Why Slavery Was Abolished in Europe
Someone may point out: Was it not the Christian Britain which finally abolished the slavery?
Well, if someone practices tyranny isn't he the one who has to give up that practice? As already explained, Britain was the biggest slave-trader; and when economic forces compelled her to abolish slave-trade she did so. But does she or Christianity deserve any thanks for it? Should not we thank the economic forces behind that move?
The fact is that the movement against slavery was not spear-headed by Churches; it was led by a handful of moralists whose cries remained unheeded till the economic necessity compelled the Parliament to pass a bill in 1807 against slave-trade. After 26 years, another bill was passed to abolish slavery itself in British-held countries in 1833. As Professor D. W. Brogan writes in the introduction of Dr. Eric Williams' magnificent book Capitalism and Slavery, "the abolition of the slave-trade, then the abolition of the slavery, were not merely the results of a rising standard of political ethics in Britain (although Dr. Williams does not dismiss as unimportant the work of men like Clarkson) but were a form of cutting of losses. The West Indies sugar monopoly became intolerable to a booming industrial society, rightly confident in its invulnerable competitive position in the early days of the industrial revolution." To summarise, in the words of Prof. Brogan, the slave system was "tolerated, defended, praised as long as it was profitable."
"It was highly profitable and for a long time. On the profits of the West Indies plantations were based the fortune of Bristol and Liverpool and to some extent, of Glasgow. The West Indian planter was the rival in ostentation of the East Indian nabob.. It was in vain for moralists to point out that every brick of the great warehouses of Bristol and Liverpool was cemented in Negro blood.. But the voice of the moralists was seldom overheard amid the chink of guineas (the very name recalls the triangular trade between Britain, Africa and the transatlantic colonies)."
What the "triangular trade" meant? From England, sundry assortment "typical of the slave trader's cargo" was taken to Africa: "Finery for Africans, household utensils, cloths of all kinds, iron and other metals, together with guns, hand-cuffs and fetters." From Africa human cargo was taken to West Indies and Americas. From West Indies and other colonies sugar, tobacco, indigo, cotton, coffee and other raw materials were taken to the mother country (i.e., England) where they were processed and then re-imported.
The plantations were founded on slavery and were protected by monopolies. Then came the secession of 13 colonies of America which closed a big market against the British held West Indies. Its another effect was that the now independent U.S.A. turned towards French held Islands of Saint Domingue (Haiti), Cuba and Brazil. Dr. Williams writes, "The superiority of the French sugar colonies was for the British planters the chief among the many ills which flew out of the Pandora's box that was the American Revolution. Between 1783 and 1789 the progress of the French sugar islands, of Saint Domingue especially, was the most amazing phenomenon in colonial development. The fertility of the French soil was decisive, French sugar cost one-fifth less than Britain, the average yield in Saint Domingue and Jamaica was five to one."
The disastrous effect upon British West Indies may be judged by the fact that "in 1775 Jamaica had 775 plantations; by 1791, out of every hundred, twenty three had been sold for debt, twelve were in the hands of receivers, while seven had been abandoned; and the West Indian planters, indebted to the enormous sum of twenty millions." Gradually, British planters irretrievably lost that ascendancy which they had so long enjoyed in the European Market. "French colonial exports, over eight million pounds, and imports, over four millions, employed 164,000 tons of shipping and 33,000 sailors; British colonial exports, five million pounds, and imports, less than two millions, employed 148,000 tons of shipping and 14,000 seamen. In every respect the sugar colonies had become vastly more essential to France than they were to England."
Thus the cost of sugar (and likewise of all such products) was becoming too high. Dr. Williams explains, "The West Indian monopoly was not only unsound in theory, it was unprofitable in practice. In 1828 it was estimated that it cost the British people annually more than one and a half million pounds. In 1844 it was costing the country 70,000 pounds a week and London 6,000 pounds. England was paying for its sugar five millions more a year than the Continent...Two-fifths of the price of every pound of sugar consumed in England represented the cost of production, two-fifths went in revenue to the government, one-fifth in tribute to the West Indian planter.."
