Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. 33percent
    Offline

    33percent Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2012
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    6

    How could slavery become economic feasible in the future?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by 33percent, Aug 7, 2012.

    The background in my book is based in the future, and society has high advance technology, and in knowledge but their govt enslaves majority of the people. Enslaving people regardless of race is acceptable in society mainly because people lost their values of humanity. Once you're a slave their masters can do anything to you. Trying to figure out how can enslaving people be economically feasible, and acceptable mainstream. People who end up becoming slaves are criminals, rebels, Soldiers went A-wall, born a slave from a slaved mother, kidnapped, homeless/drug addicts or even disabled, captured POW. Basically the cess-pool of society are enslaved.

    Only way I can think of making it work is a hybrid of corporation/Communism/govt type of economic system. At the same time enslaving people conflicts with a couple of things with people who are employed, and buying masses of product. The less people shop, and there is less jobs unless I maybe incorporate where slaves can buy certain products for themselves. I also have the slave market is a huge business as well.

    So why would wealthy business owners employ people instead of buying slaves? Best thing I can think of is there too much regulations(red tape), taxes, fee's, maintenance cost(feeding, sheltering) that involve buying a single slave. Plus a single slave even though faces death defying obedience of their masters still can pose a risk of trouble, or even getting killed by one.
     
  2. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Your main problem is the enslavement of the "majority" of people, particularly in a society of advanced technology. Advanced technology means fewer people needed to do more jobs. There's also a bit of a problem using the dregs of society for slaves (although you included some types of people who really aren't in that category), but that depends on what the slaves do, and how much supervision they're given.
     
  3. idle
    Offline

    idle Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    one of the hearts of Europe
    I see a handful of questions arising from your post and I'm not sure which ones to answer (or which ones first).

    Are you asking how can you slide from a contemporary society to an enslaving one where human life and freedom isn't worth much? That's a tough one, probably it would be a gradual decline. I'd try with hunger, poverty (not many would fight for freedom if a life-long "employment" is the only resource of food for you and your family), overpopulation. Or you can populate the Earth with "lesser" people like clones who are given less rights.

    Are you asking if it is economically sustainable? Well, slaves are people who are made to work hard (and create values) but don't spend much. My guess is that this would result in a lot of wealth for their owners.

    Also it seems (but I'm not sure that's what you're asking) that you need for the plot to have lots of slaves available but still the rich people choose to have employees instead of slaves. There could be many reasons for that. Slaves are only useful for some jobs - simple ones, maybe physically hard but not too complicated. You cannot coerce people into creativity or using knowledge (like technical jobs), you need to give them some kind of freedom. Maybe not freedom to leave, but some freedom of action. And that can be risky, they might use it to turn against you. It might be then preferrable to employ people for this. Also, having employess might be a mark of status among the wealthy. Like using higher quality materials, you make your goods with "real" people, not slaves. And lastly, slaves are only cheaper if employees are more expensive, that is, if the price of feeding and clothing and accomodating plus guarding your slaves is less than what you'd pay to employees. If there are many starving people around, they might be willing to work for wages lower than that because they still need the food and clothing and accomodation but not the guards.
     
  4. idle
    Offline

    idle Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    one of the hearts of Europe
    Sorry, double post.
     
  5. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    If the slaves do all the jobs that no one wants to do for free, then of course it's economically viable. Try The Hunger Games - the Avoxes - eg. criminals who have been caught and their tongue cut out - are a slave community who maintain underground tunnels, serve upper class people as waiters and waitresses, and they're the slaves who make people's beds etc, clean the streets.

    Slavery can make you a lot of money. Google human-trafficking and sex slavery - it's happening right now, today, across the world. It's the third biggest criminal industry in the world, the trading of human flesh and particularly that of women.
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    slave labor has always been and always will be 'economically feasible'... that's a given... so i don't see what your problem is...
     
  7. MeFe
    Offline

    MeFe New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2012
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, values (and specifically that of human life) change with time. Nowadays, some things that were not accepted before are now (for example, clothing) and other things accepted in the past are no longer seen as humaine (like slavery). Values can yet change with time and with societies.

    While red tape sounds plausible, another explanation you can use is what is actually happening right now. Some consumers care how the product was created (they are put off by using cheap labour) and how rather pay more if they believe their product was produced in a sustainable way (which also happens with the environment).
     
