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Messenger: ROOK FARI SELAH Sent: 9/26/2007 10:38:50 PM

'When I Hear The Crack Of The Whip, My Blood Runs Cold!!!'
This refrain by Rastafari in the 1970s reinforced the brutalities of the passages to those who were unaware of the primary relationships formed on the ships. For the capture and middle passage crossing, where at least 30% of the cargo was fed to sharks, was reinforced by the seasoning process, or the struggle to break the spirit of resistance among the Africans.
On the auction block the white buyers examined the Africans as if they were examining cattle, and upon purchase they would be branded and given a European name. A red hot iron thrust into the flesh was the mark of being chattel slaves. The new name and the red hot iron rod were the first actions in the creation of a new docile chattel, but it took three years of seasoning, with the whip, to fully break the will of the stronger Africans. During this period of 'adjustment', which lasted between one and three years, between one-quarter and one-third of the Africans died.7 This high mortality rate, even before the slaves began working, was such that slaves seldom lived for 9 years after their capture in Africa. One reason was that the owners found it cheaper to work them to death and then buy new slaves. While sugar was 'king', the slave masters found it cheaper to buy slaves than to rear children, and the slave population could not reproduce itself.8
This treatment gave an added impetus to the slave trade and Jamaica was not only a plantation colony, but it was also a centre for re-export to other British and Spanish colonies. Over a million slaves were brought to Jamaica during the period of slavery, of which 200,000 were re-exported. The very fierce slaves remained in Jamaica, and by the end of the slave period, there were only 323,000 slaves who survived.
As a centre for re-export, Jamaica was the prize of the British possessions, and the planters in Jamaica were the darlings of the British aristocracy in the 18th century, when the wealth of the slaves supported Earldoms and safe parliamentary seats. The organisation of the plantations, which supported the planter class, encompassed the highest form of capitalist organisation at that time - a form of organisation where the instrument of labour, the slave, was at the same time a commodity which could be replaced after being worked to death.
The sugar plantations required levels of capital which placed ownership outside the reach of the small white farmers. These whites employed jobbing gang slaves who would be hired out to the bigger planters. The production of sugar required costly machinery and equipment, and plantations were linked directly to the merchant houses of London, Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow. The average estate in Jamaica ranged from 800 to 3000 acres, with the plains for growing cane, the rocky hills for the provision grounds of the slaves and the grazing ground for the cattle - the principal means of transport.
Because of the intensive use of cattle for transport, for turning the sugar mills, and for manure, the breeding pen was an important sector of this economy, and a class of pen keepers emerged in the society. Up to the present many place names in Jamaica bear the names of these pens, e.g., Slipe Pen, Rollington Pen, Admiral's Pen, May Pen, etc.
In essence the cows in these pens were treated better than the slaves, for the field slaves were driven as if they were the lowest form of animal. Because sugar production accounted for the bulk of the labour used in the slave society, it has been the focus of research and documentation. It was a system of production, like the production of tobacco and cotton in the Southern States of the U.S.A., which required hordes of cheap labour. The production process centred around the sugar factory, involving a complex system of production, with five main stages:
1. from the planting to the cutting of the ripe cane;
2. the transporting of the cane to the mill where the juice was crushed from the cane;
3. the boiling house where the juice was evaporated to a syrup and sugar was crystallised;
4. the curing house where the molasses drained from the sugar; and
5. the distillery where the molasses were made into rum.
This process called into being a wide range of workers, from the skilled slaves, such as carpenters, coopers, masons, sugar boilers, distillers, to the slaves who did the most arduous tasks - the field slaves. These slaves were distinct from that layer of 'house slaves' - the maids, butlers, cooks, gardeners and coachmen who acted as spies for the masters; and often the overseers would keep a string of mulatto women so that they could be kept informed of the rumblings of the field slaves.
Field slaves were expected to open up at least one hundred holes a day for planting the cane, and failure to do so was punished by whipping.* The slave started working at 4 a.m. and several jobs had to be completed before going to the fields; these included carrying mould to the cattle pens, cutting up the dung, making mortar, carrying white lime to the works, and doing various odd jobs. It was during crop time, when the cane was reaped, that the slaves were driven to exhaustion, because it was on the plantations that the factory system was perfected in preparation for the industrial revolution in Europe. Those estates which could not afford jobbing gangs worked two shifts, one beginning at twelve noon and the other at midnight.

"The boilers and other Negroes who formed the spell about the works went to the field to cut the canes about 1.30 p.m. and continued to do so until it became too dark, about 7 p.m. They finished off by carrying cane tops or grass to the cattle pens and then rested for about four hours. At 12 midnight they received the spell in the boiling house and the rest of the works which had relieved them the previous noon. The relieved spell then rested until about 4.30-5 a.m. when they worked until 12 noon at which time they went to lunch and then returned to the works at 1.30 p.m., and so the cycle continued."9

The field slave worked an eighteen-hour day and during his lunch break was expected to work in his provision ground, for the slavery form of capitalism did not take care of the subsistence cost of labour. Legal statutes compelled the planters to keep a small plot of land where each slave cultivated yams, plantains, and those agricultural products which they had planted in Africa.
In order to maintain the pace of the 16- or 18-hour day, the overseers employed slave drivers who were armed with special whips which, when cracked, sent a loud sound all across the fields, and left deep wounds in the flesh of the slaves. Some of the more renowned whips were the supple jack, cat-o'-nine tails and bamboo switch. These drivers, themselves slaves, often abused their authority and could themselves be whipped by the overseer for not forcing enough work out of the tired slaves.
Because slavery was not calculated to bring out the best in those who fell under its sway, whether owner or slave, the system had a debasing effect on the character of those involved. This was explicitly so for those tyrants who were head gang-men or drivers. These representatives of capital in the field, along with the house slaves, were permeated with the vices of their white masters and scheming bored mistresses, and they despised the slaves in the field. They internalised the ideas of their masters and were imbued with self-hatred.
Apart from the physical violence, the field slave was exposed to every form of outrage and mortification to break his spirit. There was no law to protect the slave and the institution of slavery was stamped in the colour of his skin. Race prejudice was emphasised to demoralise the blacks. Despite the efforts of the apologists who try to compare black slavery with the slavery of the Roman era, they forget that the children of Roman slaves were usually born free, and slavery was never reserved for one race. From the earliest days of Spanish occupation, indentured whites could be seen in the fields with blacks. This was soon deemed dangerous; colour was the most obvious sign of differentiation; and it became the legal and rational basis for keeping blacks in servitude. Slavery or bondage was deemed the natural role for blacks, and overlordship the right of the whites.
This distinction between whites and blacks was most fundamental to those whites who saw their white skin as the sole basis for their superiority to blacks. This was especially so where there were many poor whites, as in 18th century Haiti and in the Southern States of the USA in the 19th century. Spokespersons and the ideologues of that period refined the theory of racism to the point where some whites assiduously maintained that Africans were not human beings, but a lower form of animal, ordained by God to be the white man's beasts of burden.
The rise of white racism as a deeply rooted element in European thought took a leap in that period and can now be distinguished from all other forms of prejudice in the annals of human history. This was because no other system had claimed universal dominance as the world capitalist system did. The whip on the plantation in the 'New World' was only a lever in the long process of exploitation which centralised the wealth of the world in Europe, and later in North America. The well preserved records of the Jamaican plantation, where 300 years of continuous oppression of blacks were commemorated in 1970 in a document entitled A Jamaican Plantation, The History of Worthy Park 1670-1970, have given some idea of how much wealth was gleaned from Jamaica over the period. In addition, Eric Williams' Capitalism and Slavery states:

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