• ZhouBoTong
    507
    My understanding of slavery in Rome, at least, was that it was hereditary, but the Romans allowed some (limited) avenues of escape from bondage.Bitter Crank

    Well I looked it up and you are right here. I am not sure if Greece was not hereditary or I just made that shit up. Either way, Rome had way more slaves so it would be the more important comparison. But after thinking, I don't think it changes any of the points I just made in my last response. Still important to know we are operating with the right facts.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.6k
    I am not sure if Greece was not hereditary or I just made that shit up.ZhouBoTong

    The ancient Greeks traded in foreign slaves as it was deemed immoral to enslave a fellow Greek.

    The Spartans were equal opportunity slavers though...
  • creativesoul
    6.3k
    Bad luck anywhere in there?
    — creativesoul

    Sure, and good luck, which I'd think would be as likely to befall one race as the next.
    Hanover



    Bad luck for an entire race? Sure. Sickle cell. Bad luck for some people of that race? Sure. Walking black at night.

    The latter is the problem.
  • creativesoul
    6.3k
    Some bad decisions are the result of bad environment. Do you recognize that too?
    — creativesoul

    Sure, and some good decisions are made in bad environments.

    Perfect freedom doesn't exist, but our choices matter.
    Hanover

    Sure. Some people choose to drive black during the day.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    A question I have not read about is, "Why did the British (in our case) select Africans as the slave of choice? Could they have selected some other group: Aboriginals, South Asians, Arabs...?

    I am guessing there are two, maybe three reasons:

    The first is that it was convenient to obtain slaves from Africa. You remember the triangular trade map from American history? Ships left the American Colonies with rum (before cotton became a big crop) and unloaded the liquor in England. Then the ships traveled south to Africa where they picked up slaves. Then to the Caribbean colonies to unload the slaves who would be used on cane plantations. Molasses was loaded up and taken to New York and Boston. The molasses was made into rum which was shipped to England.

    The second is that there were slave sellers on the African Coast. The English didn't have to hunt down slaves; Africans did that chore for them, in exchange for desired goods.

    Why did the Africans sell their own kind into slavery? Well, for one -- they didn't see much of what happened to slaves. The trip west or east (Arab slave traders) was a one way trip. Two, people are willing enough to sell out strangers, and for the most part, the Africans who were sold into slavery were strangers to the sellers. Europeans were not the first people to obtain and trade in African slaves. Arab nations obtain slaves along the north and west coast of Africa. [Among the last states to abolish slavery were Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which abolished slavery in 1962 under pressure from Britain; Oman in 1970; and Mauritania in 1905, 1981, and again in August 2007.]

    I don't know whether 17th and 18th century British society considered Africans sub-human or not. I get the impression the British of the time tended to consider everyone who wasn't upper-class British to be sub human. Snobs.

    Again, you would have to sell me on "all slavery is equally bad" before I could accept this.ZhouBoTong

    We are debating degrees of suffering here, not whether there was suffering. Was being a Greek slave/tutor in Rome no worse than being sent to the mines? Granted: The mines were obviously worse. Slaves died at a high rates in (some) mines, or wished they were dead, maybe. But bear in mind that an educated Greek didn't start out life as a slave or as a tutor. He probably became a slave because he failed in business, was swindled, or was captured during a war. His family was enslaved as well. In the Empire, a person could be transposed from top of the heap to bottom of the heap in short order. The transition from a man of importance to slavery (even if in a post where one could use one's knowledge) involved a radical adjustment in status.

    Granted again: What makes slavery bad is the kind of labor one is forced to perform. Gladiators might have had the worst labor--fighting to the death. Working in the mines was pretty bad. Agriculture? Long days, certainly -- but the agriculture of olive, grape, and grain growing (as well as garden farming) were not as horrible as cotton or cane farming. For one thing, vineyards require skill on the part of workers. The workers had to be happy enough to be careful about what they were doing.

    Southern American and Caribbean slavery involved quite disagreeable working conditions. Romans had some very unpleasant work too--galley slaves, for instance, but nothing on the scale of the cotton industry. (At least, that is my impression.) Also, in the ancient world, no worker had a particularly easy life, because work was mostly manual. Slave or free, work was a lot of sweating labor.

    Here's a clip from I Claudius, where Livia, Emperor Augustus's wife gives the gladiators a pep talk. She's very much against them using professional tricks to stay alive. In Robert Graves novel (based on Suetonius) Livia was chief conspirator (for whatever skullduggery was going to happen). She's a real nice person.

