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Oil and the Slave Trade. Gregory Savioz-Buck, Intern, University of Sherbrooke, Canada.

Profit serves as the linchpin of the capitalist system, permeating every aspect of our society. This relentless pursuit of financial gain is synonymous with progress and prosperity. Oil companies epitomize the essence of this capitalist framework, being massive enterprises that amass immense wealth. However, it is imperative to acknowledge that greater the profit, greater the damage.

Oil corporations are enormously affluent, but their operations bear a substantial burden of responsibility for widespread environmental degradation. Their unrelenting exploration, excavation, and exploitation of certain ecosystems come at a significant ecological cost.

An intriguing connection surfaces here, one that interlinks the capitalist machine epitomized by oil giants with the historical atrocity of the slave trade. It is crucial to clarify that we are not equating oil companies with a new form of slavery, but there exist parallels between the profit-driven mechanisms at play. Both systems share a common objective: to maximize profit at any cost, be it at the expense of the environment (as seen in the case of oil companies) or, more tragically, at the expense of human lives, particularly those of African individuals victimized by the slave trade. The latter, operating as a pivotal component within the machinery of slavery, sought to exploit the sale of captured Africans for substantial financial gain.

It is worth noting that while the pursuit of profit in the slave trade could yield significant financial returns, it also carried substantial risks. Rebellions, harsh weather conditions, and other challenges could swiftly erode the immense profits promised by such ventures. Yet, upon successfully navigating the Atlantic crossing, substantial wealth awaited those involved.

This narrative highlights a thought-provoking parallel between the profit-driven mechanisms of the oil industry and the industry of slavery. Ultimately, it underscores the sobering reality that, in both instances, the greater the profit, greater the damage. 

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