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Did America ACTUALLY have 400 years of slavery?

Discussion in 'World History' started by caketastydelish, May 24, 2019.

  1. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    AFAIK convict labor has never been the main or even one of the main means of surplus-extraction, though. I don't know about the immediate postwar* period but today stuff produced by convict labor represents something like one tenth of a percent of US GDP. By contrast slaves were the single most valuable capital asset in the country before the war*.

    *American Civil War
     
  2. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    That's true, but that doesn't dissolve the continuity between slavery and convict labour. Most of the profits of slavery lay in cash crops, which were produced by debt peons or wage-labourers after the Civil War. Convict labour was used in more marginal areas, but functioned in those areas as a direct replacement for slave labour. Before the war, slaves built roads, felled timber, and mined coal. After the war, convicts built roads, felled timber, and mined coal.

    If the more general question is whether the Postbellum South was, like the Antebellum South, a society based on unfree labour, the answer is "yes", with the concession the abolition of slavery required the ruling class to employ different mechanisms for keeping labour unfree. Peonage and convict labour both filled that role.
     
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  3. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    I'm not claiming there's no continuity. What I'm arguing is that I think the hinge of the argument, which obviously must be "things haven't changed enough since slavery days" if we're being remotely serious, should be peonage and not convict labor.

    Well, I would say that peonage was central to the class structure in the South in a way that convict labor was not despite these both being unfree forms of labor organization. The social ideal was the head-of-household employing peons and wage laborers, not the prison warden employing convicts. But of course "peonage and slavery are both forms of unfree labor" is way less provocative and slogan-worthy than "slavery never ended."
     
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  4. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    The question isn't about a change in material conditions so much as a question about definitions, at least insofar as my argument extends.

    The assertion is "slavery has existed in the United States for 400 years," and that assertion is true. Before 1864, the law was "slavery is legal in those states which declare it to be so," and after 1864 the law was "slavery is illegal everywhere except for prison labor." While the specific modes in which slavery exists and is practiced have changed, it still remains that slavery exists, and that this distinction isn't an arbitrary one, revealed by the fact that the very law which outlaws slavery makes an exception for one specific form of involuntary labor. The very text makes this explicit: all forms of slavery are illegal except for this one very specific kind of slavery which is still legal. By definition, this means that slavery is still legal.

    An analogous exemplum:

    The form of the British monarchy changed very dramatically following the Glorious Revolution in 1688, such that it is meaningful to draw a distinction between the British monarchy before 1689 and afterwards, yet I don't think there are very many people who would say that the British monarchy ceased to exist altogether in 1689.
     
  5. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish triggering far-left sjw snowflakes

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    Didn't the Monarchs continue to have political power after 1689 did? I'm pretty sure King George did in the American Revolution and that was after 1689. After the British Monarchy ceased having political power is where we should start counting.

    I mean, we're talking about people who are doing involuntary work... as a punishment for doing something wrong.

    Meanwhile, there are people who don't work on the streets who are homeless anyway. How much of a difference does that really make?

    Doing something you don't want to do as a punishment (especially when all of us are expected to work regardless) isn't really comparable to chattel slavery.

    They did something wrong; they committed a crime, that's why they're in jail and paying for it.

    As opposed to people who were just born a slave, or kidnapped and brought into slavery. And even then, people in jail are freed when their time is up. There was no such freedom for REAL slaves no matter how good their behavior was.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  6. Bugfatty300

    Bugfatty300 Buddha Squirrel

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    He should read up on the Flower Wars.

    I've seen Emilio Aguinaldo counted as an early communist rebel by some sources.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  7. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    Yes. That is literally my point.
     
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  8. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish triggering far-left sjw snowflakes

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    Then I don't get your point.
     
  9. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    The question is: “has slavery existed for 400 years?”

    Not: has slavery always been the same throughout history

    Not: do/did the slaves deserve their treatment

    But: has America had involuntary servitude for 400 years, and legally, semantically, and practically the answer to that is obviously yes.

    In much the same way that in evaluating whether Britain has always been a monarchy, the question isn’t really “well how much administrative power does the king really have,” but instead “is there a king?”
     
  10. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish triggering far-left sjw snowflakes

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    I don't think that's what they mean when they say 400 years of slavery though.

    edit: Also, they still had a constitutional monarchy after 1689, thus the analogy holds. Hell, they even have a royal family to this very day.

    "Has Britain had X amount of years of monarchy/kings/royalty" would still be true long after 1689.
     
  11. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    At some point I have to wonder whether such a blithe and consistent misapprehension of my point isn’t being done willfully.
     
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  12. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish triggering far-left sjw snowflakes

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    It isn't?

    In terms of "practicality," these are still people who live unbelievably good lives as an unearned privilege. To say nothing of the House of Lords.
     
  13. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    "It's not really slavery if I, personally, think it's okay."
     
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  14. red_elk

    red_elk Deity

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    Involuntary work doesn't necessary mean slavery.
    Work is involuntary for most people. They would rather do nothing, but have to work in order to get money.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  15. Lexicus

    Lexicus Deity

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    You have a touching faith in the fundamental fairness of the justice system in those Southern states circa 1925. Ever seen Cool Hand Luke by chance?
     
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  16. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I mean, they call it "wage-slavery" for a reason.
     
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  17. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish triggering far-left sjw snowflakes

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    Nope, never heard of it.
     
  18. EnglishEdward

    EnglishEdward Deity

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    I have seen it.
     
  19. abradley

    abradley Deity

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    Your fighting an impossible battle, slavery has been part of mankind's life style since recorded history.

    Our American slavery was horrible but nowhere near as bad as Rome's.

    But nobody here is anti Rome.
     
  20. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish triggering far-left sjw snowflakes

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    In what way was Roman slavery worse?
     

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