Tuesday, February 27, 2007

02.27.07 - Vulgar Libertarianism, Chattel Slavery, and Wage Slavery Cont’d

Actually Z., the preceding essay wasn’t a response to John DeLaubenfel’s column at Strike the Root. I posted that essay so as to have an easy and simple way to get my thoughts out onto the web so that I can refer to vulgar libertarian issues with a link, when needed, and so that I don’t have to continually re-Google and then compose and type unique answers each time I get asked questions about it. However, I’ll still take the compliment; so thanks!

John feels, (if I understand him correctly), that because in America there exists a somewhat freer, (for now) market for labor, and that with the 13th Amendment added to the USC in 1865, making involuntary servitude illegal, that (ta-dah!) my concept of “wage slavery” (and some other people’s as well) must therefore be wholly impossible. Which, by the limited reasoning he uses, seems to be true; and which to my mind is a fine example of VLA.

Here is brief and non-technical comparison of “chattel slavery” versus what it means to be a “wage slave”, that I shamelessly cribbed from a Yahoo service meant to help kids with their homework. I am not an econo-Geek, and so I’ll leave the highly technical economic jargon to the websites and writers who are. But I do know and feel oppression when I see it, and have no compunctions about saying so. Or to admitting when I think someone has proved me wrong by more convincing evidence or a better argument. So with that preamble, let me begin.

“Chattel slavery is [like] owning a person like he/she was an animal.

Wage slavery is having someone in debt to you and [who is then] forced to work it off. The person working it off only falls deeper in debt, and is never able to pay off the original debt.

In chattel slavery the owner is able to kill, rape, and torture their property. Although killing was sometimes seen as the most extreme, and rarely done. The slave was nothing more then property.

Wage slavery existed in different parts of the country during different periods in history. The sharecropper would buy his supplies from the landlord at high prices. The sharecropper would then give half of his crop to the landlord for just using his land. The rest he could sell for a profit. The profit was never able to pay off the landlord though. Thus the landlord got money for half the share of the crop, plus the money for selling supplies at higher prices. This would in turn keep the sharecropper working the land in order to pay a debt off that could never be paid off.

Another version of this works like this. A coal miner lives on company property. The only store within miles is the company store. The company store sells everything at high prices. The miner goes in debt from the company store every month. Thus is forced to work every month to pay a debt that keeps on increasing by the month.

The only similarity is that the landlord/slave owner gets work done for a minimal cost while keeping the slave/worker from being able to leave.”

Chattel slavery can only be held in place by brute force, whether by a state or a private (that is, a non-state entity) oppressor. It just won’t work any other way. So, with that understood, let’s move on to the form with which chattel slavery was contrasted with.

People in modern America society get bogged down doing jobs that they don’t really like or want to do, but really have no choice but to do them. They get into debt up to their eyeballs in order to buy crap that they only think they need or want. Needs and wants, which if they examined them just a little more closely, they’d see are more trouble than they’re worth; and leading to a craving for possessions which end up owning them. They are on a self-imposed life style which to me constitutes a kind of slavery over the free human spirit. The selling of the most precious commodity (if one care’s to think of the irreplaceable and very limited seconds, minutes and hours of one’s lifespan as a commodity), all in order to pay off VISA, make their payments on their SUV or for other such like, and all of which strikes me as being a self-imposed form of spiritual slavery levied upon our real life circumstances, in real time. Time being one thing that can never be replaced or regained, at whatever price. I wonder how much people should care what their credit report says about them after they’re dead?

Now, some people have jobs that they like and pay them well enough; and so they wholly discount the concept of slavery to debt, to greed, to unlimited desire for things and such like, as impossible. I disagree.

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Cato said...

Good clarification, AF,
What I'd like to reinforce is the point that people who are in the state of wage slavery by choice (and all Americans are there by choice) have no right to beg my sympathy and demand the Government fix their problem.
Chattel slavery does exist in America today but it is illegal and is predominantly the result of U.S.Government influence, not the result of what little free market we have left.

cxx_guy said...

So basically, what you call slavery is that people are living their lives according to their own values, rather than according to yours. Because they want a life style that is different from the one you want for them, you believe that their freedom has been taken from them. The only way for them to be free is for them to be forced to live by your values instead of their own.

Wow. You should probably learn that words have specific meanings.

zrated said...

(sweet. i think this is a good blog and i'm glad to see some comments coming from non-me sources.)

come on, now cxx. there's no need for the condescension. though i tend to agree with you emotionally, i'm still considering the point for validity. the question for me is, "can slavery exist if the actions performed are by choice?". would it also be wage slavery if my boss said to me, "go into the world and do as you please according to your own values, or you're fired!". is that missing the point? if so, how? should it only be considered slavery if people don't like their jobs, or can we really chalk that up to them not having found the one that's right for them, or maybe, even refused to do the work necessary to get them to where they want to be. wouldn't that really make them a slave to their own lack of ambition? these are not rhetorical questions as i don't have the true answers. comments encouraged...


Mike said...

I wish Brad Spangler's blog wasn't down right now...he had a fantastic post about this...