  8. Bell City Fires
    Offline

    Bell City Fires Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    1
    I would say that overbearing governing would work in pair with maintaining a public image (certain jobs you simply do not want to have to deal with the slave class) and a healthy paranoia. Superstition and prejudice will always be with humanity, even as we move forward with technology.
     
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The same way as in the past. Study the history of slavery. You can find plenty of speculative fiction around this theme too, starting with The Hunger Games.
     
  10. B93
    Offline

    B93 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    32
    I'm with maia on this - almost. It will always be economically feasible unless you have a world where cheap energy and extremely capable machinery make automation less expensive than subsistence food and shelter for the workers.
     
  11. James Berkley
    Offline

    James Berkley Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    448
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    NYC
    depends on what you want slaves for.
    is it sex?
    is it dangerous labor you cant have macines do?
    is their no cheep labor that can do the dangerous work? ( in the american south these where the irish, not the slaves whitch where seen as investments)
    is their still a need for massive amounts of manual labor?
     
  12. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Economic feasibility isn't your problem. Enforcement is. I happen to be doing some research on the slave economies of the Caribbean during the Spanish colonial period. The owners have to be able to control the behavior of the enslaved to force the slave work to be done, prevent individual or group escapes and protect against mass uprisings (eg. Haiti in 1791). For a modern society that has the means to know about slave economies of the past, it becomes even more problematic (since knowledge of the past existence of slave economies makes it harder to enforce similar conditions).
     
  13. Gonissa
    Offline

    Gonissa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Ghost Tower
    Why the crap are people saying that slavery is economically feasible? Doesn't anybody read history? When looking at the US back in those days, the Southern states were much worse off than the Northern ones. The South might have had slaves and cotton, but the North had industry, and it wasn't the North that was aching for supplies throughout the entire Civil War.

    You can check out the book Ten Big Lies about America for more information on that. But America isn't the only example. Which one of our economic giants these days has slaves? Britain? No. Korea or Japan? No. Anywhere in Europe? No.

    Also, take a look at Soviet Russia. Stalin imprisoned millions of his countrymen (and plenty of foreigners too) in the attempt to force them into labor and gain economic profit. You know what happened? It was a huge waste. The labor camp prisoners cared more about surviving than about doing anything for the Soviet Union. The prisoners lied about their work, like say, how many trees they'd logged, just so they could get better rations. Prisoners stole from each other's projects just so their own would work when the Soviet Union didn't give them the supplies or equipment for a job.

    So much for cheap labor. Man is always more profitable in freedom. When a man doesn't have to worry about his safety or freedom, then he can really focus on his work. Particularly because it's his work, not his master's.
     
  14. B93
    Offline

    B93 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    Messages:
    297
    Likes Received:
    32
    If the slavery was not economically feasible, the owners in the Southern states would have gotten rid of their slaves. They didn't. Prices for slaves did not drop to nothing. That proves the economics.

    The countries you cite are without slaves for moral reasons and difficulty of control, not economics.
     
  15. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    You are talking about two different things. The North's supriority in the war was the result of its far greater degree of industrialization, a reflection of cultural differences that had little to do with slavery (free wage earners in Northern cities may not have been slaves, but they were only a small step away in terms of poverty). Also, the Civil War period does not reflect the economic power of the south at its height - by then the US was one of the few countries in the developed world not to have outlawed slavery. And as world abolitionist pressures grew, the slave system became more difficult to maintain. A far better measure would be the south in the 18th century.

    I think you are confusing the concept of slavery with other aspects of communism. Living under a totalitarian system may have things in common with slavery but it is not the same thing. And one thing that the Spanish learned in the 16th century was that one necessary element of slavery is that it is much more difficult to accomplish when the prospective slaves are in their native land.

    True. However, you are speaking about the whole. Those who would impose a system of slavery (or extremely exploitative capitalism) are not interested in the whole, they are only interested in their own gain. Which is probably why Thomas Jefferson never actually got around to releasing his slaves.
     
    Bromabo likes this.
  16. Leonardo Pisano
    Offline

    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    13
    At first glance this statement is obvious. However, think of the lower productivity, the security guards needed, the food logistics, etc vis-à-vis those in a free market.

    To the OP: there have been a number of studies on the economics of slave labor you may wish to explore, e.g. on http://www.lewrockwell.com
     
  17. Gonissa
    Offline

    Gonissa Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Ghost Tower
    Okay fine. Use that as an example. And also check out the book Ten Lies about America, which explains the point a bit more elegantly than I put it.

