Part of my weekend reading included a report on abolition of slavery and compensation paid to slave owners in Britain in the 1830s. It was a very interesting article in the Guardian and spoke about how British citizens had actually contributed, from 1830s till 1915 to the re-compensation of rich slave owners. The sum would be an equivalent of 300 billion Pounds today! It is unbelievable that a tax to recoup the amounts paid to rich slave owners of that time were actually borne by current day folk, their fathers and grandfathers! And, the tragedy was that this entire money, which was supposedly also to be used for resettlement of the black slaves, never ever reached them- not one lousy farthing of it! Thousands of rich slave owners became even more obscenely rich and among the families that owned slaves was also the recent former PM of Britain, David Cameroon! But that was the real fact and it came out thru an accidental tweet on 9th February 2018!!! The tweet was hastily erased but the truth was out. The sordid history of British colonisation of Africa (the western coast there was actually called the Slave Coast!) and West Indies etc were all laid out in the article and it made an interesting reading. A bit depressing but still, interesting.
It detailed as to how slaves were bought and transported to fields to work, under oppressive conditions, so that the product- sugar, cotton, silver etc were all exported back to the UK, which grew rich on these goods. Starting in 1400s, the slave trade had created million of slaves by the 19th century. In a way, even India was a kind of slavery rule for the British, as they plundered considerable wealth of the country. The only solace was that Indians were to not treated as slaves- who were considered the ‘ property’ of the owner- but the net effect was quite similar. Even when the slavery abolition act was passed in 1833, it did not include Sri Lanka and India and they continued to rule here for long thereafter.
What made all this possible is that slavery and slave trade already existed in Africa as a practice for centuries. So when the Europeans landed in Africa (British, Portuguese, Dutch, Spaniards) they were seen as something akin to an alien. They were different in every way, their lives were different in every way and most importantly, they had modern technology by way big ships, railways and other forms of advancement that were unknown to the blacks. No education and perpetual poverty and a long held practice of slavery created a mind set that made the Africans accept a life of slavery without much protest. Until the mid 1800s.
As ever, I like to link vignettes of life with the markets. I see a parallel with what happened in the slave trade and what happens to many traders and investors. The latter are in a similar position as African slaves back in the 15th century. They are uninformed, without any kind of education, they have no idea of how things work or who is in charge of parts of the show etc. Like a bewildered African slave of the 1500s, they meander thru a mystical world, mesmerised by the completely different surroundings they are transported to, wonderstruck by the seeming powers that their overlords seem to wield. They came in with a belief that they were going to be employed fruitfully only to find that it is completely otherwise.
Traders and investors, attracted by the limitless money that exists in the market, come into it willingly. They enter a world that is already ruled by rich powerful institutions and these people although not mandated by any law, verily decide how the game is played! The use of technology is largely unknown to the new entrants or they are unable to afford it or even access it perhaps. So the dominance continues by those that do have it or can access it. The traders and investors get some random rewards every now and then, which keeps their belief going, that one day, they will also become rich and influential- like those magnificent people who head those institutions. In the meanwhile, they toil hard, losing money day after day, money which they bring from other areas and deploy in the market. Only to lose it again shortly. They go back and get some more and the cycle continues.
It gets to a point where they can neither get off the path nor can they continue on it. Many perish, many more are banished, never to return. But the Market Slavery trade continues because there are thousands more who are drawn to it because of the perceived wealth. It is an endless treadmill. The trading slaves keep producing money for those that are masters of the game- the skilled, the rich, the powerful. Thru a combination of technology, dominance, disinformation and capital, they continue to remain in control of the ever flow of new slaves.
Unfortunately, there is never going to be an Emancipation Bill awaiting these trading slaves somewhere down the line. On a few, it dawns that they need to create their own version of the Bill without which, freedom is not possible. The few who realize this, begin the process of rebellion (of sorts) by first and foremost, stopping what they are doing for a while and then seeking education and skill development. These are the only two things that will enable the trading slave to rise up from his drudgery. Without education and skill, he is doomed to forever remain in the same loop. But as soon as he begets these two requirements, his fate changes, his lot becomes a bit better and then some more and then some more. Until he reaches a point where, at least, he is no longer a trading slave.
Real progress can only happen after you consider yourself to be free. Many of today’s traders and investors need to come to that point. It is one where you are no longer dependent or reliant on another or any set up that controls you. The truth will set you free is a cliché. But it also depends on who is telling you that truth. In the market the version of the truth is told by those who control it. We have to free ourselves of that. Begin to think different. Begin to act different. The trading slavery will end. Sooner than you think.