Caribbean Project: Free Labor Jamaica vs. Slave Labor Cuba

British West Indies

In Caribbean Project: Review: Slave Society in Cuba During the Nineteenth Century, we saw how the abolition of slavery in Haiti (1794) and the British West Indies (1838) set off an economic boom in slave labor Spanish Cuba.

In 1770, the French Caribbean (Saint-Domingue, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana) produced 46.7 percent of the sugar in the Caribbean. After the loss of Saint-Domingue (1804) and French abolition (1848), the French share of Caribbean sugar collapsed to 7.4 percent in 1850.

In 1770, the British Caribbean (Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Barbados, Windward Islands) produced 40 percent of the sugar in the Caribbean. After the abolition of slavery (1838) and the triumph of free trade (1846), the British share of Caribbean sugar plunged to 28.5 percent in 1850.

In 1770, the Spanish Caribbean (Cuba and Puerto Rico) produced only 5 percent of the sugar in the Caribbean. After the loss of Saint-Domingue (1804) and the abolition of slavery in British West Indies (1838) and French West Indies (1848) and the triumph of free trade in Britain (1846), the Spanish share of Caribbean sugar rose to 60 percent in 1850.

This excerpt from Stephen Drescher’s The Mighty Experiment: Free Labor vs. Slave Labor in British Emancipation shows how the “free labor” British West Indies had been sent into an economic tailspin as a result of competition with “slave labor” Cuba after the end of the slave trade (1807), the abolition of slavery (1838), and the triumph of free trade in the home market (1846).

The British were determined to prove that the application of their doctrines of “free labor” and “free trade” in Jamaica could compete with “slave labor” Cuba in a head-to-head competitive matchup:

“Wilson’s checklist consisted of a set of experiments that might be contested for one “definitional” reason or another. His final case, however, must have been the one that really caught the attention of the House of Commons. By their own immediate avowal, it bowled over its bankers, West Indians, and abolitionists alike. Wilson selected an example whose economic success was universally recognized from one end of the world to the other. Subsequent historians have verified that impression. By 1850, “its per capita output must have ranked among the top half dozen of the world’s nations,” 65 percent above that of Jamaica.

Wilson’s pièce de résistance was, of course, the island of Cuba. “Let the House,” thundered the editor of the Economist, “compare those under the British Crown with Cuba or Porto Rico: there was a material difference between the social position of the inhabitants.” In Cuba, both English and Spanish families avoided the perils of absenteeism. There was no need to look only at its economic growth, in sugar or coffee exports. The signs of contingent economic development were everywhere. Cuba had no fewer than 800 miles of railway, the great symbol of modernity and progress, whereas there were only 1200 miles of railroad in the British colonies combined. Cuba was purchasing the latest British machinery for increasing the efficiency of production and transportation. The British colonies were also admonished to follow Cuba’s stringent regulations against vagrancy and squatting – the test of a “civilized and cultivated society.”

The West Indian who replied to Wilson confessed that he was devastated by Wilson’s argument. He heard the British government’s spokesman wax eloquent on the magnificent prosperity of Cuba, saying, “See what slavery has done!” and then he heard the same speaker point to the distressed British Caribbean, saying, “Behold the result of freedom.” To what conclusion should the House of Commons come if all Wilson’s statistics on bridges, buildings, and railways pointed to the accomplishments of slave labor? Even those unconnected with the West Indies noted that an argument for the superiority of free labor based on the dynamism of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Louisiana was a peculiar message to the slaveholders of the New World. Eventually, even a free trader from Lancashire reminded Wilson that there was a free labor experiment in progress. If the experiment failed commercially, no other country would imitate Britain’s example.”

Freedom failed, spectacularly.

The disaster in the British West Indies would have been even worse if the British had not forced other Europeans nations to abolish the slave trade and had not spent millions of dollars interdicting the slave trade to Cuba which made African slaves in Cuba far more expensive than they otherwise would have been.

By the 1850s, William Wilberforce’s son in the House of Lords was denying that the abolitionists had ever pushed the superiority of the “free labor” doctrine as a justification for the abolition of slavery, and asserted that the superior competitive advantage of slave labor in Cuba justified protectionism in the British West Indies.

