Thursday, February 28, 2013

Slaves to our past

From Brother Ivo:

Whether we like it or not, Britain has a colonial past, rooted in circumstances, values and world-views utterly different to those we have today. We have no personal responsibility for it, and cannot change it even if we wanted to. If we were afforded the opportunity to time-travel and interfere with that history, there is no guarantee that we would like the resulting outcome any better than what we have today. It ought to be a field of study approached with scholarly caution.

As a contribution to our understanding of that past, the University College of London has published online a searchable database detailing all the individuals and companies which were compensated at the time of the abolition of slavery, and that publication has brought the class warriors out in force.

No sooner had The Independent carried the story on Monday than we had Lee Jasper tweeting his right to be compensated for the chain of events which led him to being inexplicably appointed by Ken Livingstone to be London’s Director of Policing and Equalities, on a publicly-funded salary of £127,000. Brother Ivo agrees there is an outrage here, though not perhaps in the way Mr Jasper thinks.

Slavery is a very touchy issue in a multi-cultural society. It generates more heat than light when there is a poor grasp of the history. Sometimes the unlikely turn up as heroes and vice versa. There are significant ironies.

Because slavery has existed throughout history in societies as diverse as Africa Mexico, China, New Zealand and the Middle East, it was used by philosophers from Aristotle to Aquinas to Locke to develop the idea of ‘Natural Law’. Every known society seemed to have knowledge of common prohibitions such as murder and incest, and institutions such as marriage, kingship, and slavery. The very acceptance of such common standards of behaviour resulted in the Natural Law theory which is the forerunner of ‘Universal Human Rights’. It is not surprising that such commonly-identified features of human society such as slavery were expressed in religious thought, not least in Christianity.

Slave references abound in the Old Testament without objection, and in First Epistle of Peter, slaves are advised to obey their masters. Similarly in Paul‘s Epistle to Philemon, the Apostle discusses his need for services of the slave Onesimus without ever suggesting that the institution which bound him to his master Philemon was in any sense wrong or contrary to the will of God. Jesus never spoke against slavery in plain terms: that biblical reticence fortified many slave-owning apologists.

It would be wrong, however, to regard slavery as in any sense limited to Christian or Western thought or custom. The very term ‘slave’ derives from the Balkan peoples who were the greatest source of slaves in history, being preyed upon for centuries by the Ottoman Empire. Cassanova records seducing a Greek slave girl; North African corsairs took slaves from the coastal villages of Devon and Cornwall; and the African slave trade developed from the sale of captives of war both within Africa and beyond.

If there was an early exception to this universality it perhaps began in England, where the Archbishop of Canterbury St Anselm convened a Council of Westminster in 1102 to differentiate the status of serfs from slaves. Serfs may have been tied to the land by feudal obligation, but they could own property and had rights. Free men were more productive than slaves and could contribute in taxes – a concept that is often overlooked by modern politicians.

The Council declared: ‘Let no one hereafter presume to engage in that nefarious trade in which hitherto in England men were usually sold like brute animals.’

The status of slaves brought from abroad was considered by the English Courts in 1569 in Cartwright’s case, where the defendant was observed beating another and the Court rejected his defence that the man was a Russian slave he had imported, and so not to be regarded as a legal ‘person’, but rather as ‘property’ to be treated as he wished. The Court gave that short-shrift and bequeathed to us the splendid phrase ‘that England was too pure an air for a slave to breathe in’. In essence, once landed, the slave was free.

The law in the colonies was more equivocal, but the principle in Cartwright’s case was developed in Somersett’s case When Lord Mansfield, a highly-conservative Judge who has been called the Father of the modern Tory Party, declared: “The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged.”

No doubt Mr Jasper would regret the Judge’s lack of diversity-training, but Brother Ivo still applauds his moral judgment.

It may not have escaped notice that the Judge took a strict constructionist approach to judicial activity. This contrasts with the next step in the story.

The disinclination to uphold slavery had always had a connection to England’s Christian heritage. It is worth noting that the Council of Koblenz (922) declared that if someone sold a Christian into slavery they would be guilty of murder. William the Conqueror had also declared: ‘We forbid anyone to sell a Christian into a foreign land and especially to heathens. For let great care be taken lest their souls for which Christ gave His life be sold into damnation.’

It was that divide between the Christian and non-Christian that was exploited at the beginning of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but the legal decision which established the legality of slavery in the New World was taken in circumstances that confound modern-day assumptions about who would hold what attitudes towards slavery.

In 1665, Anthony Johnson brought a legal suit against his indentured servant John Casor to enforce an agreement whereby Casor was said to have bound himself to Johnson for life. The success of that suit, determined by a judge (not any legislative body) established for the first time in law the legality of slavery in the British colonies.

It is a terrible irony that both Johnson and Casor were black and Johnson a former slave himself.

It is easy to assume that former slaves would despise the institution which oppressed them, yet many did not and became slave owners when freed. John Newton, the author of the hymn Amazing Grace, was a slave-trader who was himself enslaved for a period in Africa.

Following his Christian conversion, independent of that slavery experience, Newton worked with Thomas Clarkson of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, providing the necessary first-hand evidence of the trade. He was perhaps the first significant ‘whistle-blower’. Eventually, the Conservative MP (he means 'Tory' - Ed.) and Evangelical William Wilberforce brought the legislation to fruition.

