Nov 27, 2007

I cannot find any significant difference between labor and slave.

Once I have tried to figure out how the history books explain the problem of the slavery. When I was in Korean, I went to book shop and I skimmed about 10 books. They usually uses the concept of The Human Rights. They said the problem of the slavery system is the master exploits their slaves too much. But it is hard to explain how much is too much, so that they use the concept of the Human Rights; For example, the problem of the slavery system is the slaves cannot have the Human Rights.

Considering the fact that the slavery is abolished after the American civil war in 1861, the concept of the Human Rights has been established after the slavery has already disappeared, 1948. It is hard to say when the concept of the Human Rights had fixed. I think at least it cannot be before 1789 when the French revolution occurred. I believe that although somebody can find any evidence that there was mere current for the abolishment before the slavery disappeared, it would not be hard to find any evidence that the concept of the Human Rights is quite new.

My point is that actually using the Human Rights to explain the problem of the slavery system does not make sense. If we can criticize any society using a concept which will be developed in future, we can also criticize capitalism using any concept which we don't know yet.

In brief, what is the problem of the slavery system? We can easily find the wage slavery or the contract slavery is almost similar with the wage labor. I believe that if somebody who thinks the slavery is bad thinks the capitalism is good, his thinking is inconsistent.


Hellen said...

I think your opinion seems quite close to Marxist alienation theory,that is, a worker is separated from his "own human nature", and is "exploited" as an instrument in the capitalist production process.

But employment under capitalism is different from the ancient slavery system, which didn't assume any basic individual freedom. The slave's own life didn't belong to himself under such system, nor did he have any choice to the style of life that he wants to live.Today, at least we can choose our professions, though not entirely free to our will.

I agree with you that we should be careful when we use modern concepts and tools to analyze ancient societies, but recall the famous remark made by Benedetto Croce, the Itallian philosopher, that "all history is contemporary history ". We can not really put off the "glasses" made in our own era to see through things and understand their original meanings. We have already been aliented to those experiences, unfortunately.

Jay said...

Thank you Hellen for your comment. I agree and nobody would like to argue the fact that capitalism system is better than slavery. It's obviously progress. You are right.