SLAVERY REASSESSED

SLAVERY REASSESSED

Don C. Marler

6/2012

Historically slavery has always been about economics. It was such a barbaric system for gaining wealth that it could not survive on an economic base alone. There was need for broader support in order for it to survive in a world that was becoming more social and humane. Religion and politics were the part of the system that kept slavery alive. America, being born late, relied heavily on both these institutions to keep slavery alive while it was dying elsewhere.

From antiquity until after America was settled, slavery had involved primarily white people. Whites were enslaved in early America before black people were brought in. Early white slavery in America was abandoned at least in its old overt form in favor of black slaves. Overt slavery for all races ended with the Civil War in 1865, just 147 years ago. By the end of slavery in America most European countries had already abandoned it. Some middle-east and African countries still are not free of this most pernicious disease.

Meanwhile America lessens the pain of conscience with the belief that slavery here is at an end; but is it? Has it not just evolved into a more sophisticated system? In the early days when America was being settled the work of everyone was needed, and the social and religious message was that in order to be a person of virtue one had to produce goods or services. The philosophy of human worth, being dependent on one’s ability to produce, served a growing nation well because there was work for everyone.

Now, in the age of automation, not all the workforce is needed to produce an abundance of goods and services. Automation, lack of regulations protecting workers and consumers, cheaper labor abroad and movement of manufacturing and service jobs overseas has overwhelmed the need for all the workforce in America.

In many overseas countries the percentage of the workforce not needed is much greater than in the United States; that along with the lax regulations and worker protections is an open invitation for American companies to move their operations to those countries. The result is loss of jobs in America; yet, we hold to the old philosophy that the labor of everyone is needed. We pretend that everyone could have a job that sustains their families if they would just go to work.

We refuse to, or perhaps are incapable of, facing the new reality that has been developing for the last fifty plus years—that we do not need the entire workforce. We seem afraid to contemplate what the consequences of this change are.

The consequences are indeed frightening. If we do nothing, which seems to be a distinct possibility, we will end up being on par with third world countries; our lower and middle classes will live in abject poverty (those that are not already in that condition); the majority will be ignorant, if not illiterate, unskilled and of no virtue. Meanwhile, the wealthy will rule as if by divine right.

Another frightening feature is the possibility that some measure of so called socialism may be involved in the solution. This term elicits extreme reactions from many Americans because of  failed attempts to administer such programs by rogue leaders in Europe during WWII, and the fact that many equate socialism with communism.

Who among us would deny that this trend is already underway? Who would deny that this condition, once achieved, is not   significantly different from the slavery of the past.

The American worker is being used and abandoned, as were slaves 147 years ago.

Notes: For more discussion see “Unemployment: Victory or Defeat in a Progressive Society”, in the blog—– https://donmarler.wordpress.com/

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