When Britain abolished the international slave-trade in 1807, it was a major affront to modern liberals. It was a unilateral act of aggressive foreign policy. It was a violation of International Law and objected to as such. Britain even engaged in regime change, deposing the King of Lagos, a key player in the transatlantic slave trade. The abolition should be seen as a complete Neo-Con forerunner of the war in Iraq.

Reading the UCL database, some have noted the mechanism of compensating the former owners and phasing in the liberation with a period of apprenticeships. The transition in societies without a welfare state was always going to be risky. In the lead-up to the American Civil War, a Southern politician graphically summed up the problem with ‘We have a wolf by the ears’. Releasing that grip was a serious concern. There was a real fear of slave revolt and bloody conflict, both of which had happened on several occasions with slave risings. The British managed their transition by compromise, compensation and without the 600,000 dead of the American Civil War.

I am sure Mr Jasper might enjoy baiting David Cameron or Douglas Hogg, both of whose family appears on the compensated list. We all might enjoy the sight of Mr Jasper locking horns with Richard Dawkins, whose family similarly benefitted. He might also go after both Barack and Michelle Obama, both of whom have slave-owning forebears.

If any of you happen to be a descendant of Anthony Johnson, however, Brother Ivo fears that it might be prudent to check your home contents legal insurance cover in case Mr Jasper gets really started.

The reparations debate has begun, and its ambit might be wide-ranging. In 2009, the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria wrote an open letter to African chieftains calling for an apology for their role in the Atlantic slave-trade: "We cannot continue to blame the white men, as Africans, particularly the traditional rulers, are not blameless. In view of the fact that the Americans and Europe have accepted the cruelty of their roles and have forcefully apologised, it would be logical, reasonable and humbling if African traditional rulers accept blame and formally apologise to the descendants of the victims of their collaborative and exploitative slave.”

Brother Ivo sees the argument as fraught with complexity and counter claims – just think of the legal fees!

It is easy to judge figures of history, but one hopes that Mr Jasper will be a little less keen to seek his money. He might be better directing his energies and indignation by campaigning against the continuing slave trade. In a more reflective mood, he might care to offer prayers for the integrity of the unlikely heroes – the Saintly Anselm, the principled High Tory Judge, the Evangelical Tory MP, and the rough seaman who paid the price for other’s convictions and liberty.

He should publicly pay tribute to the men (British and African) of the Royal Navy West Africa Squadron which did the dirty work and suppressed the slave-trade. Perhaps Mr Jasper might consider seeking a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize for these truly forgotten heroes, or even establishing a fund and inviting the families on the compensation list to contribute a little for a suitable memorial. We have an empty plinth in Trafalgar Square.

(Posted by Brother Ivo).


Blogger David B said...

It has for many years seemed strange to me that people seek reparations for injustices, not only when the people who actually suffered the injustices are now dead, but the seekers would not, in all probability, themselves be alive had the injustices had not taken place.

The only way in which I can make sense of original sin, as allegory, is to note that the lives of all of us are dependent on war, murder, rape, conquest, famine, plague, pestilence and slavery at some - many - points in our ancestry.

The likelihood of my parents ever having met and married had WW2 not happened is so remote as to be not worth considering, had slavery not happened the likelihood of the the parents of the descendants of slaves having met seems equally unlikely, and so history goes back.

How many of us here would have been born had WW1 not happened? Not many, I'd be prepared to bet a large amount. Our grandparents or great grandparents would have met and married others, or spent their time in the marriage bed at different times, so that the individual egg and sperm that makes up each of us would never have come together.

It is to atrocities that all of us owe our existences. This is not to excuse them, or fail to seek to avoid them in future, but to give reparations to people whose very lives depend on evil things in the past seems odd to me.


28 February 2013 at 09:17  
Blogger David B said...

One thing to add. One of the causes that led to the decline in wealth of my home town some hundreds of years ago was the rise of the Barbary Pirates who took many local ships, and made slaves of their crew. Successive plagues, the Spanish war destroying trade with Spain, and later the Civil War.


28 February 2013 at 09:34  
Blogger John Chater said...

Brother Ivo,

Thank you for this brilliantly balanced and reasonable piece on perhaps the most complicated and controversial subject in history – the best short essay on the slave trade that I have ever read.

Mr Jasper is a caricature of a 1980s 'right on' bleater, an increasingly marginal and anachronistic type of moaner, so I wouldn't be too concerned about his endless protestations. It would be pleasing to see you in his job.

You could also rewrite the school curriculum text on the subject, to spare the next generation of white English pupils the unfair burden of believing that they, somehow, are oppressors, and also, of course, the next generation of blacks from believing that they are victims.

Now that would be a positive change, at last.

Again, thanks.

