Sunday, March 15, 2009

How to Beat Slavery

As was the style during the Democracy year (2006-2007: "Resolved, Democracy is over valued by the United States Government.") it is becoming common to label anything you don't like as "the other side". For example,

"Hitler was a ________________."

"Stalin was a ________________."

"Communism was ______________."

"The Founding Father's were ________."

The most common one is slavery. It is common tactic to label slavery (in particular the American kind) and argue it belongs to the other "ism" (most commonly pragmatism). Here is a free brief against that.

Slavery Brief: Why Slavery is Neither Idealistic, Nor Pragmatic
By Joe Laughon, Channel Islands Debate

Slavery is not idealistic.

1. Merely because slavery was upheld by some people’s convictions does not make the system idealistic. An ideal is defined as something that is an honorable or worthy principle or aim. (American Heritage Dictionary). Clearly holding other human beings in bondage is not an honorable or worthy principle, regardless of whether or not that some felt that way.
2. An Idealist is easily capable of opposing slavery. In fact most abolitionists, such as William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, the Beechers and Rev. Elijah Stone were labeled, correctly, as idealists. In his newspaper, The Liberator, Garrison was quoted as such, “I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD.” (caps original). That hardly sounds like a pragmatist.

Slavery is not pragmatic.
The slave trade was incredibly inefficient. “Historians agree that hundreds of thousands, and probably millions of slaves perished over the course of 300 years during the rigors of the “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic Ocean. Estimates remain inevitably imprecise, but range as high as one third of the slave “cargo” who perished from disease or overcrowding during transport from Africa.”—Michael Medved. Most historians agree this contributed to the incredibly high price of slaves and a very inefficient pricing system due to a flaw ridden transportation phase.

Slavery held back the American economy. Slavery results in a lack of industrialization, lack of diversification (which according to all economists is crucial to a healthy economy), and growth. Look to the American experience, “These states [the free states] (with dynamic banking centers in Philadelphia and Manhattan) quickly emerged as robust centers of commerce and manufacturing, greatly enriching themselves while the slave-based economies in the South languished by comparison. All analyses of Northern victory in the great sectional struggle highlights the vast advantages in terms of wealth and productivity in New England, the Mid-Atlantic States and the Midwest, compared to the relatively backward and impoverished states of the Confederacy. The notion that America based its wealth on slave labor hardly comports with the reality that for two hundred years since the founding of the Republic, by far the poorest and least developed section of the nation was precisely that region where slavery once prevailed.”

Slavery discourages a strong work ethic (and thus further harms not only an economy but a civil society). In the book Democracy in America, a French commentator notes the negative effects of slavery on a society and the observably positive consequences of a free labor society. “These contrasting effects of slavery and of freedom are easy to understand; they are enough to explain the differences between ancient civilization and modern. On the left bank of the Ohio work is connected with the idea of slavery, but on the right with well-being and progress; on the one side it is degrading, but on the other honorable; on the left bank no white laborers are to be found, for they would be afraid of being like the slaves; for work people must rely on the Negroes; but one will never see a man of leisure on the right bank: the white man’s intelligent activity is used for work of every sort.”
Slavery led to instability. A society that allows slavery is rarely prosperous and stable. Commonly these societies are plagued by division, disunity and slave revolts. Compare the North with its industrial strength versus the fear of slave revolts that gripped the South, not to mention the actual revolts in Virginia, Alabama and Louisiana. In addition societies such as Sparta, Rome and Saxon England realized that if they had abolished slavery they would either, a) not be busy putting down slave revolts (Spartacus, helots, Welsh serfs) and, b) their society would be better equipped to deal with threats (Spartans couldn’t go on lengthy military campaigns for fear of slave revolts, Saxons had to deal with Danish invasions and Welsh serf revolts. Also one can compare the West today, to the fringes of civilized society where slavery is tolerated. The West is clearly more prosperous and more stable than regions that tolerate slavery (ex. Eastern Europe, Africa, East Asia and parts of Latin America).

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