  • Terrapin Station
    13.5k
    Ok, just to measure where we are at; are you equally skeptical of the claim, "prior to the Civil War, most Americans were NOT racist"...?ZhouBoTong

    Yes. I'd be skeptical of any claim about what most of any group of millions of people thought over 100 years ago.(Or even today, since no one is polling enough people for claims like that in my opinion.)

    Social Darwinism and the White Man's Burden were popular at the time (both clearly and explicitly expressed "an inherent superiority of a particular race"). Doesn't a lack of backlash count as a type of tacit acceptance?ZhouBoTong

    I'm skeptical that most people even think about stuff like that. A lot of people that I interact with don't bother with ideological stuff very much. We could pick any random ideological content that you think is popular now, and I'd bet that if I polled most of the people I encounter during the day--let's say the people at my gym, the people serving me my coffee at Dunkin Donuts, the people on whatever subway car I get on, the musicians I do a session with, etc., most aren't going to be familiar with whatever it is. Most people I know/have known aren't that concerned with stuff like that. They're focused on practical concerns and whatever popular culture stuff and/or hobbies they're into. That's not at all a knock against anyone. Different people have different interests. Most of my family--including my wife--and friends have very little interest in ideological stuff.

    Yes, but they are VERY petty. How serious is the rest of the world supposed to take his words in the Declaration of Independence if a minor personal financial concern is enough for him to abandon the principles entirely?ZhouBoTong

    You must think that people are far less motivated by monetary concerns than what seems to be the case to me.
  • unenlightened
    4k
    "Why did the British (in our case) select Africans as the slave of choice? Could they have selected some other group: Aboriginals, South Asians, Arabs...?

    I am guessing there are two, maybe three reasons:
    Bitter Crank

    Why did the Africans sell their own kind into slavery? Well, for one -- they didn't see much of what happened to slavesBitter Crank

    I can add a couple of titbits to this. The trade on the African coast was slaves for iron, and to a lesser extent guns. The African iron industry was late developed and iron was scarce and of religious significance. So the coastal traders became rich in iron weapons and the prestige of the favour of the gods, and by trade and conquest mixed, the trade moved inland and sucked slaves from the interior.

    There was also a religious justification for enslaving Africans ( and not Arabs or Chinese or Indians) in their largely, but not entirely mythical nakedness and lack of sexual shame, which put them amongst the beasts rather than the descendants of Adam and Eve. Thus elsewhere the exploitation of our inferiors took another form - indentures, forced migration, etc.
  • frank
    3.5k
    Why did the Africans sell their own kind into slavery?Bitter Crank

    War. Victorious warlords in the interior took prisoners to cripple defeated tribes. Moors showed up looking for slaves (as their ancestors had been doing for centuries.)

    We know the Moors weren't making much, so the Chieftains must have been giving up the prisoners for practically nothing.
  • iolo
    138
    The widespread use of the word 'white' to describe human groups has always seemed to me extremely odd, since the only humans I've ever seen who looked remotely that colour were dead ones, and they not very. When faced with these ludicrous questionnaire-things about 'ethnic background', when I'm asked about 'race' with such baffling possible answers as 'white British', I usually put 'human (sort of pinkishy-grey)', or, if really pushed and since it is one of the few choices lacking this colour-coded hogwash, 'Chinese', since I once spoke Jwo-Yeu reasonably well. But what on earth is the point of all this pretend, I wonder.
  • NOS4A2
    1.2k


    After some brief research into “critical race theory”, it appears race skepticism and Colorblindness have fallen into repute in the hands of intellectuals as of late, marking it as a sign of “race privilege”.
  • ZhouBoTong
    507
    Yes. I'd be skeptical of any claim about what most of any group of millions of people thought over 100 years ago.(Or even today, since no one is polling enough people for claims like that in my opinion.)Terrapin Station

    Ok, ok. I apologize. I should have learned your nature by now. Everything you have said is fair in this context. Sorry, but I have been conditioned to the fact that, typically, when someone says "I am not convinced" it is a soft way of saying "I disagree". I understand, that on a philosophy site, people are more careful with their words and I should read them to mean exactly what they say...old habits, my bad.

    I'm skeptical that most people even think about stuff like that.Terrapin Station

    Again, that seems fair. But for me, I would at least view it as condoning, or an acceptance, of racism, whether or not they were "racist", they were part of the problem (assuming we buy into the whole democracy thing - which I guess I don't entirely so maybe I should ease up a little).