28 February 2013 at 10:32  
Blogger Ivan said...

Africans themselves were among the worst slavers, for how else were the victims transported to the shores to be transported by the Europeans? The Europeans had no natural defence against many of the horrid diseases that plagued the African rivers and interiors. (Diseases that were cured only through the massive and often altruistic efforts of the whites.)Slavery of every kind was the lot of humanity since Adam, and only the Christian West were men troubled sufficiently to eradicate it. The Wilberforces and the Lincolns went beyond the call of duty and acted in noble compassion for their fellow men. Can the African or for that matter the Asian or the Arab say that they had ever fought a war to win freedom for slaves? Did they lose 650,000 men in that effort? The British have screwed up their education system to the extent that malice and lies by motivated fools go unanswered. The hiologist Steve Jones relates a story where after a talk in some some part of Africa where he pointed out that DNA studies showed that we are all brothers under our skins, a listener demurred that while he was indeed a brother to Dr Jones, he by no means shared a fraternal bond to members of those other tribes. The famous anthropolgist Levi-Strauss in his book Trieste Tropiques wrote a disturbing passage on his sojourn in Calcutta wherein he narrates the pathetic lot of the untouchables; the most miserable of whom would never get off their haunches as that was the most convenient position from which clear the detritus and excrement of their betters.

Examples such these are legion. As a wag put it: the East (and the rest) has forgotten more about racism that the West ever learbt.

28 February 2013 at 11:57  
Blogger Jon said...

Brother Ivo, I think Wilberforce's status as a "Conservative MP" would have been news to the man himself. He died in 1833. The Tory party wasn't founded until 1834.

28 February 2013 at 13:02  
Blogger Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

28 February 2013 at 13:27  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...


Quite so. I'd add that his deep and abiding sense of personal duty, charity, and unflinching faith would almost certainly render him incompatible with the modern Tory party.

28 February 2013 at 13:29  
Blogger Jon said...

AIB - well, back when I was a Christian I used to think Toryism and Christianity were incompatible because Tories seemed to display so little love for their fellow man.

Nowadays, I'm not sure any political tribe offers much in the way of love to anyone other than their pet groups. There doesn't seem to be anyone acting in the broader national interest.

28 February 2013 at 13:38  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 February 2013 at 15:02  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

An excellent piece from Bro Ivo on a very touchy subject.

I think this must be the first time have I ever been made aware of the essential role played by the African rulers being criticised by a modern African nation; most refreshing; I have learned something of which I shall explore more thoroughly. I have long held the view that post Windrush, this country has been publicly flagellating itself for its colonial past without objective analysis or comparison.

Because we are now (whether I/we like it or not), a multi-cultural nation, should not mean history should be allowed to be re-written by either by Hollywood or professional contra-racists like Lee Jasper/Denise Abbot/Iqbal Sacraine/Ajnem Choudry et al. Historical events in history may well make us squirm by today's social standards – but it does need to be somewhat viewed through a contextual prism. What do we hear of the French, Portugese or Spanish by way of collective, wailing contrition and claims for reparation – very little - if any thing.

As for Lincoln, just happened to be the Union President engaged in civil war to maintain the hegemony of the Union of States at a time of crisis. He was not singularly elected on a ticket to heroically emancipate the slaves; that was a late but convenient adjunct to further undermine Confederate confidence in continuing the fight: not to mention expunging any faith a economic viable future they may have had, without access to the slave system. Not quite the same thing at all, as some people would like us to think.

By comparison,it is very doubtful that William Wallace looked like, or was as honourable as Mel Gibson in ‘ Braveheart’ but if the movie is repeated enough on TV the image of such an illusion will be fixed in the minds of the dumbed-down majority, with 'the English’ forever cast in the role of the perennial bad-guys: what does it matter that Edward 1st was culturally Norman French, or that the majority of the ‘English’ of the time, were not the English today but largely the rag-tag remnants of a conquered disparate group of post Roman/Anglo Saxon left-overs. No need to guess what would be the reaction if an English National Party or a White Police Officer's Association suddenly sprung in to prominence.

Michael Gove is at least making some effort to re-instate in to the national curriculum, the chronological study of history after years of post-Marxist meddling by Labour and the teaching unions; hopefully not all is lost.

Hollywood may occasionally make good entertainment, but it never makes good history.

28 February 2013 at 15:13  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Brother Ivan,

The reason that African slave workers were taken to the Americas was indeed the supposed capacity to work in conditions that killed countless Britons who were unused to the climate and prevalent diseases. Of course many Africans who survived the crossing also died through diseases to which they had no resistance.

Brother David B makes the " what if point" that follows all such turmoils. Like him Brother Ivo results from a wartime meeting -asouthern father meeting a northern
Mother that would not have occurred without Hitler.

An intriguing imponderable is what would have happened if Queen Elizabeth had taken up a suggestion from the King of Morrocco with whom she was allied post Reformation. Noting the Northern European problems in working in the Americas he pointed out that his people's coped with those conditions and proposed a joint venture to populate that continent. She declined -but what if....?!

28 February 2013 at 17:22  
Blogger The Gray Monk said...

Brother Ivo, thank you for a wonderful post. The slave trade persists today, though in different guise, in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Interestingly, in 1997 I was in Accra, Ghana, when the headline news was the Ashanti King's apology for the role of his tribe in the slave trade. It is often forgotten that this was not fully suppressed until the British, primarily a force of Royal Marines and Seaman gunners, succeeded in defeating the Ashanti in a major campaign in the late 1870s early 1880s which resulted in the British colonial rule of Ghana.

