The Relationship between Capitalism, Slavery, Colonialism and Apartheid

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The relationship between the growth of capitalism and slave labour is historically connected. Nevertheless, slavery does fundamentally differ from capitalism; in that capitalism requires free or cheap labour, where as slavery requires forced labour. However, slavery cannot be conceptually separated from the development of capitalism.
Hence, slavery was the foundation of colonial trade amongst the triangular trade region, as well as the foundation for colonization in the islands (Robinson; 1984: 154). As slaves were legal property and a part of capital. They were bought, sold and sometimes killed, thus they became a means of production and were reduced to a commodity owned by slave owners (Ritzer; 2002:51/53).
The relationship between slavery and capitalism can be seen in the context of the creation of the America’s. African and Afro-American slaves were vital for the development of the America’s. An example of this is after the American civil war, even though the North had fought to abolish slavery. Northern capitalism was connected to slavery and allowed it to exist. As the northern bourgeoisie bought molasses which was produced by slave labour, they had lent money to Southern plantation owners who owned slave labour; they shipped off slaved produced cotton to Britain from their northern ports. Thereby financing the slave trade (Saunders; 1988).
Not only was slavery connected to the growth of capitalism in America but also Britain. As Britain’s industrial capitalism was mainly based upon slavery. The British bourgeoisie became rich from the sugar trading in England which was rooted in slavery. Therefore, it is evident that capitalism evolved in the concrete and slavery was central to the development of the capitalist system ...

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...• Robinson, C. (1984) Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. London: Zed Press.
• South African History Online. ‘History of Slavery and early colonization in South Africa”.
• Alexander, N. (2002). Race and class in South African historiography: An overview in an ordinary country. Scottsville: University of Natal Press.
• Saunders, C. (1988) The Making of the South African Past, Major Historians on Race and Class. Cape Town: David Phillip Publishers.
• South African History Online (2012) The Race-class Debate.
• Stolten, H (2002) The discussion of the relationship between capitalism and apartheid: elaborations over Lipton and Yudelman.,%20presenations,20%articles/NAI-CASconf02/Captilism%20and20%Apartheid.html
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