[ExI] What is Meant by "Slavery"?

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Sat May 30 20:15:23 UTC 2009

2009/5/30 painlord2k at libero.it <painlord2k at libero.it>

> To call "slavery" something that is not is cheapening the word.

I think we both like rigour in language and have a distaste for the undue
emphatic and wildly metaphoric extension of historical concepts for purely
rhetorical purposes. Thus, I second your remark.

But it must be added that other social phenomena usually (and wrongly)
assimilated to slavery are not necessarily better for those concerned. For
instance, the medieval "serfdom" replaced servitude to a man or a family to
that to an estate, which per se is a dubious improvement  and may lead to an
even lower social mobility. Moreover, the slave owner has a vested interest
in the survival and productivity, if not the welfare, of the slaves he owns,
something which does not necessarily remains the case when they are replaced
by fungible "proletarians".

Yet, it remains the case that societies widely based on slavery are poor
performers in pseudo-darwinian terms, something which I suspect played a
more important role than ideology in their near-extinction.

Stefano Vaj
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