This was repeated in Central Africa, in modern Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi where the Mashona peoples were engaged with Arab slave traders based in Mombasa and Dar es Salaam and the British South Africa Police under the British South Africa Company engaged in a long war to suppress it - leading the the establishment of Southern and Northern Rhodesia and the Nyasaland Protectorate in 1896/7. Only the eviction of the slave traders from the Tanzanian coast by the Germans ended that trade completely.

28 February 2013 at 17:31  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


As for Lincoln, [he] just happened to be the Union President engaged in civil war to maintain the hegemony of the Union of States at a time of crisis.

A little more than that, I think. Lincoln was a member of the Republican Party. That party was born in 1854 because of the collapse of the Whig party over slavery, and became the natural home of anti-slavery Whigs. Lincoln won the election in 1860 because the Democratic party split North & South. His election triggered secession because Lincoln was adamant about not allowing the expansion of slavery into the territories. It wasn't an accident that Lincoln was president when this crisis was finally brought to a head.

The Civil War in the US was caused by slavery, but it was not fought over slavery. It was fought over Union. That is a critical but important distinction.


28 February 2013 at 17:42  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Points conceded Carl, but I dare to suggest the majority here at least ave grown up with only the Raymond Massey version. Regarding history in general, it was decided years ago by the previous government, that History be downgraded as a distinct discipline classed and optional to students beyond the age of 14.

Such history as is taught, is highly selective and essentially minority 'sensitive'.

28 February 2013 at 18:00  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Point of clarification about Lincoln, chaps.

Yes he freed the slaves, but he had no interest in African American rights whatsoever. Just like every other worthy descendant of Europeans, he was aghast at the sexual profligacy of the negro, and wanted nothing to do with the newly freed. He certainly didn’t want them anywhere near him. He became instrumental in the creation of the African state Liberia, and desired that his efforts would ensure that every freed slave would find refuge there. He would have happily waved the last of them off as they left the shores of America, and there would have been no tears shed by him as the ship disappeared over the horizon…

28 February 2013 at 19:00  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

The Inspector, who has a higher than above average IQ, actually finds the ridiculous concept of ‘justifying the past’ to lesser intellects one big bore. Of course, present company excepted as those who adhere to Cranmer are by that very fact, proven clever types.

Now let’s see. The Briton in his lust for world trade clothed the naked negro and took his spear off him. He stopped the Polynesian from eating the neighbours in next island, and he cleverly united several hundred warring peoples in the Indian sub continent into a cohesive and (…almost totally…) unified state.

That was just for starters.

Oh, what’s the bloody point. The whingeing immigrants and their descendants out there aren’t listening. Why should they when there’s a good living to be made from being black and indignant and here in the UK…

Anyway, we are certainly paying the price in this country now. Negro gun, drug and car crime and the occasional riot. Sub continentals who want to blow us to pieces. Forced marriages, daughter killing, sexual predation of white young. Headless negro boy in the Thames, apparently the victim of a sacrificial rite. Drug mules from Jamaica. It all provides to make ethnic types 35% of the prison population (which considering they make up under 10% of the population is a blasted staggering ‘achievement’…)

Right that’s it. Damn well had enough – someone else have a go…

28 February 2013 at 19:02  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

On the subject of Liberia, those of us who were following world affairs in the 1980s will remember the dictator Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, who came to power in a bloody coup in 1980. In 1990, it came for his turn to be deposed. He was captured, tortured by having bits hacked off him, and then killed. Afterwards, and look, there is no easy way to say this; he was eaten (sic). A rather practical (!) and very African method of disposing of your enemy. You could call it a racial trait…{AHEM}…

Now, some words from Carl who wishes to say more on racial matters…

heh heh !

28 February 2013 at 19:03  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...


... was aghast at the sexual profligacy of the negro

Reference this?

28 February 2013 at 19:06  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dreadnaught, the Inspector would normally say ‘do you own legwork’, but as you were great pals with the late bird, this man will see what he can do...

28 February 2013 at 19:08  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

This is an interesting post, I hadn't realised about the history of English case law on slavery.

I do think it's worth making a distinction between Hebrew and Graeco-Roman slavery and the more modern slave trade, as the latter was man-stealing which was punishable by death in the OT law, and of course Paul condemns slave traders. Indentured servitude, whilst still slavery, was quite different to the forced kidnap of Africans from their homes to be brutally shipped across the Atlantic for the profit of fat plantation owners, as well as the shippers from Liverpool and Bristol. The older form was the best way of avoiding absolute poverty in an ancient society without the modern apparatus of the State.

28 February 2013 at 19:28  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Brother Ivo

The whole concept of redemption in the NT is derived from images of slaves being redeemed from slavery. That's a pretty dispositive image.

Beyond that, I have read through your article several times, and haven't found anything else to complain about. Fear not. This has only inspired me to redouble my efforts.


28 February 2013 at 19:35  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dreadnaught, unable to find a direct quote form Lincoln, even after visiting sites put up by those good ole Southern boys who have nothing to gain from portraying Lincoln in a good light. Let’s just say that he was a man of his time, and the biggest criticism the men of his time had about freed slaves was their sexual promiscuity....

