Oh, the squick, it burns…

By skepticlawyer

I have never seen this film, and I’m not sure I want to see it either, as it seems to consist of humour that makes you excruciatingly uncomfortable at the same time as being funny.

Of course the premise is unbelievable: it is economically impossible for a state with significant chattel slavery ever to develop the (relatively) high wages that provide a major incentive for the development of labour-saving devices on a large scale. In short, human labour power never loses its comparative advantage, and any industrial revolution is stymied — capital is never properly substituted for labour. That’s one of the reasons the South lost: despite ‘Johnny Reb’ being — on the whole — a better soldier than his Union counterpart, the North had the industrial base, and quite literally produced the South into the ground.

That said, just the trailer is disconcerting enough, never mind the whole movie…

A useful definition of squick, for those interested.


  1. Posted January 17, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Robert Fogel’s Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery is the best single book on the economics and the politics of American slavery. (I wax lyrical about it here.)

    Kevin Phillips The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, Civil Warfare, And The Triumph Of Anglo-America is also revealing.

    A post with links to various useful pieces on the economics of slavery is here.

  2. Posted January 17, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Oh what a lovely collection, Lorenzo, you are a star. Alas I only have two papers to offer in return, but I think you’ll enjoy them if you’re interested in the economics of slavery. Both are by MIT’s Peter Temin, and concern both markets and slavery in the Roman world. Go here and grab the top two; you don’t have to be within an academic institution to download either.

  3. Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    They look interesting, thanks.

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