How slavery shaped the market economy and abolitionism gave rise to ideals of human rights?

Philosophy pb DEMY

For over three centuries enslavement promoted the rise of capitalism in the Atlantic world, but study of slavery as a pivotal force in western ascendancy and dominance is still mostly neglected. In The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights, Robin Blackburn (The New School, New York) honorably contributes to fill this research – and moral – gap, furnishing a vivid and competent history of the rise and fall of slavery in the Americas.
More than any other institution, it was the slave plantation and the massive extractions of wealth from exploited black labor that led to the West’s dominance over the rest of the world. “Without slavery there could have been no colonization,” is the starting point for the evolution of Blackburn’s historical narrative. The New World became the crucible for a succession of silver mining, plantation agriculture, racial enslavement, and slave resistance. Slave produce raised up empires, fostered new cultures of consumption and financed the breakthrough to an industrial order.The achievement and originality of the book lie in Blackburn’s insistence on the crucial interrelation among slavery, colonialism and capitalism, seeking to map the different modes of production, of colonisation, and of enslavement on to one another.
Not until the stirrings of a revolutionary age in the 1780s was there the first public challenge to the ‘peculiar institution’. An anti-slavery alliance then set the scene for great acts of emancipation in Haiti in 1804, Britain in 1833–8, the United States in the 1860s, and Cuba and Brazil in the 1880s. This comprehensive book connects emancipation moments through both time and space, and allows us to thoroughly understand the abolitionist’s thought.
Eventually, Blackburn’s work compels us to think about abolitionism’s relevance to global modernity, as well as to current events in the US.

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