28 February 2013 at 19:47  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Ivo, Carl did not bite tonight. Like him, this has only inspired the Inspector to double his efforts...

28 February 2013 at 19:49  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Let’s just say that he was a man of his time, and the biggest criticism the men of his time had about freed slaves was their sexual promiscuity....

Speak for yourself - prove or withdraw.

28 February 2013 at 20:11  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Dreadnaught, bone up on Mark Twain - he was there !

28 February 2013 at 20:24  
Blogger peter_dtm said...

As mentioned above the slave trade was largly NOT a European afair.

Afican tribes sold their unwanted excess population (PoW; unwanted adults & chidren) to Arab (slave) traders; who took the slaves to the coast for sale.

Largest slave trading port ? Dar es Salam on the EAST coast; perfectly sited to supply the slave trades of India and the Persian Gulf. The Atlantic trade was smaller than the Indian Ocean trade.

Blair and all the imbecilic morons who 'apologise' for the UK's involvment of the slave trade seem to be incapable of understanding slaving/slavery and the slave trade were UNIVERSALLY practised until stopped by ....

The British.

The Africans who whinge and moan; should instead have a tax levied on them to recompense Great Britain for the coast of supressing the trade.

And perhaps they may like to contribute to efforts to supress the current trade; which; as has been true since at least the 15th centurary is mainly run by Arabs.

Perhaps the correct response to the Jaspers of the worls is to offer to ship them vback to some African beach on the Gold Coast; and ther deliver him up to the local (Arab) traders; thus returning him to the place and state his ancestors would have been aquired by the British(/American/French/Russian/Spanish/Dutch/African) trader.

oh; and Mr Jasper the UK government wants the money back it had to give away in order to obtain your ancestors freedom.

28 February 2013 at 20:34  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Brother Carl,

Brother Ivo does not wish to upset you with every post!
It was travel through the Southern States of the USA, simultaneously examining the Civil Rights movement and the Civil War which caused Brother Ivo to look into this issue deeply particularly asking how good men could get this so wrong.

He wanted to centre on the slavery story, but has incidentally smuggled one possible controversy past you so far :-).

It can be explored on another occasion.

28 February 2013 at 20:45  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

An excellent post Brother Ivo. Slavery was taken for granted in the Torah, but I do believe it was the only case where its practice was tightly regulated and the essential humanity of the slave was established in law. A contrast to Roman practice. I will go out on a limb and wager a guess that the smuggled controversy you may have in mind is the parallel between the legal stripping of the slave's human status and that of today's unborn.

28 February 2013 at 22:04  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Nice guess Avi ( and a well made point) but round here that isn't too controversial!

Let me stop being a tease!

I accurately refer to there being significant objection to Abolition, based upon a substantial body of biblical texts pointing to slavery being a biblically approved institution.

The Abolitionists were in the main Evangelicals, which is often (though not uniformly) a group that today adopts a more literal/narrow conservative stance towards Bible authority. It is ironic that in one of their most acclaimed reforming successes, they were accused of being dangerous liberals, priggishly overthrowing a universal institution and ignoring the plain teaching of Peter and Paul. One of the problems if you take yourself back into the mindset of the times, is that such a critique had a point.

28 February 2013 at 23:18  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Brother Ivo: It is true that that's how evangelical Christians were seen, but see my comments about man-stealing and slave trading being Biblically censured above.

Also, given that Jesus himself doesn't censure slavery when talking about a slave being beaten with many blows, even those who aren't evangelicals and prefer to go primarily to the teaching of Christ for their theology could find themselves in a similar pickle if they're not careful!

28 February 2013 at 23:47  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

We could speculate that had America continued to be a part of the British Empire, there would have never been a vicious civil war, costing millions of lives in that country. Perhaps slavery could have been abolished in line with British common sense and virtue?

Although of course slavery was not the reason why the Confederacy was formed, but as a response from the Yankee aggression and the election of Lincoln.

28 February 2013 at 23:52  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

If I may add, the British Empire was, on balance a force for good in the world.

The Parliamentary system of democracy, the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, the educational systems, the advancement of civilisation to the world, the medicine we gave to the native chaps.

English is the world language. Shakespeare is known throughout the world.

Our culture and civilisation, liberal and tolerant, is something to be proud of. We Britons can be proud of the fact we have created many of the other examples of democratic civilisation (USA, Israel, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) or helped to make a populous country a large democracy (The Raj).

And reflect, dear friends, that we 'lost' our super power status by thrashing the vile hun and later the evil fascist and their Bushido allies in global battle.

What better way to go out than being the bulwark against the genocidal armies of the Third Reich, when Europe had surrendered,our small islands did not- a regime which wanted to enslave, conquer the whole world and exterminate a whole group of people!

Contrast this with the benign rule of the benevolent and kind British Empire.

If there ever was a devil, then that fascist regime was it. If there was any light in the world, then that was the moment it had to shine.It was a price worth paying.

Imperial guilt is not.

1 March 2013 at 00:04  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Lord Lavendo

Although of course slavery was not the reason why the Confederacy was formed...

