Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-11-2019, 12:25 PM
MyFootsZZZ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 4,748

Is opposition of slavery is old is slavery itself? Other Q's.


I'm not sure how far back slavery goes or it's history. Even in the US where I'm from.

Are there any recordings of anti-slave people who were part the privileged class at an early time? What about, later, in the United States? Was it common to find early sympathizers? Why was the North commonly more concerned about people's wellfare than the South?

I understand the Bible talks about how to utilize and punish your slave.
  #2  
Old 08-11-2019, 12:40 PM
Arkcon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,996
Probably some of the earliest, recorded, and kept information comes from Aristotle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_slavery

Basically, he believed some people were meant to be slaves, a topic some intellectual slave holders in the US really clamped onto: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drapetomania

Anyway, according to Aristotle, if someone's nature wasn't to be a slave, and they were a slave, having been acquired though warfare or something, then that situation was bad for everybody. You know, as opposed to someone who wanted to be a slave, and was one, which was a win-win.

Dunno how practical this was -- "Seems to me, Theolonius, that you really don't like slaving away in my goat fields. Kay. I'll let you go, but try not to lose any wars against us next time, kay."
  #3  
Old 08-11-2019, 12:59 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 81,373
Slavery existed for a long time before there was any general idea that it was wrong.

Slavery existed and was widespread in classical times. But it faded away in Medieval Europe. It was tied in with religion; Europeans didn't think it was right for Christians to be enslaved, especially by non-Christians.
  #4  
Old 08-11-2019, 01:07 PM
Stinky Pete is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Los Osos, California
Posts: 126

Slaves Everywhere Everywhen


I've been reading a lot of history for a long time. From what I've seen in all cultures regardless of continent and through all time periods there has been slavery. Don't know of any serious anti-slavery movements except for the last few hundred years. Obviously in the last two hundred years or so slavery has mostly gone away from most of the planet. I'm cynical so I wonder if it will stay that way.
  #5  
Old 08-11-2019, 01:36 PM
mbh is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 4,663
Chinese emperors occasionally tried to abolish slavery, but never succeeded. It was not necessarily a moral stance. Aristocrats who owned large tracts of land and lots of slaves were often rivals for political power.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_China
Quote:
Warring States period (475–221 BC)
The Warring States period saw a decline in slavery, which had been popular in the previous centuries. The slave system had shifted to a feudal system, despite this, slavery was still widespread during the period, despite being on the decline.[6] Since the introduction of private ownership of land in the state of Lu in 594 BC, which brought a system of taxation on private land, and saw the emergence of a system of landlords and peasants, the system of slavery began to decline over the following centuries, as other states followed suit.
Quote:
In the year AD 9, the Emperor Wang Mang usurped the Chinese throne and instituted a series of sweeping reforms, including the abolition of slavery and radical land reform. Slavery was reinstated in AD 12 before his assassination in AD 23.[11][12]
Quote:
Ming dynasty (1368–1644 AD)
The Hongwu Emperor sought to abolish all forms of slavery[1] but in practice, slavery continued through the Ming dynasty.[1]
  #6  
Old 08-11-2019, 04:06 PM
MyFootsZZZ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 4,748
Thanks for all the answers so far!
  #7  
Old 08-11-2019, 04:13 PM
MyFootsZZZ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 4,748
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Slavery existed for a long time before there was any general idea that it was wrong.

Slavery existed and was widespread in classical times. But it faded away in Medieval Europe. It was tied in with religion; Europeans didn't think it was right for Christians to be enslaved, especially by non-Christians.
Is that proven? I don't know if a K-9 is capable of even recognizing a fellow dog in caged, and try to free it... But are you sure all mankind thought it was ok to own another 'back in the day'?

I'm not saying your wrong
  #8  
Old 08-11-2019, 04:21 PM
thorny locust is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 980
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stinky Pete View Post
I've been reading a lot of history for a long time. From what I've seen in all cultures regardless of continent and through all time periods there has been slavery.
Not always in the same meaning of the term, AIUI.

As I don't suppose there's any way of telling when slavery started (in the most general sense of the term), I don't suppose there's any way of telling whether there was opposition to it at the time when it started, either. That's got to be lost somewhere in prehistory. -- I suspect the first slave was opposed to it at the time, though.

Or maybe not. There may well have been a blurry line between 'I'll do what you say for now if you'll give me some food as otherwise I'm going to starve' and/or 'I'll do what you say for now if you'll let me live even though I lost the fight' and 'this person is rightfully owned by this other person(s).' That shift may have been gradual, and over generations.

