A reader raises a number of questions which, respectfully, I’d like to answer here.
“Why does everybody blame Britain for slavery?”
I’m not aware that everybody blames Britain for slavery; I can’t speak to a statement so broad.
As a former historian, (1) I assert that the pursuit of history is not about blaming, but about determining what actually happened in the past, as closely as evidence allows. Primarily that’s done to avoid committing the same errors twice.
There’s an aspect to the matter which, for me at least, is more important than the others I could look at. And that is the question of growth.
In the growth movement, encouragement was always given to speak for oneself and about oneself, to start and end with oneself.
I realize no growth in telling my friend how s/he should behave. (2) I do experience growth looking at and determining how I should behave.
That was what lay behind Jesus’ teaching around throwing the first stone, was it not? He who is without sin cast the first stone?
The tendency, especially in international studies, is to “blame” one’s “adversaries.” It was Russia who did it. It was China. I’d rather look at my own country and hope that you don’t interpret it as me blaming but historically uncovering or revealing, taking a truthful look at, if humanly possible.
I’m a person who grew up in the British Commonwealth of Nations. I can’t believe that I grew up cheering for Francis Drake when he was a stalwart of the slave trade. But I did.
I swallowed the representations of swashbuckling Errol Flynn movies, hated Britain’s enemies, applauded the victories of privateers and later the Royal Navy when it was all empty and oppressive.
I grew up cheering the British Empire when it was the source of the oppression of so many other people and nations. Why did I celebrate empire? Merely because it was “mine”?
“Should the Italians and the Netherlands take responsibility for their part in slavery, or the Barbary coast – they didn’t care what colour you were? Should we get those to apologise?”
Yes. We can’t “get” anyone to apologize, but, if they did, it’d be a good start towards reconciliation.
It doesn’t matter under whose flag oppression occurs. In my opinion, my own country, Canada, has a great deal to apologize for in its treatment of native Indians, Japanese, Chinese, and Sikhs. (3) Are we to wait for other countries to do so before we do? (4)
More important than apportioning “blame” (which is counterproductive, as your email makes clear) is raising consciousness. Like history itself, raising consciousness is not about blaming but about acknowledging what’s true.
We have to raise society’s consciousness that unequal treatment of anyone leads to festering resentment that later explodes into protest, riots, and war, as it partially is now.
Slavery is the most extreme form of unequal treatment. But glass ceilings and religious discrimination are equally stultifying.
All of it has to go. And how will it go if not by historical revelation? I wrote an article some time ago on the philosophical bases of all these social programs. (5)
All slavery traces back to the same flawed philosophical assumptions about separation, “scarce” resources, and the need for competition.
It’s the philosophy that needs to end … and it will. Ending slavery (child slavery and sex slavery included) is part of it.
“What matters now is what is going on under your nose, the abuse of child trafficking that is happening in YOUR country where ever you are.”
Hang on a minute. Is child trafficking not slavery? Has it not been revealed in the last decade that virtually all our countries are guilty of sex and child trafficking; i.e., slavery?
Does it not depend on where you sit as to what social ills need to be addressed? Black people, women, and others, who are still subject to persecution and discrimination (and in some cases slavery), might not agree with your assessment of the situation.
All exploitation, oppression, and enslavement needs to end.
Interestingly, in my opinion, it won’t end by blame, punishment, imprisonment, etc. It’s going to sound horribly cliched but absolutely true to say that it’s going to end by the global opening of our hearts to love.
Love does not blame anybody. Love does not promote or support trafficking or slavery. None of these will survive when we enter a vibratory level of pure love, and we will.
(1) My training is as an historian and sociologist.
(2) And I still forget and do it on occasion nonetheless.
(3) See S.M. Beckow, “Keeping British Columbia White”: Anti-Orientalism in the West, 1858-1949. National Museum of Man/National Film Board, 1974; also Stephen M. Beckow, “From the Watchtowers of Patriotism,” Journal of Canadian Studies, Aug. 1974; and chapters 3 and 4 of A Majestic Story of Orderly Progress; English-Canadian Novelists on Canadian Society, 1896-1900. M.A. Thesis, Carleton University, 1969 at https://goldenageofgaia.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/beckow-amajesticstoryoforderlyprogressenglishcanadian.pdf
(4) And some apologies have been made.
(5) “Basic Third-Dimensional Illusion: Separate Selves Struggling for Survival amid Seeming Scarcity,” May 17, 2020, at https://goldenageofgaia.com/2020/05/17/basic-third-dimensional-illusion-separate-selves-struggling-for-survival-amid-seeming-scarcity-2/