The protection of slavery was absolutely the reason the Confederacy was formed. Slavery was the center of both the Southern culture and the Southern economy. The vital Southern interest was an inability to expand slavery into the territories. It threatened a Southern blocking majority in the Senate, and Southern control of the Supreme Court. All the ancillary issues between North and South were derivative of the institution of slavery in the South.

Just read South Carolina's Declaration of Causes for Secession.

... but as a response from the Yankee aggression and the election of Lincoln.

What 'Yankee Aggression?' Refusing to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law? Refusing to allow slavery into the territories? Refusing to recognize the right of the Southern states to secede? Refusing to evacuate the federal territory of Ft Sumter?

You are right about Lincoln's election. But Lincoln's election was guaranteed by the implosion of the Democratic party at the Nomination Convention in Baltimore. What caused that implosion? The Southern delegates refused to accept Stephen Douglas as nominee. And what was the original sin of Douglas? His doctrine of Popular Sovereignty regarding slavery in the territories. The South wanted slavery imposed on certain territories. Douglas wouldn't do it.


1 March 2013 at 00:22  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Carl Jacobs,

Dash it all, of course you would be well versed in your own countries history and can thrash me at this at any time. I am a novice when it comes to these things.

I will have you know that to my Southern relatives, the war was always known as the "War of Northern Aggression" [albeit during the war, my English ancestor's politics was the same colour-blue- as the blood running through their veins].

And of course things are better now in the South, as far as correcting the vile racialism there, for the better.

I am currently reading 'The battle cry of freedom' by some academic chap, James Mcpherson. Well known book. I am currently on page 1.

Until then, I only have my assertions and family loyalty for information. Perhaps this might change my view.

1 March 2013 at 00:51  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Lord Lavendon

Well, I also used to be a Civil War Re-enactor. ;) It's a subject that particularly interests me.

late of Company G, 24th Iowa Volunteers

1 March 2013 at 00:56  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

We have a bit of a mystery here then, Brother Ivo,as to why "literalists" were the primary Abolitionists. Mind you, the French revolutionaries were first to attack slavery and to free slaves which might explain the radicalism suspicion. But where did splinter Protestant sectarians come up with the ideology and why were they also on the forefront of the temperance and women's emancipation movements which followed? Im unable to check, but can't recall a clear source which would fuel such powerful movement among decentralized sects.

When stumped, I default to materialist rather then intellectual or religious causes. The unifying factor in these liberation movements I think is change from agrarian to manufacturing means of production and capitalism. Slaves in the old world were the machinery and their fuel was food; the industrial revolution needed a mobile, free and educated workforce with real machinery and higher caloric fuel such as coal and eventually petroleum. Slavery would only interfere with these changes, as it only appears to work well in low-tech socities with expanding agficultural frontiers.

Sorry for my awful chopped writing; I'm using my device with its tiny virtual keyboard and entering bits and pieces during longish traffic waits...couldn't wait til tomorrow to sink my teeth into this.

1 March 2013 at 01:17  
Blogger Ivan said...

Brother Ivo,

It appears that, the worst form of slavery was that run by the sugar plantation owners and their agents in the Carrbean and South America, where for the sake of filthy lucre, the able-bodied were reduced to skeletons and disposed of in a matter of months. This kind of hyper-Taylorism was not seen again until the their modern-day incarnations in the Soviet constructon camps and later the Nazi rocket programs. It is unlikely that any Briton save the the immiserated Irish, already then in the grip of good Christians, would have worked in such conditions. Like you, I am not suggesting that there was anything redeeming in slavery.

Roman Law does not always lose out to the OT when it comes to justice; the repentant tax-collector Zaccheus offered to Jesus that he would compensate at four times the value he had cheated (as required under Roman Law) any wrongdoing. As is well known the adherents of neither the Torah nor the Queeran nor the Law of Manu were in the forefront of abolishing the enslavement of other races, as that requires the selfless love of which only a Christian is capable of.

1 March 2013 at 03:13  
Blogger David B said...

"...neither the Torah nor the Queeran nor the Law of Manu were in the forefront of abolishing the enslavement of other races, as that requires the selfless love of which only a Christian is capable of."

Or, of course, secular enlightenment values.


1 March 2013 at 08:23  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

Don't you think we might be being a tad optimistic in saying the slave trade has been abolished? The transatlantic slave trade has, but there are (apparently) more slaves in the world than there ever have been. Obviously the population is larger than it ever has been, but it still does look like an altogether resounding success...

1 March 2013 at 08:43  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Brother David B

You are quite wrong.

The impetus to abolish the slave trade was historically driven by the moral vision of Christians largely from the Evangelical/ Non-Conformist/ Quaker traditions, for which they richly deserve full credit.

Brother Avi

I think we have developments within traditions. I suspect that the Evangelical of that group, was more " liberal" in interpretation/ authority terms than some ( not all) Evangelicals today. That is a historic observation not a judgement per se .

It does of course illustrate that the same discussions and considerations can resurrect themselves in different circumstances. Can we free slaves/ have women bishops are seemingly unrelated but the theological arguments will range over similar territory.

1 March 2013 at 08:52  
Blogger David B said...

Brother Ivo

Wilberforce and Bentham were capable of working together despite differing world views, and Hume, Bentham and Mill were, I understand opposed to slavery.