Even USA slavery had something resembling a moment of that sort. If the court had decided differently about John Punch in 1640, the line between indentured servants and slaves might have remained blurry, and might eventually have shifted in another direction.
  #9  
Old 08-11-2019, 04:58 PM
Colibri's Avatar
Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 42,831
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Slavery existed for a long time before there was any general idea that it was wrong.
Slavery probably goes back to some of the earliest agricultural societies. It's rare among hunter gatherers since it depends on a high population density, although it was found among the Northwest Coast Indians of North America who lived in a particularly rich environment.

Slaves were very often individuals captured in war. However, such individuals might also be adopted into the tribe. The status of slaves varied greatly in different cultures.

The idea of "human rights" is a rather recent one. If you were captured and enslaved, or born into slavery, it was just your fate. No one had a right to be free, any more than they had a right to be rich. Whether it was your lot to be rich or to be a slave was largely a matter of happenstance.
  #10  
Old 08-11-2019, 05:24 PM
ASL v2.0 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Not always in the same meaning of the term, AIUI.
A related, even essential underlying question would be "how do you distinguish between free and enslaved when contemporary western notions of individual rights did not exist, or at least were neither precisely defined nor widely held throughout most of humanity's social development?"

Because in the much of Europe throughout the Middle Ages, for example, just being able to travel from one jurisdiction to another, even within the same kingdom, and not be taken along the road and forced into the service of some other local lord for lack of the proper papers was not a basic freedom, at least not for everyone. Even those not deemed "slaves" by the standards of the time might be considered slaves of a sort today. Perhaps they couldn’t be bought and sold as chattel, but then they weren’t exactly free to come and go as they pleased, either.
  #11  
Old 08-11-2019, 06:17 PM
Kropotkin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: North
Posts: 764
“I am Spartacus!”
  #12  
Old 08-11-2019, 06:39 PM
DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 41,517
Remember, a lot of early slavery wasnt race based chattel slavery like today.

After a war, the enemy soldiers would be sold into slavery - the alternative was killing them.

People in order not to starve would also sell themselves or their children into slavery. Some felons were sold into slavery- the alternative would be death.

Serfdom is very close to slavery, and so is being a indentured servant.

So, it wasnt quite as obviously evil as race based "Because they are inferior beings" chattel slavery.
  #13  
Old 08-11-2019, 06:43 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 81,373
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyFootsZZZ View Post
Is that proven? I don't know if a K-9 is capable of even recognizing a fellow dog in caged, and try to free it... But are you sure all mankind thought it was ok to own another 'back in the day'?

I'm not saying your wrong
What are you asking about? That slavery was widespread for a long time (although I'll agree with Colibri that it was probably rare in pre-agricultural societies)? Or that there was a movement away from slavery in Medieval Europe?
  #14  
Old 08-11-2019, 06:46 PM
Mk VII is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: England
Posts: 2,926
The Romans had the concept of public slaves, owned by the city, who lived in slave barracks, and were essentially expendable, as they were public property and so no one had a vested interest in their continued health.
  #15  
Old 08-11-2019, 08:56 PM
Isosleepy's Avatar
Isosleepy is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 1,656
There was slavery among the pre-columbian bunter-gatherers in America, though it wasn’t hereditary in some of the tribes, and slaves could even assimilate into the tribe in certain cases.
  #16  
Old 08-12-2019, 01:19 AM
md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 14,905
Slavery also meant something different for different societies. The Romans, for example, had the concept of slave like many of those societies - but a slave was not a piece of furniture or a sub-human, they were in fact more like indentured servants. They could own property, accumulate wealth, and buy their own freedom. Many were smart and did advanced work - a Greek slave to tutor your children was one example of a fairly educated person being a slave. They simply had to work for your household, and beyond having to feed them, were due no wages. (I vaguely recall there were rules against freeing your slaves when they became too old to work, too; you couldn't just dump them on the street to starve).

In the days before welfare states, this was a convenient arrangement all around. If a person had no land to live off, they were a liability if they were desperately wandering the land. it was simpler to have an arrangement where someone had the responsibility to feed and house them, and in return could expect work from them. Anyone who advocated "a slave should be able to wander away whenever he felt like it" would have to answer - "to where?" After all, without a skill, what would they do?
  #17  
Old 08-12-2019, 01:40 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,877
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Slavery existed and was widespread in classical times. But it faded away in Medieval Europe.
No it didn't, it just got rebranded as feudalism.
  #18  
Old 08-12-2019, 01:44 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,877
My emphasis:
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
Remember, a lot of early slavery wasnt race based chattel slavery like today.
Are you writing from the 1850s South?
  #19  
Old 08-12-2019, 02:30 AM
engineer_comp_geek's Avatar
engineer_comp_geek is online now
Robot Mod in Beta Testing
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 24,507
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyFootsZZZ View Post
I'm not sure how far back slavery goes or it's history. Even in the US where I'm from.
Slavery goes back to before the US was a country. Abolitionists go back to before the US was a country as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyFootsZZZ View Post
What about, later, in the United States? Was it common to find early sympathizers?
Yes, it was common to find early abolitionists. The Quakers and Mennonites in general were very much opposed to slavery on the grounds that it was very un-Christian.