“Embittered protectionist Tories, who had no hope of repealing the Corn Laws, took rhetorical delight in comparing the devastated sugar colonies to the government’s earlier predictions of emerging prosperity. Benjamin Disraeli found West Indian distress a convenient stick with which to beat the free trade Whigs. The great experiment, the greatest blunder in the history of the English people, had simultaneously ruined the British colonies, encouraged the African slave trade, and revealed “the quackery of economic science!”

Drescher dwells at on length on the multiple examples of the inability of “free labor” to compete with “slave labor”: free Haiti where the sugar industry collapsed after 1804, Guadeloupe from 1794 until 1803 when slavery had been overthrown from above without a revolution, the disastrous Sierra Leone experiment in free labor, the decimation of Indian cotton and textiles by slave labor competition in the American South, how Jamaica benefited from French abolition during the French Revolution, the failure of free negroes to work for wages on the plantations in the British West Indies before abolition, and finally on the failure of “The Mighty Experiment” itself when the British West Indies were unable to compete with slave labor in Cuba, Louisiana, and Brazil.

Cuba, with its hundreds of miles of railroads and steam powered mills, also refuted the old chestnut about freedom and technology:

“By 1848, few free traders maintained that emancipation plus competition would produce a widening technology gap in favor of freedom. Their opponents echoed Peel’s question: how, under free trade, could one prevent slave owners from purchasing machinery? It was not just a question of technological parity. British machinery was pouring more swiftly into the Spanish than into the British Caribbean. Old machinery was being left to rust in the British colonies while British planters reexported their own most recent purchases to Havana, where planters could purchase them at bankruptcy prices. Free trade was opening a technological gap in favor of slaveholders. The new steam-based machines could run for twenty-four hours a day, so Cuban planters could run their laborers closer to twenty-four hours a day at the harvest peak. This point was also made by those calculating the relative productivity of Cuban and Jamaican labor. Cuba was outpacing the British colonies off the plantation as well. New steam-driven vessels were being introduced into the transatlantic slave trade. Cuban “dependence upon slave labor and the slave trade remained as central characteristics of a colonial sugar economy which had reduced every other economic sector to insignificance.” The Economist‘s prediction had been right. Free trade stimulated the purchase of “our wonderful machinery” – in Cuba.”

Free soil, free labor, free men, free quackery!

Note: Here’s something else that is interesting about this book: Drescher notes that the history of the Americas refuted the Whig theory of history. In Western Europe, slavery withered away over centuries, and prosperity followed, but in the Americas the trend was reversed, and slavery supplanted freedom, and American plantation agriculture was more productive and efficient and generated more wealth per capita than its European counterpart.

The slave societies of the New World in both their rise and fall had demonstrated that freedom and equality are not a necessary condition of wealth or progress – indeed, the triumph of freedom and equality in Haiti and the British Caribbean had a retarding effect on wealth and progress.

About Hunter Wallace 12366 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

50 Comments

  1. So, I suppose the moral to all this is that Negroes will only perform productive labor when constrained by slavery to do so. White “free labor” does not need the constraint of slavery in order to be productive. This reality applies to all other areas of life as well. Simply put, the Negro is not fit for the freedoms we take for granted. BRA proves this by trying to deny it.

    The black race, unless left to roam free in Africa, MUST be restrained within White civilization. We live amongst the ruins of insisting that blacks need no restraints.

  2. Well made case. Think the unthinkable! Slavery brought technological progress to Cuba. Had slavery been allowed another decade or two in the south the infrastructure down there would have been remarkable.

    Also this case makes economists look pretty stupid.

  3. Here’s a thought experiment:

    Suppose a public housing project full of unemployed free negroes who subsist off social services was raided and its occupants were sold into slavery tomorrow. Let’s say they were put to work by slaveowners and were induced to work 16 hours a day, 6 hours a week.

    Do you think that system would generate more wealth than the free labor system? Of course it would because slavery would use negative incentives instead of positive incentives to compel labor which would generate capital.

    No one who is alive today has ever seen free negroes work the kind of hours and with the kind of discipline that was the standard during slavery.

