What is all this chit-chat about “slaves”? Surely, the centuries have gone where people could purchase and harbour slaves in order to do their bidding… To clear it all up, let us take a look at societies and explain what it takes to be a slave in a modern context.
Well, you see, if you are of European decent, in the past you could traffic people (buy them, sell them) that would perform your chores for you against some sort of compensation – most usually, they were just fed and allowed to live in your house and mostly in deplorable conditions. Back in those days society was considerably structured on a very rigid hierarchical layer where you had your superiors and you had your inferiors. The system in-place at that time could be coined as “feudalism” which means a hierarchical system where power was attained though material means, knowledge of other people, and all of it being enforced by the military and strict religious practices. The problem with the feudal societies, similar to all the societies today, is that at the base of society you had a very large amount of people living from day to day whilst very few managed to escalate to the upper layers of society. However, regardless of the abhorrent condition of the slaves on the inferior layers of society, slaves were living under the protection of their oppressors: there was food on the table, they had a place to rest – in other words, they were given the necessary conditions to survive such that the conditions, although ridiculous, were sufficient for the salves to grow complacent with. Even back in the day, a couple that wanted to marry had to let their superior (most often their owner or the owner of the land they were living on) copulate with the bride (named “prima noche” meaning “the first night”) and even if that was obviously just a way for the ruling class to impose themselves it is a memory that few fans of the middle ages conveniently chose to discard. Needless to say that the salves were miserable from all aspects of their lives and that their self-esteem, self-respect and other traits of character were weighed solely against what they had to do in order to survive. Nevertheless, life was quite simple: you were supposed to do what you were told to do and for that you obtained some rewards that kept you going. It was clearly not in your power to topple the system and speaking against the system was duly punished such that others would have been discouraged to join your in the protest.
Although, officially, feudal societies came after the birth of Christ, it is trivial to observe an ancient society and notice that the same concepts (albeit disguised) are prevalent. Via Christ, a slave himself – a man of no formal standing, Christianity was introduced – a religion, no more and no less, than a religion for the salves. Even though the slaves were miserable and disgruntled, Christianity provided for them, alongst a codex enforced by fear, a means for relief – a promise that their lives are not in vain and that if they listen and obey their superiors, then their “next life” would be paved with abundance, wealth and rewards as a means to compensate for their misery. Given the major imbalance of society at that time, with the wealthy on the edge and massive numbers of slaves on the other side, this religion (as with many others) came to be widely acknowledged and cherished. If you lived your life day-by-day, it would be difficult not to wallow in some form of self-indulgent fantasy that although you are the lowest of the low, at some point everything will change for you and you will suddenly acquire all the happiness that you longed for.
So, how does that translate to modern society? Quite simple. Entire generations of oppressed salves have passed on to their descendants a lingering feeling of romanticised melancholy about the feudal age – brushing away the miserable parts but all the while preserving a profound need to be lead and told what to do, to cherish work, to obey superiors and implicitly to not disrupt the hierarchy, to compete against their peers, to be happy with what you have and implicitly to see good in even the smallest things, to be respectful to beasts of burden, to be humble in face of authorities – often enforced by self-depravation, to have women obey their husbands, to do favours and to receive favours, to carry a profound respect for belongings, to respect the church, and lastly but not least, to procreate and pass on the same education to their offsprings… The fact is that all the afore-mentioned constitute a package of values that were passed down from generation to generation such that, even today, regardless of the depravity of the middle ages, people still choose to linger in the same melancholy because most of their current values are no more and no less derived from the values that were passed on to them dating back to feudalism. This passing of values gives rise to a so-called “slave mentality” that has only an apparent connection to trafficking human beings but rather leans towards the set of antiquated values that surface in various forms in a modern society. It is also interesting to observe by comparison that the concept of “feudalism” is unfortunately not localised to Europe but it is rather a world-wide concept that applies to many other regions (for example, the cast system in India).
In this context, the “slave mentality” flourishes in modern societies through the (re)-surfacing of ancient values that, even if they cannot be applied directly, still linger around and constitute for people a template for judgements.
