Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-04-2019, 12:17 PM
Asuka is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 1,315

Where does "Forced Labor" end and "Slavery" begin?


Got into a semantics argument with somebody recently who claimed slavery was only slavery if you were "purchased" or otherwise treated as a long-term commodity, it didn't count if it was a "temporary" thing despite it fulfilling all other requirements of slavery.

Which got me thinking, if a country forcibly conscripts you for military service with absolutely no pay and benefits for wartime service, is that considered a form of slavery? Are civilians or POWs considered slaves if forced to work in munitions factories just temporarily?
  #2  
Old 09-04-2019, 12:21 PM
jonesj2205 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 898
I agree with the other person.
If it's temporary it's indentured servitude, not slavery.
  #3  
Old 09-04-2019, 12:25 PM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 43,088
Moved to Great Debates.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
  #4  
Old 09-04-2019, 01:06 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 12,026
I don't know that you're going to get more than a descent into semantics here. Forced labor and indentured servitude are both considered slavery by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Except... that document explicitly doesn't apply to military conscription or forced penal labor. Because, well, the signatories of that document weren't will to give those practices up.

If "slavery" is the broad term that covers all manner of being required to do labor that you don't want to do under threat of punishment, then chattel slavery is the kind where you're bought and sold, indentured servitude is the kind where you signed a contract to do it for a while, and military conscription is the kind that the state, in its munificence, has decided is kinda ok enough because they need cannon fodder.
  #5  
Old 09-04-2019, 01:17 PM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,428
I always thought it had to do with the ownership of people. In other words, slavery involves forced labor, but that's not the defining characteristic.

And at any rate, conscripts are paid and have a lot of rights that slaves don't have. Pretty much the only possible abridgement of rights involved is requiring you to serve in the armed forces, which is considered a duty of citizenship at any rate, not forced labor. It's pretty clear when you read/hear the citizenship oath that naturalized citizens take.

Quote:
...that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law...

Last edited by bump; 09-04-2019 at 01:22 PM.
  #6  
Old 09-04-2019, 02:06 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 12,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
And at any rate, conscripts are paid and have a lot of rights that slaves don't have. Pretty much the only possible abridgement of rights involved is requiring you to serve in the armed forces, which is considered a duty of citizenship at any rate, not forced labor.
Tomato, tomah-to.

A "duty" that is imposed on you without your consent that requires you do work, that deprives you of freedom of movement, that allows food to be withheld and corporal punishment...

The primary problem with historical American slavery wasn't that slaves weren't well-paid.

But, again, we're into semantics. Do conscripted soldiers have it better than 18th-century African slaves? Sure, obviously. Do both fall under the umbrella term of slavery. I think so.
  #7  
Old 09-04-2019, 02:17 PM
Velocity is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 15,384
I'd think of forced labor as the bigger et - any labor you are forced to do against your will, especially if unpaid - and slavery as a small subset of that, where your slavery is your primary identity.
  #8  
Old 09-04-2019, 03:16 PM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,428
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
Tomato, tomah-to.

A "duty" that is imposed on you without your consent that requires you do work, that deprives you of freedom of movement, that allows food to be withheld and corporal punishment...

The primary problem with historical American slavery wasn't that slaves weren't well-paid.

But, again, we're into semantics. Do conscripted soldiers have it better than 18th-century African slaves? Sure, obviously. Do both fall under the umbrella term of slavery. I think so.
Legally, it's considered a duty owed the government. You can refuse, and you're punished similarly to tax evasion, presumably because they're both duties owed the government. I didn't consent to pay them a quarter or more of my income and do without whatever alternative uses of that money that I could have spent that on either

If you choose to perform your duty, you're tacitly agreeing to be bound by the UCMJ I assume, which is also NOT slavery, even if it recognizes a different set of offenses and standards of conduct than the civilian world does.
  #9  
Old 09-04-2019, 03:24 PM
Tamerlane is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 13,839
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonesj2205 View Post
If it's temporary it's indentured servitude, not slavery.
You do run into semantics issues though, as there was a million variations. So 18th century Russian conscripts from Peter I to 1793 were conscripted for life. After that the term was 'only' 25 years, which in the brutal conditions of the Russian army, which was often deliberately starved and under-equipped for fiscal reasons, might as well have been for life anyway.

