Good Job, Dinesh
I dont see Haiti mentioned in most discussions about the abolition of slavery – and I am intrigued by this whitewash. These two blogs possibly best represent attempts this ‘white wash.’
One is from a member of the US Conservative Right, part of the Republican propaganda team – aapla, our own, Dinesh DeSouza. He tries, speciously and very hard, to show how it is the White, Christian, Americans who actually freed the slaves – after the slaves were sold into slavery by their Black Brothers.
Of course, he cannot see the long history of trade in slaves, the laws and might of the State which enforced this trade. There is no mention of the continuing attempts (under disenfranchisement laws) to deny Blacks, their voting rights. He does not see the more than 200 slave uprisings in USA (alone). Dinesh does a fabulous hatchet job on why I should volunteer to become a colonial subject (if not a slave) of the West or the Raj again. Bro.Dinesh DeSouza does not publish dissenting comments.
The second blog, by an academic, celebrates a pseudo-anniversary. This post, by ‘a professor at a large state university,’ abandons academic integrity, to promote propaganda, instead of academic excellence. At least, he published dissenting comments.
Or for this matter this book review in The Times about slavery – which doesn’t once mention the one reason, why slavery was abolished – Haiti and slave revolts.
What most of these mainline and popular press fail to mention is the determined Black struggle for overthrow of slavery. Between 1789-1833, more than 20 slave rebellions occured in the Caribbean – one every 2 years. It were these slave revolts that ‘persuaded’ the West to abolish slavery. In the USA, about 200 slave uprising and revolts occurred in the USA before the Civil War.
In the beginning
Boukman Dutty, a Voudou N’Gan (oungan, houngan, voodoo priest), killed a pig as a part of an African tribal ritual Bwa Kayiman, dedicated to his ancestors and Ogoun, God of fire, iron and war. Ogoun and Erzulie Dantor (Ezili Dantor), a Vodou l’wha (loa) a warrior spirit, responded to this call to protect these slave warriors.
25th August. Night of Fire
50,000 slaves rose in revolt. More than 1000 sugar and coffee plantations were put to fire. Flames could be seen as far as Bahamas. From 31st December 1803, to 1st January, 1804, liberation brought about by vengeance was celebrated, and independence was declared.
St. Dominque, now called Haiti, was a French colony with 800 sugar plantations and 4,00,000 slaves from Niger and Dahomey (now Benin) in West Africa. Haiti, the jewel of French colonies, accounting for 40% of French GDP in 1700s, was the largest market for slaves in Atlantic trade. It was the largest producer of sugar in the world and competed with British colonies (like India) for indigo production and had thousands of coffee plantations.
Christopher Columbus was the first European who came to Haiti and started the exploitation of Haiti. What happened to the original population of Haiti? An estimated 1.3 million, may have been 3-4 million (admittedly not white, but nevertheless) people. Done to death by forced labour in silver mines over 10 years.
Birth Of Haiti
The Haitian Revolution earned the displeasure of Napoleon Bonaparte. The threat of a politically-free Haiti (then Saint-Domingue) with a freed black slave population challenged Euro-American imperial ‘needs’.
This created a “terrified consciousness” (Anthony Maingot) among slave masters. To restore slavery (the local population and its leaders were, of course, not consulted), and Napoleon sent General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc (his brother-in-law) with about 10,000 French troops, the finest, in 1802 to accomplish this aim. A futile effort. “Napoleon lost the colony, his brother-in-law, and most of the 44,000 troops eventually sent out to conduct the savage and bitter campaign of reconquest”.
After the revolution in Haiti, Spaniards and the British rushed in to take advantage of this opportunity and to re-enslave the rebels. The newly freed slaves time and again beat back the new British and Spanish enslavers.
“The army failed. Five years and more than 12,000 British deaths later, the redcoats withdrew. An army of rebel enslaved Africans had defeated the army of the world’s superpower, and the largest slave-trading nation. The humiliation of this defeat sent a shock wave through the British establishment and, indirectly, strengthened the forces in parliament that voted to abolish the slave trade in 1807.” (from William Wilberforce: The Real Abolitionist? By Adam Hochschild)
The Haitians, initially led by Boukman Douty, re-grouped under Toussaint Louverture, Georges Biassou, Jean Jacques Dessalines and Henry Christophe.