Gradually, Saint Domingue (Haiti) held by France emerged as the most important sugar producer. From the standpoint of the British Prime Minister, William Pitt, this was the decisive factor. The age of the British sugar islands was over. The West Indian system was unprofitable, and the slave-trade on which it rested, "instead of being very advantageous to Great Britain...is the most destructive that can well be imagined by interests. Therefore, Pitt turned to India to cultivate and produce sugar. "Pill's plan was twofold: to recapture the European market with the aid of sugar from India, and to secure an international abolition of the slave-trade which would ruin Saint Domingue. If not international abolition, then British abolition. The French were so dependent on British slave traders that even a unilateral abolition by England would seriously dislocate the economy of the French colonies.
"Pitt's plan failed for two reasons. The importation of East India sugar, on the scale planned, was impossible owing to the high duties imposed on all sugar not the produce of the British West Indies.. Secondly, the French, Dutch and Spaniards refused.. to abolish the slave-trade. It was not difficult to see the political motives behind Pitt's cloak of humanitarianism. Gaston-Martin, the well-known French historian of the slave-trade and the Caribbean colonies, accuses Pitt of aiming by propaganda to free the slaves 'in the name no doubt of humanity, but also to ruin French commerce.' and concludes that in this philanthropic propaganda there were economic motives.
Then occurred a unique episode. The French planters of Saint Domingue, in 1791, fearful of the consequences of French Revolution offered the islands to England; soon Windward Island followed suit; Pitt accepted the offer in 1793. Expedition after expedition was sent, unsuccessfully, to capture the island.
Dr. Williams comments: "This is of more than academic interest. Pitt could not have had Saint Domingue and abolition as well. Without its 40,000 slave imports a year, Saint Domingue might as well have been at the bottom of the sea. The very acceptance of the island meant logically the end of Pitt's interest in abolition. Naturally he did not say so. He had already committed himself too far in the eyes of the public. He continued to speak in favour of abolition, even while giving every practical encouragement to the slave trade...Pitt's reasons were political and only secondarily personal. He was interested in the sugar trade. Either he must ruin Saint Domingue by flooding Europe with cheaper Indian sugar or by abolishing the slave-trade; or he must get Saint Domingue for himself."
"It would give Britain a monopoly of sugar, indigo, cotton and coffee... But if Pitt captured Saint Domingue, the slave-trade must continue. When Saint Domingue was lost to France, the slave-trade became merely a humanitarian question...
"But the ruin of Saint Domingue did not mean the salvation of the British West Indies. Two new enemies appeared on the scene. Cuba forged ahead to fill the gap left in the world market by the disappearance of Saint Domingue."
"Whilst, under the American flag, Cuban and other neutral sugar still found a market in Europe, British West Indian surpluses piled up in England. Bankruptcies were the order of the day. Between 1799 and in 1807, 65 plantations in Jamaica were abandoned, 32 were sold for debts, and 1807 suits were pending against 115 others. Debt, disease and death were the only topics of conversation in the island. A parliamentary committee set up in 1807 discovered that the British West Indian planter was producing at a loss. In 1800 his profit was 2 1/2 per cent, in 1807 nothing. In 1787 the planter got 19/6d profit per hundredweight; in 1799, 10/9d; in 1803, 18/6d; 1805, 12/-; in 1809, nothing. The committee attributed the main evil to the unfavourable state of foreign market. In 1806 the surplus of sugar in England amounted to six thousand tons. Production had to be curtailed. To restrict production, the slave-trade must be abolished."
Thus, in the words of Dr. Williams, "abolition was the direct result of that (economic) distress."
. Williams, Dr. Eric, Capitalism and Slavery, p. 65.
. Ibid, p. 122.
. Ibid, p. 123.
. Ibid, p. 138-9.
. Ibid, p. 146.
. Ibid, p. 146-7.
. Ibid, p. 147-8.
. Ibid, p. 148-9.
. Ibid, p. 149.
. Ibid, p. 150.
Hypocricy Of The Abolitionists
If anybody wishfully thinks that the main cause of the abolition of slavery was moral and ethical development, he would be well-advised to look at the attitude of abolitionists within the frame work of their economic aims.
