Unfreedom & Slavery

Bibliography

Ali, Tariq. 2018. The Unseeables. London Review of Books.

Choudry, Aziz & Adrian Smith. Unfree Labour: Struggles of Migrant and Immigrant Workers in Canada.

Larson, Rob. Capitalism v. Freedom: The Toll Road to Serfdom.

 

Private Property Right v. Liberty

“Lundgren, a respected environmentalist and entrepreneur, is in prison for trying to distribute software that extends the life of your computer—software that is legally and freely available online—to people who don’t know how to access it. He is in prison for trying to reduce the amount of electronic waste (e-waste) we produce on a regular basis from not knowing how to access that software. When it comes down to it, he is prison because his efforts to keep people from needlessly throwing out their electronics would have cut into the tech industry’s model of profiting from consumer ignorance, repair prevention, and planned obsolescence.

In the time it will take Lundgren to serve out his prison sentence, the world will produce around fifty million metric tons of new e-waste. And most of that refuse will be shuttled far away from the West’s own backyard, to dystopian, city-sized dump sites in countries like Ghana, China, and India, to the mass graves of our modern world, where it will poison the air, water, soil, livestock, and human bodies.” –M. Alvarez 2018 “The Death of Media,” The Baffler.

Immigration & Slavery

“In the first half of the 19th Century, as the abolitionist movement gathered momentum, states and localities passed personal liberty laws which forbade the use of state and local jails and police personnel from aiding in the capture of fugitive slaves. The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was passed in part as a response to these acts of local resistance. In the 21st Century, we’ve returned here again.” (Jay Driskell)

Charity & Unfree Social Reproduction Labour

I tried to consider what people I know get for all their skilled volunteer labor, necessary as it is to the functioning of Anglo-American organizations and institutions, goods and services both private and public. There’s no apparent reciprocity, other than intrinsic satisfaction (the infamous feminized “love” labour) and some recognition of masculine status. There are no second homes in Phoenix and Belize for you. There is no economically-advantageous networking. There’s no legislative access. You get sales tax, you don’t get a lower tax rate. You must constantly practice deference to class-blind moral police & guards; you don’t have phalanxes of economists, accountants, and comms pros justifying your existence and your cut. You don’t get golden parachutes. You don’t get a hot market tip. You don’t get a bottle of beer comped. You don’t get buildings and parks in your honour. There’s no community barn raising in exchange. In one case I know I reasoned, well, maybe by contributing massive hours of volunteer labor, year upon year, other people permit this person’s highly skilled wife to not herself have to serve any more successive decades of indentured servitude. In effect, most skilled working class people’s volunteer, slave, and grossly-underpaid labour in liberal societies makes all these institutions work, and the incentive seems to be almost purely negative, like mules outrunning whips.

 

Slavery’s impact on associational life in the US

 

As we plunge into the patrimonial capitalist restoration era, and a new turn in expropriation, research into the impact of slavery is more vital and central than ever. Political scientists and geographers have been researching historical slavery’s deleterious impact on public institution development in the US and Latin America. But all working class Americans are victims of slavery, imposed disorganization:

“(I)t is not the case that the influence of slavery on civic participation and associational life is limited to the South, for it extends, in fact, to the entire (US) nation…This cleavage is stronger in the former slave states, but it is present elsewhere and translates into both greater economic inequality and lower social capital” (Portes & Vickstrom 2011: 469).

..

Middle Passage: Between Slavery and Unfree Migrant Labor

‘The history of how indentured servitude transformed into racialized chattel slavery in America provides a particularly vivid example of this vicious cycle. In theory, colonial Virginia’s intense labor scarcity ought to have meant favorable terms for migrating workers. But as Jane Dickenson learned, the men who governed the colonies changed market dynamics by imposing harsh laws that allowed them to control and capture laborers in new ways. Whereas contracts of indenture for agricultural workers in England typically ran to only one year, in America they stretched out to seven. And colonial authorities routinely punished servants who tried to escape—or simply displeased their masters—with whippings, split tongues, sliced ears, and extra years of service. As the late American historian Edmund Morgan put it, even before slavery took root, Virginia’s masters were moving “toward a system of labor that treated men as things.”–Ron, A. & D. Norwood. 2018. The Atlantic.

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