The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in 17th Century North America and the Caribbean by Gerald Horne

Kindle location 35: From the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries nearly 13 million Africans were brutally snatched from their homelands, enslaved, and forced to toil for the greater good of European and Euro-American powers, London not least. Roughly two to four million Native Americans also were enslaved and traded by European settlers in the Americas, English and Scots not least.

Loc: 41. Population may have fallen by up to 90 percent through devilish means including warfare, famine, and slavery, all with resultant epidemics. The majority of the enslaved were women and children, an obvious precursor, and trailblazer, for the sex trafficking of today. But for the massive revolt of the indigenous in 1680 in what is now New Mexico,3 the toll might have been much worse.4 Loc: 62

What is euphemistically referred to as “modernity” is marked with the indelible stain of what might be termed the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism, with the bloody process of human bondage being the driving and animating force of this abject horror. Decades ago, the Guyanese scholar Walter Rodney sketched adroitly “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” and, correspondingly, how Western Europe was buoyed by dint of ravaging this beleaguered continent. The slave trade left the infirm and elderly behind—and took the rest. Systems of agriculture, mining, production of metal, cotton, wood, straw, clay and leather goods, trade, transport, and governance that had evolved over centuries were wounded severely. Community was turned against community, neighbor against neighbor. Loc: 69

England had a 33 percent share of the slave trade in 1673 and 74 percent by 1683. Of that dreadful total, the Royal African Company, under the thumb of the Crown, held a hefty 90 percent share in 1690, but with deregulation and the entrance into this sinfully profitable market by freelance merchants, this total had shrunk to 8 percent by 1701. This political and economic victory over monarchy by merchants also undergirded the “popular” politics they represented, which eventuated in a republicanism that scored its paradigmatic triumph in 1776. As scholar William Pettigrew has argued forcefully, the African Slave Trade rested at the heart of what is still held dear in capitalist societies: free trade, anti-monarchism, and a racially sharpened and class-based democracy. Loc: 88

as the filthy wealth generated by slavery and dispossession accelerated, capitalism and profit became the new god, with its curia in the basilicas of Wall Street. This new religion had its own doctrine and theologies, with the logic of the market and its “efficient market theory” supplanting papal infallibility as the new North Star.15 Management theorists have sanctified capitalism in much the same way that clergymen of yore sanctified feudalism. Business schools are cathedrals of capitalism. Consultants are its traveling friars. Just as the clergy in the days of feudalism spoke in Latin to give their words an air of authority, the myrmidons of capitalism speak in a similarly indecipherable mumbo-jumbo. Loc: 95

reducing the present to capitalism is somewhat misleading since today’s status quo represents a complex mélange of vestiges of slavery—the still exploited African population in the United States and elsewhere—capitalism, and the feudalism from which it emerged. Loc: 102

Like a seesaw, as London rose Africa and the Americas fell. As one scholar put it, “the industrial revolution in England and the cotton plantation in the South were part of the same set of facts.”18 (The only friendly amendment to this aphorism would be to include the 17th century so-called “sugar boom” as an antecedent of both.) More to the point, as yet another wise writer put it, “without English capitalism there probably would have been no capitalis[t] system of any kind.”19 As early as 1663, an observer in Surinam noticed that “Negroes [are] the strength and sinews of the Western world.”20 The enslaved, a peculiar form of capital encased in labor, represented simultaneously the barbarism of the emerging capitalism, along with its productive force. Loc: 113

ENSLAVED AFRICANS CONSTITUTED two-thirds of the total migration into the Americas between 1600 and 1700.21 These forced migrants can be viewed, metaphorically and actually, as currency, helping to enrich certain Englishmen, aiding their nation’s rise from second-class status to global empire. Their arrival in the Americas represented a horrific leap for constructions of “race” that can be said to precede this bloody century.22 Loc: 3,103

By 1688, under the guise of “freedom” and “liberty,” this same class had sliced—then ultimately beheaded—the dominance of the monarch in the growingly lucrative business of selling African bodies. The erosion of the strength of a feudal monarchy may have been a step forward, but this prize (for some) arrived with an apocalyptic price tag, a price at the expense of Africans and Native Americans. It is a sad commentary, and indicative of the steep climb ahead, that even those who have considered themselves radical have downplayed this latter factor, while hailing the “progressivism” of 1688 and its progeny. Loc: 3,220

Contortion would be needed to label as “Enlightenment” a 1696 policy asserting that “no slave shall be free by becoming a Christian”; this was coupled with a provision that “no written title” was needed for the “legal purchases of slaves,” which was a general invitation to chicanery and kidnapping of free Africans, wherever they might be found. Loc: 3,267

There was a related fear that colonialism had to spread or be overwhelmed as “debtors, servants & Negroes” would seize the opportunity to flee to the embrace of London’s antagonists—for example, the French.49 For settler colonialism, the mantra seemed to be “expand or die,” a point that London should have considered in 1763 when it issued its momentous Royal Proclamation seeking to bar further settler migration westward on the mainland, seizing land of the indigenous, and engendering murderous conflict, which so infuriated the colonists that they revolted and à la 1688 draped their mercantile motives in the finery of “liberty” and “freedom.” Loc: 3,334

THE DIE HAD BEEN CAST in 1688 with the “Glorious Revolution” and the rise of the merchants who proceeded to build vast fortunes on the backs of enslaved Africans and dispossessed indigenes while shouting from the rooftops about the “liberty” and “freedom” they were demanding at the expense of the monarch. Loc: 3,338

This pretense toward “freedom” continued in 1776 when settlers revolted when London seemed to be loath to continue funding their wars of dispossession against indigenes and the constant conflict with enslaved Africans that was an adjunct of that process. Loc: 3,346

the escalation of settlement in the Americas hundreds of years earlier may have been a great leap forward for those Europeans who were enriched. But for Africans and the indigenous, it was nothing short of an apocalypse.