Thus we see that the same West Indian interest holders who before the previously mentioned distress were the ardent supporters of slave-trade now became enthusiastic "humanists". Dr. Williams says, "Ironically enough, it was the former slave owners of the West Indies who now held the humanitarian torch. Those who, in 1807, were lugubriously prophesying that abolition of the British slave-trade would 'occasion diminished commerce, diminished revenue and diminished navigation; and in the end sap and totally remove the great cornerstone of British prosperity,' were, after 1807, the very men who protested against 'a system of man-stealing against a poor and inoffensive people."' The West India interest in 1830 put a resolution "to adopt more decisive measures...to stop the foreign slave-trade; on the effectual suppression of which the prosperity of the British West Indian colonies... ultimately depends. Jamaican envoys, sent to Britain in 1823, declared that 'the colonies were easily reconciled to the abolition of a barbarous commerce, which the advanced civilization of the age no longer permitted to exist' ...A great mass movement for abolition of the slave-trade developed in Jamaica in 1849. Auj claplo, parties and sects were united on the question of justice to Africa. They denounced the slave-trade and slavery as 'opposed to humanity - productive of the worst evils to Africa - degrading to all engaged in the traffic, and inimical to the moral and spiritual interests of the enslaved,' and pleaded that 'the odious term "slave" be expunged from the vocabulary of universe. SLAVERY MUST FALL, and, when it falls, JAMAICA WILL FLOURISH.' England, they declared pointedly, had gone to wars for less justifiable causes."
And what was the worth of all such high-sounding phrases may be judged from the fact that the British capitalism, even after destroying West Indian slavery, "continued to thrive on Brazilian, Cuban and American slavery." So, in the words of Professor Brogan, "we get the paradoxes of the reversal of roles. It was all very well for the abolitionists to deplore the use of slave-produced sugar in the West Indies, but no one proposed to stop the use of the slave-produced cotton from the United States. Indeed, no one proposed seriously to stop the use of the slave-produced sugar from Brazil or Cuba. Money not passion, passion of wickedness or goodness, spun the plot".
Dr. Williams writes, "After India, Brazil and Cuba, by no stretch of imagination could any humanitarian justify any proposal calculated to revet the chains of slavery still more firmly on the Negroes of Brazil and Cuba. That was precisely what free trade in sugar meant. For after 1807 the British West Indians were denied the slave-trade and after 1833 slave labour. If the abolitionists had recommended Indian sugar, incorrectly, on the humanitarian principle that it was free-grown, it was their duty to their principles and their religion to boycott the slave-grown sugar of Brazil and Cuba. In falling to do this it is not to be inferred that they were wrong, but it is undeniable that their failure to adopt such a course completely destroys the humanitarian argument. The abolitionists, after 1833, continued to oppose the West Indian planter who now employed free labour. Where, before 1833, they had boycotted the British slave-owner, after 1833 they espoused the cause of the Brazilian slave-owner."
"The barbarous removal of the Negroes from Africa continued for at least twenty five years after 1833, to the sugar plantations of Brazil and Cuba. Brazilian and Cuban economy depended on the slave-trade. Consistency alone demanded that the British abolitionists oppose this trade. But that would retard Brazilian and Cuban development and consequently hamper British trade. The desire for cheap sugar after 1833 overcame all abhorrence of slavery. Gone was the horror which once was excited at the idea of a British West Indian slave-driver armed with whip; the Cuban slave-driver armed with a whip, cutlass, dagger and pistols, and followed by bloodhounds, aroused not even comment from the abolitionists."
Thus it is clear that the real reasons of the British humanitarianism was not so much moral uprightness or ethical awakening but the economic pressure and to harm their business competitors. In the words of Professor Brogan, the lesson of Capitalism and Slavery is chilling if not new: "Where your treasure is there will your heart be also."
. Ibid, p. 175-6.
. Ibid, p. 188.
. Ibid, p. 192.
Was American Civil War to Emancipate the Slaves
I think it is in the interest of the readers to critically review the story that the American Civil War was fought to emancipate the slaves. It is a myth, having no relation with reality. I propose to quote here from chapter 22 of Lincoln, the Unknown written by the famous author Dale Carnegie. He begins with these words:- "Ask the average American citizen today why the Civil War was fought, and the chances are that he will reply, 'To free the slaves'.
"Let's see. Here is a sentence taken from Lincoln's first inaugural address: 'I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it now exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.'
"The fact is that the cannon had been booming and the wounded groaning for almost eighteen months before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. During all that time the Radicals and the Abolitionists had urged him to act at once, storming at him through the press and denouncing him from the public platforms.
