Did Slavery in the Western World ended solely because of the Industrial Revolution?

Because I often wonder how much of the abolition of slavery and the slave trade was done because of changes in the means of production or out of true moral goodness?

Did the world's governments at the time ended Slavery out of the goodness of the hearts? Or simply because of the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the creation of Mechanized Labor.

No need for Plantation pickers now that we have Tractors to till the fields for example.

The British Empire outlawed slavery BEFORE the Industrial revolution, not during. That being said, I am too pessimistic to believe that it would have caught on as much had productivity not been so high from mechanization.

That said, nations where slavery is still practiced today are some of the least developed nations, or the slavery takes place in locations where the development of mechanized facilities is cost prohibitive.

So the answer is no. There were far more factors involved with the end of slavery than the means of production... but some of those changes were brought about by technology - the printing press being perhaps the most important invention in seeing slavery end.

Slavery never ended. They just added more steps with capitalism!

No. Slavery and Industry would synergize well together, in fact, it still does. Look at sweatshops.

Samtemdo8:
Because I often wonder how much of the abolition of slavery and the slave trade was done because of changes in the means of production or out of true moral goodness?

Did the world's governments at the time ended Slavery out of the goodness of the hearts?

A lot of it was due to moral concerns by a lot of people that got louder. Now, it helped that those people tended to be in places where slavery wasn't.

As mentioned, you can very well argue that slavery just changed form. The conditions of the working class during the Industrial Revolution were hellish. Likewise, the Irish farmers. You didn't need slavery to exploit your workers terribly.

Many European countries ended slavery way before the industrial revolution. Now slavery was never a big pillar of industry in Europe itself, so that might not matter much, but most of Europe also ended serfdom before the industrial revolution.

So no, it was not ended because of mechanized labour.

But it was rarely ended out of goodnedd of heart. That only occurred, when the ruling slasses didn't even have any significant number of slaves. Easy to be moral, if it doesn't cost anything.

But for the most part, slavery is not economically viable. It turns a profit only under very specific conditions. That is usually the main reason for both rise and end of slavery.

Satinavian:

But for the most part, slavery is not economically viable. It turns a profit only under very specific conditions. That is usually the main reason for both rise and end of slavery.

Mainly this.

Despite the slobbish, lazy caricatures we often portray slave owners to be, the truth is that they were far more actively militant as far as cattle-slavery is concerned, slaves are people still and have their own wants and desires, even if brought up as a slave, and require constant supervision and maintenance in order to stay productive or even compliant, their lack of self-reliance makes additional logistics necessary.

Looking at it mathematically, you have to keep in mind that to make slavery viable, the productivity of each slave has to surpass the cost of food required to feed them, the timber to shelter them, the salary of the watchmen and the pay of the slavers that caught them, additionally, the labour they are required to do may be dangerous and add additional costs for replacing lost workers.

The problem of unrest is a particular issue, being human beings, these slaves would still be intensely social among each other in their "off-time", allowing them to collaborate, this kind of support may cut SOME cost for the owner, but what happens when a slave is hurt during work that cripples them for life?
The easy, most callous answer would be to dispose of them, but you'd do well to remember that they have friends among the others, they are socially connected, and to enact such cruelties would spark more unrest than already present, sustained injustices gets you a revolt on your hands, causing untold amounts of damage in both material and human property.

From the cold perspective of the master, slavery may be much more trouble than it's worth.

I've seen two different schools of thought on the subject. One is that slavery made the Industrial Revolution possible, mainly in regards to cotton. The other is that the ID made slavery redundant. I'm really not qualified to discuss it further than that.

Abomination:
The British Empire outlawed slavery BEFORE the Industrial revolution, not during.

The Industrial Revolution began between 1750 and 1840, depending on where you draw the line. The Empire outlawed slavery in 1833. That comes in the period of "during."

Samtemdo8:
Because I often wonder how much of the abolition of slavery and the slave trade was done because of changes in the means of production or out of true moral goodness?

Did the world's governments at the time ended Slavery out of the goodness of the hearts? Or simply because of the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the creation of Mechanized Labor.

No need for Plantation pickers now that we have Tractors to till the fields for example.

In all honesty, bit of column A, bit of column B. On one hand, I don't doubt that the abolitionists were sincere in their desire to end slavery. On the other, slavery was certainly lucerative at some point in time, and in recent years, the subject of Haiti has come up - first successful slave revolution in world history that spooked the Western powers, including the US. Turns out that when you enslave people, they don't like it (though granted, the Roman and Achmeid empires knew that centuries/millennia before that).

Hawki:
On one hand, I don't doubt that the abolitionists were sincere in their desire to end slavery. On the other, slavery was certainly lucerative at some point in time, and in recent years, the subject of Haiti has come up - first successful slave revolution in world history that spooked the Western powers, including the US. Turns out that when you enslave people, they don't like it (though granted, the Roman and Achmeid empires knew that centuries/millennia before that).

There had been many other successfully slave revolts or coups in human history. Most successful probably the one of the Mamluks.

More to the point, continental Europe certainly did not fear slave revolts when it country by country abolished slavery. In the western world that was only a concern for overseas territories which most countries didn't even have.

