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Slavery and Capitalism

Slavery and Capitalism - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
Without slavery, however, the survey maps of the General Land Office would have remained a sort of science-fiction plan for a society that could never happen. Between 1820 and 1860 more than a million enslaved people were transported from the upper to the lower South, the vast majority by the venture-capitalist slave traders the slaves called “soul drivers.” The first wave cleared the region for cultivation. “Forests were literally dragged out by the roots,” the former slave John Parker remembered in “His Promised Land.” Those who followed planted the fields in cotton, which they then protected, picked, packed and shipped — from “sunup to sundown” every day for the rest of their lives. Eighty-five percent of the cotton Southern slaves picked was shipped to Britain. The mills that have come to symbolize the Industrial Revolution and the slave-tilled fields of the South were mutually dependent. Every year, British merchant banks advanced millions of pounds to American planters in anticipation of the sale of the cotton crop. Planters then traded credit in pounds for the goods they needed to get through the year, many of them produced in the North. “From the rattle with which the nurse tickles the ear of the child born in the South, to the shroud that covers the cold form of the dead, everything comes to us from the North,” said one Southerner. As slaveholders supplied themselves (and, much more meanly, their slaves) with Northern goods, the credit originally advanced against cotton made its way north, into the hands of New York and New England merchants who used it to purchase British goods. Thus were Indian land, African-American labor, Atlantic finance and British industry synthesized into racial domination, profit and economic development on a national and a global scale. When the cotton crop came in short and sales failed to meet advanced payments, planters found themselves indebted to merchants and bankers. Slaves were sold to make up the difference. The mobility and salability of slaves meant they functioned as the primary form of collateral in the credit-and-cotton economy of the 19th century. It is not simply that the labor of enslaved people underwrote 19th-century capitalism. Enslaved people were the capital: four million people worth at least $3 billion in 1860, which was more than all the capital invested in railroads and factories in the United States combined. Seen in this light, the conventional distinction between slavery and capitalism fades into meaninglessness.

March 28, 2013

Honesty: Ten Tips Guaranteed to Improve Your Startup Success

This is shockingly honest and accurate. Ten Tips Guaranteed to Improve Your Startup Success - Anil Dash
Having had the good fortune to work with a broad range of entrepreneurs and get a front-row seat to the foundations of their success, I thought it'd be good to share 10 key tips that I've found work 100% of the time to increase your odds of startup success. Try to execute on as many of these as you can! 1. Be raised with access to clean drinking water and sanitation. (Every tech billionaire I've ever spoken to has a toilet!) 2. Try to be born in a region that is politically and militarily stable. 3. Grow up with a family that is as steady and secure as possible. 4. Have access to at least a basic free education in core subjects. 5. Avoid being abused by family members, loved ones, friends or acquaintances during the formative years of your life. 6. Be fluent in English, or have time to dedicate to continuously improving your language skills. 7. Make sure there's enough disposable income available to support your learning technology at a younger age. 8. If you must be a member of an underrepresented community or a woman, get comfortable with suppressing your identity. If not, follow a numbingly conventional definition of dominant masculinity. 9. Be within a narrow range of physical norms for appearance and ability, as defined by the comfort level of strangers. 10. Practice articulating your cultural, technological or social aspirations exclusively in economic terms.

March 27, 2013

Gun Numbers and Online Comments

I like writing for the Chronicle for a lot of...