Most northern states passed laws against slavery shortly after the US became a country. In many states, emancipation was gradual. For example, a state might forbid any new slaves from being created, but would continue to allow existing slaves to remain as slaves. Or they might be converted to indentured servants, where theoretically they might be able to buy their freedom some day, though in practice many would never be able to afford it. Some states prohibited the sale of any slave, so if you could no longer afford your slave, you couldn't sell him. You had to set him free. Most northern states passed laws abolishing slavery somewhere between 1780 and 1810, though since the actual emancipation was often gradual, slavery continued to exist in some form after that, in slowly dwindling numbers.

There was also more opposition to slavery in the south than you might realize. When Georgia was a colony (early 1700s) they actually passed a law abolishing slavery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MyFootsZZZ View Post
Why was the North commonly more concerned about people's wellfare than the South?
That is a very complex question.

This is going to gloss over a lot of things in a huge way, but the North was not as unified against slavery as you have probably been led to believe. The abolitionist movement in the North had been growing all through the 1800s, but even at their strongest, the abolitionists did not have anywhere near enough wealth and power to counter the southern plantation owners. But, the northern industrialists and the southern plantation owners hated each other. The industrialists wanted protective tariffs, so that northern factories could produce goods cheaper than European imports. But if the industrialists got their tariffs, then European countries would counter with tariffs on things like tobacco and cotton, which hurt the plantations. If you don't have the tariffs, though, then the plantations get to sell more tobacco and cotton, but the northern factories can't produce goods cheaper than European imports, and the factories suffer. So economically, the two groups were very much opposed to each other.

In the mid 1800s, the industrialists and the abolitionists kinda got the idea that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, so they basically banded together and formed the Republican Party. While the abolitionists in general didn't give two hoots about the economics of factories, and the industrialists in general didn't give two hoots about slavery, by banding together, they were able to defeat the South politically.

Since anti-slavery was a core part of the Republican platform, this may give you the idea that the entire North was unified against slavery. It wasn't. There weren't a whole lot of pro-slavery attitudes in the North, but there were a lot of folks who were fairly apathetic towards it.

In the South, what you had was a combination of the wealth and political power being mostly in the hands of the plantations, which could not survive economically if they had to free their slaves and start paying them wages. The small southern farmers typically didn't have slaves. They couldn't afford them. But slavery wasn't just about unpaid labor for the plantations. It was also a way for the entire South to keep blacks under control, with no power to vote, and no political power whatsoever. The small southern farmers did not own slaves, but they very much believed that blacks were inferior to whites, and were absolutely certain that blacks would completely destroy the South if they were set free and allowed to make their own decisions. So basically, it was blatant racism, treating blacks as if they were some sort of sub-human and violent animal.

Northern attitudes towards blacks were better, but even then blacks were not considered to be the equal of whites, even by most abolitionists. Lincoln himself thought that blacks were not as intelligent as whites, though his views did evolve a bit over his lifetime. There were some abolitionists back then that thought blacks were equal to whites, but they were a definite minority. Most abolitionists thought that blacks were inferior to whites, but also thought that it was cruel to treat them as slaves.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 08-12-2019 at 12:23 PM. Reason: fixed quote tag
  #20  
Old 08-12-2019, 06:48 AM
Odesio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 11,530
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
No it didn't, it just got rebranded as feudalism.

This is an overly simplistic statement about a period of time that lasted roughly seven centuries across many different cultures. Depending on the country and time period, peasants living under manorialism had legal rights and could petition the court for relief.
__________________
I can be found in history's unmarked grave of discarded ideologies.
  #21  
Old 08-12-2019, 07:24 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,877
Quote:
Originally Posted by Odesio View Post
This is an overly simplistic statement about a period of time that lasted roughly seven centuries across many different cultures. Depending on the country and time period, peasants living under manorialism had legal rights and could petition the court for relief.
so, in certain times and places, could slaves.

Serfs could be sold (usually only with the land, but see: villeins in gross), they were obliged to provide labour, and they were not allowed to travel freely or marry freely. Most importantly, they were mostly born into the estate, and they usually had no say in the termination of the situation, barring escape (Stadtluft macht frei).

