Monday, November 18

Whoever fights Monsters

Frederick Nietzsche said whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.
Trump, during his campaigns often claimed that he would drain the swamp-interpreted widely as a reference to Capital Hill. But Trump has become its reincarnation. During Ambassador Uvanovitch’s sworn testimony to the house in relation to the impeachment proceedings she was shown a highly derogatory tweet issued in real time by Trump. Uvanovitch’s response, was befitting of a veteran of 33 years of exemplary service, outlined in her lifelong fight against corruption.
She testified that US policy to the Ukraine was hijacked by a group of ‘shady’ Ukrainians working alongside allies of the US President, including Giuliano, according to Mathew Knott from NY as included under World News in the Sunday Age. She testified she was subsequently fired following an orchestrated smear campaign by Giuliano.
Meanwhile as she was speaking, Knott reported that one of the Presidents most long standing allies, infamous dirty trickster Roger Stone, who advised Trumps 2016 Presidential Campaign, was found guilty of multiple crimes and was headed to jail.


Friday, November 1

Condemned to enslavement

Like many injustices, enslavement once it takes hold, can be devilishly difficult to eliminate, once inextricably entwined within societies. For what might seem rather obviously abhorrent to one in modernity, to those ancients it was perceived as perfectly natural. Aristotle was no slouch in terms of his philosophy, yet he came to the conclusion captured slaves were naturally occurring inferior beings. Put another way, just part of the deserving booty gained by the victorious in battle, when they conquered an inferior enemy.          
Some historians at the time of Aristotle suggested slavery might have been as high as 40% of the population then. They provided the Athenian population with all of their services that they (the Athenians) regarded as unbecoming of free citizens.      
But I have deliberately used the term enslavement in my introduction because I want to discuss slavery from varying degrees of the control exercised over another. At one end of the spectrum is the nullity of any citizen rights, such as protection under the law and citizen payments. What is recognized is some economic rights to participate in trade or earn an income, but with the imposition of onerous taxes or restrictions. But notice how we see elements of this sort of thinking and distinctions even creep into modern democracies.    
Whereas slavery is more commonly defined as the practice of treating another as just a tool with virtually no rights of any kind whatsoever. In other words to be regarded purely as the property of their slave owner. But such stark distinctions in practice may not apply as we see a mixture of both and varying degrees of inequality. Other systems have evolved such as Serfdom, which also began in the ancient Greek city state of Sparta. Serfdom gradually replaced slavery in agriculture until such time as the new world slavery took hold.           

But the aim of these notes is not so much to compile a brief history of enslavement and slavery, but rather to talk about its enablers. That is those things that are readily identifiable such as ambivalence and the arguments (inclusive of the laws passed) which conveniently skate over ethical considerations. That is the confusion to link inevitable varying outcomes (inequality) with acceptance of initial negation of opportunity, or to impose harsh conditions specifically on non- citizens. In other words to deny opportunity by enslaving another is surely intrinsically immoral. Therefore the question that arises in the modern readers mind is how such a system of enslavement existed for such a long period, both within and out of the law. 
My aim is to shed some light on the matter to facilitate discussions, so that from these notes one can pick out quite a few discussion points. The paper is to be considered as background reading for those who like a more comprehensive background.   
The discussion paper is divided into the following sections:

1.   The origins of slavery – Slavery & Civilization.

2.   Greece - Western Civilization and its slavery

3.   Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics on slavery. 

4.   Metics

5.   Roman Slavery

6.   Biblical interpretations of slavery

7.   A church that can and cannot change

8.   Augustine & Aquinas’s justification. 

9.   Slavery from the 6th -14th Century

10.       The slave trade expands in the new world

11.       The abolitionist movement.

12.       Enslavement in the modern era.

13.       Conclusion

Slavery and civilization.

Slavery entered human history with civilization principally from advancements in agriculture. Land became a valuable commodity which provided the sustenance for food storage and accumulated wealth able to support prolonged wars.
Prior to the formation of large towns and cities slavery wasn’t sustainable for hunter-gatherer type tribes-people or subsistence farmers, since they only collected or grew just enough food for themselves. Hence, there was no economic advantage in owning another human, which meant an additional mouth to feed and no net advantage to a small tribe or clan.

But given cities developed a surplus of food in reserve this meant slave labour provided an economic benefit, since the cost of food and shelter for slaves was less than equivalent paid employment.

These favorable conditions resulted in most ancient civilizations of different religious persuasions all utilizing slave labor, with a steady supply arising from Wars. The victors took into slavery those considered useful as workers whilst killing the remainder.

Slavery also arose from acts of piracy, to satisfy an unpayable debt and from the impoverished selling of their own children. Those thereafter usually became condemned to a life as a slave as did their children. There were some variations of enslavement which afforded limited rights and the rare instances of freedom granted.   

Greece –Western Civilization and its slavery  

 In relation to slaves the ratios are not known, but a measure of its scale can be gauged from accounts of Philip II of Macedon. He was Alexander the Great’s father, who sold 20,000 women and children into slavery after the invasion of Scythia in 339 BC.  In the aftermath of ensuing wars in what followed some historians have suggested the ratio by the mid4th century could have risen to as high as 40% of the population. The slave traders conveniently traveled with armies to ensure they could purchase prisoners as soon as they were captured.
Slavery sources also continued to arise from piracy, debt, and tribes-people exchanging their own people for goods. There were slave markets in cities such as Byzantium and Ephesus.

Hence the major centers of Sparta and Athens depended upon slavery or a form of forced labor. However the inhabitants of Sparta might more correctly be described as living under a Serfdom system rather than as slaves.

On the other hand Athenian slaves had no conventional rights and their working conditions varied enormously. The worst off were those consigned or brought in to work in the mines, who are driven close to the point of death by their owners. At that time mines were state-owned but leased out to private managers.
In other occupations the slaves fared a little better such as those owned by the state. For instance slave archers were employed as the police force of Athens and acquired prestige. But the majority were domestic servants, whose conditions was solely at the province of their owners.

At the time Athenian citizens considered it shameful to be the servant of another. Hence slaves undertook the bulk of the work inclusive of secretarial and managerial positions.
It was estimated, that for the majority of Athenians, they all had at least one slave.  
A reference is provided by Aristotle’s   (322 BC-384 BC

Nichomachean Ethics in chapter 3 of Book 1, where he specifically discusses slavery.
Aristotle’s notes provide an insight into his ideas on slavery when he talks about whether or not slavery is just. 

Aristotle’s position was somewhat nuanced as he talks about slaves, who by their nature are best ruled by masters. What he said is ‘those human beings that are by nature suitable to be ruled, but (are) unwilling (is) by nature just. 

He tells us why as ‘those who are different (from other men) as the soul from body or man from beast and their work is the use of the body, and this is the best that can come from them, are slaves by nature.’ 
Ironically Aristotle left instructions on his death for all of his slaves to be freed. This practice was known as Manumission and for the few there was always the prospect, at any time, owners could grant freedom. The reason for manumission was complex and varied. It could be purely benevolent as was most likely in the case of Aristotle by way of gratitude as prescribed in his will. It was also used to incentivize slaves to work harder, given the prospect of release as a reward. 


A later development was the practice of enslavement as district for taking slaves which gave some rights or a promise of some future right. They were called ‘metic’s’ (metoikos) and although ineligible for numerous state benefits afforded citizens and subject to an additional tax, they could earn a living and go into business. The only restriction was they were prohibited from contracting with the silver mines. They were also subject to judicial torture and the law differentiated against them. For instance the penalties prescribed for killing them were nowhere near as severe as for the killing a citizen. They could also be made slaves for failure to pay taxes or for “contamination" by marrying a citizen. However over time the practice slowly died out although historians lack evidence of exactly when that occurred due to lack of reference.
Roman slavery:

For the most part conditions were brutal, particularly in the mines and on chain gangs.
They were also forced in the public arenas to engage as gladiators. There were several slave uprisings and the most famous of which was led by Spartacus. Some slaves had privileged positions as secretarial staff of the emperor. For the few there was also the prospect of Manumission, or enfranchisement which involved owners granting freedom.
However, there is evidence to suggest the number of slaves freed from enslavement in the first century AD had increased so dramatically that Caesar Augustine declared that only those 30 years of age and over could be considered and later on to limit the annual number that could be allowed. By contrast those of the new world had no hope of freedom.  How much of this (if any) could be attributable to the spread of Christianity is unknown. 

Biblical accounts and attitudes to slavery 

What is not surprising, is there is practically no reference to slave or slavery, given that the older translations used the word servant rather than slave. That concept of slavery as we know it in modernity was not part of ethos then, but rather there was various forms of control exercised over others. For instance if you search out the references to servant, one finds instances that the modern reader would identify as form of enslavement. One example in the OT is the well-known story of the barren Sarah, the wife of Abraham, who suggested to him to take her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar, to bear him a son who was subsequently named Ishmael. From the context one can reasonably deduce Hagar was Sarah’s servant or handmaiden  under the control of Sarah. As the story unravels, after the birth of Ismael, we learn that enmity existed between the two so that Hagar flees from Sarah. 
Not holding any possessions or much food as would be the most likely case for someone in her position, it is recorded the Lord sent down from heaven water and sustenance for her. to promise an inheritance over the land. But we don’t know much more than that. There are only so called fleeting references to the Hagarites in war and so forth.   
But when Sarah’s birth of Isaac is announced, she mockingly makes reference to Hagar and seemingly laughs in relief, to indicate she has found favour with the Lord. 
Ismael is forced to become wanderer, but marries and his sons all become tribal chieftains, fulfilling the covenant.   
There are many references, like the one In Revelations which clearly indicate the ubiquitous reference to enslavement in all of the numerous references to bondsmen versus freemen etc. The writers make a clear distinction between a freeman and another who is under the control of another. 
We also see references under the heading of master pertaining to the veracity of the Israelites 7 year freedom provision for their slaves as opposed to no rights for foreigners as decreed in Deuteronomy. To their GOD they are extolled to give thanks for that which was bestowed upon them as in the covenant, interspersed with a call to be kind to one another and alleviate the plight of the poor. That was distinct to those captured in war that we would associate more with slaves that were considered part of the other animals and goods that they owned. 
For under Jewish law in the Old Testament Israeli slaves were automatically manumitted after six years of work, and/or at the next Jubilee which occurred either every 49 or every 50 years.

Non-Israelite slaves were permanently enslaved and treated for all intents and purposes as inherited property.

Hence, given the widespread use of slaves it is hardly surprising the message of the gospels was metaphorically couched as the equivalent of becoming slaves to Christ in the conversion to Christianity. The gospels’ message also reference that Christ had come to uphold the law, a clear reference to the Mosaic Law. That law also governed the holding of slaves, but there was no references to its lack of morality except slaves are to be treated humanely. 
Rather, within the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew & Luke) the gospel writer’s emphasis was in reforming the rigidity of Judaism in favor of the golden rule. Jesus chose his 12 disciple’s to further that objective and to make references to the messianic kingdom yet to come. But the urgency of the message to repent and prepare gave no consideration to the brutality of Rome and of those enslaved.
The Greek word for slave was frequently used in the Texts but almost universally translated as servant. I do not propose to debate this issue except to say I agree with some historians who suggest this was because the translator’s wanted to avoid the stigma of slavery to be associated with the meanings of the passages.   

For in the aftermath of his crucifixion, in the immediate vacuum some scholars have suggested Judaism continued on with a small sect accepting Jesus as the messiah, known as Judaic Christians whilst others would begin without any link to Jewish customs and rituals.
To reiterate the Jewish tradition covered slavery under Mosaic Law, so that one might have expected that St Paul, who devoted so much of his letters to the freedom from the law and ritualistic practice, might have also condemned slavery. 

Subjectively one could make case he would have condemned it if he could, but at that time he would have faced the wrath of the authorities.

References by St Paul ‘to slaves to serve their masters with fear and trembling’ was much later on interpreted as an endorsement to the British slave trade in the new world. 
Similarly in Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22 – calling on slaves to be obedient to their masters, was to interpret slavery as acceptable since ‘liberty could only be expected in the next world’.  

However, there is also the question of slavery talked about in
Paul’s letter to Philemon.  

New International Version
No longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

New Living Translation
He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.
Many older bibles use the word servant rather than slave so we miss the significance of this short letter by Paul to Philemon, a slave owner. The basis for the translation to slave rests on the use of the word in Colossians and the Letter to Philemon, since scholars believe they were written about the same time by Paul.  That is Col 4: 7-9 with Philemon 1: 12

In Philemon 1:16 can one translate Paul’s reference to Onesimus as Philemon's "slave" (δολος).

On the other hand, in Colossians 4:7 Paul makes reference to Tychicus as his fellow "bond-servant" (σνδουλος), but, when he makes reference again to both Tychicus ( he was a disciple of Paul) and Onesimus in the same context in Colossians 4:7-9  Paul refers to them both as his "beloved brother" ( γαπητς δελφς).
In the Letter to Philemon, Paul then asked Philemon to consider Onesimus as a "beloved brother" in the same way that Paul considered Onesimus as his "beloved brother" Philemon 1:16.   

In other words, when human beings are the property of another (whether that person is Philemon and/or the Lord), then the term at hand is "slave" (δολος); when those same people are believers, the preferred term at hand is "beloved brother" ( γαπητς δελφς) and/or "bond-servant" (σνδουλος). That is, Paul urged Philemon not to consider Onesimus his slave but as his beloved brother, because they were fellow believers. Notwithstanding, Onesimus was still his slave according to Roman law.

This short letter to Philemon has been used both as argument for slavery or against it according to the interpretation one seeks to place on the translated Pauline texts. It appears to me Paul was intent on seeking the release of Onesimus from enslavement within the confines of what was possible then under Roman law.   

So let us examine the other passages by St Paul and see what we can make of them; Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22 - call on slaves to be obedient to their masters.

"Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him." Ephesians 6:5-9

"Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven." – Colossians 3:22

For it is clear that Paul has said: "slaves be obedient to your masters". Both Paul and Peter say slaves should not defy or break away from their owners, they don’t condone it either.

St Paul aims to steer an impossible middle course to try and take away the resentment of the slave but at the same time also rally against any brutality and abuse by the owners.

"There are also the New Testament texts - 1 Peter 2:18-25, 1 Timothy 6:2 - where the injustice served up to slaves is analogous to the suffering of Christ and they may also have a meaningful relationships. 

"Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do well and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." - 1 Peter 2:18-25

"Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved." - 1 Timothy 6:2
There are also passages which encourage folk to seek freedom from slavery and to avoid becoming enslaved, as well as those that promote the possibility of freeing slaves.

"We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers - and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me." - 1 Timothy 1:8-11 

"Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men." -1 Corinthians 7:21
St Augustine

The prime cause, then, of slavery is sin, which brings man under the dominion of his fellow -- that which does not happen save by the judgment of God, with whom is no unrighteousness, and who knows how to award fit punishments to every variety of offence.

City Of GOD 19:5

Augustine acknowledged GOD did not intend there would be slavery, and elsewhere talks about how slavery slowly came into existence as a result of sinfulness and particularly arising from war. Hence he doesn’t think it was as a consequence of the natural laws of the universe. Rather slavery was unnatural, to arise from the sin and of the descent of Man.
Slavery was unknown, Augustine said, until "righteous" Noah "branded the sin of his son" with that name, and established the principle that the good were entitled to use the sinful.

If we are to explore Augustine’s thinking one might conclude he is not for slavery but declined to rally against it to the extent he accepts there will always be corruption of one kind or another. I got the impression from reading The City of God and some of his other works that Augustine also considered the matter similar to that of St Paul, who called on masters to treat their slaves well.

Augustine, consoled himself with the idea that salvation was available to the slaves just as it was to those who were fortuitously born free, but he does also talk about it being a virtue to set slaves free.
He also goes on to say that potentially more harm can come from the slave owner’s ownership of his slaves (s) than to the slave.

However, his words were later to be taken as a sort of endorsement for slavery, as in this passage from the City of God, "by preserving the institution of slavery mankind could be disciplined and his self-aggrandizement corrected; and because no man was innocent, it was God's will alone who should be master and who should be a slave". (21)
This could be construed as a flawed piece of reasoning that confuses inequitable outcomes as a justification for preserving that which is morally wrong and then attributing that to GOD. 
In later life Augustine protested against the late Roman Slave Trade to his friend Aloysius, bishop of Thangata. A band of slave-traders and their catchers had rounded up free Roman citizens to sell them overseas as slaves. At the time Augustine had been away, only to find upon his return that members of his church had freed at least 120 of these captives. Many still lived in the episcopal precinct at Hippo. For Augustine, these actions and their consequences called for a change of existing law, and that was the purpose of his letter. However. Augustine confines his sense of injustice purely to Roman citizens.   

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Although Aquinas rejected the natural law, he opted instead to modify the Aristotelian views and Roman civil law with the Christian tradition.  I don’t propose to dwell on his tortured argument for it suffice to say he ends up justifying slavery, on the inevitable existence of slavery seen as arising as a consequence of original sin.

A church that can and cannot change.  
I found the following of interest in relation to his views on slavery.  In  'A Church That Can and Cannot Change' - By JOHN T. NOONAN, JR. - Published: May 22, 2005  the author notes  that on October 26, 1863, Thomas William Allies, a lecturer on history at Oxford University and a convert to the Catholic Church, sent John Henry Newman the draft of a lecture in which he pronounced slavery to be intrinsically evil. He wanted his friend's opinion. Newman replied cautiously: "I do not materially differ from you, though I do still startle at some of the sentences of your Lecture." The source of his startle was St. Paul.   

The reply by Newman was as follows: "That which is intrinsically and per se evil, we cannot give way to for an hour. That which is only accidentally evil, we can meet according to what is expedient, giving different rules, according to the particular case. St. Paul would have got rid of despotism if he could. He could not, he left the desirable object to the slow working of Christian principles. So he would have got rid of slavery, if he could. He did not, because he could not, but had it been intrinsically evil, had it been in se a sin, it must have been said to Philemon, liberate all your slaves at once."
The author Noonan then notes that Newman appears to let his imagination wander from the slave-owner to the slave, declaring:
"I had rather have been a slave in the Holy Land, than a courtier of Xerxes or a solider of Zingis Khan." This fantasy is not a digression. In putting himself in the place of a slave, Newman is following a classic pattern.
He supposes his soul to be unaffected by the body's servile state. Imagined in this way, slavery does not destroy or even impair the essential self. Newman's vision of slavery is the antithesis of an account of slavery that sees it as an assault upon the person.

The dualism implicit in this view is a prime reason why slavery was so long seen as acceptable.

Another perspective is the conclusion of scholar Professor Gerard Magill of Duquesne University-in his book ‘Religious Morality in John Henry Newman”, Gerald Magill, Springer International Publishing, taken from page 121.  
What I find interesting in the defense by Magill (if you can call it that) of Newman, since it is rests on 2 claims. He references St Paul- whereas I think it very likely St Paul would have condemned slavery it if he could, but at that time he would have faced the wrath of the authorities. For he never comes out and endorses it either or seeks to uphold the practice of slavery. 

St Paul steers us towards accepting the impossible aim of reconciling the plight of the slave and at the same time admonish slave- owners to be kind to their slaves. Calling on slaves to be obedient to their masters, was interrupted as slavery was to be accepted since ‘liberty could only be expected in the next world’.  He doesn’t endorse it, nor could it provide any moral justification.     

The other defense is that things were moving slowly in the church, so it was only just coming to grips with the immorality of slavery. But previous Popes had condemned slavery, inclusive of Gregory XIV – 1639 and Benedict - 1741. The fact that these concerns never filtered down into official teachings is yet another story.   

Hence I think Magill is being a bit magnanimous in his assessment.   

"What is shocking for readers today is he [Newman] did not recognize slavery as a “natural perception” of wrong that is “absolutely immoral.”

 First, it is astounding that he wrote his comments long after slavery had been abolished across the British Empire – the Slavery Abolition Act occurred in 1833. Second, his remark about the “slow working of Christian principles” appears to reflect his principle of economy about the progressive unfolding of truth. In reality, it took until the late nineteenth century and beyond for the modern world to recognize the abhorrence of slavery. Newman also recognized that point (“to enslave is a horrible sin”), but seemed oblivious to viewing slavery as being intrinsically wrong. In fairness, two points can be made to explain his stance, On the one hand, the evangelical strain in his thought perhaps found it too difficult to take a position that was not consistent with that of St. Paul in Scripture. After all, biblical hermeneutics, especially in Catholicism, developed in a very sophisticated manner after Newman’s time. On the other hand, official Catholic teaching seems to have taken another 100 years to condemn slavery, not occurring effectively until Vatican II. 19 19 Pastoral constitution (1966), number 27.

Slaves from the 6th - 14th century
during this period after the fall of the Roman Empire slavery continued in countries in the vicinity of the Mediterranean, mostly as household servants or in the armies. The brutality and gang slavery evident in Rome is not written about much in this history and does not appear until such time as slavery in the new world emerges to consign captives in appalling conditions reminiscent of the brutality of ancient Rome, to work in the tobacco and cotton plantations in colonial America. 
In the middle Ages the Catholic Church argued against slavery which was to have little effect, but later on some headway was made and gradually slavery reduces in the western European countries only to be replaced by the serfdom of the feudal manor.

However, the next brutal emergence of slavery followed the landing of the Portuguese in West Africa in the 15th century.

At the same time in the Muslim world 1,250 slave leaders in the Egyptian army called Mamelukesseized power. Subsequently the successors to the Mameluke dynasty ruled for nearly three centuries.  

The slave trade expands 
After decimating the local populations and land of most of the islands in the Caribbean Sea, the slave trade turned to Africa.
By the end of the 14th century the Europeans were seizing indigenous peoples as slaves on the pretext they were providing Africans with the opportunity to become Christians.
Given the 
expansion of the transatlantic slave trade that shaped the modern world, one would have expected more from the philosophers of that era. Certainly there was opposition, but not from any of the better known sages.

Such luminaries as John Locke, regarded as a preeminent influential enlightenment thinker, referenced as the "Father of Liberalism" justified slavery.

Locke co-authoring the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina (1669), of which article 110 reads: “Every freeman of Carolina shall have absolute power and authority over his Negro slaves, of what opinion or religion soever”, because any other option would infringe on an enslaver’s property rights.
Similarity David Hume, accepted polygenesis which proposes that people of colour were “naturally inferior” to whites.
Immanuel Kant also talked about the exclusivity of the white race attaining the fulsome freewill to decide on moral matters.

The abolitionist movement:

Notwithstanding, the horrors of slavery in the new world did not go unnoticed in England and elsewhere as the abolitionist movement gathered pace until it finally became unlawful in1805.

In the US it was not until 1864 that an amendment was passed by the Senate and then the House in 1865 when the Lincoln administration abolished slavery in January 1865. 
The aftermath was that an estimated 15 million Africans were transported to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries, inclusive of a death rate on transportation of up to 50%. Even so the profits that were made were enormous. 

For the purposes of this paper I will not dwell on the events and the evolution of clearer thinking that underpinned the abolitionist movement. Like many successful revolutionary thinking its bloodied outcomes become entangled in the fog of the American civil war. One notes the deep prejudicial enablers that saw fit to endorse slavery  in the new world, still persisted as  poorly trained slaves, now free, were exploited on their return to the work force. But that is yet another story.

Enslavement in the modern era.

For even in the aftermath of abolition the legacy of enslavement persisted. Poorly trained slaves released from bondage were exploited as racial prejudices continued. War has also not only provided the initial source of slaves in its formative ancient beginnings, but equally was an excuse in modernity to exercise varying forms of extreme enslavement. In so called democracies it raises its ugly head in various guises to creep into society like a cancer due to ongoing ambivalence and greed.  

For instance slavery existed between 1842 and 1904 involving the South Pacific islanders in Australia. Examples abound of enslavement our first Nations Australian aborigines who remarkably were not considered citizens able to vote in federal elections until the 1962 referendum was passed.

The slavery in Australia existed on the plantations in the north-east coast whose slave owners were able to operate with no apparent interest from the law.
Aboriginal people were also treated as slaves and keenly sought after by the pastoralist industry, in pearling and as household servants. In other matters the practice known as Black birding involved south sea islanders. The first government enquiry decided that no action was to be taken against its perpetrators. Hence, the practice was to continue for another 40 years with continued impunity from the authorities.     
Today its legacy still exists throughout the world with large groups of people effectively enslaved under the guise of different descriptions. 


The failure to question slavery’s immorality was the dominant theme that emerged from the multiplicity of other reasons. Historically, the bible provides a fascinating insight into a world of trials and tribulations over a very long period, of the good and bad, of wisdom and foolishness. But for believers there is the need for humility. Miss- translations, confused thinking and constraints on the authors imposed by rulers at various times make face value assessments risky. So too is the inexcusable idea that those  enslaved will have their suffering rewarded in the next life- to justify acceptance of their current plight. 

Many of the great philosophers such as Aristotle, whose ideas then on slavery sought to justify a natural form of enslavement, was subsequently accepted as justifying slavery for thousands of years. Augustine talked about the idea of original sin, among a huge volume of work that led him to conclude slavery was a necessary reminder from GOD that kept humanity in line, to be quoted thereafter. Aquino’s endorsed this same idea that served to justify its existence and help foster that ongoing ambivalent attitude to its immorality. This was also true of the enlightenment philosophers who failed to confront the immorality of slavery.

Simply put the obfuscation created by a concoction of ideas which formed the basis of later hideous arguments justifying its existence.  Add to that greed and ignorance and we start to appreciate how slavery survived for so long within and out of the law. A more comprehensive history of slavery needs to be told to remind one the ease by which matters of immorality can become inextricably entwined in society.