Capitalism & Slavery
Slavery helped finance the Industrial Revolution in England. Plantation owners, shipbuilders, and merchants connected with the slave trade accumulated vast fortunes that established banks and heavy industry in Europe and expanded the reach of capitalism worldwide.
Eric Williams advanced these powerful ideas in Capitalism and Slavery, published in 1944. Years ahead of its ti...more
Paperback, 285 pages
Published December 15th 1994 by University of North Carolina Press
(first published 1944)
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I enjoyed the marginalia in this book just as much as the text itself; evidently, previous readers took great exception to Williams' thesis that capitalism, not racism, was the driving force behind the development of West Indian slavery and the slave trade. Although I too am doubtful that a racist logic wasn't anterior to slavery (even if, as another reviewer writes, "race" is not a transhistorical concept), these readers seemed to assign to Williams the position that because slavery was first a...more
The argument is simple: slavery helped in financing the British Industrial revolution via capital mobility and large scale investments and it was abandoned when it stopped being profitable. Whether the conclusion is true or false, this book remains a very serious economic analysis of slavery. It was written in 1944 and it's mostly focused around the British West Indies. It's also very cynical, with subtle commentary on the commodity status of human beings that would made any person's skin crawl....more
This is a research book first and foremost. The main point of the book is that without slavery there is no capitalism. This is the book that convinced me to go back to school and get a degree in economics. While maybe not riveting it certainly is an information packed book that backs up its argument really well.
Mar 19, 2008 Trashy Pit rated it 5 of 5 stars
The Atlantic Slave Trade provided the investment capital needed to fund the development of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe. It's all here. Williams was the first to lay it all out. As a result, mainstream "historians" attacked and marginalized him. But he was basically right.
Explanation of how the North was dependent on slavery in the South to develop its economy and to industrialize. Also discusses the complicity of North and South in the Triangle Trade between West Africa, the Caribbean, and the US during the centuries of slavery in America.
The former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, noted intellectual and scholar Dr. Eric Williams provides an analysis of the economic relationship that existed between the sea faring nations of western europe, their colonies, and the product that was used to to bring those very same nations to a level of power and influence....slaves.