1 March 2013 at 09:48  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Brother Ivo, an excellent point on the relationship between manumission and women bishops. Yet both curiously occurred at specific times and specific circumstances. The first among crafsmen/capitalists in the North, where slavery was no longer practical, the latter in which women had moved into the work force and the managerial class. Brother Ivan's Christian selfless love supposedly required for manumission curiously emerges only when the times and circumstances are the 18th and 19th centuries in the North among groups deemed heretical. I'm not arguing for simplistic Marxist determinism, but the fact that liberation theology has a date stamp and a geography, or that the "theological" issue of female religious leadership is a modern western phenom which emerges only where women have moved into ownership and management should count for something, no?

1 March 2013 at 12:21  
Blogger Ivan said...

As a rhetorical device to deny Christianity its due credit - secular enlightenment values - sounds good until one realises that someone like John Locke was a shareholder in a slaving company, and that for all its humanistic rhetoric his doctrine providing for the enslavement of criminals, is a natural fit for the British policy of dragooning countless numbers of their own indigent to death in far-off places. Napoleon in suppressing Haiti wasn't too impressed by the claims of Tousiant L'Overture to 'liberté, égalité, et fraternité' either. And I am almost certain that if Bentham of Panapticon and Utilitarian infamy was opposed to slavery it was only a question of economics rather ethics. Slaving doesn't pay sometimes especially when you have the Irish to pick up the slack.

It is easy enough to see why the Non-Conformist and Evangelicals rather than other Christians were at the forefront. They were unencumbered by the bonds that the established churches had with various authorities and business interests, and were thus able to see through all the casuistry, that the slave was a brother made in the image of God, worthy of the same Gospels, the same Salvation that they professed.

1 March 2013 at 12:25  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 March 2013 at 12:38  
Blogger Ivan said...

Brother Avi, it is possible that the Russians could have beaten the Americans to the moon. That Scott would have been the first to the South Pole instead of Amundsen, but that is not the way history turned out. Materialistic determinism is so ninteenth-century, left to Karl Marx emancipation would have been preceded by a necessary blood letting, he wouldn't have it any other way, so vital was it for the working of dialectical materialism.

1 March 2013 at 12:38  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...


We have similar re-enactments over here of our own civil war in the 1640s; I have no doubt you would be a Psalm singing Puritan Parliamentarian, rather than a Swashbukcling Royalist.


The answer to me is that our liberal/left academics do not like the fact that British Conservatism is based upon a robustly pragmatical platform, which conflicts with the current narrative of conservatives as wild reactionaries.

Yet throughout history the conservatives here have managed to conserve the best of our country, but reforming it when it needed to be reformed. And there have been many a radical within our ranks, such as Wilberforce, Shaftesbury and Disraeli. Yet the socialists like to create a myth of enlightened secularists verses reactionary tories.

This is similar to the theme against Evangelicals, who are dismissed as lunatic 'fundamentalists' by some of the more enlightened elements within the Church. I have respect for evangelicals because they take the Holy Bible very seriously. I just wish they'd be more reverent with their worship styles.

1 March 2013 at 12:41  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Brother Ivan, I'm not a Marxist determinist or a dialectical materialist. I do see myself as a theistic sort of a cultural materialist, though, a student of the late Marvin Harris...a research strategy and a name worth googling. Theologically, the physical laws and trends governing energy and economies are G-d' laws which speak to our culture and intellects. In a nutshell.

1 March 2013 at 12:54  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 March 2013 at 13:03  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Brother Ivan,

I think that given the situation for most Jews in the time of Wilberforce, in Europe and the middle east, it was difficult enough to survive as a Jew, rather than Judaism having a specific lack of love for others.

1 March 2013 at 13:03  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

David B,

As an aside,I trust you will do something 'special' given it is the Welsh national day today?

1 March 2013 at 13:06  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Lord lavendon, a very good point that's overlooked by a political culture that's been hijacked by pampered new left children at universities and the idle entitlement crowd. In tune with my cultural materialist thinking, when the fuel... the tax money and foundation grants...for these leeches runs out, this philosophy will collapse as well. We'll be much poorer by then, alas.

1 March 2013 at 13:07  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Brother Ivo,

I would like to add that there is a difference between the kind of slavery that we are talking about here or the view of slavery one gets by, say, watching 'Spartacus' and the descriptions of slavery in the Torah, as Avi has already stated and if I may elaborate on that :

The treatment of Africans being shipped over the colonies to be worked to death (those that survived the trip) and who were treated in a barbaric and horrendous way (whippings, rapes,boilings in oil) and families split up and sold on to people at some-one else's whim is how slavery is seem today and this is/was, in anyone's book (I hope) morally wrong.

My humble view of the Torah is that the description of slavery is more akin the 'indebted servant', than slavery as described above.

Although I would add that this was overlooked and twisted by those who later wished to justify African slavery and make money out of it.

I think, as Avi rightly said, Jewish law was quite clear about the rights and treatment of these 'slaves' and they were, for example, obligated to not work on the Sabbath.

I think Maimonides went into a lot of detail about this in the "Mishneh Torah", the bit on' Laws of Indentured Servants':

"The way of the pious and the wise is to be compassionate and to pursue justice, not to overburden or oppress a servant, and to provide them from every dish and every drink.