  4. Stonelifter’s earlier point is a verity: Do not think to give negroes (as a race) souls, for then you give them (all) equality with the White Man.

    What we are seeing on this blog, is a microcosm of America, some ten years behind us. Let me elucidate: Bush made distrust of government a thought to be entertained for some, while, for others, it pointed out that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’ – and jews were at its forefront. Obummer made us aware that even ‘smart’ Niggers aren’t ‘like us,’ even though the creed of First Church, Multicultural dies hard. Four more years will (as others have noted) shatter that myth for all but the last few true believers.

    And, it matters not what ‘Churches’ say, for (as Fr. Seraphim Rose prophesied: “In the end, all [organized] Churches will serve Antichrist.” – Are you reading THIS, publius?) they now are on the side of the great White IDOL- the Nigger as ‘New Man.’
    Cambria has been noting in a ‘kinder, gentler’ fashion what I have been saying for a decade, now, over at his post, on a weekly basis. RC’s, blinded by the BS the ‘Pope’ speaks, won’t get that their own ‘church’ has given up on them (white folks), en masse, in favor of the “descamisados” of the world (brown races) until it’s too late. (It already is…) Prots, otoh, tried to stem the tide starting with the Fundamentalist/ Modernist controversy, and failed at every instance- because they are ‘poor, weak, and blind’ as St. John says.

    “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.” (Rev. 3:14-18 KJV)

    The entire error of the Americas- as a Protestant nation- was to think that we could be as God, and MAKE the nigger our equal- either by words, by fiat laws, by genocidal war, or by theft of our income to ‘equalize’ outcomes. It began with Jefferson, was egged on by the Arminian Evan-jelly-goos, broadcast by Wesley, and Finney, given murderous intent by Lincoln, and borne on the backs of the South for over 100 years by the Yankees, from 1865 onwards.

    Since my own coming of age, we have watched the ‘negrification’ of all American White Culture; from sports, to dance, to music, to clothing- all of it, to mandate the ‘equality’ of a beast whose ancestors more likely than not were the monkey, made human by satanic species intermingling, [Gen. 6:1-4] and considered ‘beyond the pale’ from Pharoah on down to the Bell Curve.

    All Whites intrinsically know this, but recoil in horror, because of JEWISH PROPAGANDA that we be thought ‘racist,’ for saying what’s objectively true! -as Nesta Webster, Henry Ford, Carleton Coon, Lothrop Stoddard, David Irving, Arthur Koestler, Schlomo Sand, Wilcox, MacDonald, Fraser, Avdeyev et al. have been telling us, these last fifty-hundred years!

    Who the hell cares WHAT medieval Papal Rome thought about slavery, if the Bible condones it? Why should we feel guilt for the black man’s inequality, if Jews today still believe and teach that ALL non-Jews, are nothing more than Cattle- to be herded just as they say they were, by Hitler’s armies!?!?!? Why the double standard, UNLESS you actually believe the Jews’ and their lies, as Luther noted, five HUNDRED years ago! If Rome is now the Whore of Babylon, whose desire was merely for world conquest and rule, that now matches that of the EU, and the Empire known as America, why should we trust her (or them) any longer? She never ONCE, since AD1100, has cared for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as she has usurped the place of the Holy Spirit, via the office of the Papacy! Anathema sit.

    Slavery is an INESCAPABLE fact of humanoid existence on this planet. Bible thought not only condones it, but says it is a good thing – even to the point to be inheritable. Non-Christian, and anti-Christian regimes have wrongly brought the Chosen People (Whites) into slavery, but that is not our predestined goal, nor their right.

    As long (however) as we believe that we all are ‘equal,’ we will have demonically possessed individuals engaging in slavery- whether jewish sex slaves from the White Slavic lands in Isra-HELL, or Wall St./Wal-Mart jewish economic slaves in the JEW/S.A., or muslim slaves of the Jewmeister, creating/fomenting war and havoc at their master’s insistence, because they actually believe they are worshiping God, and not a devil…..