Quibbling about the picayune differences between villeinage and slavery might make for an interesting debate in another thread, but I stand by my statement - feudalism was just rebranded classical slavery. This is even evident in the origins of the words villein and serf.
  #22  
Old 08-12-2019, 09:24 AM
brossa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,141
I would bet that the very first person that was made a slave was opposed to it, so yes.
  #23  
Old 08-12-2019, 10:56 AM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 81,373
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
No it didn't, it just got rebranded as feudalism.
I'm guessing you mean serfdom. Feudalism was the system involving nobles and kings.

I disagree with serfdom being equivalent to slavery. There were pretty significant differences.
  #24  
Old 08-12-2019, 03:29 PM
md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 14,905
Also, I recall reading that the intellectuals in the church disagreed with the concept of slavery. Remember, serfs were tied to the land - they were not property to be sold or traded. A different concept. Actual slaves, people bought and sold like cattle - the church tended to object to at times because they were humans and had souls. Along the way, slavery where Africans were kidnapped and taken to the new world to work, got rebranded by the people who benefited from it with the excuse that since the Africans were heathens (allegedly), slave traders were doing them a favor by taking them to somewhere that they would learn about Christianity. This also morphed into the excuse that the African slaves were somehow subhuman and this was to be their lot in life.

But the southern plantations and those of the Caribbean and South America could benefit from free labor in this way, particularly when it also involved working them to death. There was never such a shortage in Europe of laborers or a need for them in volume to do back-breaking highly undesirable work. Thus Europe did not have the economic drive to accept slavery. The plantation economies did.
  #25  
Old 08-12-2019, 03:47 PM
ASL v2.0 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I'm guessing you mean serfdom. Feudalism was the system involving nobles and kings.

I disagree with serfdom being equivalent to slavery. There were pretty significant differences.
Depends on your definition of slavery. If it means "subject to the jurisdiction of a property owner and not free to come and go freely, except on pain of death, mutillation, or imprisonment" then serfdom was very much like slavery. Perhaps they couldn’t be bought and sold individually, but, as MrDibble notes they could effectively be considered to be servants of the land, with their services being bound to it and owed to whoever owned the land.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 08-12-2019 at 03:47 PM.
  #26  
Old 08-12-2019, 04:28 PM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,877
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I'm guessing you mean serfdom. Feudalism was the system involving nobles and kings.
Sure, yeah, I properly mean serfdom (although serfdom was integral to feudalism)
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Remember, serfs were tied to the land - they were not property to be sold or traded. A different concept.
Unless they were villeins in gross. Then identical in that regard.

Not that I think tying their villeinage to a manor (villein regardant) makes them any less of a functional slave. They are still not free persons. And that's the only meaningful distinction to consider - are they free? If not, they are a captive of some sort. And any captives who are forced to labour are slaves.
  #27  
Old 08-12-2019, 05:10 PM
cmkeller's Avatar
cmkeller is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 13,414
MyFootsZZZ:

Quote:
I understand the Bible talks about how to utilize and punish your slave.
I don't know New Testament, but as far as I recall, the Old Testament goes, the only thing it says about utilizing slaves is that a non-Isralite female slave may be given to a male Israelite slave as a wife, with the resulting children being slaves. It also says that slaves (all types) must rest on the Sabbath as all Israelites must.

The only thing I know of that the OT says about punishing slaves is that if a master knocks out a slave's eye or tooth, the slave is automatically freed.

The Old Testament forbids someone whom a runaway slave asks for refuge from turning said runaway into his or her master.
__________________
"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible. The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective
  #28  
Old 08-12-2019, 05:19 PM
ASL v2.0 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 34
Well, I mean, there’s also the bit about how if a master beats his slave and the slave dies, it’s okay as long as a couple days passed between the beating and the death.

Oh, and how even a fellow Israelite can be enslaved indefinitely, so long as you give them a wife and they decide they don’t want to leave the wife you have them in exchange for their freedom. Because the wife is the slaveowner's property no matter what.
  #29  
Old 08-12-2019, 05:25 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 81,373
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASL v2.0 View Post
Depends on your definition of slavery. If it means "subject to the jurisdiction of a property owner and not free to come and go freely, except on pain of death, mutillation, or imprisonment" then serfdom was very much like slavery.
I'm subject to the jurisdiction of my local government but I don't consider myself to be a slave. Serfs weren't owned by the local baron; they were subject to legal obligations. I'll grant that serfs were subject to some legal obligations I'm not subject to - but that doesn't make them slaves.

People in China are subject to some harsh laws (including some which restrict where they can live and work and even how many children they can have) and they don't have any say in who gets to make those laws. Would you define the entire population of China as slaves?
  #30  
Old 08-12-2019, 05:29 PM
DocCathode's Avatar
DocCathode is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Philladelphia-Mummer city
Posts: 11,794
I can't find my copy of Eccentric Lives And Peculiar Notions. So this is from memory- One of the weirdos in the book still has plenty to mark him as strange. But one of the things that made his contemporaries look at him as bizarre doesn't hold up. He was emphatically opposed to slavery. The shop he ran sold only items "Free From The Blood Of Human Cruelty".