"Once a delegation of Chicago ministers appeared at the White House with what they declared was a direct command from Almighty God to free the slaves immediately. Lincoln told them that he imagined that if the Almighty had any advice to offer He would come direct to headquarters with it, instead of sending it around via Chicago."
Further on, Dale Carnegie quotes from Lincoln's reply to Greedy's article 'The Prayer of Twenty Million': "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving the others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the coloured race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union, and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause; and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help the cause."
To explain that reply, Dale Carnegie writes: "Four slave States had remained with the North, and Lincoln realised that if he issued his Emancipation Proclamation too early in the conflict he would drive them into the Confederacy, strengthen the South, and perhaps destroy the Union for ever. There was a saying at the time that Lincoln would like to have God Almighty on his side, but he must have Kentucky.
"So he bided his time, and moved cautiously.
"He himself had married into a slave-owing, border State family. Part of the money that his wife received from the settlement of her father's estate had come from the sale of slaves. And the only really intimate friend that he ever had, Joshua Speed was a member of a slave-owning family. Lincoln sympathised with the Southern point of view. Besides, he had the attorney's traditional respect for the Constitution and for law and property. He wanted to work no hardship on any one.
"He believed that the North was much to blame for the existence of slavery in the United States as was the South; and that in getting rid of it, both sections should bear the burden equally. So he finally worked out a plan that was very near to his heart. According to this, the slave-owners in the loyal border States were to receive four hundred dollars for each of their Negroes. The slaves were to be emancipated gradually, very gradually. The process was not to be entirely completed until January 1, 1900. Calling the representatives of the border States to the White House, he pleaded with them to accept his proposal.
"The change it contemplates, Lincoln argued, would come gently as the dews of heaven, not rending or wrecking anything. Will you not embrace it? So much good has not been done, by one effort, in all past time; as in the providence of God' it is now your high privilege to do. May the vast future not have to lament that you have neglected it."
The reader would remember that this plan of emancipation "that was very near his Lincoln's heart" was the same which had already been effected and practised 1300 years ago in Islam and which had produced wonderful results in the Islamic world. Had that plan been accepted by Lincoln's compatriots, there would not have been so much racial hatred, internal strife, social upheaval and emotional instability which is still persisting in the USA a century after the so called "emancipation of Negroes" there.
Unfortunately, the representatives of those border-states rejected that plan. Carnegie says, "Lincoln was immediately disappointed. I must save this Government, if possible, he said, and it may as well be understood, once for all, that I shall not surrender this game, leaving any available card unplayed... I believe that freeing the slaves and arming the blacks has now become an indispensable military necessity. I have been driven to the alternative of either doing that or surrendering the Union.
"He had to act at once, for both France and England were on the verge of recognising the Confederacy. Why? The reasons were very simple. Take France's case first."
Napoleon III was on the throne of France. "He longed to cover himself with glory, as his renowned uncle, Napoleon Bonaparte, had done. So when he saw the States slashing and shooting at one another, and knew they were much too occupied to bother about enforcing the Monroe Doctrine, he ordered an army to Mexico, shot a few thousand natives, conquered the country, called Mexico a French empire, and put the Archduke Maximilian on the throne.
"Napoleon believed, and not without reason, that if the Confederates won they would favour his new empire; but that if the Federals won, the United States would immediately take steps to put the French out of Mexico. It was Napoleon's wish, therefore, that the South would make good its secession, and he wanted to help it as much as he conveniently could.
"At the outset of the war, the Northern navy closed all Southern ports, guarded 189 harbours and patrolled 9,614 miles of coast-line, sounds, bayous and rivers. It was the most gigantic blockade the world had ever seen. The Confederates were desperate. They couldn't sell their cotton; neither could they buy guns, ammunition, shoes, medical supplies, or food. They boiled chestnuts and cotton-seed to make a substitute for coffee, and brewed a decoction of blackberry leaves and sassafras roots to take the place of tea. Newspapers were printed on wall-paper. The ear-then floors of smoke-houses, saturated with the drippings of bacon, were dug up and boiled to get salt. Church bells were melted and cast into cannon. Street-car rails in Richmond were torn up to be made into gunboat armour.
"The Confederates couldn't repair their rail-roads or buy new equipment, so transportation was almost at a standstill; corn that could be purchased for two dollars a bushel in Georgia, brought fifteen dollars in Richmond. People in Virginia were going hungry.
