Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Slavery and Imperialism Did Not Enrich Europe

McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen (2009): Slavery and Imperialism Did Not Enrich Europe.

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Since trade was not an engine, neither was a part of trade, such as the trade in slaves. And certainly the profits from the trade did not finance the Industrial Revolution. Imperialism, too, was a mere part of trade, and despite the well-deserved guilt that Europeans feel in having perpetrated it, it was not an engine of their growth. Stealing from poor people is not a good business plan. Certainly the possession of India did little for the great British public, except tax them for the Navy. That Europeans did not benefit from imperialism does not mean that imperialism was good for the imperalized. That a thief kills his victim does not add to the thief’s monetary profit, and some imperialism was certainly killing. The cases of simple theft, such as the Belgian Congo, did nothing to enrich the average Belgian. Nor have internal imperialisms, such as apartheid, been profitable. The episode of economic success in Europe came from domestic sources of innovation, not from exploitation.

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