RE Privileged Class

How exactly do you deine that? In the USA, whites were the privileged class. But in many instances in other places, "privileged class" just meant 'on the winning side of the war' or 'in home territory'.
__________________
Nothing is impossible if you can imagine it. That's the wonder of being a scientist!
Prof Hubert Farnsworth, Futurama
  #31  
Old 08-12-2019, 05:35 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 81,373
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Unless they were villeins in gross. Then identical in that regard.
Relatively few serfs were villeins in gross. The whole point of serfdom was to tie people to the land they worked on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Not that I think tying their villeinage to a manor (villein regardant) makes them any less of a functional slave. They are still not free persons. And that's the only meaningful distinction to consider - are they free? If not, they are a captive of some sort. And any captives who are forced to labour are slaves.
Are you and I free? I certainly have people who can tell me what to do. And they take my money too.

Which is what forced labor was; a tax by the local government which serfs paid with work instead of money. And in most cases, the local noble would be happy to accept a payment as a substitute for the work if the serf was able to offer it.
  #32  
Old 08-12-2019, 09:49 PM
Sage Rat's Avatar
Sage Rat is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Howdy
Posts: 21,667
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkcon View Post
Probably some of the earliest, recorded, and kept information comes from Aristotle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_slavery

Basically, he believed some people were meant to be slaves, a topic some intellectual slave holders in the US really clamped onto: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drapetomania

Anyway, according to Aristotle, if someone's nature wasn't to be a slave, and they were a slave, having been acquired though warfare or something, then that situation was bad for everybody. You know, as opposed to someone who wanted to be a slave, and was one, which was a win-win.

Dunno how practical this was -- "Seems to me, Theolonius, that you really don't like slaving away in my goat fields. Kay. I'll let you go, but try not to lose any wars against us next time, kay."
At the same time as Aristotle:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcidamas

I wouldn't be surprised if there were opponents to slavery throughout history but it was not generally a large intellectual movement.

The early Christian Church had a few slaves among their followers, some quite prominent:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermas_(freedman)

But, so far as I can tell, they simply viewed slaves as equals, not slavery as criminal. (I think they had to be careful about suggesting that people free their slaves since any anti-slavery movement was liable to cause a slave uprising. It's relatively conceivable that they had to endorse slavery whether they wanted to or not.)
  #33  
Old 08-12-2019, 10:01 PM
Sage Rat's Avatar
Sage Rat is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Howdy
Posts: 21,667
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
so, in certain times and places, could slaves.

Serfs could be sold (usually only with the land, but see: villeins in gross), they were obliged to provide labour, and they were not allowed to travel freely or marry freely. Most importantly, they were mostly born into the estate, and they usually had no say in the termination of the situation, barring escape (Stadtluft macht frei).

Quibbling about the picayune differences between villeinage and slavery might make for an interesting debate in another thread, but I stand by my statement - feudalism was just rebranded classical slavery. This is even evident in the origins of the words villein and serf.
I believe that they main difference is that Serfs were Christians and so you were limited in their use. You were expected to treat them as your "flock". They lived separate from you.

Non-Christian slaves, did not have the same protections. During Medieval times, they were generally female:

http://www.author.paulinemontagna.co...nd/italy4.html

They lived within your home.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 08-12-2019 at 10:02 PM.
  #34  
Old 08-12-2019, 11:50 PM
md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 14,905
As I said, the main difference is whether slaves were treated more as indentured servant - they worked for you, but basically were simply humans who worked for free to a master who could trade them - versus the evolved tropical Americas model, that slaves were considered subhuman livestock.

As for slaves with primitive tribes, the problem is infrastructure. Without an extended society watching for runaways, a troublesome slave could be more of a difficulty. Women or children could be slaves, but in a hunter-gatherer tribal society, an adult male could probably strike out on is own and be gone before the tribe could catch him; he could hang around in the bush and pick off the tribe one by one if he so chose. Without permanent solid buildings and standing armies, rogue males were a liability. Put them in an agricultural society where strangers are noticed, the local city has walls and prisons, the city has a militia to chase down problems - then it becomes practical to have slaves who will realize they cannot escape. You have a ruling class with weapons like metal swords beyond what a renegade escapee could make. They can fashion chains and manacles that a slave cannot easily remove.

Although the movie "A Man Called Horse" describes a plains Indian practice where captives were worked like horses, watched by all the braves of the tribe and eventually left to die of exposure when winter came. (Spoiler - he didn't) But this is the other side of the problem - it might work for one slave in a village of a few dozen men watching, but an appreciable number of slaves won't work in that setting.