Technically they weren't slaves. They retained certain minimal legal rights, at least in theory. But the difference between a Russian serf and a full-on slave was mighty thin.
  #10  
Old 09-04-2019, 03:33 PM
Kimera757 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 604
Roman slaves were often paid a "salarium" in salt, and would even buy their freedom. They were still slaves. The Romans did not spend the effort the Greeks did on keeping their slaves compliant, and rather than risk numerous slave revolts, essentially converted slavery into indentured servitude.

I read that in Brazil, many natives were forced into seven-year indentured servitude terms, rather than slavery (which black imports were forced into). As the natives rarely survived that term, it was essentially slavery for life anyway.

Drafting soldiers is, IMO, slavery. (There were societies that employed slave soldiers. A German king, pre 1870, used to literally kidnap from foreign countries and force them to be soldiers. He would give them loaded weapons and training, and force them to risk their lives in combat for him... and they did. Such as the powers of organization.) Same with forcing POWs to work. Prisoners being "forced" to work is something I'm unsure of. I don't know if they're being forced, but the wages are "criminal" (no pun intended).

Last edited by Kimera757; 09-04-2019 at 03:33 PM.
  #11  
Old 09-04-2019, 03:57 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 12,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
Legally, it's considered a duty owed the government. You can refuse, and you're punished similarly to tax evasion, presumably because they're both duties owed the government. I didn't consent to pay them a quarter or more of my income and do without whatever alternative uses of that money that I could have spent that on either
"Legally" is just descent into semantics. Laws are written by people and can be arbitrary. Literal chattel slavery was once legal, and it could reasonably have been construed as a duty to society, or to one's owner.

The crucial difference between conscription and, say, tax evasion is that one is a claim on your physical person and the other is a claim on your stuff.

You don't get thrown into jail if you can't pay your taxes. They just take everything you own. You get thrown into jail for purposefully attempting to hide assets or defraud the government. If you fully agree that you own the government taxes but simply can't pay them... I'm pretty sure there aren't criminal penalties for that. They can't make you get a job to pay them back, they can only take your wages if you choose to work.

You can make the "taxation is theft" argument, but it doesn't extend to "taxation is slavery". Just like a debt is not the same as indentured servitude, even though the likely result of both is working to pay them off. One is a claim on your stuff, and the other is a claim on your person. And since we got rid of debtors prisons, the stuff claim can't be directly converted to the personal one.

Let's consider a few things that might be essential components of slavery. Maybe these aren't totally right, but I'm going to take a stab at them.

1. Slaves don't have freedom of movement. They can't live/travel where they want.
2. Slaves don't have personal autonomy in their work. They can't work how they want.
3. Slaves can't unilaterally escape from their situation. They can't break the contract or have a say in how it's constructed.

All three of those apply to military conscripts, to forced prison laborers, and to chattel slaves. The first two apply to indentured servants (and in many cases the third does as well). Only #3 (sort of) applies to taxes owed.
  #12  
Old 09-04-2019, 04:34 PM
Kobal2's Avatar
Kobal2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 18,537
Slavery involves a restriction of rights beyond the simple working nature of the institution. A slave is not a man, it is a "tool endowed with speech", to borrow a phrase from the Ancient Greeks. A slave does not own their own physical body, has no autonomy, cannot own property (though historically some did or were granted some leeway in that regards). A slave cannot choose who they marry with, and their children are not their own either.

A conscript is not a slave, because even though they are coerced into temporary service ; they are not considered un-people as a result, are still expected to have a mind of their own (e.g. disobey illegal orders) and still have all the rights of regular citizens (voting, owning stuff, fucking who they want etc...). A slave has only one "right", which is to do what they are told to without question in each and every aspect of their lives.

(note that the distinction can even be finer : a medieval serf was not a slave legally speaking ; and the people of that era did make a distinction between them. From a modern point of view however, weeeeeell...)
  #13  
Old 09-04-2019, 05:03 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 82,445
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
I always thought it had to do with the ownership of people. In other words, slavery involves forced labor, but that's not the defining characteristic.