"Something had to be done at once. So the South offered to give Napoleon III twelve million dollars worth of cotton if he would recognise the Confederacy and use the French fleet to lift the blockade. Besides, they promised to overwhelm him with orders that would start smoke rolling out of every factory chimney in France night and day.
"Napoleon therefore urged Russia and England to join him in recognising the Confederacy. The aristocracy that ruled England adjusted their monocles, poured a few drinks of Scotch Whisky, and listened eagerly to Napoleon's overtures. The United States was getting too rich and powerful to please them. They wanted to see the nation divided, the Union broken. Besides, they needed the South's cotton. Scores of England's factories had closed, and a million people were not only idle but destitute and reduced to actual pauperism.
Children were crying for food, hundreds of people were dying of starvation. Public subscriptions to buy food for British workmen were taken up in the remotest corners of the earth: even in far off India and poverty-stricken China. There was one way, and only one way, that England could get cotton, and that was to join Napoleon III in recognising the Confederacy and lifting the blockade.
"If that were done, what would happen in America? The South would get guns, powder, credit, food, railway equipment, and a tremendous lift in confidence and morale.
"And what would the North get? Two new and powerful enemies. The situation, bad enough now, would be hopeless then.
"Nobody knew this better than Abraham Lincoln. 'We have about played our last card,' he confessed in 1862. 'We must either change our tactics now or lose the game.'
"As England saw it, all the colonies had originally seceded from her. Now the Southern colonies had, in turn, seceded from the Northern ones; and the North was fighting to coerce and subdue them. What difference did it make to a peer in London or a prince in Paris whether Tennessee and Texas were ruled from Washington or Richmond? None. To them, the fighting was meaningless and fraught with no high purpose.
"'No war ever raging in my times,' wrote Carlyle, 'was to be more profoundly foolish looking.'
"Lincoln saw that Europe's attitude towards the war must be changed, and he knew how to do it. A million people in Europe had read Uncle Tom's Cabin - had read it and wept and learned to abhor the heartaches and injustice of slavery. So Abraham Lincoln knew that if he issued his Proclamation of Emancipation, Europeans would see the war in a different light. It would no longer be a bloody quarrel over the preservation of a Union that meant nothing to them. Instead, it would be exalted into a holy crusade to destroy slavery. European Governments would then not dare to recognise the South. Public opinion wouldn't tolerate the aiding of a people supposed to be fighting to perpetuate human bondage.
"Finally, therefore, in July 1862 Lincoln determined to issue his proclamation, but McClellan and Pope had recently led the army to humiliating defeats. Seward told the President that the time was not auspicious, that he ought to wait and launch the proclamation on the crest of a wave of victory.
"That sounded sensible. So Lincoln waited; and two months later the victory came."
And so, to further the cause of Union War, the Proclamation of Emancipation was published in September 1862, which was to be effective on 1st January, 1863.
I have highest respect for Abraham Lincoln and he has been one of my favourite heroes since childhood. But that respect is based upon the facts and reality; not upon myths. He was a humanitarian and he, from the depth of heart, was against slavery. But it does not mean that we should glorify him by false propaganda. The reality was that he did not fight civil war to emancipate the slaves; rather he emancipated the slaves to win the civil war and save the Union.
. Carnegie, Dale, Lincoln: the Unknown (Surrey, U.K.:The Word Work Ltd, 1948) chp. 22.
Up to now we have discussed one type of slavery, i.e., household slavery. But it was mentioned in chapter one that slavery is of two kinds, the second being the Territorial Slavery or subjugation of one nation by another.
Though the household slavery is now supposed to he abolished, the territorial slavery is still very much alive. With a heart full of sorrow one notes the systematic destruction of human lives and human dignity perpetuated by the Christian civilization in almost all parts of the world.
Red Indians were the original inhabitants of the New World. Where are they now? They were gradually pushed out from their own lands and have been forced to live in less fertile rather unproductive patches of U.S.A. Aborigines of Australia were subjected to the same treatment. Red Indians and Aborigines both were hunted like buffaloes and now their number is nearing the extinction point. Dr. Eric Williams quotes a story of the Indian chieftain, Hatuey, who doomed to die for resisting the invaders, staunchly refused to accept the Christian faith as the gateway to salvation when he learned that his executioners, too, hope to get to Heaven.
