Liberté, égalité, fraternité
When are we going to be where we want to be? …
Britain abolished slavery in 1805 after several centuries making it a dirty word.
Originally slavery had been an humanitarian alternative to killing one's enemies on the battle field or for dealing with civil cases where miscreants needed correcting or losers, their debts paying.
Britain invented the capitalist regime based on working people to death for money.
When slavery was abolished in the fringes of the Empire, the Royal Navy took to the seas in order to stamp out other nations' rights to deny other people their rights.
But the Royal Navy relied on slavery to do so.
Officers had the rights normally accorded to human beings in those days but sailors below the rank of Midshipman were forced labourers with virtually no hope of ever leaving the ship they served on alive. This was a condition the first Margaret Thatcher had to develop after the threat from Spanish Armada forced the British economy to refuse to pay off its sailors afterward.
All we know about the age of reason and light is what we read about or watch on TV from the writers of the time:
Pride and Prejudice for example and shoot-em-ups about Napoleon.
What did Napoleon have going for his regime that inspired so many soldiers to join his armies from the countries he conquered?
Virtually the whole of Victorian England was an age of slavery for the class of people not related to Royalty or descended from gun runners, hooch sellers and slave traders.
Farm workers were tied to their masters, city dwellers were bound to 16+ hour days from youth to dotage and had the privilege of living in slums for their hard work. Our view from the back seat is coloured by either novels like Oliver Twist or Cider with Rosie.
I must suppose that despite the Irish Famine and the corn laws that turned almost every British citizen into a smuggler or a black marketeer once Napoleon was finally dealt with, it was possible to live a normal life.
It's surprising what you get used to. Look what people enjoyed under the communist regimes. A complete generation grew up with no idea of any alternative.
And that generation spanned all of northern Asia. Meanwhile the Victorian England we so proudly banished, is thriving in virtually all of Asia whilst western economies continue to migrate their companies to regions where people can still be worked to death quite legally.
And the xenophobia goes on.