And at any rate, conscripts are paid and have a lot of rights that slaves don't have. Pretty much the only possible abridgement of rights involved is requiring you to serve in the armed forces, which is considered a duty of citizenship at any rate, not forced labor. It's pretty clear when you read/hear the citizenship oath that naturalized citizens take.
I think this is a good distinction. In forced labor or involuntary servitude or conscription, you may own a person's labor. But the person still retains their legal status as a human being with a set of rights.

In slavery, you own the person himself. The slave is legally your property and no longer has the legal status of being a person nor holds any rights.
  #14  
Old 09-04-2019, 05:51 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 85,097
What the Constitution prohibits is "involuntary servitude". Military conscription is definitely servitude, and it is definitely involuntary. If the courts were honest about it, they'd rule that the Thirteenth Amendment prohibits the draft.

Yes, conscripts are paid, and they eventually get their freedom back. Neither is relevant. There's nothing whatsoever wrong with unpaid labor, and in fact a lot of worthy enterprises wouldn't work without it. And nowhere does the Thirteenth Amendment say that involuntary servitude is allowed as long as it's temporary.

Indentured servitude can be allowed under the Thirteenth Amendment, as long as it's voluntary. If you sign a contract with someone that says that they'll do something for you now, in exchange for a certain amount of labor from you in the future, that's perfectly valid. Key, though, is that you agreed to it.
  #15  
Old 09-04-2019, 06:19 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 82,445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
What the Constitution prohibits is "involuntary servitude". Military conscription is definitely servitude, and it is definitely involuntary. If the courts were honest about it, they'd rule that the Thirteenth Amendment prohibits the draft.

Yes, conscripts are paid, and they eventually get their freedom back. Neither is relevant. There's nothing whatsoever wrong with unpaid labor, and in fact a lot of worthy enterprises wouldn't work without it. And nowhere does the Thirteenth Amendment say that involuntary servitude is allowed as long as it's temporary.

Indentured servitude can be allowed under the Thirteenth Amendment, as long as it's voluntary. If you sign a contract with someone that says that they'll do something for you now, in exchange for a certain amount of labor from you in the future, that's perfectly valid. Key, though, is that you agreed to it.
This is a case where I'll have to go with the originalists. It think it's clear that the people who wrote and enacted the Thirteenth Amendment in 1864 and 1865 meant slavery when they wrote involuntary servitude. I don't believe any of them thought the term applied to military conscription, which was in widespread practice at the time. If it had occurred to somebody that the amendment might one day be interpreted that way, they would have revised the text to explicitly deny it.
  #16  
Old 09-04-2019, 06:40 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 12,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Indentured servitude can be allowed under the Thirteenth Amendment, as long as it's voluntary. If you sign a contract with someone that says that they'll do something for you now, in exchange for a certain amount of labor from you in the future, that's perfectly valid. Key, though, is that you agreed to it.
Cite? If you break such a contract, the other party can sue for damages. But they can't sue for forcing you to uphold your end of the contract by doing whatever work you agreed to do.

So, while you could agree to such a thing, you can't be held to the terms of it. And, presumably, someone agreeing to an indentured service would "judgment proof" in the sense of having no assets. So such a contract is, while maybe technically allowed, effectively moot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo
This is a case where I'll have to go with the originalists. It think it's clear that the people who wrote and enacted the Thirteenth Amendment in 1864 and 1865 meant slavery when they wrote involuntary servitude.
There are two questions here. The answer to "is conscription illegal in the US because it's slavery" is clearly no. No legal wiggle-room here. And the UN declaration on human rights also doesn't cover it.

Is military conscription morally slavery? I'd say that it is.
  #17  
Old 09-04-2019, 07:41 PM
Melbourne is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5,322
In Aus, 'slavery' is a legal definition in the same way that 'rape' is, or technical phrases like 'innocent until proven guilty'.

IANAL, but I think our definition is:
Quote:
Originally Posted by CRIMINAL CODE ACT 1995, section 270.1
For the purposes of this Division, slavery is the condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised, including where such a condition results from a debt or contract made by the person.
Our legal offenses are enslavement, ownership, trafficking.

Even if military draft was slavery, it wouldn't be 'illegal' here in any legal sense, because prosecution requires permission from the crown prosecutor, that is permission from the government, that is, permission from the same people enforcing the draft. If permission to prosecute was granted, I'm not sure it would get up in the courts, because IANAL: our legal offenses refer to
Quote:
A person who, whether within or outside Australia, intentionally
, and I suspect that the 'Government of Australia' doesn't fall within the legal definition of 'A person'.