    Slavery will continue to exist, and thrive, among the worst sort of ‘Masters’ there can be; Satan’s children. [John 8:44] At least, when we did our duty, White Christian masters were the most benign of all slaveholders, and exhibited the condescension that YHWH God desires, when one DOES have slaves. People fear that idea- but why? Either you give Blacks souls, or you don’t. If you do, then move aside, old man, your worldview is OVER. If you don’t believe them to be your equal, then see them as your servants! And act accordingly- either by shipping them back to Africa, or by making them once again, useful members of this nation!

    But that would mean we Whites need to step up to the plate, and BE the Chosen People, Royal Priesthood, Holy Seed, and Elect Nation we have been called to be…in other words, to be DIFFERENT from the Nigga, the Jew, and the Turk… and few are willing to carry that burden, for it would mean to die to self, among other things…..

  5. This is one the most powerfully convincing posts, but still not fully successful. The suddenness of disruption of slavery arrangements and of free trade disrupting protected markets, and also the “fresh start” factor for a white Cuba going black after the other colonies did, and “early-adopting” railroad transportation, etc., might be the most crucial factors in Cuba’s rapid rise to the top in sugar cane production?

    In any case, sugar cane production figures, more miles of railroads, etc. are not valid measures of the health and vitality of a nation. The Bolsheviks also “grew the economy” with slaves after starving millions of the best, free white farmers. Let’s keep the whole forest of Western history and long-term white interest constantly in view.

    The end result, the final payoff of African slavery, in the case of all the colonies, including Cuba, is a mixed race population in place perhaps for all time.

  6. John wrote: “Had slavery been allowed another decade or two in the south the infrastructure down there would have been remarkable.” Given another century to prove itself and we would have established colonies on planets and moons all over the solar system by now. With African slaves all things are possible.

  7. Good retort.

    It might be a good idea to set parameters for argument. This is an astonishing excerpt. Each island was an experiment in economic models.

    On the soviets, it wasn’t precisely slavery. The soviet system was devoted to equality. Even if it acted hypocritically there were certain things it did well. Powerful military, industrial might, good universities… It wasn’t unbearable if you avoided party politics or were lucky enough not to be alive while Stalin had his way.
    My own take on the USSR is now that it was a front for Jews filling pockets, but let’s
    leave discussion of the USSR there. That was all about emancipated Jews and a hostile minority lording it over ethnic Russians.

    Anyway back on point, each island demonstrated the drawbacks of each system, aftereffects of change and the quackery of economic theory.

    Segregation itself worked tremendously well. The story of Pruitt Igoe (where integration failed) proves much of the same info.

  8. “The soviet system was devoted to equality. Even if it acted hypocritically there were certain things it did well. ”

    John, I beg to differ, and refer you to a book, Called “Russia’s Catacomb Saints.”
    This one book made me understand Bolshevism better than anything Solzhenitsyn could have written. 100 million dead due to a jewish ideology IS a satanic regime on earth, imho. And ‘equality’ for jewish masters, never MEANS equality, as you well know…..

    As to monkeys/negroes/slaves and interbreeding, for the theologically inclined, here’s an evangelical assessment of same topic, but not on the same subject. But the inferences may clearly be drawn. http://www.mt.net/~watcher/enoch5.html

  9. @ Hunter You might want to take a look at some of the farm journals of 18th & 19th century planters/farmers. I think they would give you a better idea of the true costs of slavery. You might be surprised.

    Another topic: I can’t think of a historian who claims slaves built the railroads in the South. Think about that…

  10. The bolshevik experiment would have been put to bed after just 20 years(as opposed to the 72 years it took) without lend lease to ride to the rescue. Stalin et al “grew” the economy by taking American oil drilling,machine tools, tungsten bits and belts, and so on, all in massive quantities. Not to mention our secrets our secrets.

    “The end result, the final payoff of African slavery, in the case of all the colonies, including Cuba, is a mixed race population in place perhaps for all time.” – I do agree though, that the failure of nearly all slave states to defend themselves from foreign influence is damning. If GB was falling behind economically due to abolitionism then they had every incentive to spread abolitionism to their competitors, which they ultimately did.

  11. Outlier, why did they escort them? Those Airborne Division boys…not oathkeeping and nullifying, but obeying like robots….

