Saturday, July 23, 2005

On Slavery...

Someone on a list I am on recently posted a very succint and, in my humble opinion, well-rounded analysis of the phenomenon of slavery, especially in the context of the last few centuries:
There were white slaves in the Americas too of course, usually political rebels. People have developed a warped view as if Europeans invented slavery some time after they conquered the Amerias, where the reverse is true, Europeans were the first to abolish savery, though meantime they had added a racist twist to it. But conditions for ordinary workers in the Middle Ages and often much later were little different from slaves and there were regular owned slaves as well. Not very many because people were too poor compared to Roman times where if you were rich you didn't pay your doctor or schoolteacher, you bought them. Another thing people don't realise is that many of the Northern American states abolished slavery long after Independence, for instance New York was 1828 and the racist clash between ex-slaves and immigrants was central to the 'Gangs of New York' kind of situation. What Americans called slaves, Russians called serfs but the actual difference is negligible.
[I only know the person as "live@surrealist".]
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