We also have a bunch of non-slavery offenses, involving 'servitude' and 'forced marriage' and stuff, but regardless of details I think they'd fail at the same hurdles.
  #18  
Old 09-05-2019, 01:19 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 26,247
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimera757 View Post
Roman slaves were often paid a "salarium" in salt
"Salarium" is the money you use to buy salt, not salt in lieu of money. Nobody in Rome was regularly paid in salt, slave or soldier. This is a common myth.
  #19  
Old 09-05-2019, 02:02 AM
Peter Morris's Avatar
Peter Morris is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The far canal
Posts: 12,705
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
"Salarium" is the money you use to buy salt ....
That is also a myth. Salt has always been a very cheap and plentiful commodity. You can buy all the salt you need for a year for pennies, and always could.

The actual derivation of the Latin word salarium is obscure. Certainly there is some connection to salt, but it is unknown what it is. One suggestion is that it was payment to soldiers guarding the salt roads, but this is unproven.
  #20  
Old 09-05-2019, 03:13 AM
Alessan's Avatar
Alessan is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tel Aviv
Posts: 24,747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris View Post
That is also a myth. Salt has always been a very cheap and plentiful commodity. You can buy all the salt you need for a year for pennies, and always could.

The actual derivation of the Latin word salarium is obscure. Certainly there is some connection to salt, but it is unknown what it is. One suggestion is that it was payment to soldiers guarding the salt roads, but this is unproven.
WAG: maybe it's because it's payment for labor, and labor creates sweat, and sweat is salty...
  #21  
Old 09-05-2019, 04:17 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 26,247
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris View Post
That is also a myth. Salt has always been a very cheap and plentiful commodity. You can buy all the salt you need for a year for pennies, and always could.
I didn't mean "the money you can only spend on salt", and if that's the myth, I'm sorry if I perpetrated it. I meant the money you are given for daily necessities, which includes salt. But I wasn't meaning that that's the literal translation of the word, and if that was how it came across, I apologise for my poor wording. I did try to emphasise money there.

Last edited by MrDibble; 09-05-2019 at 04:18 AM.
  #22  
Old 09-05-2019, 04:20 AM
Kobal2's Avatar
Kobal2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 18,537
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris View Post
That is also a myth. Salt has always been a very cheap and plentiful commodity.
Plentiful, maybe, but cheap ? Most of it came from salt mines, which had a dreadful human life cost (basically being sent there was a death sentence deferred by a couple years) which meant it also had a warmaking cost to bring in evermore slaves. Although the Roman Empire was also driven to conquer more and more stuff for a number of reasons anyway...many of which driven by slavery actually, either because "we need moar slaves !" or because "the slaves are doing all the work and now citizens are having a riot because they have no money !"
  #23  
Old 09-05-2019, 04:34 AM
Budget Player Cadet's Avatar
Budget Player Cadet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 9,660
As with most semantic arguments, the most clarifying thing we can do is replace the symbol with the substance. We all agree slavery is bad. But why is slavery bad? What are the defining elements of "slavery", which ones do we care about, and why?

Any semantic argument that doesn't take this step is obfuscating, rather than clarifying. The good news: it seems to me that many here are doing exactly that, and explaining why slavery is bad and why similar institutions are also bad. So... good shit, folks.
  #24  
Old 09-05-2019, 07:59 AM
JRDelirious is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Displaced
Posts: 15,959
The legal provision in many countries, and specifically in the USA, talks about "slavery OR involuntary servitude except when imposed as criminal punishment" (the exception is to involuntary servitude, not to slavery, that is just out) because slavery has characteristics that the other forms of servitude did not have. Slavery does not merely mean "being forced to work at what I did not choose or on terms I did not choose", it adds the subject becoming chattel goods property rather than persons, even unfree persons.

Society and its laws even before the abolition of slavery/serfdom had already carved out a separate category of compulsory services that could be demanded by the state (not by private entities) even of "free" citizens (e.g. military service, jury duty). The justice or injustice of that is not solved by saying "is it slavery or not", but as others have mentioned, by exploring "what is meant, by involuntary servitude, and what's the difference"?

