In 1883 the Brits borrowed 40% of their GDP and committed the funds to ending slavery throughout the Empire. The loan wasn’t paid off until 2015. This recently came to light via a Tweet from the British Treasury, “Here’s today’s surprising #FridayFact. Millions of you helped end slave trade through your taxes.”
The link is from the Russians (TV-Novosti – Russia Today, or “RT”), so it’s intended to point out the evils of Western Civilization. I guess that would be “Civilisation” in this case.
The problem is that it was slave owners, not slaves, who were compensated. Of course, this set off a Twitter storm of condemnation. Who wants to be taxed to pay slave-holders, or their descendant corporations?
The question of what would have been reasonable compensation paid to ex-slaves in 1883, “immediate reparations” I guess, is apparently not to be asked. Would it have been just for the Crown to compensate those who had been slaves? Yes. If the cost had been an order of magnitude higher (which is likely) would slavery in the British Empire have been ended as quickly? No.
To argue otherwise is to argue that those who were slaves in 1883 should have been kept in slavery longer, along with their progeny.
I find it praiseworthy that a government should recognize a moral evil in which it has been complicit and do something about it. What was done was not perfect, that does not make it reprehensible.
Abolition of serfdom in Russia is claimed to have occurred in 1861.
Not, of course, counting the state slavery of the Gulag, present day slavery in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, or current Russian use of North Koreans as forced labor with the apparent approval of both governments.
A tangential note: I wonder how long American taxpayers were paying for loans taken during the Civil War, in addition to the cost (economic and otherwise) of the 600,000 who died ending slavery in the United States?