And again - slavery was not intended to create a class of subhumans, that was an affectation of the American South. Slavery in ancient times was just a mechanism by which the class with the upper hand obtained free labour while providing food and a place to live for those who had nothing, either by bad fortune or war.

Remember the Dickens novels times and earlier, there were "poor houses" which were essentially for the same purpose - take the hungry homeless off the street where they were a menace to alw and order, and lock them up somewhere where they provided work in return for what was supposed to be enough food.

Whatever society did once upon a time to take care of the poor and homeless, or those captured in war, is a different story from the plantation class who deliberately set about kidnapping people and transporting them across the ocean to be worked to death. OTOH, there was a thriving business bringing slaves to Zanzibar - you can still visit the slave market cells where they were auctioned off. The middle east and Persia were also quite willing to buy abducted Africans to be their drudge labourers.
  #35  
Old 08-13-2019, 12:46 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,877
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Relatively few serfs were villeins in gross.
But they existed and they weren't explicitly called slaves. And you could be moved (without your say-so) from being regardant to in gross if circumstances on a manor changed. So my point stands.
Quote:
Are you and I free? I certainly have people who can tell me what to do.
And you can freely stop that relationship at any time. That's why I said forced.

Last edited by MrDibble; 08-13-2019 at 12:49 AM.
  #36  
Old 08-13-2019, 11:46 AM
ftg's Avatar
ftg is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 19,853
Another reference in the OT to limiting slavery are some passages suggesting that slaves were to be freed either in Sabbatical years or Jubilee years. (Or after 7 years in general. Or maybe it applied only to indentured servants. Or ...)

These sort of things implied a negative view of permanent slavery.
  #37  
Old 08-13-2019, 11:58 AM
bardos is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Maui
Posts: 966
On slavery, or in Orwell-speak "forced-labor": In ancient Rome it was the practice of many (not all) slave-owners to educate their slaves, train them and give them special skills in order to increase their value. Roman slaves were commonly doctors, teachers, translators, engineers, and practitioners of other highly skilled professions. The Greek biographer Plutarch wrote about Marcus Crassus that at the time of his death he owned tons of premium real estate, lots of mansions and lots of silver mines, but that "nevertheless, one night regard all this as nothing compared with the value of his slaves; so many and so capable were the slaves he possessed."

(I would be remiss not to point out that there were many slaves in Rome who did live under brutal conditions, even far worse than the conditions common in the southern states of the USA during its fling with unpaid labor.)
  #38  
Old 08-13-2019, 09:37 PM
MyFootsZZZ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 4,748
I know there were questions directed at me in this thread but I can't answer them... at least I can't right away.

I guess part of me was looking for confirmation that we aren't ALL inherently capable of owning another person as property. I'm a meat eater, but becoming a non-meat eater has crossed my mind. I'm not judging anyone, but if we're capable of feeling empathy with animals then we certainly be capable of feeling empathy with humans, correct?

I don't know. I don't want us to be so ugly.

By the way I've scanned through this thread I'm going to reread it later. I just wanted to make it clear what I was kind of secretly hoping to hear.

And thank you to all with the history lessons and things I might have forgotten since I've last visited this subject.

Last edited by MyFootsZZZ; 08-13-2019 at 09:38 PM.
  #39  
Old 08-13-2019, 09:41 PM
MyFootsZZZ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 4,748
Yes, I know WE ARE animals. I meant *other* animals.
  #40  
Old 08-13-2019, 09:49 PM
Left Hand of Dorkness's Avatar
Left Hand of Dorkness is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: at the right hand of cool
Posts: 41,143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
At the same time as Aristotle:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcidamas
Thank you! Literally last week I heard this name in a speech, and I tried a bunch of spellings to Google it, but didn't come up with this spelling. A dozen years ago I asked a similar question and didn't get an answer.

Alcidamas, according to that link for those that didn't follow it, declared, "God has left all men free; nature has made no man a slave." That sure sounds like an abolitionist to me.

There's a broader point, however, that literacy was a rare skill way back when, rarely possessed by slaves. Folks with skin in the game would've had a hard time recording their thoughts in a form that would've survived for a few millennia.
  #41  
Old 08-14-2019, 12:26 AM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 81,373
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
And you can freely stop that relationship at any time. That's why I said forced.
The point I was making was that serfdom can be best viewed as a legal system. Local nobles were the government and the serfs lived under a set of laws that were harsh and biased against them. But that doesn't mean the serfs were the property of the nobles.