Didn't you already made this thread? Oh, right. It was lost in R&P. Anyways...

Abomination:
The British Empire outlawed slavery BEFORE the Industrial revolution, not during.

This! Also.

Saelune:
No. Slavery and Industry would synergize well together, in fact, it still does. Look at sweatshops.

Also this. Merely child labor should make it clear that Industrial Revolution would had benefited itself with slave labor. A trick that several Industries used was to rent to their low-class employees housing and sell them meals at prices almost as high as their wages (if not higher to keep them in debt).

CaitSeith:
Didn't you already made this thread? Oh, right. It was lost in R&P. Anyways...

Abomination:
The British Empire outlawed slavery BEFORE the Industrial revolution, not during.

This! Also.

Saelune:
No. Slavery and Industry would synergize well together, in fact, it still does. Look at sweatshops.

Also this. Merely child labor should make it clear that Industrial Revolution would had benefited itself with slave labor. A trick that several Industries used was to rent to their low-class employees housing and sell them meals at prices almost as high as their wages (if not higher to keep them in debt).

A lot of my favorite threads I made in R/P was lost.

Marik2:
Slavery never ended. They just added more steps with capitalism!

And also, prison labor is a thing.

Slavery really never ended.

Thaluikhain:

Samtemdo8:
Because I often wonder how much of the abolition of slavery and the slave trade was done because of changes in the means of production or out of true moral goodness?

Did the world's governments at the time ended Slavery out of the goodness of the hearts?

A lot of it was due to moral concerns by a lot of people that got louder. Now, it helped that those people tended to be in places where slavery wasn't.

As mentioned, you can very well argue that slavery just changed form. The conditions of the working class during the Industrial Revolution were hellish. Likewise, the Irish farmers. You didn't need slavery to exploit your workers terribly.

Whether slave master or capitalist employer or feudal lord, it is necessary for the economic system to provide or at least allow for the reproduction of labor, which is to say subsistence. Capitalism can get away with subsistence, serfdom can get away with subsistence, and slavery can get away with subsistence. They all have their different ways to compel workers to accept mere subsistence. Capitalism lets workers choose which employer they'll accept subsistence wages from, and from whom they will purchase their subsistence.

The Abolition group was NEVER a monolith.

Some were against slavery on moral grounds

Some did it based on business grounds. Their business couldn't compete with Southern businesses with slavery

Some did it based on working ground. You're not going to get a job when someone is (force to) doing it for free.

Some were racist and wanted to send them back to Africa.

Short answer, no.

The industrial revolution began in Britain mostly because Britain was the dominant global trading power of the 19th century, and the industry which kickstarted the industrial revolution was the textile industry, which grew up in Northwestern towns, most famously Manchester which became the global centre of the textile industry for a while. It was sometimes nicknamed "Cottonopolis" in the 19th century, because it produced a staggering ammount (around 30%) of the world's supply of refined cotton.

But there's one problem. You can't grow cotton in Britain.

One reason Manchester was such a great place for the cotton industry is because it's within easy reach of the port of Liverpool. The raw cotton would be brought into Liverpool by ships and then taken to Manchester by canal (or later by railway). It certainly helped that Liverpool itself is conveniently located on the Western coast of Britain, and the reason that is convenient because most of of this raw cotton was coming from the Southern states of the USA, where it was grown on plantations by black slaves whose ancestors had been brought from Africa.

This in turn meant that the economy of the US became hugely reliant on ever increasing cotton exports (as in, cotton exports made up a large majority of total export revenue), driving the expansion of slavery in the USA and massively increasing the wealth and political influence of the slaveowning class. The entire political and social divide between the North and the South in America was at least partly created by the insatiable demand for cheap cotton to fuel the industrial revolution on the other side of the Atlantic.

So yeah, the industrial revolution was built, in a very literal and direct sense, on slavery and lead to a massive expansion of slavery. We don't even need to go into wage slavery or child labour or colonialism or other forms of exploitation which you could argue technically weren't slavery. The principle good which made the industrial revolution possible was grown by slaves.

evilthecat:

The industrial revolution was built, in a very literal and direct sense, on slavery. We don't even need to go into wage slavery or child labour or other forms of exploitation which you could argue technically weren't slavery. The principle good which made the industrial revolution possible was grown by slaves.

This is true, though one might make the argument that even though slavery was used to produce enough cotton to allow an industrial revolution in textile production, other forms of plantation organization (such as sharecropping) would have produced just as much or more at less cost to those who have a say in the decision of how to organize plantations, or that there was something about slavery which would tend to make it obsolete as capitalism matured. I do not endorse that argument, though: the fact that the plantation owners of the American South had to be conquered and compelled to make that change suggests rather the opposite. The fact that slavery is used to this day both in the United States and elsewhere also suggests rather the opposite.