Shivas dun mai spoiwne
Haiti’s developments stampeded Europe and USA. Afraid that US slaves will follow the Haiti example, US did not recognise Haiti, till November 1864 – 60 years after Haiti declared Independence.
“dull, tasteless and anomalous” Blacks would have “ten thousand recollections by the blacks of the injuries they have sustained, new provocations, the real distinctions which nature has made, and many other circumstances will divide us into parties and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.“
Controlled Onshore Slavery
Restrictions on slavery were discussed all over Europe and USA. The US placed restriction on import of slaves – which increased the price of existing slaves in the trade market. But slave traders like Jean Laffitte soon ran rings round this by smuggling slaves from Cuba. Merchants and traders protested against Jean Laffitte’s smuggling of other products. Planters did not like slave traders because the slave traders made slaves ‘expensive’. The planters pressured Government’s into passing various laws restricting ‘trade’ in slaves.
Jean Laffitte’s smuggling operations stopped in 1821. After 14 years of successful slave smuggling. Jean Laffitte became a ‘folk hero’ in New Orleans for flouting restrictions against import of slaves (slaves that white southerners needed). It was his ‘patriot outlaw’ image which got him his following. He was ostensibly seen as aiding the government during the 1812 war with the British – which was decided on the basis of his business interests.
Europe, Britain & Abolition Of Slavery
Britain technically abolished slavery in 1807, after the Haiti experience – and replaced slavery with indentured labour. Upfront, indentured labour was only slightly more expensive but was far more cheaper in the long run. Indentured labour also came fewer issues related to capture, transport, trade and maintenance of slaves – with a veneer of respectability that was needed for propaganda purposes. Also, Britain had India – a huge colony to fall back on for indentured labour.
British trade and agriculture brought pressure to stop slavery by other European kingdoms. Paid labour had made French products uncompetitive – which made Napoleon re-introduce slavery. This re-introduction of slavery by the French (circa 1804) diluted British resolve to end slavery.
While slavery was supposedly abolished in 1807, trade in slaves continued. Slave ships and traders had to pay a fine of GBP100 per slave, if caught. The law was not seriously implemented. In the few cases where slave ships and traders were caught, slaves were simply thrown overboard.
Other Slave Rebellions
Finally, further rebellions in Barbados (1816), Demerra or Demerara (1823) and Jamaica (1831-32) forced the British hand. Off shore British slaves finally became free in 1833 after the British Government passed yet another law, to outlaw slavery, Slavery Abolition Act in 1833 – and paid ‘compensation’ to slave owners. An egregious and glaring example was the ‘compensation’ to the Bishop of Exeter and his partners of GBP12,700 to ‘compensate’ them for the ‘loss’ of 665 slaves in 1833.
How could the British afford to buy indentured labour? Bought with new gold discoveries in Canada and Australia.
Beggar Thy Neighbour
It was also economic warfare. Based on immediate colonial interests, promises were made to American slaves by Britain. During the American War Of Independence, British Colonial forces, promised Black slaves to run away from their White masters. Property was promised to them in Canada and Sierra Leone. Some were sent to London. Based on these promises, an estimated 75,000-100,000 slaves abandoned their White American owners.
The key to Haiti’s wealth – slave labour. Hence, the British efforts to ban slavery – as a part of their beggar-thy-neighbour strategy. Haiti was contributing major surplus to the French – and Britain had to undercut French economic gains from Haiti. The French efforts to get back into India against Britain through Tipu Sultan (during the Mysore Wars) had made life difficult for Britain – and hence they needed to undermine French economic resources.
It had little to do with human rights. While slavery was being abolished, the same Britons were committing genocide in Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.
In America, opposition to slavery was about race. What if the Black slave population in the American South became like Haiti? Just before independence, against a population of 400,000-500,000 Black Haitians, there were about 25,000 whites and 40,000 mulattos.
What if the Black Population in the American South (nearly 80% at the start of the Civil War) rose to say, 150%. 4 million Blacks compared to 5 million whites in the American South at the start of the Civil War.
Another Haiti would have very well happened in Southern American South too. A truncated USA was a real fear – if not a certainty. None other than “Benjamin Franklin said with alarm that importing slaves had “blacken’d half America” …
Great White Chief In The Sky
So, what did the white fathers do? They set up Liberia, in Africa, (another land of the free?) and the successor of the British black deportation to Sierra Leone and the Israel’s predecessor. Behind this idea was Jefferson again, (dining alone again, Thomas?), who suggested that US should
“take measures for procuring on the coast of Africa, an establishment to which the people of color of these States might, from time to time, be colonized.”
