Econocide: British Slavery in the Era of Abolition by Seymour Drescher

By Seymour Drescher

During this vintage research and refutation of Eric Williams's 1944 thesis, Seymour Drescher argues that Britain's abolition of the slave alternate in 1807 resulted now not from the diminishing worth of slavery for excellent Britain yet as a substitute from the British public's mobilization opposed to the slave exchange, which compelled London to devote what Drescher phrases "econocide." This motion, he argues, used to be dangerous to Britain's financial pursuits at a time while British slavery was once really on the top of its strength.

Originally released in 1977, Drescher's paintings was once instrumental in undermining the commercial determinist interpretation of abolitionism that had ruled historic discourse for many years following global battle II. For this moment version, which incorporates a foreword through David Brion Davis, Drescher has written a brand new preface, reflecting at the historiography of the British slave exchange on the grounds that this book's unique publication.

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10 In a far more subtle and convincing fashion than Williams, Davis depicts the task of the abolitionists as a series of symbolic acts which expressed the social hegemony of the British ruling class and morally legitimized its rule. Although it is not absolutely necessary to all elements of his interpretation, there is an aesthetic economy in the principle that the emptier the solemnly broken vessel, the more obvious is the ritualistic content of the act itself. Even Roger Anstey, the most recent and thoroughgoing critic of Williams's view of abolition, was originally more royalist than the king on the decline of slavery.

By 1810 exports to the Cape Colony, conquered in 1806, accounted for almost half of total British exports to Africa. Although at this point we are concerned with long-run trends, a word is in order on the comparability of the decades after 1781-1790 with the preceding ones. In briefly interpreting his figures, Philip Curtin argues that the British slave trade "really" peaked in the 1780s and 1790s. This would already be uncomfortably late for the RagatzWilliams thesis. " This last period would therefore constitute "only a short-term peak.

Haskell, "Capitalism and the Origins of the Humanitarian Sensibility," in The Antislavery Debate: Capitalism and Abolitionism as a Problem in Historical Interpretation, ed. , 162-99 and 263-309. 15. Although Roger Anstey took note of Econocide's forthcoming thesis in his Atlantic Slave Trade (52, 407), Howard Temperley was the first to employ its argument i explaining British abolition's triumph as an ideological victory over an economically successful slave system. See "Capitalism, Slavery and Ideology," Past and Present 75 (1977), 94-118.

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