Effects of Socialism

The bottom cartoon depicts the cultural differences between Britain and African countries. The man in the middle refers to Britain when he mentions the Reform Bills passed in British Parliament, which was supposed to have been for good causes but the cartoon reveal the contrary. The man is above the barrel, a vessel which holds liquid and dry goods, expressing his control over the goods of Britain. On the left, there is a British family who is suffering from starvation and debt, while on the right, there is an African family who is happy and well fed. Just based on physical attributes, the middle man is a lot plumper, while the rest are naturally thin. Based on what the man says in the cartoon, it is raising awareness of governmental powers in Britain with their ability to cover up the issues within their own country. The middle man spoke of the “poor suffering African” while ironically it is the other who are suffering. The grim look on his face tells me that that he is finding a justification to their people’s sufferings like he could prove that if some other people have it worse, what they are going through did not look so bad and the jumbled mess of books and reports on slavery beneath the barrel proves so. Another thing to point out is the growing pile of tax papers in the bottom left corner and, what I assume to be yams, growing in the bottom right corner. Here is a great illustration of the outcome to the bills mentioned above in Britain.

Olaudah Equiano observed “that in all the places where I was the soil was exceedingly rich; the pumpkin, eadas, plantains, yams, &c. &c. were in great abundance, and of incredible size” (64). Having already been kidnapped, he was still in his own country and has not yet boarded the ship at this point. He describes the availability of food in his country and since leaving, he describes his sufferings of starvation as a slave. Olaudah Equiano tells about the time his master took away his fish on page 112, maybe because of greed, paralleling the cartoon of the middle man holding all the food to let the family starve. He says “I also expected to get better food, and in greater abundance; for I had felt much hunger oftentimes” expressing one of many times he had starved and not having that desire fulfilled (115). The cartoon shows the British family under these conditions, but not the African family. Olaudah’s narrative proves that socialism not only affects the British, but anyone who are under the influence of British laws, including slaves.

Though the cartoon include aspects of slavery, it goes deeper to show the cultural differences of two people and the effects of socialism. Slaves are often treated as the poor and the helpless due to their lack of politics, but the cartoon reveal the power of masking real issues through politics. The man on the left mentions getting fed “by the Parish”, meaning the church, meaning he has to seek help in order to keep his family fed in a country that was supposed to be cultured and advanced. The cartoon also raises the idea of environmental exploitation as we see a normal tree on the right and a wooden chair and table on the left. To mention also, the chair is broken in places, symbolizing the ruined state of their country in which he sits on.

-Van Vang




2 thoughts on “Effects of Socialism

  1. I think the most interesting part of this blog is: “The man is above the barrel, a vessel which holds liquid and dry goods, expressing his control over the goods of Britain.” This is something I hadn’t thought of, but I can totally get behind your stance that this image is actually about the way in which British politics work to both the detriment of both African and middle/lower class European families. I really appreciated your close reading of the way in which this British imperialism was even effecting the environment and used both evidence from Equiano’s narrative and the images to prove so. I thought this was both a very creative and smart reading. My only suggestions would be to add the image you were analyzing (for easy reference) and coming up with a catchy title to hook readers into checking out this awesome blog!

    Extra Credit: 24/25


  2. The main point is, “Though the cartoon include aspects of slavery, it goes deeper to show the cultural differences of two people and the effects of socialism.” because it is an easy point to spot by looking at the picture. I would add more information on Equiano and possibly any other meanings/hidden arguments within the cartoon.

    Extra credit: 24/25


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