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Slaves of England

In 1854 a Mr John C. Cobden, published a book on the poverty and inequality of his time. I offer you these quotes from it with the suggestion that where he writes “aristocracy” you substitute “Bankers” or “the 1%” and where he writes “slaveholders”  you substitute “debtholders”. Where he and I have written “England” subsitute your country.

white slaves white slaves facing

Chapter One P.14

“… the subjugation of the majority of a nation to an involuntary , and demoralizing servitude, for the benefit of an idle and luxurious few of the same nation, is slavery in its most appalling form.”

Preface. P.6

“…until these are changed there is no just ground of hope for an improvement in their condition. The tendency of things is, indeed, to make matters worse still.  The poor are every year becoming poorer, and more dependent upon those who feast upon their sufferings; while the wealth and power of the realm are annually concentrating in fewer hands, and becoming more and more instruments of oppression.”

That was 1854 while in 2014 the latest (2013) official, government ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures for the UK show that the top 1% have now as much wealth (Financial, pension and property but excluding wealth taken off-shore) as the bottom 55%. At the same time we are told that it is wrong to tax the wealthiest or try to curb their pay or bonuses but correct that austerity cuts to public services and wage ‘restraint’ should fall disproportionately on the poorest.


Chapter 12.  The Crime and the Duty of the English Government.  P. 490

“The great bulk of the property of England, both civil and ecclesiastical, is in the grasp of the aristocracy….The masses earn – the lords spend. The lords have all the property, but the masses pay all the taxes, and slave and starve that the taxes may be paid.”

Today the largest corporations and those who own and run them pay low or often no taxes at all preferring instead to move their profits off-shore.

Chapter 12 P.491

“The aristocrats of England are the most extensive slaveholders in the world.  In England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland they have the entire labouring mass for their slaves – men, women, and children being doomed to the most grinding toil to enable their masters to live in luxurious ease.  In India and other colonies they have treated the natives as the conquered were treated in the Middle Ages.  They have drained their resources, oppressed them in every way, and disposed of tribes and nations as if they had been dealing with cattle.”

Today our masters are busy negotiating behind closed doors the TTIP (US and EU) , TPP (US and Pacific countries)  and potentially the most dangerous of them all, TISA (global financial corporations and their ‘rights’) trade agreements. If they are passed then corporations will have the right to sue all our nations (in private closed hearings) for any laws we might make or alter that they feel infringe unfairly on their profits. This will include environmental, food safety and labelling, labour and even tax decisions. Cattle indeed.

Chapter 12 P. 491.

“These slaves [you and me] are not naturally inferior to their masters. They belong to races fertile in great and good men and women. Poets, artists, philosophers, historians, statesmen, and warriors of the first magnitude in genius have sprung from these down-trodden people. They have fully proved themselves capable of enjoying the sweets of freedom. They remain slaves because their masters find it profitable, and know how to cozen and bully them into submission.”

Too Big to Fail. To Big to Jail. We can do what we want and pay ourselves as we see fit. But you must bail us out or your world will end. And by the way don’t think any of the bond holders is going to pay. No that’s for you little people to pick up the tab and then make the cut-backs in services we insist are necessary.

Chapter 12 P. 497

“In brief, the oligarchy lies like an incubus upon the empire, and the people cannot call themselves either free or happy until the aristocrats be driven from their high places. …Obtain your freedom – peaceably, if you can – but obtain it, for it expands and ennobles the life of a nation! … What have you to dread?… Do you fear that much blood would flow in the struggle? Consider the hundreds of thousands who are crushed out of existence every years by this aristocracy, and ask yourselves if it is not better that the system should be overthrown, even at the expense of blood, that that it should continue in its destructive career? Had not men better make an effort to secure freedom and plenty for their posterity, than starve quietly by the wayside?”

