Re: sentient, malevolent, whatever :-)

Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

From: Dave Long (
Date: Thu May 25 2000 - 11:41:44 PDT

> Equating "wage slavery" with being treated as a sub-human creature
> is a bit strong, and smacks of hyperbole to me.

It would have been truly hyperbolic, had that been the comparison I
meant to make. However, I was equating "wage slavery" with ancient
slavery, not the peculiar institution, and that comparison, while
still exaggerated, is much less so.
> This level of speciousness is usually absent in your arguments on the
> list, Dave-- or is my irony filter broken today?

Probably should have worked on that a bit more. The motivation for
that list was that for the last several months, every time I've run
across a mention of the importance of strong property rights for
Progress, or how free trade and comparative advantage naturally
serve to export "our" values, I find myself thinking how well these
arguments would have gone over in Charleston in the early 1800's.
Anyway, I probably won't be able to say anything coherent on this
topic for the next week or two, sorry.

> And you are missing the point that I tried to make in my earlier post.
Actually, I think we both agree: there is a large distinction
between the economic basis for slavery in the ancient world
(Phaedo, etc.) and the racial basis in modern times in the US.

(interesting, I ran across some mention that the brits were
willing to offer freedom to slaves enlisting against the
revolution. probably need to check some primary or secondary
sources, though)

I think where we're posting past each other is in assesment of
the greatest danger: you have been concerned about new instances
of (is there any standard vocabulary for this sort of thing?)
stereotyped slavery, and I have been concerned about a simple
slide into the resumption of purely economic slavery.

> were well-documented and well-understood ways in which a slave
> could become a citizen, if not in his/her generation then in the
> subsequent generations.

Bearing in mind that "citizenship" was a much more restricted notion
than what it means today. My current best guess for a modern
valuation on the debate over democracy in Athens is that it centered
over whether the city would be run by those with a net worth over
$250K (2000 USD), or merely by all the rabble with only $100+K to
their name. (those were based on percentage of population and
wealth distribution; after reading the figures given in
_Courtesans and Fishcakes_, it seems like $1.25M and $500K might
be better representative figures of equivalent purchasing power)

My best guess for the political-economic organization of the
historical city-state is that was something like a country club.
Citizens would be the owners (which is why arranging marriages to
conserve citizenship would be important), metics were like outside
members: free to use the facilities, and the board welcomes their
input, but they certainly don't get a vote, and then there are
staff (hired by the city or directly by members), who aren't kicked
out of the city, but don't really have free run of it, either.

I think we can be reasonable accurate saying that it was fairly
common for slaves to become free, if uncommon for them to become
citizens, basically because it was uncommon for free men in general
to be citizens.

> That way, perhaps we can come to some kind of understanding, as
> individuals and as a culture, about the economic "inertial forces"
> that will work against any new sentients discovered or created
> in the modern world.

We may come to an understanding, but I'm afraid that "the good, the
bad, and the ugly" .sig I've seen on FoRK probably sums it up.


Date view Thread view Subject view Author view

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu May 25 2000 - 11:33:28 PDT