I also live under a set of laws, as does virtually everyone on the planet. I'm fortunate and the laws I live under are reasonable and I have some influence in their making (with the former being a reflection of the latter). But I am not free to simply opt out of the legal system. The law applies to me and will be enforced upon me regardless of whether or not I agree to it. I can move but all that will do is place me under a different set of laws.
  #42  
Old 08-14-2019, 12:58 AM
ASL v2.0 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
The point I was making was that serfdom can be best viewed as a legal system. Local nobles were the government and the serfs lived under a set of laws that were harsh and biased against them. But that doesn't mean the serfs were the property of the nobles.

I also live under a set of laws, as does virtually everyone on the planet. I'm fortunate and the laws I live under are reasonable and I have some influence in their making (with the former being a reflection of the latter). But I am not free to simply opt out of the legal system. The law applies to me and will be enforced upon me regardless of whether or not I agree to it. I can move but all that will do is place me under a different set of laws.
I feel like there is some equivocation in your argument, but then that’s kind of the whole point (so much of this hinges on vagaries in language and different understandings or usages of terms critical to the discussion). I don’t think you’re arguing in bad faith, only that the existence of this argument, this point of contention, is precisely what has started us on the tangent.

Slavery today, in America, generally refers to what was practiced in America for much of its history prior to the Civil War. To be free, in America, generally refers to possessing the rights normally considered due to American citizens under the constitution and not being deprived of those rights through imprisonment or other kind of forcible curtailment of liberty. But neither the American version of freedom nor the American version of slavery are universal or natural conditions. So to divine an answer to the question posed by the OP, with so many different views on freedom and slavery throughout history and across cultures, is actually a much more complicated question (even if human history were perfectly known) than it would seem to be on the surface.

The more we disagree, the more we agree.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 08-14-2019 at 01:01 AM.
  #43  
Old 08-14-2019, 05:14 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,877
Quote:
Originally Posted by bardos View Post
(I would be remiss not to point out that there were many slaves in Rome who did live under brutal conditions, even far worse than the conditions common in the southern states of the USA during its fling with unpaid labor.)
Damnati in metallum - condemned to the mines - was the only kind of slavery you expressly couldn't be freed from. Just a slow death sentence.
  #44  
Old 08-14-2019, 05:33 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,877
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
The point I was making was that serfdom can be best viewed as a legal system.
"Best viewed" by who? I, for instance, best view it as part of a system of economic class warfare wrapped in the legal frippery of (largely imaginary) mutual obligation, functionally no different than working a Roman latifundium, being a Spartan helot, a debt bondsman on a Brazilian fazenda, owing your soul to the Company Store in West Virginia, or anywhere where "the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly"
Quote:
Local nobles were the government and the serfs lived under a set of laws that were harsh and biased against them. But that doesn't mean the serfs were the property of the nobles.
Could they be sold (with or without the manor?) without a say in the matter? It's a yes/no question, and if the answer is "yes", then they were property.

The answer, BTW, is definitely "Yes"
Quote:
I also live under a set of laws, as does virtually everyone on the planet. I'm fortunate and the laws I live under are reasonable and I have some influence in their making (with the former being a reflection of the latter). But I am not free to simply opt out of the legal system. The law applies to me and will be enforced upon me regardless of whether or not I agree to it. I can move but all that will do is place me under a different set of laws.
Does the law compel your labour? If not, it's not a valid comparison.
  #45  
Old 08-14-2019, 06:20 AM
Alessan's Avatar
Alessan is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tel Aviv
Posts: 24,509
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Does the law compel your labour? If not, it's not a valid comparison.
The law definitely compels my cash. I need money to pay taxes, and I have to work to get money. Feudalism just does away with the middleman.
  #46  
Old 08-14-2019, 06:55 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 25,877
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
The law definitely compels my cash. I need money to pay taxes, and I have to work to get money.
That's not compulsion. Lots of people work without paying income tax. You could voluntarily work at that level of income. Or not work at all, depending on welfare systems where you are.

Sales taxes are a different matter, they're a lot harder to avoid, but again, are not the same as compulsion of labour. For feudal labour, you could not avoid most of them by paying money instead. Actual physical service was what was required.

