Thomas Carlyle described
economics as the “dismal science” in his 1849
Discourse on the Negro Question.
In this treatise, he proposed reintroducing slavery as a means of
regulating the labor market in the West Indies. Carlyle contended
that the market forces of supply and demand were at least as harsh as
slavery. He argued that slavery was in fact morally superior to
allowing free reign to the invisible
hand of Adam
Carlyle's snark at Smith, who was firmly against slavery.
Let’s consider Carlyle’s
proposal to bring back slavery to the British Empire. On one hand, we
can tap into Thoreau’s insight where he speaks of quiet
saw the labor market as a place where the laborer “has no time to
be anything but a machine.” On
the other hand, I’d like to test Carlyle’s hypothesis of the
merits and superior morality of slavery by experimentally enslaving
Carlyle. I would eagerly anticipate his report on the results.