Such racist concepts also were also tried by Germany – in Paraguay. Germany decided to breed a race of superior White Germans, in the colony of Nueva Germania. Heading the Nueva Germania project was Elizabeth Nietzsche – brother of Frederick Nietzsche.
In 1816, the USA decided to follow Jefferson’s idea and colonise Africa (Africa had to pay the price of Jefferson’s dining alone). An artificial situation was created, where escaped, freed Blacks were sent to Liberia. The local population were of no consequence – like latter day Palestine. With the setting up of Liberia, slavery was moved off shore. Large parts of Liberia were leased out to Firestone – for rubber plantations. Even in Africa, these ‘freed ‘slaves were enslaved again – which continues to this day.
A significant reason why slavery was not popular in the North was the depressing effect of slavery on wages and employment. Poor (free) whites had to compete with slave labour for employment – and that was a non-starter.
Haiti’s Contribution To Other Freedom Movements
Haiti, (unlike today’s Israeli Jews) supported liberation movements. Haiti’s successful revolt and the defeat of the Spanish and British armies encouraged other colonies of South America to demand and fight for Independence. This fight was led by Simon Bolivar – after whom Bolivia is named.
After being expelled from Venezuela, it was Alexandre Petion, the Haitian President sheltered Simon Bolivar in 1815, who supported Simon Bolivar with arms, ammunition , a printing press and other aid – after a clear promise that all the freed countries of the South America would abolish slavery.
This was a promise that Simon Bolivar did not keep – until significant pressure was put on him. In spite of winning freedom with the help of Black people, the newly freed countries of South America discriminated against the very Blacks who helped them get freedom. Moreover, in 1826, at the Congress of American States, under US pressure, Simon Bolivar did not invite Haiti.
Fear of success or opposition, in country after country of the Americas and Pacific, the USA has been involved in destabilisation and intervention. One time USA allies are now hot beds of terrorism. Afraid that US slaves will follow the Haiti example, US did not recognise Haiti, till November 1864 – 60 years after Haiti declared Independence. Moreover, in 1826, at the Congress of American States, under US pressure, Simon Bolivar did not invite Haiti.
The US record against the growth and stabilisation of Cuba does not bear repitition. Having ‘bought’ Cuba from Spain (like Puerto Rico, Guam and Philippines), USA believes and feels that they ‘own’ Cuba.
In 1904, the US pressured Tomas Estrada Palma, a ‘puppet’ Cuban President, to sign the Platt Amendment. This allowed US intervention in Cuban affairs, if ‘vital’ US interests were at risk (meaning at at US will) – finally modified only in 1934. Under this ‘new deal’ ‘Cuba would be allowed to export 22% of the sugar the US imported, by paying 0.09¢, a pound tariff duty. In return, little or no duty would be levied by Cuba on goods imported from the USA.’
Oppression – And Its Many Avatars
Legal support for slavery is a feature of the Western and Levantine societies. Trade of human beings in market place, had the support of the State.
In Europe and USA, laws and courts were enforced slavery (Kishore Mahbubani, please note that the West follows the law). In Indic legal systems, such a feature has not been seen for the last 3000 years. The last Indic system which had explicit slavery laws were the Hittites around 1000BC. To cover up this aspect, and to shore up their image as champions of human rights, Western powers have tried to fuzzy the definition of slavery through the ILO – an creation of the Western powers after WW1.
The Desert Religions
Judaism, Christianity, Islam were all born within 500 miles of each other and share a common culture and history. Judaism was (probably) born when Moses led the Hebrew slaves from the Pharoah (across the Red Sea) to freedom – possibly around 500 BC at the latest to 1500 BC at the earliest. His earliest followers were the Hebrews and they were a significant part of the Middle Eastern history all through till today.
The next major religious reformer in the Middle East was Jesus Christ. For the first 300 years, Roman slaves were the major believers in his teachings. Emperor Constantine earned the loyalty of his Christian troops and won the war for Roman throne by his win over Maxentius at Milvan Bridge. Prior to Maxentius, for the previous 30-40 years, Christians had been persecuted by “rule of four’ Tetrarchy reformists in Rome, headed by Diocletan. Hence, the Christian slave soldiers of Constantine were eager for victory – as the persecution under Maxentius would have been worse.