Even more tragic is the fate of the Africans in Southern Africa. Portuguese, armed with the Pope's decree to "reduce the infidels to servitude" are tenaciously keeping Angola and Mozambique under the yoke of Territorial Slavery.
It is really astonishing to note that Pope Paul VI often issues statements on political problems of the world; but has never seen it fit to advise Portugal to negotiate with its "subjects" in Africa and elsewhere. Instead the Popes have maintained special relations with Portugal and Spain, the two Roman Catholic nations which stubbornly refuse to free their African colonies. In July 1970, Pope Paul VI received some leaders of freedom fighters of Portuguese African colonies. This audience infuriated Portugal, which issued a protest; Vatican nervously issued an explanation. Commenting upon it, the following letter entitled "Pope's Note A Comfort" was published in the Standard Dar es-salaam (Tanzania), by 'A Black Roman Catholic': "The news item 'Pope's note comforts Portugal' (Standard, July 11) refers. I quote the relevant sentences: A Vatican note.. .said that Pope had received them (i.e., the leaders of liberation movements of Africa under Portuguese rule) as Catholics and Christians, without reference to their political functions. He reminded them to the Church's teaching that peaceful means should always be used even in seeking what one considers to be one's right.
"The earlier news that the Holy Father had received the said leaders had perturbed me much. Now this clarification has put my anxiety to rest. Let me explain why. It was the Roman Catholic Church which established Western colonialism by dividing all the newly discovered lands and countries into two halves: giving the Spaniards the Western half (like Americas), and granting Portugal the Eastern half (like Africa and India).
"Portugal's colonies in Africa are firmly founded on that important Papal decree. When I read earlier that Pope Paul VI had received the leaders of the Liberation movements, I was surprised how was it possible. According to our beliefs of the Papal infallibility, Pope Paul VI is bound to carry on and justify whatever was decreed by his Holy predecessors. Therefore, according to my thinking he should not have encouraged those leaders.
"Now his clarification has comforted me a lot spiritually. Now I may sleep in peace with a sure knowledge that my Church has not condemned itself by implying that previous Popes were wrong in establishing and supporting the 'enlightenment' of this black continent under Portuguese Imperialism.
"Also, his advice to these so called 'victims of colonialism' to remain peaceful (i.e., to disband freedom-fighter units and beg Portugal to grant them Uhuru) is the same old wine in a new bottle. It reminds me of the invocations of priests of the Roman Catholic Church at the time of sailings of the slave-ships from Portuguese ports for West Indies. They always prayed to the Almighty to ensure the safety of the ships and always admonished the black slaves to behave gently and obediently. Of course, they did not think it necessary to advise the masters of the slaves to think of them as human beings. I am glad that my Church has not changed during all these long centuries."
South Africa's policy of Apartheid is universally condemned by UNO and elsewhere. But the Churches had always toed the line. It is only after the "change of wind" in Africa and rapid emergence of independent African nations that the Churches have realised the need to oppose the nefarious system which denies the original inhabitants of the country the right to work, walk, sit, ride, earn or sleep in their own land. And even when all other Churches, forced by the political necessity, have shown their opposition to this type of slavery, the Dutch Reformed Church still supports that inhuman system.
Rhodesia is following in the foot-steps of South Africa. A common African joke in these parts of the world describes an African telling an European: "When you came, you had the Bible and we had the land. Now we have the Bible and you have the land."
Apart from this blatant subjugation, there are other disguises in which the territorial slavery shows its face. Like a chameleon, it changes its colour according to the environment. Naked colonialism has now been replaced by neo-colonialism; but it still amounts to the same subjugation of nations and peoples by the superpowers through more subtle or not so subtle methods. We have seen what happened to the League of Nations. It has been replaced by the UNO, but when the weak nations cry and appeal for justice, diplomatic pressure is exercised and their just demands for their basic rights are shelved, or postponed. There is political blackmail, and the colour of the skin is still a deciding factor. In fact the governing nations or those who are powerful and well-equipped with instruments and means of wholesale destruction and annihilation, still hold their sway.
This type of slavery is practised today not only by Christo-capitalist nations but by communists also; and it will continue so long as human society remains divided into the strong and the weak or until the existence of Omnipotent and All-powerful God is recognised and His Sovereignty over the world is fully believed in and accepted.