  12. It makes me very happy to be a white man with no Jewish blood, who is committed to spitting in the face of my race, and ensuring that all peoples; whether African, Mestizo or Asian or Arabic or anyone else, receive all freedom and equality as they are entitled. Those whites who can get along under that system will do so; all those who cannot have only themsleves to blame. By uniting Christianity and Marxism, I have taken on this task, and look forward to the tortured writings of you losers on your websites as you protest the destruction of an golden age that never was. As to the topic of this post, even if slavery did help the economy, few benefited from the tyranical slavery system of that time period; and what happens to the wealthy matters not to me.

  13. PeeGeearrrrTeeee,

    white people are the wealthiest people on the planet. You’d like to see that uverturned. Well, fck you too. The cannibals will stick you in the pot first.

  14. I acknowledge, respect and appreciate this website’s commitment to free speech. I will look forward to posting more of my arguments in support of interracial marriage, Christian socialism, freedom and equality in the upcoming days; hopefully with the help of this Joe person, whoever he is. You expect me to be canibilized, but I have never had any problems with non-whites because of my respectful and pro-equality attitude; with one exception, all of the people who have ever given me any trouble are white. Through interracial marriages/families, mixed-race people will still be able to produce the same amount of wealth without the need for the racist attitudes of fully white people.

  15. “I have never had any problems with non-whites because of my respectful and pro-equality attitude; with one exception, all of the people who have ever given me any trouble are white.”

    Sensors detect large quantities of bovine excrement…

    Never seen one this full before…hmm, yes…a suitable case for treatment.
    Dr. Apuleius prescribes an ethnomasochistic enema.

    If that doesn’t work, plan B calls for a cordless drill and some superglue…

    Deo Vindice

  16. Proud Globalist Race Traitor says:
    September 26, 2012 at 4:53 am

    “but I have never had any problems with non-whites because of my respectful and pro-equality attitude; with one exception, all of the people who have ever given me any trouble are white.”

    White anti-whites, always live in the wealthiest whitest suburbs, far away from the diversity, they demand for everyone else.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

  17. Proud Globalist Race Traitor says:
    September 26, 2012 at 4:53 am

    “Through interracial marriages/families, mixed-race people will still be able to produce the same amount of wealth without the need for the racist attitudes of fully white people.”

    Meanwhile…

    Nobody goes into Africa and feels AWKWARD that black people have their own countries. Nobody would say that black countries are ‘too black’ and MUST become more ‘Diverse’ ie LESS black.

    Nobody goes into Asia and feels AWKWARD that asian people have their own countries. Nobody would say that asian countries are ‘too asian’ and MUST become more ‘Diverse’ ie LESS asian.

    Asian countries for asians, black countries for blacks, but white children’s countries for Everybody ?

    Force-mixing a ‘melting pot upon Every white country, and ONLY white countries to create a ‘blended humanity’ is nothing but an attempt to ‘mix’ and ‘blend’ white people out of existence.

    It’s Genocide.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

  18. Sigh… ‘The Mantra’ is fucking tired. And useless. And stupid. And gay. And it sounds like some bizarre, subliminal-programming that gets involuntarily regurgitated upon hearing some innocuous code-word.

    Also, this ‘Proud Globalist Race Traitor’ is just boring. His attempt at being inflammatory really was some of the saddest, lamest trolling I’ve ever seen on here. Something along the lines of watching a somewhat-busted-looking chick try out for one of those generic ‘I wanna be a singer’-type shows on FOX or whatever. I almost want to trace his IP and find out who he is, so I can forward his pathetic attempt at anti-racist trollery to every girl he likes. But I can’t bring myself to care enough.

  19. You commenters are a lot more engaging than Mangan’s, a blog similar to this which has now disappeared, where I posted once. Maybe he fell in love with an African immigrant and realized the error of his ways? Anyway, as to your points, Chris, what makes you assume I am male? You are correct actually; and it’s true that most women who don’t already agree with you would tell me I am wasting time commenting here. I live in a college town; where does that fit into your categorization? It is diverse, but with low crime, as most of the people who go there are trying to escape the gang and poverty lifestyle. However my father lived in urban areas for a long time and it is his example I follow; he was often the only white basketball player in his park, and did a lot to mentor African-American and Native American youths. My mother’s friends were mostly white but some Jewish, but she said even after they got divorced that she was proud of my father’s strong support for minorities. So I have learned great lessons from most of my family, although I came here to investigate because I think my uncles are starting to support your way of thinking.

