Re: sentient, malevolent, whatever :-)

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From: Strata Rose Chalup (
Date: Tue May 30 2000 - 18:40:57 PDT

Sounds like you've done a lot more scholarship on this than I have!
I will have to go read some of the material you mention and get
back to you on this one. :-)

I think you're right that we have similar concerns, but from different
directions. With respect to anything that's likely to happen soon
(AI's, recognition of some animals' sapience, etc), I think yours has
the most relevance for right now. In many ways de facto slavery based
on economics is more insidious, since there are a lot of forces which
will refuse to believe that it exists at all if it doesn't affect
them in ways they can see.


PS- The "downloading message <n> of <number in the high 200's, mid
is something I've seen way too much of lately, comes with taking a
little bit of a sabbatical. Sorry for delays and odd propagations
in responses to email!

Dave Long wrote:
> > 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.
> -Dave

Strata Rose Chalup []   |
Project Manager                             |     VirtualNet Consulting
iPlanet/Netscape Professional Services      |

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