Liberated slaves were the founders and rulers of Islamic dynasties, (in India, the Slave dynasty – builders of Qutub minar). Thus all the three “desert religions” were first adopted by the slaves and only after gaining significant numbers of adherents, these religions became mainstream and commenced aggressive proselytising and conversions.
Slavery – and other Labour contracts
Slavery was different – and a distinctive feature, promoted (largely) by the Western and Middle Eastern powers. It had state sanction, state protection, laws passed by the kings, emirs, emperors, parliaments and legislating authorities.
The US Supreme Court (Dredd Scott Case) prohibited slaves from even approaching courts for any redress. There was an organised, legal, sponsored industry involved in the kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer (and might I add re-capture) of slaves – with the might of the state behind it. The West has now partially succeeded equalising slavery with the caste system - to ‘whitewash’ their own history.
Why Must Haiti Succeed
The USA and the West has been at war (or by proxy) with the Black Republics of Haiti, Cuba, Greneda for the last 200 years. Fuelled by a desperate desire to show White superiority. By a need to white wash history. To hide the origins of their misbegotten wealth – built on the foundation of the skeletons of dead and surviving slaves.
Haiti gave the world freedom. Not America – which claims itself to be a land of the free (as long as you are white).
It is for the same reasons why Haiti must now be protected – by the rest of the world. Make Haiti a UN protectorate. All the superpowers to be forced to declare Haiti as off limits.
Haiti must succeed.
Evolutionary vs. Revolutionary
Belief systems in the world can clearly be classified into 3 kinds.
First , are the pagan practices like Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Babylonian et al. These were eclectic and evolutionary religions with many layers and differences. Of all these evolutionary religions, none exist today.
Then came the second layer of religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religions had an individual agent of change – and these religions trace their birth, growth and existence to that one individual (and his followers). These were reform religions – a response to oppression and exploitation in the respective societies. I am not including Zoroastrianism and Baha’i religions as these have minor followings (mostly in India).
Third is the dharmic system of India. Unlike the Desert Bloc, India did not have religions. What the West recognizes as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are non-unitary systems. Jains recognize 24 Tirthankaras and the Buddhists have more than a 100 Bodhisattva. These more than 100 preachers were at the forefront of anti-slavery crusade between 2000BC and 500BC. Indic rulers (like The Hittites, Mittanis and the Elamites) confronted and had to compete with slave owning Asura societies – especially in the Middle East.
Historically, India had no religions. Modern religions are a construct of the Middle East – and given birth to the 3 major religions of the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In India, the belief structure centres around Dharma – धर्म.
The difference between dharma and religion? Major!
For one, religion is about worship. There are many other differences also – in method of worship (how you worship), object of worship (what you worship), frequency of worship (e.g. every Sabbath; five times a day), language of worship (what you say, in which language), etc.
The cornerstones of modern religions from the Desert Bloc are One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festival are the root of most problems in the world. From this Oneness, we get the One Currency, One Language logic – a fallacious syllogism. Once you accept One, you will accept all others.
Indian worship practices are infinite. Even non-worship to is acceptable - for instance, the Charvaka school of Indian philosophy was atheistic and did not prescribe worship. Structure and deviation from worship practices are a non-issue in Indian dharmic structure. Dharma has no equivalent in the ‘Desert Bloc’ vocabulary of religions. Dharma is the path of righteousness, defined by a matrix of the contextual, existential, moral, pragmatic, professional, position, etc. Dharma is more than moral and ethics.
The really big difference is the holy books – Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one Holy Book each. No deviations. Indian dharma tradition has thousands which are more than 1000 years old – at last count.
The Desert Religions
Judaism, Christianity, Islam were all born within 500 miles of each other and share a common culture and history. Judaism can be said to have been born when Moses led the Hebrew slaves from the Pharoah (across the Red Sea) – to ‘freedom’, that is ‘free’ to enslave other peoples. This possibly happened around 500 BC at the latest to 1500 BC at the earliest. His earliest followers were the Hebrews and they were a significant part of the Middle Eastern history all through till today. The very same Hebrews and Jews continued with slavery.