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34 Responses to Slaves of England

  1. AndrewW September 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Judah’s Guilt and Judgment
    Isaiah 5
    8 What sorrow for you who buy up house after house and field after field,
    until everyone is evicted and you live alone in the land.

  2. Shaun S September 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    Hope you had a nice holiday. Things haven’t improved while you were away, but welcome back.

    One thing about the article you quote; at the time the UK was the “top-dog” and any revolt had to be against the UK itself. ie. There was an easily identifiable “villain”. One problem with revolts or revolutions today is that the oppressors are diffuse, and among us. Banks, Nations, but also Corporate cartels, arms industries etc.

    I don’t have a solution but, the Scottish Independence campaign (and Catalonia, etc.) shows a desire to belong to smaller independent “units”. More in tune with people as people. Not as productive units. A lot of words are being said about the Financial and productivity of Scotland after a split. but I’m sure that the Northern Clans also have a reasonable desire not to be “slaves” of the UK any more.

    So, a solution, is more likely to come from the multiple independence drives for smaller ethnic units. (Donbas and Luhansk.) Whatever, the outward reason given. Smaller groups, not necessarily “outside” large blocs such as the Eurozone, but with a independence that allows another way of living.

    TIPP, TPP and TISA – are almost invisible. Keep up the pressure or even revoke the mandate that Politicians have given themselve. (But I also am worried that it will take more than a “political” answer – to get rid of them.)

    • Jon September 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

      Agreed – well said.

      Participatory budgeting may be one answer, where the people get to spend their own money on what they think is necessary for their local environment.

      Whether that is enough or not – idk – but I doubt it.

    • redracam September 15, 2014 at 12:51 am #

      People are longing to feel part of something coherent.
      In Scotland at least they are making a pro-active leap forward whereas in most other cases around the world people cling to ethnic and cultural unity for existential reasons.
      The paradox is that while small, autonomous states have a better chance of becoming truly democratic and serving the needs of their citizens they are also potentially easy prey for the likes of banking cartels, multinationals, big-brother neighbours and probably a mixture of all three.
      A currency widely used, backed by several countries and having its own hegemonic central bank such as the Euro is much more difficult to destabilize than that of a small or isolated country who have to convert to the Euro or Dollar to buy natural resources.
      If we all devolve into micro states it seems that we will have implemented the equivalent of what the Project for a New American Century and the Oded Yinon plan has set aside for the Middle-East; small weak states based on ethnic and religious criteria that will spend most of their time competing and warring with each other to the benefit of … the usual suspects.
      I truly believe we must bring the the base of financial thievery crashing down enormous piece by enormous piece; not piece-meal. We will need our police and our armed forces on our side and they must participate with us in a new Stop the City march that will seize and freeze the stolen assets en masse. Once we have the dosh, and the banksters are behind bars, we will be free to set up a real democracy worthy of its name.
      Any half-measures and twenty or thirty years down the line we will find ourselves back to square one; which seems to have been the constant factor of popular resistance movements since before … forever.

  3. Phil T. September 9, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Dethrone ‘King Dollar’ by Jared Bernstein

    All the best …

  4. Juli September 9, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    I hope you had so great holiday but I’m so glad you’re back! It seemed an age.. 🙂

    • Juli September 10, 2014 at 12:32 am #

      A great holiday, even!

  5. Devrandom September 10, 2014 at 4:07 am #

    The fact that there is wealth concentration does not tell us that the rich are undertaxed.
    You already claim that they move offshore to avoid taxation. So how are you going to tax them? Establish the world government? What a great idea! I am sure they’ll rule fairly! If you don’t like it, go to the moon!

    A solution is to eliminate 90% of taxes and laws and eliminate monopolies and quasi-monopolies, including central banking.

    • Golem XIV September 10, 2014 at 9:02 am #

      What does it tell us then?
      I don’t claim that people move their money off-shore to avoid taxation. It’s a fact. There is no claim and counter-claim about this. Just read the advertizments from the banks and brokers and there it is in print. Move your money here to minimze your tax bill and ‘safeguard’ your wealth.

