Thursday, 14 November 2013

Serfs and slaves

Fascinating and easy to remember facts from history:

The Russian serfs were officially emancipated in 1861.

Slaves in the USA (the Confederate bits) were not all officially emancipated until 1865. It took two years from the original Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 to take full effect.

The overall effect in improving the lives and living standards of the ex-serfs and ex-slaves was minimal of course, because instead of toiling away and receiving a small living allowance or free food and lodgings, they were forced to hand over most of their farming income in rent to the same old landowners and ended up in much the same position. But there you go.

Strange to think that Russia was (briefly) more "advanced" than the USA was.


Kj said...

Heck of an "emancipation" they´ve experienced after the fall of the Soviet Union though.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj, indeed, they managed to leap frog the USA in terms of the largest amount of national wealth being collected by the fewest people.

From Pravda:

"[The oligarchs] are 200 people who own a total of $488.6 billion dollars in various forms and control over half of the non-public economy of Russia."

Kj said...

- and most of the public economy to boot. Which is bad enough. Being shot for being journalists or generally annoying to someone is just a bonus.

DBC Reed said...

Don't forget the indentured servitude ,initially of white people, that provided circa 50% of the American colonies /USA's population for the first couple of centuries. Broke people would sign away their freedom and work for, typically, five years for nothing after which they got a termination agreement or "freedom dues" which often comprised some land. Nowadays, people back in Blighty work 45 years at subsistence levels and get a little bit of land with a house on it on termination ,an arrangement which Albert Edwards of Societe Generale correctly called Indentured Servitude when talking about Osborne's Right to Buy. But nowadays the servitude goes on much longer and the freedom dues are more delayed.
There was another wave of indentured servitude in the British Empire post the end of slavery which is why so many Indians got taken over to the Caribbean,Fiji etc to do work for nothing that the ex-slaves were hoping to get paid for. Once "the lines" of slaves quarters were vacated by blacks the Indian indentured servants moved in.

Bayard said...

DBCR, it wasn't just broke people, it was also convicts. Instead of expensively housing them in prisons, the government sold their labour for the period of their sentence to plantation owners and the like. Ditto Scottish "enemy combatants" after the '45 rebellion, which is why so many West Indians have Scottish surnames, I believe.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC,I'm not forgetting it, I posted about that a while ago and of course loads of people piled in to explain that Niaill Ferguson was wrong on the facts and after a while I couldn't be bothered arguing any more.

B, yes, and them too.

DBC Reed said...

The history of indentured servitude I gave was just a peg to intro Albert Edwards' remark that its still going on.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, yes, I was leading up to that but you and Kj did it for me :-)