Sunday, 1 April 2012

Slavery gets a bad rap these days. But a strong case can be made that our view of it is jaundiced and unhistorical. The fact is that, prior to the last century or two, slavery has been part of the virtually all human societies stretching back into the mists of time. Laws regulating the ownership of slaves are found in the Hammurabi Code, one of the earliest examples of writing known to exist. In ancient Athens, where democracy and many of the ideas that still shape our view of the world were born, it was only slavery that allowed the Athenian citizens enough leisure time to be able to participate in the governance of their city state. Paradoxically, therefore, it was slavery that gave birth to democracy.

Back in ancient times, no one thought fit to question the practise of slavery. The great philosophers Plato and Aristotle regarded it as natural and proper. Even Epictetus, a free slave who went on to become a noted Stoic philosopher in Greece, did not speak a word against the institution of slavery itself. And throughout the long life of the Roman empire, we do not know of a single person who called the practise of slavery into question. Even the Bible accepted it as normal.

In modern times, we tend to have stereotypical perceptions of slavery. The word conjures images of harsh masters cracking their whips against the glistening backs of slaves sweating in the fields. Of course harsh treatment occasionally took place, but it was only ever a small part of the rich diversity of slavery as practised in a kaleidoscope of human societies throughout the ages. In many lands, the custom was for slaves to almost be welcomed in as part of the family. Indeed, this often became literally true thanks to the flowering of amorous relations between slave and master, leading to mutual connubial joy.

As Alexis de Tocqueville records in his book Democracy in America, contrary to popular perception, negroes and whites actually got along better in the South, where slavery still flourished, than they did in the North, where it had been abolished.
In the South, where slavery still exists, the negroes are less carefully kept apart; they sometimes share the labour and the recreations of the whites; the whites consent to intermix with them to a certain extent, and although the legislation treats them more harshly, the habits of the people are more tolerant and compassionate. In the South the master is not afraid to raise his slave to his own standing, because he knows that he can in a moment reduce him to the dust at pleasure. In the North the white no longer distinctly perceives the barrier which separates him from the degraded race, and he shuns the negro with the more pertinacity, since he fears lest they should some day be confounded together.

There is every reason to believe, then, that the reintroduction of slavery would help improve race relations and restore harmony¬ in our fractured social landscape.

On the potential benefits of slavery, there is food for thought in George Borrow’s report of an encounter with a freed negro slave in mid-19th century Britain .
I asked him if he did not work now that he was free? He said very seldom; that he did not like work, and that it did not agree with him. I asked how he came into England, and he said that wishing to see England, he had come over with a gentleman as his servant, but that as soon as he got there, he had left his master, as he did not like work. I asked him how he contrived to live in England without working? He said that any black might live in England without working; that all he had to do was to attend religious meetings, and speak against slavery and the Americans. I asked him if he had done so. He said he had, and that the religious people were very kind to him, and gave him money, and that a religious lady was going to marry him. I asked him if he knew anything about the Americans? He said he did, and that they were very bad people, who kept slaves and flogged them. “And quite right too,” said I, “if they are lazy rascals like yourself, who want to eat without working. What a pretty set of knaves or fools must they be, who encourage a fellow like you to speak against negro slavery, of the necessity for which you yourself are a living instance, and against a people of whom you know as much as of French or Spanish.”

Borrow clearly believed that negroes were naturally indolent and, consequently, that slavery was the only sure way of getting a hard day’s work out of them. If he had been able to read the Guardian’s recent report that half of the young negroes in Britain were unemployed, he would undoubtedly have been strengthened in this conviction.

And in his insightful Green Book, the late lamented philosopher-dictator Colonel Gaddafi also noted that blacks were naturally “sluggish” and expressed the view that this characteristic partly accounted for their extraordinary fecundity compared to other races.
The black race is now in a very
backward social situation. But such backwardness helps to bring about numerical superiority of the blacks because their low standard of living has protected them from getting to
know the means and ways of birth control and family planning. Also their backward social traditions are a reason why there is no limit to marriage, leading to their unlimited
growth, while the population of other races has decreased because of birth control, restrictions on marriage and continuous occupation in work, unlike the blacks who are sluggish in a climate which is always hot.

As some of the finest minds on the planet have recognised, overpopulation is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. If Colonel Gaddafi’s logic is sound, slavery may offer a potential solution.

But sluggish negroes are not alone in suffering the scourge of high unemployment. In its report “How Fair is Britain?”, the Equality Commission noted that only 46% of Muslim males were in employment and 24% of Muslim females. This was the highest unemployment level of any distinguishable group. As a result of their high levels of worklessness, these ethnic minority groups are massively dependent on social security benefits; and it is the hard-pressed taxpayers of Europe who labour under this colossal burden. In the current system, a powerful case could be made that it is European taxpayers who have effectively been enslaved by the newly arrived ethnic minorities. They are forced to work against their will to pay for the often luxurious lifestyles of the new swart-skinned invader elite. Is a Britain in which this happens fair? Surely not.

Nor should we think that slavery need necessarily impair the happiness of those who fall into it. Even Alexis De Tocqueville, although he was a confirmed opponent of slavery, had to admit that the slaves were often perfectly happy with their lot.
The negro, who is plunged in this abyss of evils, scarcely feels his own calamitous situation. Violence made him a slave, and the habit of servitude gives him the thoughts and desires of a slave; he admires his tyrants more than he hates them, and finds his joy and his pride in the servile imitation of those who oppress him: his understanding is degraded to the level of his soul.

For Muslims, the transition to slavery may be especially seamless. Islam, after all, means Submission; and many Muslims proudly carry the name of Abdullah, which means “Slave of Allah”. The ethic of subservience is deeply ingrained in Muslim culture. This should ensure that, for them, the transition to the enslaved state is smooth, friction-free and perhaps barely even noticeable.

It is surely reasonable that when people with no ancestral connection to our countries demonstrate an inability to earn a living for themselves over a prolonged period that that they forfeit some of the liberties they might otherwise have enjoyed. Slavery, by offering them productive employment and a chance to learn new skills, offers them a route back to self-respect and life satisfaction. The period of slavery could begin, say, after one year of continuous unemployment.

What would the new slaves do? Many people have expressed concern about global warming and the depletion of the earth’s energy resources. Slavery could offer a solution to both of these problems. If the slaves were commanded to pedal furiously on stationary bikes hooked up to the National Grid via dynamos, the kinetic energy they generate could power our countries into the 21st century and beyond! And all in the most environmentally-friendly way!

I believe it’s time to abandon our prejudices and take a second look at slavery. On many of the most pressing issues of our time – from unemployment, overpopulation and race relations to global warming, energy resource depletion and our overburdened welfare systems – slavery may be the panacea we seek.

2 comments:

Lord Beermonster said...

Nice one. Some excellent points. Shame this wasn't published in The Guardian, the righteous would have gone apoplectic. They're not known for their sense of humour. Happy April 1st :)

Anonymous said...

I think this is an April Fool's gag. Very droll!

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