The Paradox of the Positive: Re-Examining American Independence Day

Ever since I moved to Belfast I’ve made a point of celebrating the Fourth of July, Independence Day. While I quickly learned that the parades from my childhood don’t have the same meaning here, I clung to and adapted other traditions that were a bit more portable and less sectarianized; namely, beer and barbecued meat. Also, the wearing of red, white and blue, but done discreetly, and without obvious American flag emblems masquerading as clothing (I’m looking at you, bizarre, … Read more

Ireland and slavery, then and now, free event…

We know that Ireland like most countries in Western Europe got caught up in the 18th-century slave trade and Irish merchants could benefit from the produce of the West Indies. Belfast was not exempt. The wealthy businessman Waddell Cunningham had a plantation in the Caribbean (called Belfast !) to take just one example. However there was a formidable opposition to slavery among the citizens of the growing late-18th century town, often involving radically-minded women – and a welcome was given … Read more

It seems the Irish Catholic Church can now add slavery to its list of scandals…

Just when you think the reputation of the Irish Catholic Church can’t get any lower the Irish Independent reports on what amounts to slavery: A notorious industrial school in Limerick was paid to send boys under the age of 16 to work for traders, merchants and big farmers, according to hundreds of documents that have remained hidden for decades. Experts say the find demonstrates local communities were involved in the industrialisation and exploitation of marginalised children. There is no record … Read more

Greenacres slavery trial: “The trial has been seen as a vital test case of new anti-slavery legislation…”

An update to Mick’s original post on the charges of slavery following a police raid on a travellers’ site in Bedfordshire in September last year. From the BBC report on the verdicts Four members of a traveller family have been found guilty of forcing destitute men into servitude. Tommy Connors Snr, 52, his son Patrick Connors, 20, and daughter Josie, 31, kept the men in squalid conditions at Greenacres caravan park in Bedfordshire, the trial heard. Josie’s husband James John … Read more

Did capitalism end slavery?

Don Boudreaux thinks so – The fact is that slavery disappeared only as industrial capitalism emerged. And it disappeared first where industrial capitalism appeared first: Great Britain. This was no coincidence. Slavery was destroyed by capitalism. To begin with, the ethical and political principles that support capitalism are inconsistent with slavery. As we Americans discovered, a belief in the universal dignity of human beings, their equality before the law, and their right to govern their own lives cannot long coexist … Read more