Last edited by JRDelirious; 09-05-2019 at 08:04 AM.
  #25  
Old 09-05-2019, 01:12 PM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 26,247
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
Plentiful, maybe, but cheap ? Most of it came from salt mines
Roman salt mostly came from seawater evaporation, AFAICT. They built roads for it, and established seawater evaporation industries elsewhere too, like Britain.

Last edited by MrDibble; 09-05-2019 at 01:13 PM.
  #26  
Old 09-05-2019, 05:43 PM
Peter Morris's Avatar
Peter Morris is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The far canal
Posts: 12,705
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
Plentiful, maybe, but cheap ?
http://kiwihellenist.blogspot.com/20...nd-salary.html

" Well, sure, the salt trade was valuable ... that’s because it was traded in such high volume. But in 204 BCE, when Marcus Livius ‘the salt-dealer’ imposed his tax on salt, Livy quotes the price of salt at a sextans: that is, one sixth of a copper as, or one 60th of a silver denarius (or in a civilian context, a sextans was one 96th of a denarius). Polybius, writing in the mid-100s BCE, quotes a foot-soldier’s pay as ‘two obols’ per day, that is to say, one third of a denarius (Polybius 6.39.12).

In other words, a Roman pound of salt (ca. 330 grams) cost one twentieth of a foot-soldier’s daily wages.

Important? Of course. Expensive by modern standards? Maybe, depending on the price of salt where you live. ‘Prized and valuable’? No
."

Last edited by Peter Morris; 09-05-2019 at 05:44 PM.
  #27  
Old 09-05-2019, 05:52 PM
Peter Morris's Avatar
Peter Morris is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The far canal
Posts: 12,705
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
WAG: maybe it's because it's payment for labor, and labor creates sweat, and sweat is salty...
Interesting idea. My own WAG: adding salt to food makes it more palatable. Getting paid money for work makes it more bearable. Money is metaphorically like salt.

This is pure folk etymology without a shred of evidence to back it up, and entirely my own invention, but I like it.
  #28  
Old 09-05-2019, 06:07 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 82,445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Budget Player Cadet View Post
As with most semantic arguments, the most clarifying thing we can do is replace the symbol with the substance. We all agree slavery is bad. But why is slavery bad? What are the defining elements of "slavery", which ones do we care about, and why?

Any semantic argument that doesn't take this step is obfuscating, rather than clarifying. The good news: it seems to me that many here are doing exactly that, and explaining why slavery is bad and why similar institutions are also bad. So... good shit, folks.
The problem with the X is as bad as Y argument is that it works both ways. People use it to maximize how bad X is but they can end up minimizing how bad Y is.

If you say "being drafted into the army is as bad as slavery" then you're also saying "slavery is no worse than being drafted into the army" - the two statements are equivalent.
  #29  
Old 09-05-2019, 06:14 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 82,445
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Roman salt mostly came from seawater evaporation, AFAICT. They built roads for it, and established seawater evaporation industries elsewhere too, like Britain.
My understanding is that the value of salt in the ancient Roman economy was that it could be used as a substitute for grain, bricks, wine, cloth, or tools.

Granted, my knowledge of ancient Roman economics is based on playing Concordia.
  #30  
Old 09-06-2019, 12:04 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 12,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
If you say "being drafted into the army is as bad as slavery" then you're also saying "slavery is no worse than being drafted into the army" - the two statements are equivalent.
I'm definitely not arguing that.

I'm saying that there is an umbrella term "slavery" that covers a variety of situations including military conscription, indentured servitude, and chattel slavery. That's not to say that they're all exactly the same or equally bad, but that they all share things that make them slavery (I laid out the three things I think are essential above: freedom of movement, freedom of work, freedom to leave the arrangement).

I mean, imagine in the 19th century, there are clearly degrees of badness within the lives of slaves. There were field slaves and house slaves. There were slaves who were regularly beaten and those who weren't. I'd much rather, for example, have been a house slave with a master who didn't beat them than a field slave that got beaten regularly. Just like I'd rather be a military conscript than a chattel slave.

The situations are not equally bad. But they're all slaves.
  #31  
Old 09-06-2019, 02:45 PM
bump is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 18,428
Maybe, if you assume that forced labor = slavery, and that any sort of duty owed to the state is slavery, including conscription and jury duty.