      Personally I am very much against a world government. That, I think you’ll find is the preferred option of the global over-class. It is they who are pushing for the increased powers of teh IMF not people like me. It is the global overclass who are keen on the multilateral trade agreements with their framework of supranational rules and binding arbitration, not people like me.

      As for how to tax them. It is actually not that hard. The basic starting point is to tax based on sales not profits. This means corporations could no longer off-shore their profits from the place of sale to a subsidiary in a low tax haven. It would mean the corporations would have to radically chage their cash flow patterns and accounting to make sure they had the money in the country where the sale was made. But as far as I can see none of the major restructuring is actually impossible nor, in the end, detrimental to honest businesses.

      • Daniel Millen September 16, 2014 at 2:49 am #

        “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands. There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is none who does good, no, not one! Their throats are an open sewer. With their tongues they have practiced deceit. The poison of asps is behind their lips. Whose mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways. The way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3)
        “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge. For in whatever you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you yourself practice the same things. (Romans 2)
        Without God man can do nothing. Faith in God must come first, and then all these other things will fall into place. But we are too “wise” to be so “foolish.” We must become “fools” in order to become wise.

    • SK September 10, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      Property cannot move offshore. Tax it.
      Reduce income taxes and tax severely 2nd properties

    • John G September 13, 2014 at 4:50 am #

      The funny thing is that all that money that is in offshore accounts remains in accounts in its own currency zone. Those offshore banks have accounts in banks that have central bank accounts. Otherwise, the money doesn’t exist.

      It’s the ownership that is hidden, not the currency units themselves.

      It is allowed to happen.

      • backwardsevolution September 18, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

        John G – good points!

    • Ken Lorp September 21, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

      Just out of curiosity, at what point do we say that the rich pay a fair share?

      The top decile already pay over 30% of all income taxes. If you confiscated the entire net worth of the top 100 in the Sunday Times rich list, it still wouldn’t even cover 2 years worth of government deficits.

      Is the problem really one of not taxing the rich enough?

  6. johm33 September 10, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    Personally [to end wage slavery] I’d go for a new publically owned BOE operating through local subsidiaries, where every citizen has an account credited every month with a social wage, set at something like current social security levels. Then tax turnover/income at 20[?]% for citizens and tax corporations at 20[?]+10%. Receiving the social wage would be no bar to working, refusing it would qualify you for double that amount of tax relief before you paid tax. Then a property tax on everything you own above say £300,000 based on the rate of inflation+1[?]%. Every layer of ownership would be taxed at the same rate.
    The money credited to the accounts would be booked as a debt against the citizen, so still money as debt, just more democratic than Q.E. with interest chaged at the bank rate.
    I could go on.

    • redracam September 15, 2014 at 1:26 am #

      These are the basic tenets of the Social Credit movement – C.H. Douglas (google also Louis Even).
      The interesting thing is that when C.H. Douglas was first writing about this it would have been extremely difficult to manage the money supply and various economic adjustments that – for Social Credit – are supposed to keep goods in abundance while maintaining adequate money in supply to access essentials and beyond.
      Today, every transaction and balance sheet can be calculated and logged in seconds so this economic system is within the realms of the possible.
      PS For the Social Credit movement “the social wage for every citizen” means exactly that: from the one day old baby to the unconscious 90-year-old nearing the end; everybody.

  7. nexangelus September 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    So, in 160 years, nothing has changed. Maybe this is the learned helplessness then. From generation to generation we fear fighting this system, so we slave on…

    I am trying…using a local community centre where lots of like minded people meet for direct action and the like. I don’t need the governments or the banks, yet they have fooled us for so long they make us think we do. My dad is prime example of what I aspire to. He goes fishing every day since he lost my mother 10 years ago. He swaps fish for meat, fruit and whatever else the local farmer offers. No money changes hands. He does pay to fish there of course (fishing and rod licences, dagnabbit!). Lots of people swap time for goods too.

