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Paul Cockshott's Blog

Last week I discussed the issue of slave reparations in the USA in the abstract. I now want to look at it more concretely, to put figures to it. I will be analysing just how much surplus labour was plausibly extracted from slaves in the USA from shortly after independence to just before the Civil War, what this would be worth in present money, whether this ‘debt’ could be met out of the current capital stock of the US economy and what the implications would be for pursuing a claim just for the proceeds of exploitation before 1860 whilst neglecting almost 160 years of subsequent exploitation. Along the way, I will address certain criticisms that were raised against last week’s paper.

So how do we set about working out how much surplus was extracted from the slaves?

We need several distinct bits of information, some of which are readily obtainable…

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