Even now when the 20th century is marching towards its close and the Americans pride themselves on their achievements, the "Negro" question is in the forefront and still unsolved. Despairingly, O.A. Sherrard says, "Slavery has existed from the beginning and will last in one form or another as long as men lust after power. It has resulted in more misery, more murder, more degradation, more sadness, suffering and sin than any other human institution. It crushes individuals; it blights communities; it sours all human intercourse, for its sign-manual is fear... It has dealt viciously with the past, and perhaps more viciously with the present; for in modern forms slavery if less obvious is more widespread and its fear more pervasive. The fear of a servile rising among its satellites haunts the Soviet Presidium; the fear of a servile fate heightens the tension between East and West; the fear of a servile revenge broods in South Africa and overshadows the States; the fear of servile indignities, brain-washing, torture and sudden death, cows vast multitudes throughout the world."
But we do not share this pessimistic view. We realise that the problem is gigantic, but we also know that Islam is the Religion sent by Allah, the Omnipotent. Islam, 1400 years ago brought three-sided programme for eradication of slavery: Blocking the ways of acquiring new slaves, emancipation, and restoration of the human dignity to the slaves. And the fact is that though Bani Umayyah sabotaged the first side of that programme by re-introducing slavery by purchase, they could not minimise the impact of the other two programmes. And the slaves in the Muslim world regained their lost human dignity.
A system which has shown its worth and which achieved success in fields where other systems have utterly failed, will surely achieve the total eradication of every type of division, segregation, inequality and inequity if it is given chance. Ameer Ali writes, "It remains for the Moslems [sic] to show the falseness of the aspersions cast on the memory of the great and noble Prophet [by the traducers and enemies of Islam], by proclaiming in explicit terms that slavery, [bondage in any shape and the difference of race and colour are] reprobated by their faith and discountenanced by their code." And we are sure that Islam will be given opportunity by Allah to establish full and complete justice in the world.
The Shi'ite Imams, the Divine Guides, carried on the work of the Holy Prophet and instilled in their followers the true spirit of Islam. They, by their own examples and through sermons, preserved the original Islam for their followers.
And the last divine Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi (peace be upon him), the Awaited One, is to re-appear when this world will become full of injustice, tyranny and dishonesty. When the Awaited One comes out from Occultation, he will fill this world with complete justice, honesty and mercy. We believe in a better world and we know that whatever the disguise of slavery at the time of re-appearance of the Twelfth Imam, the Awaited One, it is bound to disappear, vacating its place to universal brotherhood and human dignity.
. Williams, op. cit., p. 8.
. Sherrard, op. cit., pp. 188-189.
. Ameer Ali, Spirit of Islam, p. 267
The first edition of this book was published fifteen years ago. Many changes have occurred in this period on the world stage. The wind of change has blown away the Portuguese rule from Africa, giving freedom to Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. Rhodesia's black majority has overthrown Ian Smith's "independence" of the White settlers, putting Zimbabwe on Africa's map. Spain too had to withdraw from the "Spanish Sahara".
I have re-read the preceding chapter (Territorial Slavery) to see if some changes were advisable. But it seems that no alteration would be justified. The fact is that no substantial change has occurred in the overall picture. Rather the situation has gone from bad to worse - the flag independence of some countries notwithstanding.
South Africa, with whole-hearted "ethical, philosophical and scriptural" support of the Dutch Reformed Church, is relentlessly pursuing its policy of apartheid. In spite of pressures from O.A.U, Commonwealth and UNO members, the United States and the United Kingdom have stubbornly refused to impose economic sanction against South Africa. On the other hand, USA supports South Africa in its ventures to destabilise Angola and Mozambique.
The wave of Islamic awakening, with Islam's unambiguous stand against oppression of man by man, or exploitation of nation by nation, is proving a stumbling block to the oppressors of the weaker people. Not without reason, the 1986 Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church had declared that Islam was a great danger to South Africa - i.e., to the idea of racial supremacy.
With all the propaganda being made by the super powers about the Human Rights, the same powers go on unabashedly trampling the basic human rights of weaker nations. Their tentacles are strangulating the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as Central America and Central Asia. Nor has the Vatican changed its stance vis-à-vis freedom movements and down-trodden masses.
Although the appearance of neo-colonialism has changed to some extent, its reality has not changed at all. It was thought better, therefore, to let the concluding chapter stand as it was.