    It is time to rise up. How do we stop people from being afraid and apathetic? They were all the way back in 1854…little steps, local steps…I am getting there David. I know change is possible.

    I will leave you all with a video you have probably all seen by now, it is an oldish one:


    • Robert September 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

      Your father is fortunate that he at least is able to fish. In England the tradition was that the monarch laid claim to all the fish in streams, ponds and lakes- and even to this day the Queen owns private parks in England and claims titles to all the swans (!) It is equally amazing that today there is a powerful movement to restore debtor prisons and workhouses, and in commercially-run prisons to use convicts as virtually free labor.(while being so arrogant as to seek naming rights for stadiums.) These issues will never be dealt with in the mainstream media- people will have to meet in town halls, become informed and take collective action.

  8. allcoppedout September 11, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    Slavery seems a good metaphor. One could re-write David Graeber’s ‘Debt: the first 5000 years’ as ‘Indenture Slavery’. The exploitation is not merely by the rich, as we are seeing in the Rotherham scandal. We humans have about 9 different types of economics, but various insects enslave and some social mice ‘achieve’ social structures much like ours without the ‘intellectual effort’. I tend to mix the activities of the Dahomey tribe, Crimean Tartars and various European traders in slaving with the kind of history David puts forward here. I’m struck that we have produced a disabling society – almost the role society plays in creating disability through access problems extended to most of us.

    The answers may start in positive money (i.e issued by us not banks) and a better understanding of a line of thought in Veblen that ‘business’ is very separate to genuine social, technological and collective progress. We need to know more on how we can take over the business control We are told the sky will fall if we do this.

  9. Phil (Mcr) September 12, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    From the Cambridge Symposium on Financial Crime


    ”At the same International Financial Crime Symposium where Alexander Lebdev unveiled his unpalatable truths about London, Donald Toon, Director of the Economic Crime Command of the National Crime Agency, UK, made an early keynote address to the audience gathered in Jesus College, Cambridge.

    He spoke with carefully chosen words, but his meaning was clear enough for those who have ears to hear.

    He spoke of the growing concern inside the NCA at the level of egregious activity being carried on in certain areas of banking, and just as importantly, together with certain areas of legal practice. A number of well-known firms, including some of those in the so-called ‘Magic Circle’, are coming under suspicion…”

  10. Phil (Mcr) September 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Some startling figures on UK private and public debt


    Perhaps it’s time the corporations paid their share.

  11. Jesse September 12, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

    Good to have you back.


    The Moral Hazard of Selective Justice For Finance


  12. Phil (Mcr) September 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    Soooo, a HSBC banker who is being sued for her involvement in the drug money laundering scandal, is now the Head of the BBC Trust



  13. steviefinn September 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    One of the tragedies of the above is the fact that it was probably a 100 years later before things really started to improve for the majority. My Mother has described the mid 1950’s when she was courting my Father on how the bleak post war period was starting to brighten. She considered herself to have many advantages over her Mother in terms of heathcare, housing & working conditions & in 1957 thought that I had ‘ Great Expectations ‘ ( her favourite read ). i do consider myself very lucky to have been born then but sincerely hope this period will not eventually be looked back on as some golden afternoon, in which the Lords of gluttony temporarily slackened the leash.
    I imagine that those unfortunates from 1854 probably knew no different, as they had no experience of a better time, but rather were the inheritors of a long history of serfdom, the divine right of Kings & all the other methods of firmly keeping them at the bottom of a rancid heap. Hopefully one difference today might be that people have sampled more than just the crumbs that have fallen or been thrown from the high table, & therefore might be more likely to resist – If they wake up of course before they are forced to do the modern equivalent of collecting ‘ pure ‘ ( dog shit ) for a living.