“To be lead and told what to do […]” – granted feedom, your modern day slave will feel confused and will still seek some form of hierarchy to serve. How many times have you heard in passing a slave complaining to another slave that a certain person they know has not been respectful enough to a superior. Even though, modern society does not really have superior humans – the hierarchy belongs in the army, perhaps, the slave will still strive to find someone to serve, to obey and to look up to. Granted free-will, the slave will still find someone – whether, in modern society, it is a TV set or another human, and be told what to do. Have you taken advice seriously on how to properly peel a boiled egg by shaking it in a glass? Do you actively seek to be told what to do from adverts, fashion magazines, other self-annointed experts of life? Chances are you might just have a little bit of slave in you.
“To cherish work […]” – cherishing your enslavement – preferably in a systematic way, goes a long way with the slave. The moment you mention to the slave that you are unemployed or that you have a short work schedule, the slave will feel uncomfortable because the slave was taught that manual labor and the hardship of work in general is the right way to live your life. There are cases where the slave will also not accept “intellectual work” because intellectual work is not palpable enough for them. Ideally, to be respected, the slave wants you to haul bricks and potato sacks. Only then will you be a good slave in the eyes of another slave.
“To obey superiors and implicitly to not disrupt the hierarchy […]” – the salve has a deep need to be part of a hierarchy because it is the only means for the slave to place itself in society. It is insufficient for a human to evaluate itself and draw its own strengths and weaknesses! A proper slave needs people above, its superiors and people below, its inferiors in order to be able to asses it’s own capabilities. How many times have you heard gossip where a slave complains at work about something that a different slave said to the boss and how disrespectful that was – in a different perspective, a competition of who can be a better slave. How dare s/he say that to a superior? Shameless! I would definitely addressed the situation better…
“To compete against their peers […]” – competing for the slave is very important most notably because the selection process of the slave in the feudal system was essentially made on the basis of who can work more and ask less. If you were incompetent, chances were that you would just die of hunger – or go into prostitution (a profession usually beneath a slave and thus widely frowned upon by slaves). This avid need to compete is abundant in modern societies and takes very many forms. Have you ever seen a slave on a bus complaining that a younger person is sitting down and the slave has to stand even though the slave is older? Have you seen slaves insist on getting their point made in a discussion at all costs? The slave feels a fervent need to impose and rise above all others in society and will thus attempt to rub elbows with right about anybody in the absence of a superior. What is worse is that slaves may turn to be not very trustworthy due to their inner need to surpass their own condition at all costs and might thus discern information just for the sake of putting them in a better light than a different slave. A consequence is the rise of elitism where the slaves are unimpressed with their current condition and strive and demand only the exceptional regardless the cost.
“To be happy with what you have and implicitly to see good in even the smallest things […]” – a slave may put up a fervent fight but the slave will always accept contempt. There is an endless supply of examples where slaves comfort each other, not entirely different to religion, through inspirational means. Although contempt is not in the build of the slave (but rather competition and elitism), contempt is a value that passed on both by superiors and religion in order to make sure that the slave stays in its place without rattling the boat or kicking up a fight that, due to the abundance of slaves and the shortage of superiors, would have drastic consequences for the superiors. There are many phrases and expressions in different languages, some of them created by superiors, others created by religion that ensure that the slave remains humble and undemanding of their superiors. In case competition fails, then contempt is the fall-back.
“To be respectful to beasts of burden […]” – How about all those silly pictures on the Internet where humans are portrayed as a destructive force and beasts of burden are glorified? Well, in feudalism a beast of burden was often much more expensive than a slave. You could get slaves easily at the market but a good cow, a productive bull or a chicken that laid eggs every day that you could sell was very expensive. In all reason, humans are the most technologically evolved species on the planet, have figured out space travel, generated electricity and so on… So, how come they are portrayed as being evil, vile and destructive by the slave? The reason is that the slave inherited a set of values where slaves, even though human, were placed well beneath the beasts of burden – a structure that the slave was very conscious of and often the reason for punishment for a slave in case it had mishandled the superior’s beast of burden.
“To be humble in face of authorities – often enforced by self-depravation […]” – Most of the means of advancement for a slave was to beg a superior for something. Given the low – or nonexistent wages in a feudal system for a slave, the only acquisition they could make would be through begging. One of the backlashes is that slaves in modern societies tend to always be very demanding of everyone and a direct consequence of generations and generations of humility towards a superior. Although other slaves will see begging a superior as rude (due to the issue of competition being raised), it stands in every slave’s acceptance to beg for favours, better wages, items and work. A slave will most likely beg even before attempting a task.
