The history of humankind, regrettably, is a history of slavery, practiced in every corner of the globe. The Roman Empire’s business model was built on conquest and enslavement. Conquered peoples were subjugated and paid taxes to Rome, or individuals were taken captive and put to work in the capital city, not only as domestic servants and farm hands but as government bureaucrats. Roman citizens might even sell their own children into slavery.
Slavery was also common in ancient Greece. Some 80,000 slaves toiled in Athens as servants, farm laborers or in mines and quarries. Middle class families might own three or four. In Egypt, there were several classes of slavery: chattel slaves were usually war captives, bonded slaves were individuals who sold themselves or their families in exchange for food, shelter and repayment of their debts and forced labor, in which people were forced to work or fight for the state and were paid wages.
Slavery was commonplace throughout the ancient world and continued through the present day. The use of slave labor in the Americas existed before Europeans arrived. Native American tribes took slaves as spoils of war. The slavery that followed on Southern plantations was hardly a historical aberration.
Has human nature changed? I doubt it. There are still people who will find ways to dominate and control other people. Slavery is officially abolished in the modern world and there is no legal ownership structure. Nonetheless, tens of millions of people are still enslaved as victims of human trafficking, forced prison labor, or servants lacking citizenship, papers or a means of escaping their situation. And now we have a global pandemic.
Kevin Bales, co-founder of the advocacy group Free the Slaves, says modern slavery occurs “when a person is under the control of another person who applies violence and force to maintain that control, and the goal of that control is exploitation.” Sounds like what’s happening now? A good part of that definition already applies to much of the world’s population thanks to the actions of governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Leg irons and chains are no longer required to keep us under control. In the 21st-century technocracy, these have been replaced by surveillance cameras, smartphones, facial recognition software, license plate recognition software, snitching websites and hotlines and myriad lockdowns and quarantine orders. We have limits on freedom of movement, mass censorship on social media and, soon enough, we’ll be shackled by vaccine passports required to travel, enjoy entertainment and possibly even to shop.
Throughout history, the powerful found ways to identify the enslaved, often by making them walk barefoot, but also with distinctive clothing or by branding.
The sick ingenuity of the COVID crisis is that people have willingly allowed themselves to be branded and shackled. Branding may take the form of having to carry a QR code and wear a mask — even outdoors and even in your own home when entertaining guests. Shackling is done through threats, coercion and punishment. The coercion includes social pressure from the brainwashed masses who shame fellow citizens for failing to comply. The punishment may come in the form of arrest, huge fines or loss of a business license for defying authorities and daring to work after work has been banned.
In a crippled economy, employees who want to remain employed are more likely to do as they’re told, just as employers who want to keep the doors open and the lights on will be equally subservient to their government masters.
Now, New York State is doubling down with a proposed new law that will give the governor or public health officials the power to detain any person or group indefinitely without trial if they deem them a public health risk. The bill allows for forced medication and forced vaccination. Wow.
It’s a sad state of affairs. We see Times Square shut down and walled off on New Year’s Eve, then stare helplessly as Mayor de Blasio dances with his wife in the empty street. We’re told to stay home, to stop traveling, while governors dine with well-heeled friends and jet off to warmer climes. Oregon Governor Kate Brown famously said “I am not asking you. I am ordering you,” when she announced new COVID-19 restrictions. How long until we wake up and realize we are no longer free peoples but modern day slaves, toiling to keep the machinery humming, but shackled by our taskmasters. Will we rise up and throw off the chains?