What Was Raynal’s Message To The World?

Raynal’s dauntless argument centers around the belief that liberty is an inherent right granted to men on all levels of the societal structure. Without the power of freedom, man is only as equal to a dog without any will, forced at the command of his master.

Yet the unmistakable difference between the master and the slave, is that the master’s only power is to unshackle chains and to place on new ones. Thus, although these truths are self­ evident the existence of slavery still perpetuates through the colonial world, fueled by the rapacity of the most powerful. This argument is further advocated by the idea that barbarity should never be justified by the ‘natural order’ of things as expressed by past generations, but rather a certain kind of progressivism in order to end the use of slavery in order fulfill the desires of the few through the suffering of the many.

Guillaume Thomas François Raynal
Guillaume Thomas François Raynal

…as the slaves “groan under oppression” and will rise up to take their vengeance

Raynal distinctly believes that slavery in its inherent nature will lead to an uprising against the masters of the colonial world, as the slaves “groan under oppression” and will rise up to take their vengeance. The struggle of class is duel exhibited by Raynal in what seems to be a rather proto­-Marxian argument against the oppression of one economic system over another.

Although this is quite abstract, it is easy to understand why Raynal was considered such a seditious and ‘harmful’presence in France, where the luxuries as a result of slavery were readily enjoyed.

However, with this in mind it is quite difficult to discern whether Raynal used the “impending storm” of the slaves as a scare tactic for his peers, or whether he did truly find many indications of a revolt brewing. Whatever the case, it is far easier to argue for the latter as Raynal seems to have predicted the Haitian Revolution of 1791, 20 years later after this piece was published.


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