Archive for November 2nd, 2016

On Slavery

November 2, 2016

It seems most people don’t know this anymore, but slavery has and probably always will be a part of the human experience. As long as there is more than one person alive, there will probably be slavery. It is freedom that is anomalous, not slavery.

You don’t have to look very hard to find slavery in pretty much every society that ever existed. Since time immemorial, humans have used violence and threats of violence to make other people do their work.

The modus operandi of ancient civilizations was that war was the chief way to take new slaves. If a country took land from another country, the people on that land was admitted as slaves to their new country. For example, the ancient Babylonians would conquer entire regions and displace the entire population throughout their empire. These people were considered slaves and treated as slaves. The Jewish people in Jerusalem were taken as a slave population by Babylon to join all the rest.

You might think this sounds bad, but don’t look at it this way. This was actually an improvement over the old slaughter-and-steal mentality that drove the Assyrian empire before the Babylonians arrived on the scene. Their MO was to loot the land and slaughter the people and whatever they couldn’t take with them.

There are some important exceptions to this rule throughout history. Let’s look at a few of them.

First, the Persians. The Persians, as you might recall, conquered the Babylonians practically overnight. The Persian empire lasted a very long time, and some argue they are still around. We just call them Iranians now. The Persian system was to setup a system whereby they granted large tracts of lands to governors who ruled their lands semi-independently of each other. The land was used to raise taxes.

Then there were the Romans. The Romans would conquer land and integrate the existing people into their empire. Those who managed to learn Roman law and found a good sponsor were admitted as full-fledged citizens. Those who did not got to enjoy the justice of Roman law and still maintain a king or a ruler of their own ethnicity and language, provided they did not try to break free from Rome or not pay their taxes. Still, the Romans took a very large number of slaves, so much so that the majority of the people living in Rome were slaves.

The Europeans and Jews had strict laws concerning slavery because of their religion. Jewish law states that you can take slaves, but you must pay for them and you must release them eventually. Also, you cannot enslave another Jew or Israelite. Christianity didn’t explicitly forbid slavery, but it was understood that masters should be kind and generous towards them, meaning, it wasn’t really a widespread practice.

The Christians in Europe instituted a system of land-slavery we call Feudalism. Feudalism is a very difficult topic to understand because it is not a standard system and had a lot of exceptions. Basically, serfs were somewhat like slaves but they owned their own land and had other rights slaves typically didn’t have. If you investigate into what life was like as a serf, you might be encouraged to give that system a try, as serfs had a lot of holidays and their lords had to do things like put on feasts and such from time to time.

During this time, of course, the Muslims were embracing slavery and regularly took slaves from whomever they could capture. Since Islam spread throughout the Middle East and Africa, and even into Asia, slavery went with it too. As far as we can tell, slaves under the Muslims were not treated any better than slaves under the Romans.

As America was colonized, it was the trade between Africa, America and Europe that brought slaves over from Africa to America. We know this as the triangle trade. What you don’t know, however, is that the Europeans and Americans didn’t take slaves. They only bought and sold them. The slaves were taken by the Muslim Africans, who found the new-found wealth of the Europeans so enticing that they would happily take and sell slaves to them.

The rest of the story, so to say, is that little by little, the Europeans realized the injustice of the slave trade and began to abolish it. The United Kingdom abolished slavery in 1833, which basically ended the slave trade to America. It took a Civil War but slavery was abolished in the US only a few years after that. With the question settled by the UK and the US, slavery among the Western Europeans was pretty much done for.

The fact that you live in a country where slavery is illegal, and the government actively pursues even rumors of slavery, is the oddity. The reason why you live in a country like that is because England decided it wanted to try and conquer the world and spread its language and culture. That culture held the seeds for not only the abolition of slavery, but the military and police might to do so. Thank Western Civilization, particularly English culture, for the fact that you are not a slave today.

The few remaining places in the world where slavery is still tolerated are Muslim countries. The rare cases where you find slaves in Western Civilization is usually people from those places who follow that religion.

Now, I want to add one more thing. I believe it is in our human nature, our instinct, to take, keep, and even be a slave. Freedom is simply not the natural state of mankind. We tend to corrupt things, and one of those corruptions is slavery. Let me warn you about how you may find yourself a slave one day, or how you might find yourself a slave master.

It is a simple matter to take a free, wild animal and turn it into a domesticated animal. Or rather, it isn’t hard to see how to take a creature who knows how to forage for its own food and turn it into a creature that can’t live without a master. The simple route to slavery for all animals is food. Pay attention to who is feeding you. If it isn’t yourself, you are on the road to slavery.

I oppose all forms of charitable giving because by simply giving people things you turn them into a slave. No, I am all for charity but not giving. If someone needs food, hire them and pay them with food for their wages. A simple example: I was in downtown San Francisco on business, and I needed to buy something. Outside the hotel was a few homeless men begging. I gave one of them five dollars in exchange for directions to the nearest drug store. He pointed me down the street a few blocks and that was his wages for his services. Do you see the difference? That man was actually valuable to me. He had worth, and at least he knows it. He earned that five dollars, and if he continues to be kind and helpful, he can earn more money too, and he doesn’t need me.

The other part is becoming a slave master. When you feed people, and they are not earning their food, they grow to depend on you. They turn to you like you are some sort of master of their fate. Don’t do that. Don’t let other people become parasites to you. Make sure that you are paying them what they are worth (and a little more, just to be safe) and make sure that they can survive without you.