  20. Continued; The death of a race is not genocide if no people who are already living are being killed. Most people know this and that is why they don’t care about what is happening. Furthermore, white countries deserve to be the melting pots they are becoming, because we are the ones who brutally attempted to take over most of the world, spreading disease and death wherever we went through our colonialist imperialism. Sure other ethnic groups have done awful things, and the places we colonized weren’t the paradises before we got here that a lot of people might think, but that doesn’t excuse our crimes. The best solution then is to start a movement where white people seek not to marry each other unless they are really madly in love. That way the white race will diminish and eventually hopefuly become extinct; however the culture will and genetic attributes will be passed on as necessary through mixed-race children.

  21. Ethnomasochistic White Traitor Type Feminzed Halfman Half Pussy,

    we will set up a fund for you to move to Haiti. There you can be with your black brethren.

  22. “However my father lived in urban areas for a long time and it is his example I follow; he was often the only white basketball player in his park, and did a lot to mentor African-American and Native American youths.” Sounds like that was not in the Northeast (with Native Americans) and your father was a good, caring person (could have been an Atticus Finch, if he were a lawyer) but not aware of the history of racial differences and not rooted in an ethnic heritage and homeland.

  23. “The death of a race is not genocide if no people who are already living are being killed. Most people know this and that is why they don’t care about what is happening.”

    You are being the contrarian here, whether convinced or not. The opposite is true: The race IS being genocided, and most DON’T understand this at all or not fully, or else they WOULD care what is happening.

  24. “because we are the ones who brutally attempted to take over most of the world, spreading disease and death wherever we went through our colonialist imperialism”

    EVERY un-Christian group, nation or tribe, white or non-white, has done that and does that, as much as they can, motivated by their fallen, carnal nature, greed and pride. But true Christianity — which is something entirely different, “the salt of the earth that gives it savour,” the only source of true peace and of the only hope of salvation and eternal life for humanity — which the apostate “Christian,” pagan and atheistic faiths of global multiculturalism can never equal or replace — is being persecuted and destroyed (but never can be destroyed entirely, however) with the white race.

  25. “The best solution then is to start a movement where white people seek not to marry each other”:

    There is already such a movement, plainly visible in mass media and advertising. But it is not really moral or natural to cross intraracial ETHNIC lines, let alone racial lines. You go against nature, history, and scriptural teaching.

  26. The apparent celebration of African slavery and the white-against-white, “Southron” against “Yankee” divisions that are constantly on display here set a poor example for whiteness, don’t they, PGRT?

  27. “The death of a race is not genocide if no people who are already living are being killed”.

    Traitor needs to familiarize himself with the UN genocide treaty of 1948. Look it up on Wikipedia.

    Beyond that Traitor is providing a service to us. He is the personification of white anti-White hatred. He is far more more dangerous than the Jew (we expect him to hate us) or the non White. Traitor looks like us, acts like us, talks like us but has no loyalty to us. A self admitted traitor and proud of it who seems to think he shall escape the wrath to come.

    As an aside, Chris313, your ignorance of the Mantra is revealed by your stupid remark. But go on with your rude anti-Southern rants if it makes you feel better. They are so much more effective.

  28. Picture this:

    Lily white PGRT surrounded by all his brown and mocha brothers. Can you feel the love? Just how much “brotherhood” will exist for PGRT in this situation? It seems PGRT lacks the imagination necessary for true vision, something mommy professor forgot to provide. Hakuna matata, PGRT.

    PGRT reminds me of a wildebeest I once knew…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHSqIptANXE

    He was such a great friend to the Crocodiles. RIP

    Deo Vindice

  29. GGRT wouldn’t last an hour in places like Somali, Nigeria, the rougher parts of Colombia, Brazil etc, the nicer places of A-stan etc where his co “humans” out number him. He’s allowed his delusions because he’s never faced reality

Comments are closed.