The way in which slavery and serfdom and other forms of large-scale theft (such as conquering a country for its natural resources) are 'obsolete' is that they are no longer necessary to build absurd quantities of wealth-- they are still more than sufficient. But the ruling class can both appropriate and expropriate the work of others in more subtle and even automatic ways, such as possessing shares of a company with a business model that works by making the production and consumption of goods and services for large quantities of people contingent on the use of its private property-- which is to say, ordinary capitalism. Ordinary capitalism was built on the primitive forms of accumulation (slavery, theft, and so on) that allowed wealth to concentrate in few enough hands for wealth alone to be sufficient to compel the subordination of one class by another in the context of liberal politics, but the financialization of everything has made that sort of primitive accumulation quite unnecessarily gauche as it comes to politics. Why overtly steal when you can just accomplish the same by stock ownership or other economic rent? Which is certainly not to say that the overt theft doesn't happen; but it is at least accompanied by a sanctimonious bleating about the moral failings of its target.

Well, when you say the Western World, as others have pointed out, slavery was never exactly a pillar of it. Slavery existed in many forms but with a variety of social norms and rules to it, with many cultures allowing slaves to "earn" freedom and even civic equality. When we say, "slavery in the Western World" we really have to talk about America. The US is pretty much the sole country to which slavery was intrinsically attached as a social pillar (a great majority of the founders were all plantation and slave owners). That's why America was one of the last industrialized nations to outlaw slavery, and why one of its deadliest wars ever was fought over the preservation of slavery. Even today, American white nationalism drives much of the conversation in the rest of the world and fuels other hardcore right-wing groups.

With that in mind, it's pretty easy to argue the Industrial Revolution had very little to do with abolition. In fact, the South's over-reliance on cotton and a plantation economy (and its subsequent collapse) is still felt today, with much of the South being home to some of the poorest regions in all of America.

The history of slavery in the west is pretty weird. Well before the industrial revolution some Christians would ban it considering it unchristian on the basis of things like mercy whilst other christians allowed it and the pagans practiced it a lot. Like if I recall correctly in Ireland during the viking age right slavery got banned by christians, the vikings invaded and brought back slavery to Ireland, and then the vikings became christians but still kept practicing slavery until ironically other christian descendents of vikings, the Normans, were the ones to invade and ban slavery again.

But maybe it was the reason slavery ended in America in a way. I mean I've seen people talk about the idea that like Lincoln banned slavery because he knew how much the South relied on it for money. Plus Lincoln did say a lot of very racist things, he didn't believe the black men were equal to white men even if he freed them. Banning slavery had the convenient result of weakening the southern economy, the north had less reliance on slaves and better industry so they'd be stronger after it meaning the south would be much easier to beat for the north if the south ever tried to rebel again. Perhaps a case of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons...

But slavery ins't gone at all. Illegal human trafficking is still going on to this day and I read once thanks to population rises there are actually MORE slaves in existence today than ever before. Not to mention i'd call prison labour slavery too myself, you can debate that but at the end of the day to me people doing hard labour for next to no pay like that qualifies as slavery or something like it.

Even when slavery was abolished in the United States there were clauses in the Amendments that still allowed some forms of it, such as with work gangs doing cleanup or even wine making in prisons.

Leagaly, It took close to another hundred years for it to stop. Brazil ended it in in the 1880's, I think Saudi Arabia in the 1950's, and illegal has been going world round since then.

I think there is also the tradition of having it. The Southern United States built their entire economy of slave labor, which quickly entered how things were just done. Not everyone could own a slave, with many a Southerner calling it a "rich man's war" because of this fact, but it was still steeped in their way of life.

Traditions and other social norms often become part of one's identity, how one sees themselves and to fight that is an upfront to them, no matter how abhorrent that tradition is.

saint of m:

Leagaly, It took close to another hundred years for it to stop. Brazil ended it in in the 1880's, I think Saudi Arabia in the 1950's, and illegal has been going world round since then.

Maurutania was the last country to ban slavery in 1981. And even then, slavery is still a thing. Illegal, but a thing. In fact, there's more slaves now then at any point in human history (though as a percentage of the population, it's never been less).

We're all slaves, some of us are just closer to the bars of the cage than others.

Hawki:
The Industrial Revolution began between 1750 and 1840, depending on where you draw the line. The Empire outlawed slavery in 1833. That comes in the period of "during." ... Did the world's governments at the time ended Slavery out of the goodness of the hearts? Or simply because of the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the creation of Mechanized Labor.

I've had an alternate theory for a while about this: sugar.

As of 1800, nearly all Europe's imported sugar came from British and French colonies in the Americas. It was also a much more important, and valued, commodity than even cotton. The situation changed radically due to the Haitian revolution, and British blockade of sugar importation during the Napoleonic wars. The response was the development, cultivation, and refinement of beet sugar for continental use, giving Europeans a source for the commodity not dependent upon slavery or extensive, expensive, trans-oceanic logistics chains -- to the point that prior to WWI, over half the world's supply of sugar came from beet, not cane, cultivation.

This period -- the Napoleonic wars and its preceding decade or two -- were the heyday for the mechanization of sugar production. Which meant cheaper and wider-scale production, with less need for manpower.

In this, it's little surprise the British empire fought abolition down to the eyeteeth right up until the Baptist war.

The truly ironic thing about this, was one of the British empire's key justifications for colonizing Africa was to abolish slavery.

 

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