Personally, I think saying paying taxes are a form of slavery is both disingenuous and pretty insulting to actual slaves. Not least because you derive benefit from paying taxes. Slaves derive no such benefit from their labour for their masters (and I'm including serfs' so-called mutual obligations here - a literally glorified protection racket is not a benefit)
  #47  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:06 AM
Jasmine's Avatar
Jasmine is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 2,137
Found this searching "earliest recorded slavery":

Quote:
lavery’s Roots: War and Economic Domination

6800 B.C. The world’s first city-state emerges in Mesopotamia. Land ownership and the early stages of technology bring war—in which enemies are captured and forced to work: slavery.
2575 B.C. Temple art celebrates the capture of slaves in battle. Egyptians capture slaves by sending special expeditions up the Nile River.
550 B.C. The city-state of Athens uses as many as 30,000 slaves in its silver mines.
120 A.D. Roman military campaigns capture slaves by the thousands. Some estimate the population of Rome is more than half slave.
500 Anglo-Saxons enslave the native Britons after invading England.
1000 Slavery is a normal practice in England’s rural, agricultural economy, as destitute workers place themselves and their families in a form of debt bondage to landowners.
1380 In the aftermath of the Black Plague, Europe’s slave trade thrives in response to a labor shortage. Slaves pour in from all over the continent, the Middle East, and North Africa.
1444 Portuguese traders bring the first large cargo of slaves from West Africa to Europe by sea—establishing the Atlantic slave trade.
1526 Spanish explorers bring the first African slaves to settlements in what would become the United States. These first African-Americans stage the first known slave revolt in the Americas.
1550 Slaves are depicted as objects of conspicuous consumption in much Renaissance art.
1641 Massachusetts becomes the first British colony to legalize slavery.
It was common practice to enslave those one defeated. It was pretty much accepted as business as usual.

I then searched, "Did anyone want to abolish slavery in ancient times?" I could only find this:

Quote:
I don't see Gregory of Nyssa mentioned here. Fourth century Christian bishop, has a couple homilies in which he upbraids slave owners for the presumption that they could own human beings.

I think the Essenes and maybe Cyrus the Great (He at least freed many). Then some instances in China: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abolition_of_slavery_timeline – user45891 Nov 28 '14 at 20:15
__________________
"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance -- it is the illusion of knowledge."
--Daniel J Boorstin
  #48  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:08 AM
Alessan's Avatar
Alessan is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tel Aviv
Posts: 24,509
I'm not saying the systems are the same - obviously, what we have now is much, much better. I'm saying that it's a sliding scale, (vastly) different degrees of the same basic concept. In short, I agree with Little Nemo, that Feudalism is a form of government, and that Serfs were not property per se, but instead people at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

And I disagree that the serfs got nothing in return for their labor: they got government. A crappy, corrupt, predatory government, but a government nonetheless. They got courts and roads and rudimentary economic planning and walls to hide behind and other things civilization needed in order to exist. In retrospect, it wasn't that great a system, but it was a system, which is better than no system at all.
  #49  
Old 08-14-2019, 11:01 AM
md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 14,905
Feudal serfs, slaves, etc. It doesn't matter - the point is, we see slavery through the model of the southern plantation system - as a distinctive separate ethnic group that was considered subhuman by the slave owners and they were treated like cattle.

To my mind this was unique. There were plenty of societies where slaves were as subjugated and devoid of rights, but none I can think of where this was associated with the same determination that the slave race was significantly inferior (beyond the usual jingoistic feelings); certainly few where slaves were exclusively one foreign race.

Most slave societies tended to treat slaves as essentially the equivalent of indentured servants. They lived with the owner, they worked for basically room and board. In many societies they were not looked down on, and in Rome for example, freed slaves and their offspring could aspire to earn citizenship. Slaves could own property save money, even work on the side if their tasks at home were done. In many such societies they even had the right to buy their freedom. (There's the story of the slaves in Brazil's gold mines, who realized that when they washed after work, they washed flakes of gold from their hair. Some collected this to buy their freedom.) In many societies, slaves had some rights. All this is at odds with our image of slavery fueled by the plantation models.
  #50  
Old 08-14-2019, 11:07 AM
DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 41,517
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Feudal serfs, slaves, etc. It doesn't matter - the point is, we see slavery through the model of the southern plantation system - as a distinctive separate ethnic group that was considered subhuman by the slave owners and they were treated like cattle.

To my mind this was unique. There were plenty of societies where slaves were as subjugated and devoid of rights, but none I can think of where this was associated with the same determination that the slave race was significantly inferior (beyond the usual jingoistic feelings); certainly few where slaves were exclusively one foreign race.

Most slave societies tended to treat slaves as essentially the equivalent of indentured servants. They lived with the owner, they worked for basically room and board. In many societies they were not looked down on, and in Rome for example, freed slaves and their offspring could aspire to earn citizenship. Slaves could own property save money, even work on the side if their tasks at home were done. In many such societies they even had the right to buy their freedom. (There's the story of the slaves in Brazil's gold mines, who realized that when they washed after work, they washed flakes of gold from their hair. Some collected this to buy their freedom.) In many societies, slaves had some rights. All this is at odds with our image of slavery fueled by the plantation models.
Well, perhaps when the North Africans enslaved Christians.

But yes, Southern Slavery was not only "peculiar" but also unusual.
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 03:47 PM.

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 © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017