The early sages would give their servants from every dish on their table. They would feed their animals and their servants before sitting to their own meals. Does it not say (Psalms 123:2), "As the eyes of the servant to the hand of his master; as the eyes of the maid to her mistress [so our eyes are towards the L-rd our G-d...]"?

So, too, you should not denigrate a servant, neither physically nor verbally. The Torah made him your servant to do work, not to be disgraced. Do not treat him with constant screaming and anger, rather speak with him pleasantly and listen to his complaints. Such were the good ways in which Job took pride when he said, "Did I ever despise the judgment of my servant and my maid when they argued with me? Did not my Maker make him, too, in the belly; did not the same One form us both in the womb?"

For anger and cruelty are only found among other nations. The children of Abraham, our father--and they are Israel, to whom the Holy One, blessed be He, has provided the goodness of Torah and commanded us righteous judgments and statutes--they are compassionate to all. This is one of the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, that we are commanded to emulate (Psalms 145:9): "And He has compassion for all He has made."

Furthermore, all who have compassion will be treated compassionately, as was stated (Deuteronomy 13:18), "He will give you compassion and He will have compassion upon you and multiply you."

1 March 2013 at 13:28  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

A grand post, David. It's why I want you back here and why I pay you the big bucks. Your post begs the question of whether the protestant "heretics" turned to the Torah, their OT, for a theological basis to their liberal and liberationist inclinations, as the NT lacks detailed and practical discussion on slavery ... something brother Ivo may know about.

Anyway on my way back to make it back to town for candle lighting. Shabbat shalom!

1 March 2013 at 13:49  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Brother David K

I do not pretend to have studied historic Jewish attitudes to slavery save that there were a number of Jews owning slaves in the Confederacy, one of their number Judah Benjamin acting as Jefferson Davis' Attorney General and ending up in London as a Queens Counsel - ironically at Lincoln's Inn.

The average slave holding in the USA was 9 so your Jewish model of their being closer to the patriachs is not wholly fanciful. Plainly the large plantations and the West Indian experience was more of the horrific industrialised exploitation that we first think of.

1 March 2013 at 17:11  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Brother Ivo,

Time is short, but I'll admit I do not know enough about the Antebellum South or the American Civil War to pass comment about Jewish slave owners, other than watching 'popular' literature, such as the film 'god's and generals'.

I think in that it underlines that this was a 'civil' war, the worst of all wars, thinking especially the battle between two Irish regiments from both sides, I think the dialogue from the confederate Irish, is a worldview which saw the North as being like Britain in Ireland. Carl might know which scene I mean.

1 March 2013 at 17:26  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


Thanks. I am sure Brother Ivo can tell us the question you've asked, because in all honesty I don't know. I know that there was a good film released a couple of years ago about Wilberforce. I remember it because the lead actor, the Welsh guy who played Hornblower, is a pin up of Mrs K, so I might watch it on Sunday.

1 March 2013 at 17:29  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...


As I said to Carl in this thread, I am currently reading a few books, especially the classic by Professor McPherson, the battle cry of freedom, publish by Oxford University Press,on the american civil war.

I can't pretend to be a sudden expert here, but from what I understand in the confederacy Jews were used as scapegoats for the inflation experienced there, with the predictable diatribes against "Jew extortionist", even though the markup of goods from blockade reflected the inflation rate of 300% a year.

The inflation was really the result of excessive money printing, due to the structure of the south's economy, in which they simply couldn't raise taxes or loans like the North could and lack of specie; secondly as the war went on the naval blockade prevented the south from exporting its cash crop of cotton to the world- a bit like during WWI and after in Germany - created hyper inflation (pages 441-442).

In the North, General Grant issued his "Jew order" in 1862, in respect of the permits required to trade with the enemy south, which forbade Jews from trading in those regions. To his credit, Lincoln overrule the General and the order didn't stand (pages 622 to 623).

In respect of Judah Benjamin, it seems like he married a Roman Catholic in a Catholic Church and his only child was baptised into that faith. Wiki, seems to imply that he gained the slaves through marriage, but perhaps others can clarify that.

1 March 2013 at 18:13  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

My Lord,

I don't intend to open a completely new angle, but I have heard it suggested the US Civil War was a continuation of ours , puritans in the North/ cavaliers in the South.

1 March 2013 at 21:19  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

My Lord,

I don't intend to open a completely new angle, but I have heard it suggested the US Civil War was a continuation of ours , puritans in the North/ cavaliers in the South.

1 March 2013 at 21:19  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

My Lord,

I don't intend to open a completely new angle, but I have heard it suggested the US Civil War was a continuation of ours , puritans in the North/ cavaliers in the South.

1 March 2013 at 21:19  
Blogger len said...

To claim' compensation' for ills suffered seem to be quite the thing today.Lee Jasper claims compensation for 'the greatest crime in human History(his words)
The' greatest crime' in human history was the flogging until near death, the public humiliation, and the subsequent crucifixion of the only sinless person to ever walk on this planet.Did He claim compensation.No! He gave his life as a sin offering for us so that we might gain eternal life and be reconciled with His Father in Heaven.

2 March 2013 at 09:01  

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