“To have women obey their husbands […]” – In a feudal system, women were a commodity and often a direct subject of their husbands – a sub-division of slavery, if you will, where the husband may have been a slave but the woman would have been a slave to the husband. Unfortunately, there is little reason for this except the physical prowess of men that does predate any feudal system. Nevertheless, it is still a value that is passed on down along the lines even if physical prowess becomes less and less important in modern society. Note that physical fitness and prowess is very important to the slave – more so that the selection of slaves was also performed on their ability to carry out physically strenuous tasks. You will seldom see a superior having a good physical prowess since it was not needed. On the other hand, you will definitely see slaves cram up the fitness room and impress each other with their pulsating pectorals – after all, look at me, I am so fit I think I will be able to carry 5 sacks of tomatoes for my superior compared to other slaves that will only be able to carry 1 sack!
“To do favours and to receive favours […]” – By the very definition of a feudal system, relations amongst humans were important. To serve and be in-turn served, ala “one hand washes the other” was part of the feudal system and up to this day the slaves are unable to rid themselves of this mentality. Partially because this system still works in some minor league up to a slave requiring a larger and impossible favour from another slave, but also because they have learned this system from their superiors and are now mimicking it.
“To carry a profound respect for belongings […]” – slaves were rarely permitted any belongings. Most of the time belongings had to be hidden from the superiors or they were confiscated. As a consequence, modern day slaves have an inherent need to hoard belongings as if it were the last thing that they have – in many today, between labor and rest, the only thing that still fits in the tight schedule is the acquisition of goods – even thoughts, and well-formed thoughts are a commodity too expensive to the brick layer. Have you seen the YouTube video when a child destroys an iPad? Watch it again but ignore the video and rather scroll down to watch the competition between slaves unfold on the topic of respecting one’s “hard earned” belongings. There will be a lot of nonsense there about “respect” – for an iPad?
“To respect the church […] – the church was both the cane and the absolver in feudal systems. Through punishment, reward and mysticism, whilst being paid off by the superiors, it was and still is a means of regulating slaves in society. Amended many times to suit the ruling class, portions of the Bible, or even tertiary non-original derivations thereof was thrown at the slaves in order to keep them in check. The “will of God” amended to be the “will of a superior” became the central authority for the slave. That way, the superiors did not have to put up a respectful figure in front of the slaves anymore. Instead, the church firewalled the superiors and indoctrinated the slaves such that their work and strife were justified and rewarded by an intransigent figure “God” all, in the end, to the sole benefit of the ruling class.
“To procreate and pass on the same education to their offsprings […] – It is essential for a superior to be able to generate a work-force. After all, the life-span of a human being is short, especially under rough conditions in a depraved lifestyle, whilst the life-span of an empire can be very long relatively. As such, it is imperative that the slaves reproduce and also educate their offsprings to follow the same set of values. To many slaves, the “inner need” to found a family is, in fact, wholly unjustified in an elementary rationale but, rather derives from the set of values that has been passed on for the purpose of increasing the workforce for the ruling class. As a matter of fact, whether you have an offspring or not is, in fact, completely inconsequential to your own life.
Contrasted to a superior, a slave may actually prove way more dangerous. Nothing is worse than a pissed-off slave with physical prowess and elitist mentality that wants to rise about its own condition by shafting the competition. From a superior, you would have nothing to fear since, if you are not part of the ruling class (and you most likely are not), you do not represent a threat and are thus irrelevant. The inner mechanics of a slave is a dangerous machine that can generate a lot of hassle and turmoil in society – whether that represents a change for the better, or worse, the fact remains that salves have a long way (if not, an impossible way) to go before their rid themselves of their passive-aggressive submissiveness. If you are surrounded by slaves and do not resonate with them then you are well-advised to get out of the way until they harbour you in and “guide” you on the path of the slave.
There are such things in this planet as slave societies – societies that have long been oppressed and used for labor by other powers, whose citizens have been indoctrinated with the “slave mentality” and for which the only escape could only be several generations of abundance to wash away the generations of shortage. Many countries that have lived or are still living in the shadow of other powers will still remain at the same level of aggressive servitude unless they are infused with power and money to create an abundance that will not warrant the need for the competitive and elitist behaviour of its slaves. It is in those societies that you will observe the antithetical reflection of servitude expressed by the aggressiveness and turmoil of the slaves attempting to escape their condition through all means available to them. Whether that may be violence, competition, elitism or other aberrations as a consequence of oppression, the portrait of the slave remains a fundamental portrait governing many developing countries.