    You must think that people are far less motivated by monetary concerns than what seems to be the case to me.Terrapin Station

    I think I am with you on the motivation. Just that I would call that motivation (for money) a moral shortcoming (a petty concern is maybe being too nice, a major moral flaw is possibly more accurate). Beside the Ayn Rand crowd, most philosophies will consider that blind drive for money (at the expense of more significant moral concerns) to be immoral (right? I may be wrong with my limited knowledge of philosophy, but all MAJOR moral systems seem opposed). Now, morality is one area I agree with you that it is ALL subjective. But, subjectively, I can still make judgements based on the information I have available.
  • ZhouBoTong
    507
    "Why did the British (in our case) select Africans as the slave of choice? Could they have selected some other group: Aboriginals, South Asians, Arabs...?Bitter Crank

    convenientBitter Crank
    triangular tradeBitter Crank

    I agree so far. Even if the Spanish had heavily settled the west coast of the Americas, Asia and Australia are still too far for any convenient trade (that Blue Planet show emphasized how BIG the Pacific Ocean is).

    Why did the Africans sell their own kind into slavery?Bitter Crank

    Everything you said here seems accurate and this shit is crazy:
    [Among the last states to abolish slavery were Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which abolished slavery in 1962 under pressure from Britain; Oman in 1970; and Mauritania in 1905, 1981, and again in August 2007.]Bitter Crank
    U.S. history always makes it seem like we are the last place on earth to free slaves...while I knew that was not true, I would not have expected such recent abolition (or attempted abolition in Mauritania) dates.

    One other side theory I have related to this involves tribalism, civilization, and globalism (I will try to keep it short as it is probably stupid anyway). People are naturally tribal. We care for and protect "me and mine" and fear the "other". As people, then tribes, then cities, then civilizations grow, so to does the size of "me and mine". This suggests that the first groups to grow the size of their "me and mine" is going to have a big advantage over those who can only trust a smaller group. Europeans were the first to claim a whole race as "me and mine" and therefore had huge advantages over smaller societies (the Nazi's showed where the emphasis on "me and mine" gets taken too far). Before WW2, Japan tried this with its Asia for Asians policy. Too bad they treated the Chinese and Koreans horrifically. So, the Africans on the coast did not view it as selling their "own kind" into slavery. They were selling "others" to some even stranger "others". I may need to explain further, but don't view what I am saying as particularly significant...does this paragraph make enough sense? Am I saying anything more than what is obvious to everyone?

    We are debating degrees of suffering here, not whether there was suffering.Bitter Crank

    Yes, and I have the tendency to debate minutia. Overall, I see no problems with your position (I am sure whether I agreed or not was seriously stressing you out, haha). And of course I am happy to admit that all slavery is wrong unless it is entirely voluntary (which as far as I know has never existed - but I hesitate to accept absolutes so I have to leave a little wiggle room).

    Gladiators might have had the worst labor--fighting to the death.Bitter Crank

    Agreed...except for the 1 out of a million Messi or Ronaldo of gladiating. For the humongous, super-athletic, combat genius, being a gladiator was a path to fame, freedom, and sex...but this changes nothing in our discussion, just added for a chuckle.

    Here's a clip from I Claudius, where Livia, Emperor Augustus's wife gives the gladiators a pep talk.Bitter Crank

    Dang, I am typically bored by older movies, but this is a pretty darned good speech. And while the Lady giving it is not necessarily racist, she has the same blindness that I was referring to. Are you seriously telling these men, with a straight face, that they need to stop all these dumb little tricks they use to NOT DIE? Why do they give a shit what you say? Hell if I am going to die anyway, maybe I should just kill this lady giving this stupid speech?
  • ZhouBoTong
    507
    The ancient Greeks traded in foreign slaves as it was deemed immoral to enslave a fellow Greek.

    The Spartans were equal opportunity slavers though...
    VagabondSpectre

    Thanks for the input. Since you have some knowledge on the subject, do you know what happened to the children of slaves in Greece? Were they automatically slaves? Or were they born free? Or did it vary? I can quickly find the answer to Roman slavery (typically, you were born a slave), but I am not finding a clear answer on Greece.
  • ZhouBoTong
    507
    There was also a religious justification for enslaving Africans ( and not Arabs or Chinese or Indians) in their largely, but not entirely mythical nakedness and lack of sexual shame, which put them amongst the beasts rather than the descendants of Adam and Eve.unenlightened