  14. desmond September 14, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Georgism is the idea of Henry George. It provides a platform for a society based on mutual cooperation.

  15. The Dork of Cork September 16, 2014 at 12:05 am #

    Rab in Hoodie message to the goverment at 18.50.

    A Glaswegian Social creditor .


  16. Glenn Condell September 16, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    Thank you Golem for unearthing John C Cobden. He appears to be no relation to the great free-trader and there’s no wiki on him.

    Buried under history, at the sort of safe depth the neolibs would like to inter Mayhew and Henry George and of course Marx. When they’re as obscure as John C there’s no need to get off the chaise longue to refute their common sense, or rather traduce it.

    As I can’t comment at Jesse’s I will point out to him here that Mark Crispin Miller is another plain dealer in uncomfortable truths whose work will be rubbed out of the future. The process has already begun with his books, but it’s interesting that he is involved in an effort to rescue ‘important but elite unfriendly and therefore obscure’ books:


  17. The Dork of Cork September 16, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Pensioners have too much spending power…….

    “A disturbing reflection of this is the exercise electorally of “grey power” in recent years, where as a result payments to over-65s, regardless of their circumstances, have largely been protected while those to other, younger groups have been cut.

    I find it extraordinary, for example, that when travelling on public transport children from all backgrounds have to pay but I and others aged over 65, regardless of financial circumstance, do not. And very soon it looks like we will not have to pay GP bills either”

    A apparent concern for the young who are somehow extracted from society by the old……
    Yet this is not the case.
    The old in general do not burn a large amount of physical capital as they are not engaged in the cuirent workforce.
    You see the current workforce (through no fault of their own) are engaged in mainly pointless work in the search for scarce money.
    The vast amount of high quality fuel is burned in the search for it.

    Economic success for this scarcity merchant is more Keronsene burned on the Dublin to London route (once the busiest air route in the world) for no human scale purpose whatsoever as no production happens in either of these financialized cities.

    We are seeing a general rise in (pointless) economic activitiy within the UK and Ireland sphere as “economic growth” is expressed in the back and forth motion of this Brownian motion economy.
    Meanwhile the capital burned in this quest to be in constant motion is epic.

    As I have stated in the past Euroland and the Uk is exiting the 1820s banking crash phase and moving towards a real physical crisis of famine in time of plenty. (1840s)
    As the real costs for most outside their network happens when banks have recovered.
    They will again issue their credit poison into the system once again and call it “growth”
    But this time it will become fatal for millions.

    Merchants such as the above calling for the death of millions is the signal for the next phase of extraction.

    • allcoppedout September 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

      Nothing to disagree with Dork. I’ve lost track with why we bother. Better, I guess, feeling this when we are old than as youngsters. The funny money of debt is no answer. Most economics reminds me of Keith Vaz slagging the PCC guy Sean Wright. Pot calls kettle black and this microcosm ignores the magnitude of the problem. Elsewhere, whilst failing to act for tens of thousands of abused kids, we prosecute innocent carers using dubious forensics in such as shaken baby syndrome and have a forthcoming witch trial of an expert prepared to tell the truth. We spend more on arms than green energy development. In slavery terms, we oldies are not wanted other than as a block vote for the neo-liberal failure

  18. Razak October 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Slaves.. I think we are more slaves today that these people were. If i think how sorry we felt at school listening that a farmer had to give away 10% of his crops to the “king”. these days our taxes are much higher and we say nothing…

  19. Bashia October 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Slaves were there to build civilizations. We would not be where we are without slavery.


  1. Slaves of England - Golem XIV - Thoughts | Stev... - September 22, 2014

    […] In 1854 a Mr John C. Cobden, published a book on the poverty and inequality of his time. I offer you these quotes from it with the suggestion that where he writes “aristocracy” you substitute “Bankers” or “the 1%” and where he writes “slaveholders” you substitute “debtholders”. Where he and I have written “England” subsitute …  […]

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