    And you're missing the point that Communism is state sanctioned slavery. It's a perfect point, as the Soviets wanted to force people to fulfill certain quotas, and they used unwilling, cheap labor. Exactly how is that not slavery?

    The whole is made up of a whole bunch of individuals. Maybe you can get somewhat rich with slaves, but you can get even richer with the labor of free men who WANT to do the work ahead of them. A slave is only going to pick as much cotton as they can get away with. A worker who wants to earn some more to buy his kid a bike is going to put in the overtime.

    I cannot believe you're arguing with me about the benefits of slavery. Wow.
     
  18. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,994
    Likes Received:
    5,503
    The fact that slavery is morally wrong doesn't mean that it's economically unprofitable. Saying that slavery is economically profitable doesn't mean that it's not morally wrong. They're entirely separate conclusions. I may be misunderstanding you, but you seem to be implying that they're linked.
     
  19. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    That is a particular western description of Communism that is more of a value judgment.

    Because the underlying theory of Soviet Communism was that the means of production were owned by the collective whole. How can someone be enslaved by themselves?


    Indeed. The planters of the American south certainly did. The sugar mill owners in Cuba and Jamaica certainly did. The mine owners in Peru certainly did.

    You appear to be looking at the issue solely through the lense of someone in highly developed, industrialized, consumer-oriented society. You also ignore the fact that even in a free market society, "free men who want to do the work" sometimes lose their jobs when their companies fail (not a lot of silver and gold mines in Peru failed). Likewise, you see this as all-or-nothing: completely enslaved, or free market utopia. You ignore the excesses of exploitative capitalism (from which the overused term "wage slave" is derived).

    I'm not arguing about the benefits of slavery. I'm simply pointing out some holes in your analysis which was, I thought, more based on emotion than reason and fact. Nowhere in any of my statements will you see anything approving of slavery, or even that it could be beneficial. All I said was that it could be economically feasible. And I pointed out the key is enforcement. In every slave economy I mentioned, the ultimate onus for enforcement was on the government, not the owner of the enterprise (although they had theirs as well).

    I can only think of one historical example in which slavery was not economical, and that was in the 1850s in the Caribbean when Chinese workers ("coolies") were brought in to work plantations and help build railroads. Because they signed on for 8 year contracts at ridiculously low wages and were freed after the term was up, they were actually less costly than slaves, who had to be purchased and provided for, and who were much more prone to try to escape (and who were African and therefore feared by the white populace). BUT, that cost was due to factors that extended well beyond economics - the fact that most of the world had by that time outlawed slavery, that both the US and England had outlawed the slave trade (thereby making the cost of new slaves prohibitive), and that news of various slave revolts - most famously the Haiti uprising in 1791 - had reached the slave population, making enforcement that much more difficult.

    And I would add that the element that made slavery less economical was...exploitative capitalism.

    Now, before you reply, I would ask you to review the OP's question. The premise of a work of fiction is that some future society relies on some form of slavery, and so before writing about such a system, could it be economically feasible? And my answer was a qualified yes. As writers, we should always be willing to consider things that we find distasteful or even morally objectionable, if only to be able to tell if our story idea will hold any water.

    Be well.
     
  20. Pheonix
    Offline

    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2012
    Messages:
    5,716
    Likes Received:
    401
    Location:
    The Windy City
    It seems like a Capitalist government would be more likely than a communist government to allow something like that to happen. Communism was based on the idea of equality for all, and while the execution is not how it was envisioned, i can't see a communist government actually enslaving their citizens outwardly. Another thing is, communism has always had a strong focus on community. Also, in communist states, most business is controlled by the government. That doesn't leave alot of room for corporate interests.

    Capitalism on the other hand, is and always has been a greed based system. Focus on self rather than community, on personal gain over the well being of others. Thats what gives rise to slavery. Thats what happened in this country, especially in the south. The rich elite used slaves to further their own gain. So, to me, a totally corupted capitalist government, strongly entwined with the industrial/corporate complex would be the ideal place for a resurgence in slavery. Even in America, large corporations pay illegal immigrants far below minimal wage to do jobs that no one else wants to.

    If slavery were to make a come back, it would be corporation, fueled by greed and enabled by corrupt government, that would make it happen.

    Its awful to imagine it, but, it definitely possible.
     
  21. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Since this has inexplicably become a debate about Communism vs Capitalism, say goodbye to the thread.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page