    This is an interesting idea that certainly rings true. Their lack of civilization was used as evidence of their inferiority (made more clear and justified by religious comparisons). Good addition.
  • 180 Proof
    193
    People are naturally tribal. We care for and protect "me and mine" and fear the "other". As people, then tribes, then cities, then civilizations grow, so to does the size of "me and mine". This suggests that the first groups to grow the size of their "me and mine" is going to have a big advantage over those who can only trust a smaller group. Europeans were the first to claim a whole race as "me and mine" and therefore had huge advantages over smaller societies (the Nazi's showed where the emphasis on "me and mine" gets taken too far). Before WW2, Japan tried this with its Asia for Asians policy. Too bad they treated the Chinese and Koreans horrifically. So, the Africans on the coast did not view it as selling their "own kind" into slavery. They were selling "others" to some even stranger "others".ZhouBoTong

    :chin:
  • Hanover
    5k
    Europeans were the first to claim a whole race as "me and mine" and therefore had huge advantages over smaller societies (the Nazi's showed where the emphasis on "me and mine" gets taken too far)ZhouBoTong

    This really isn't true. The Nazis limited their tribe to Aryans, specifically excluding the neighboring Slavs (who were very much white). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Slavic_sentiment

    The idea of all whites being of the same tribe seems an American thing, where ancestral history has gotten lost with the generations and intermarriage among the groups. The same holds true for American blacks, who have no idea of their ancestral origins. But look to recent immigrants, white or black, people keep to their groups.

    In Ireland, the Catholics can hate the Protestants. In Scotland , they can hold hostilities toward the English. In the US, these groups can't be distinguished. The melting pot boiled those subtle distinctions off, but race remains, no doubt due to the historical legal and imposed social distinctions of the races in the US.
  • ZhouBoTong
    507
    :chin:180 Proof

    This really isn't true.Hanover

    Well, it felt like some hypothetical BS. I gave it a shot, haha.

    The Nazis limited their tribe to Aryans, specifically excluding the neighboring Slavs (who were very much white).Hanover

    wait, isn't this evidence in my favor (sort of)? by LIMITING their tribe they were weaker? Although it does point out some poor analysis in my original proposal :grimace: .

    The idea of all whites being of the same tribe seems an American thing,Hanover

    I can agree that the white unity thing peaks in America, but imperialism suggests it was (is?) a world problem. Even when white countries were competing they were united against the other. White countries fought other white countries for glory, white countries fought non-white countries so they could profit. After WW2, things change. White people invent new divisions of "me and mine" - Communism vs Capitalism, but they still don't count people of color as participating in the same game (nonaligned countries, China could be on Team Communist only if they acknowledged that Russia is the leader).

    In Ireland, the Catholics can hate the Protestants. In Scotland , they can hold hostilities toward the English. In the US, these groups can't be distinguished.Hanover

    Wait, they absolutely can be distinguished (not to say that I necessarily disagree with where you are going). It is just that they and we (christians and non) have decided their similarities far outweigh the differences. Based on a picture, it might be easier to identify the difference between a white and a black person. However, based on a phone conversation (or internet forum discussion), it would be easier to identify the catholic vs protestant.

    Well @180 Proof, what do you think? I am not too sensitive. If the idea is terrible, let me hear it. I guess @Hanover let me hear it, and I responded with some vague not quite agreeing or disagreeing (Sorry Hanover, that is all I got for now), so that may not inspire you to engage, haha.
  • 180 Proof
    193


    I'm dubious of your move from "me and mine" anthropology to "Nazi" ideology which seems to suggest "whiteness" - racial essentialism - in your implicit critique of tribalist "white privilege" (supremacy). The historical elements are apt but how you hang them together - heat without much light - I find questionable. (What you say about mid-20c Japanese imperialism & role of Africans in the Atlantic slave trade is spot-on though.) Just my 2 bits.
  • ZhouBoTong
    507
    I'm dubious of your move from "me and mine" anthropology to "Nazi" ideology which seems to suggest "whiteness" - racial essentialism - in your implicit critique of tribalist "white privilege" (supremacy).180 Proof

    I think you are on to something here, but I am too stupid. Each time I read it, I have a slightly different understanding. Can you dumb this down for me a bit?

    If I drop the little example of Nazis (even for the point I was TRYING to make, it was a bad example) does it solve the problem or is something still lingering?

    heat without much light - I find questionable.180 Proof

    That is about what I was thinking. As I thought about how I would take this theory further (if there seemed to be something to it), I couldn't think of how to make it more complete or rigorous. So that probably suggests it would never have much explanatory power.

    Sometimes I just enjoy shouting out what happens to be on my mind and see what people think.

    Just my 2 bits.180 Proof

    Thanks for that :smile:
17891011Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.