Do you also think that taxes are theft? That's an analogous situation to jury duty or military conscription being slavery.
  #32  
Old 09-06-2019, 04:39 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 12,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
Maybe, if you assume that forced labor = slavery, and that any sort of duty owed to the state is slavery, including conscription and jury duty.
I've twice posted the three things that I consider essential to slavery, and forced labor is only one of them. Conscription meets all three. Jury duty arguably meets two of them, although it's a little bit of a stretch to say that it's forced labor. You have to show up somewhere and render a verdict, but aside from standards of decorum you don't have to do anything. Jury duty doesn't restrict your freedom of movement. Heck, if you want to, you can get out of jury duty by moving whenever you get a notice. "Sorry, court, I no longer live at this address, or in your jurisdiction".

I'm also amenable to the idea that jury duty is short enough that it doesn't really qualify, although I haven't thought that through. Being under arrest for a few hours or days isn't slavery even though all three essential elements are there because it's so short.

Quote:
Do you also think that taxes are theft? That's an analogous situation to jury duty or military conscription being slavery.
I do not. I agree that the taxes=theft argument and the conscription=slavery arguments share some similarities, but I think they're different enough in two ways that the analogy doesn't hold for me.

First, the difference between unlawful taking of things and lawful is relevant in a way that lawful slavery and unlawful isn't in my opinion. Chattel slavery was once legal, but was still slavery. Conscription is currently legal, but is still slavery. Taxation has always been lawful by definition.

And from a functional standpoint, taxes appear to be absolutely necessary in some form to a functioning government. Conscription isn't. Conscription is what governments do when they don't want to pay fair wages to their soldiers.

Is there anything that the government could require you to do as a duty to them that would constitute slavery in your mind? If, in the 19th century, the government had owned all the slaves rather than individual white people, would that not have been slavery? They're just doing their duty to the government?

Last edited by iamthewalrus(:3=; 09-06-2019 at 04:40 PM.
  #33  
Old 09-06-2019, 08:35 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 82,445
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
I've twice posted the three things that I consider essential to slavery, and forced labor is only one of them. Conscription meets all three. Jury duty arguably meets two of them, although it's a little bit of a stretch to say that it's forced labor. You have to show up somewhere and render a verdict, but aside from standards of decorum you don't have to do anything. Jury duty doesn't restrict your freedom of movement. Heck, if you want to, you can get out of jury duty by moving whenever you get a notice. "Sorry, court, I no longer live at this address, or in your jurisdiction".
I'm not saying your three items are completely wrong; they certainly make up some major aspects of slavery. But I still feel the key factor is the loss of legal rights and legal personhood.
  #34  
Old 09-06-2019, 10:47 PM
JRDelirious is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Displaced
Posts: 15,959
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I'm not saying your three items are completely wrong; they certainly make up some major aspects of slavery. But I still feel the key factor is the loss of legal rights and legal personhood.
Which allows the assignment of property rights over the subject -- I agree, there's where forced servitude turns into slavery.

This does not prevent someone from arguing that ALL involuntary servitude, regardless whether to private or public interest or whether remunerated or time limited or not, is an immoral violation of natural right and affront to himan liberty and dignity. But slavery describes the special case, not the general case.

Last edited by JRDelirious; 09-06-2019 at 10:48 PM.
  #35  
Old 09-07-2019, 12:09 AM
Guinastasia's Avatar
Guinastasia is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 52,903
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
You do run into semantics issues though, as there was a million variations. So 18th century Russian conscripts from Peter I to 1793 were conscripted for life. After that the term was 'only' 25 years, which in the brutal conditions of the Russian army, which was often deliberately starved and under-equipped for fiscal reasons, might as well have been for life anyway.

Technically they weren't slaves. They retained certain minimal legal rights, at least in theory. But the difference between a Russian serf and a full-on slave was mighty thin.
Quite honestly, it seems the only difference was that it was technically illegal to kill a serf, but it really wasn't enforced. Otherwise, it was just semantics.
  #36  
Old 09-09-2019, 11:29 AM
iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 12,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
But I still feel the key factor is the loss of legal rights and legal personhood.
Can you delve a bit more into what that means, exactly? What specific rights does one have to have to not be a slave? Is it more than my three, or less?
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:59 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017