In his magisterial work, The Half Has Never Been Told, Cornell historian Edward A. Baptist makes an overwhelmingly convincing argument that the growth of the economy of the United States until 1865 is essentially the growth of technology1 for the efficient extraction of money from dark-skinned bodies.
It’s trivial to extrapolate his arguments past the end of slavery, through the Jim Crow system which supported the South’s cotton economy until the 1960s and beyond, and into the present day. The modern death-star economy of the United States, Baptist shows, was built with the labor of black bodies and fertilized with black blood. The white real-estate zillionaires who make up the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, therefore, would have none of their wealth, none of their resources, if it weren’t for the torture and murder of black people which nourished the roots of American capital over the last half millenium.
According to Baptist:
Thus enslavers extracted a massive rise in cotton productivity from the 1790s to 1860. While planter-entrepreneurs did not publish their method for making cotton-picking as efficient as possible in a textbook or an agricultural journal, they created practices, attitudes, and material goods—whips, slates, pens, paper, and the cotton plant itself—that made up the method’s interlocking cogs. White overseers also played an important role, and not just as the ones who often put this system of violent labor rationalization into hour-by-hour practice. They probably invented many of the practices of accounting and torture as they carried their slates and bullwhips ever west and south.2
And it’s not all in the past.
Continue reading The Bloody Slave Empire of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance