Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Return to Slavery in Islamic Lands

Just this week the usually lefty suspects are reporting slave markets in Libya: BBC, Aljazeera, Guardian. The deal seems to be that migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are held for ransom in jails and put to work for no pay. If no ransom is forthcoming, then the slaves are killed.

We've already had the case of Boko Harum kidnapping high-school girls and distributing them to their soldiers as concubines. Not to mention the ISIS policy of using humans in conquered cities in whatever way seems appropriate to the local commander.

Now it happens that I have been doing a bit of reading on the subject of conquest and slavery over the years, and it is obvious that slavery and concubinage were ubiquitous in the good old days. Clearly, in the hunter-gatherer age, a tribe ceased to exist if it didn't have enough young men to defend its territory, and the surviving women and children would be distributed around as concubines and slaves.

Feudal Europe did not have slaves as such, but plenty of people were serfs, and it was OK to enslave non-Europeans and/or non-Christians.

Oh, and let's not forget the women slaves from Circassia that were sold at Kaffa in the Crimea and distributed to harems all over the Middle East.

Then we have the Vikings, who ran a jolly old slave market in Dublin, Ireland a thousand years ago. These slaves would have been Brits captured in autumn raid up the rivers of Britain. And the Vikings also ran slaves down the rivers in what is now Russia.

The remarkable thing about plantation slavery in sugar and cotton, which is held to be the original sin of the USA, is that it became a scandal at all. Because slavery has been ubiquitous down the ages.

Why did plantation slavery become a scandal? Was it because the old gentry in Britland didn't like the jumped-up nouveau-riche owners of West Indian slave plantations of the 18th century and decided to teach them a lesson? Or was it because capitalism and markets really don't like force and subjection?

What is interesting is that the movements opposed to capitalism have all tended to return to slavery and feudalism. The great socialist empires of the 20th century, the Soviet Union and Maoist China, used slavery on an unimaginable scale. And all the big-government schemes of the progressives involve high levels of human compulsion, what I call neo-feudalism.

So it really isn't surprising that the latest reactionary movement opposing modern global markets and freedom, the Islamic reaction, is virulently pro-slavery and is reviving the cultural and economic order of the European order prior to the Peace of Westphalia, that ended the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648.

So that when the Soviets invaded Germany in 1945 they only raped the women for a season, and in Berlin for a month. Oh wait. They sent millions back to the slave labor camps in Siberia.

My point is that there is something about capitalism that finds a problem with slavery, and I don't think it is because "we" are more evolved or moral than our ancestors. It is something more mysterious.

But as soon as capitalism gets pushed back, out come the slavers again, and out come the slave markets.

Why is that? Is it because capitalism rolls back the frontiers of power? Is it simply because slavery does not pay? Is it because under capitalism it pays to treat everyone as a potential business partner? Is it because under capitalism people are focused on making money rather than on accumulating power?

I don't know. But I think it is telling that the Great Islamic Reaction is featuring slaves and slave markets.

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