2.b.13 – Slavery is similar to rearing?

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January 31, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

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Slavery is similar to rearing?

With the emergence of farming, a new type of relationship developed between man and animals: from man-prey, we passed to the men and livestock relationship. In rearing, the animals are forced to a cohabitation with the man in which they lose any chance of escape; they are fed by their breeders, but it is a benefits paid a high price (the possibility of escape); is not therefore appropriate to talk about symbiosis with mutual benefit because the animals do not increase the chances of survival. Often the livestock is made up of social animals such as sheep or horses, that normally live in a pack led by a chief but now are led by farmers, are then replaced the chief. The reared animals are a valuable asset and are treated as objects of value, are bought and sold as such and are often marked indelibly in order to certify the property title.
The animals bred are not only preys without hope: after the appearance of agriculture they were in fact used as pack animals, giving a fundamental contribution to its development. We have seen how men, to start a war between them, need to identify the enemy as an animal of a different species and then, in case of capture of an enemy, it was natural to use it as animal for work. In slavery, the man-slave relation has the same characteristics that we have noted in the animal breeding: slaves were prisoners of war or their descendants, were not free to leave and remained perennially prisoners of their masters, could be bought and sold, in certain cultures were also marked with fire; the slaves worked in the fields like animals like donkeys, oxen and horses.
We know that even in tribal societies, the enemies in war, or potential enemies, as belonging to historically hostile tribes, were always considered and treated like animals, but that type of societies could not maintain a large number of slaves and a prisoner was more likely to be sent to the pile of torture rather than becoming a slave, although occasionally it was possible. In the agricultural era, instead, there were the resources to feed a large population of slaves, which was very useful for the hard work the fields, and therefore prisoners of war became a precious commodity as working animals. The slaves were not properly therefore the lowest rung in the hierarchy of society, but were livestock outside of it. In a hierarchy, either human or animals, it is possible to change the level going up or down, or it is possible to remove one from his position or to be removed, but to slaves this certainly was not granted as it was not for any reared animal. In a city then it was possible to find two well distinct human populations: the dominant one with its internal hierarchy and that of slaves to which it was not even granted a hierarchy because if they would have had their social organization, they could use it to rebel, and the maximum to which a slave could aspire was to form his own family, but more numerous social aggregations were out of the question.
In this farming era therefore social classes were born, or populations clearly separated without the possibility of switching from one to another. Throughout history, with a similar process often formed societies with three classes: the noble (dominant class), the people (dominated class), slaves (working animals, living robots). Indeed a population of nomadic raiders could plunder a city and capture slaves and then sell them, but they found more practical to expect a regular tribute in exchange for peace and perhaps for protection from other predators. Appeared then another relationship of parasite-host type in which the dominant population did not enslave the subjected one, but simply replacing the dominant group whose role now was reserved to the new rulers who formed a separate class (the noble). The profound difference compared to slavery is that the dominated were not bought and sold and did not completely lose their social structure, their hierarchy was anyway beheaded. This social structure has spread and strengthened during the millennia until a new phenomenon brought about a profound change: the Industrial revolution.

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