There are a couple of memes that have been floating around for some times concerning African colonization and African slavery in the U.S. Theses memes are: Meme #1) The world is plundering Africa’s wealth of “billions of dollars a year.” Meme #2) Historian and author Edward E. Baptist explains that American slavery helped (even instrumental) the U.S. go from a “colonial economy to the biggest industrial power in the world.” In this article, Baptist gave his arguments for this idea and used this to justify reparations being paid to African Americans. News Forecasters takes a deep dive into these memes to see just how true they are and what are the ramifications of them.
I was recently talking to an African immigrant in Europe, who was reasonably knowledgeable about geopolitical concerns. And yes I got an earful of this African colonial meme #1. We discussed the product of Apple’s iPhone and how all the material in it is African – and yet Africa benefits little. I tried to explain that the actual material in iPhone costs hundreds of dollars, but its raw material costs just over $1 – see inset chart.
Here is the point. Raw material costs tend to be a very small part of the overall cost of a product in today’s economy. What African people need to understand is that the value in Africa is not in the dirt under their feet, but rather in their brains with the ability to develop IP (Intelectual Property – design, production, support, sales, marketing, and management).
Now addressing the other meme #2 – America was built on the back of slaves. Not taking anything away from work that was done or speaking to the morality of slavery, let’s compare the GDP growth between the U.K. and the U.S. in the same period of time. The U.K. not using slaves, where the U.S. did – at least for a portion of U.S. production.
We can see by the inset chart that GDP growth rates are virtually the same. In fact, it wasn’t until after slavery was abolished, GDP started to accelerate. Clearly, the slavery supposed advantage was non-existent. Other factors relative to GDP growth was in play – often thought to be the innovation brought on by the industrialization age. Once again, we see that IP (brainpower – i.e., innovation) is the single most factor that can spur on good GDP growth rates.
News Forecasters asks, why is the dispelling of these memes important, and what is the likelihood that people will learn from this in the future? If the African continent, as well as the descendants of the African continent, can shed these memes, they then can focus on what will actually improve their lives. Wallowing in misinformation will merely hold one back, blaming “others” for one’s problems. By entering the global market on an equal basis, economies can then take off more significantly. Equal basis means joining in the competition on a merit basis without, what has been called the soft bigotry of low expectations.
The likelihood that the African continent, as well as the descendants of the African continent, will shed these memes is – unlikely to partially. Unfortunately, the rest of the world, in the name of good intentions, won’t allow this to happen. This is not good for anyone, and can even be a negative drag in the global economy. We can only hope one day new thinking will come about.
A video presentation of this subject: