that often provided defenders with an advantage over far superior numbers.
With no land frontier to defend, at least not to the same degree as continental rivals such as Spain and France, London disproportionately devoted its military expenditure to the navy, which had untoward consequences for Africa and the Americas. Thus, even though the French in had almost three times more men in service, London was steadily exceeding Paris in colonial conquest. In a sense, the colonial defenestration of Ireland was a rehearsal for what befell the Americas and Africa. The influence of the Dutch on events in English colonies, not least in illustrating the value of republicanism, should be underscored here too.
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The isles off the western coast of Europe had plenty of experience with martial conflict, beginning in the early s. However, it was not just England that was beset by turmoil. There were also a series of revolts in France known as the Fronde, which may have surpassed in havoc and intensity the events there of the late eighteenth century.
By there was a kind of coup that hit the Netherlands. In there was a revolt in Catalonia that failed, accompanied by another in Portugal against Madrid that succeeded. The next year there was nearly a revolt in Andalusia as well. In there was a major revolt in Naples. In short, there was a general crisis in Western Europe, inducing strains that were then transferred to the Americas and Africa. The crisis in Europe was resolved in part by transferring the raging militarism westward for conquest.
Gerald Horne | Department of History - University of Houston
However, dialectically, the riches driven by dispossession and mass enslavement helped to propel colonial merchants, many with close ties to New England, to the forefront in London in the s when civil war rocked England. Finally, these merchants directed a revolt against the monarchy in that allowed them to further enrich themselves at the expense of enslaved Africans and looted indigenes.
In other words, what was unfolding in Western Europe was in some ways a regional crisis of production as the emerging bourgeoisie strained against the feudal leash, then broke free while retaining the bloodily bellicose backwardness of the previous regime, which facilitated enslavement and dispossession. Bookending these mass uprisings were the rebellions in Ireland in and According to the late E. Providing a frenzied context was the reality that the year witnessed the third coldest summer recorded over the past six centuries in the Northern Hemisphere.
In there were more deaths from snow and frost and extreme cold than from violence, which admittedly was extreme, too. There was an accompanying severe drought in Senegambia and Upper Niger from to Angola records a unique concentration of droughts, local infestations, and epidemics throughout the second quarter of the seventeenth century with a major drought and famine in the late s, as slave ships began to descend in southwest Africa in droves.
A quarter or perhaps even a third of the adult male population may have been in arms in the British Isles during this period. Casualties were astronomical, higher as a proportion of population than the catastrophic figures of the First World War. The figures for Scotland in the s were even higher, and those of Ireland higher still. This not only created battle-hardened troops well-disposed to subdue Africa and the Americas, but the losers in these conflicts were often dispatched to the budding Caribbean plantations as bonded laborers, and their resultant bumptious rebelling then set the stage for creating enslaved Africans and indigenes to supplant them.
These s conflicts were another turning point in terms of the apocalypse that ensnared Africans and indigenous Americans. Yet, like a seesaw, as some lost their lives, their freedom, others benefited. This occurred after he had succeeded against the odds as a Virginia planter, taking up a grant at Blunt Point, near what is now Newport News, as early as Thomson was also a tireless trafficker in human lives, taking up a grant in St. Kitts to facilitate his growing involvement in the African slave trade. The busy Thomson also had a hand in the Canadian fur trade.
These sovereigns, including the now battle-hardened England, were able to turn their military prowess outward toward Africa and the Americas. In the process, toughened, albeit defeated, troops were exported abroad to the Caribbean, suitable for wreaking havoc on the indigenous and Africans alike. Moreover, Britain itself faces the prospect of partition if Brexit, a primarily English demand, is achieved and Scottish nationalists renew their call for independence.
Ireland was cynically partitioned to ensure that Protestant settlers outnumber native Catholics in one part of the country. The division provoked decades of violence and consumed thousands of lives.
Faculty and Staff
It was partly healed in , when a peace agreement removed the need for security checks along the British-imposed partition line. But Brexiteers, awakening late to this ominous possibility, have tried to deny it. A leaked recording revealed Mr. Politicians and journalists in Ireland are understandably aghast over the aggressive ignorance of English Brexiteers. Businesspeople everywhere are outraged by their cavalier disregard for the economic consequences of new borders.
But none of this would surprise anyone who knows of the unconscionable breeziness with which the British ruling class first drew lines through Asia and Africa and then doomed the people living across them to endless suffering. The British government had announced that India would have independence by June In the first week of June , however, Mountbatten suddenly proclaimed that the transfer of power would happen on Aug.
In July, a British lawyer named Cyril Radcliffe was entrusted with the task of drawing new boundaries of a country he had never previously visited. Printed Pages: In The End of Empires, Gerald Home provides an unprecedented history of the relationship between African Americans and Indians in the period leading up to India's independence in Home tells the fascinating story of these exchanges, including the South Asian influence on the Nation of Islam and the close friendship between Paul Robeson and India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Buchbeschreibung Zustand: New. This is Brand New. Gerald Horne. Verlag: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers , Neu kaufen Mehr zu diesem Angebot erfahren. Weitere beliebte Ausgaben desselben Titels. Kunden, die diesen Artikel gekauft haben, kauften auch:. Beste Suchergebnisse bei AbeBooks.