The next major religious reformer in the Middle East was Jesus Christ. For the first 300 years, Roman slaves were the major believers in his teachings. Emperor Constantine earned the loyalty of his Christian troops and won the war for Roman throne by his win over Maxentius at Milvan Bridge. Prior to Maxentius, for the previous 30-40 years, Christians had been persecuted by “rule of four’ Tetrarchy reformists in Rome, headed by Diocletan. Hence, the Christian slave soldiers of Constantine were eager for victory – as the persecution under Maxentius would have been worse. Yet the biggest users of slaves in history has been the Western Christian world – especially from 1500-1900.
Liberated slaves were the founders and rulers of Islamic dynasties, (in India, the Slave dynasty – builders of Qutub minar). Thus all the three “desert religions” were first adopted by the slaves and only after gaining significant numbers of adherents, these religions became mainstream and commenced militant proselytising, conversions – and enslavement.
Slave Religions Promote Slavery
The 3 ‘desert religions’ instead of reforming slave societies, just enabled the transfer of slave titles. Freedom meant old slaves became the new slave masters. Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) continued in the “desert bloc” till the 20th century.
When the followers of Mani (a teacher of Buddhist and Christian teachings) were encouraging the slaves to revolt and declare themselves free, administrators of the teachings of the “Lord of lords, and King of kings.” (Revelation 17: 14) at the Council Of Gangra, 325 AD, approved of slavery. Arabs slave traders were active in Congo – till they were replaced by Europeans.
Whats Going On Here
‘Caste systems’ (by different names) are prevalent all over the world, in all societies, based on colour, race, income, wealth, education, social status, political position, et al. Most such ‘caste systems’ have no force of the state behind it or are legal. They are the burakumin in Japan today and the African Americans in Europe and USA.
The most ‘respected’ caste system is the British nobility which exists even today – a caste system, approved by law. In India, colonial administration encouraged and increased divisions within society.
In order to ‘whitewash’ their own ‘dark’ history, the West is now (speciously) equating the Indian caste system with slavery. In 1919, under the Treaty Of Versailles, Western Nations set up the ILO – along with the League Of Nations. Post WW2, it was co-opted as a specialized agency of the UN in 1946. Western propaganda efforts using the ILO, have seen some success. This leading light of Dalit Christians blindly accepts Western propaganda that slavery was abolished 200 years ago in the West – and casteism is equal to slavery!
Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) continued in the “desert bloc” till the 20th century with the legal backing and the full might of the of the State.
In Indic territories, slavery was an inherited institution – and last seen in the Hittite rule around 1000BC. There is no record of sale and purchase of human beings in the last 3000 years in the Indic Bloc. Faced with West Asian reluctance to give up slavery, Indo Aryan rulers disengaged politically from West Asia and Middle East from around 1000 BC. Possibly, the slave revolt of Egypt by Moses itself was a result of the liberalising laws of the Hittites. Hence the fade out of the Indic rule from the Middle East – but the continuation of Buddhist influences, trade and peoples contact.
Competing With Slave Societies
After the slave revolts in the Middle East, India spearheaded major anti-slavery movements – like Buddhism Manicheanism, etc. More than a 100 Bodhisatvas and 24 Jain Tirthankaras were major figures in India’s anti-slavery reforms in the Middle East. Modern history, influenced by Western historiography, recognizes only the “ahimsa twins” – Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira. Both of these were princes of royal blood – Prince Siddharth and Prince Mahavira.
Their first adherents were the rulers and their methods of proselytising was also aimed at the ruling class. Ashoka, The Great, sent missions with his daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka – where Buddhism was established.
Guru Nanak Dev came from from the upper caste family and his focus was to end feuding on the basis of caste and creed. His first converts were from upper class families – cutting across religions (hence the opposition from some of the Mughal Kings).
Gandhiji was from the upper caste and the first item on his reform agenda was end to the “bhangis” carrying faecal refuse on their heads. His initial focus was social reform and less of anti-British activities.
Yet, from the time of Hittites to now, for 4000 years, Indic culture did not accept slavery.
The Two Halfs
There is a major difference in the Indic reform idiom compared to the Desert Bloc. Half the world today follows Indic dharmic systems and culture. The other half follows the “desert religions”. Our future lies in understanding both the halves. The development trajectories of these two halves has been significantly different. The motivations, behavioural and acceptable civilizational norms for these blocs are different – and mostly opposite.
Do we understand this adequately?