The Power of Slavery

When we talk about slavery, we should know that this question is not asked in a vacuum and it has not been for over two centuries. Slavery has become an ideal example to invoke because its evil is so morally clear and so widely acknowledged. Who would defend slavery? It’s the Hitler of human practices, yet despite all its power, the word slavery is rarely defined.

Dr Jonathan Brown draws a parallel between slavery and terrorism. He points out that the word slavery is much like the word terrorism. Its power lies in the assumption behind its meaning and in the moral condemnation it carries, but it is very poorly defined.

He, through Jonathan Brown slavery, also says that like the word terrorism, slavery is also deeply political, not in the sense of politics he says, but in the sense that it is inherently tied with the pressures of power. Just as the practice of slavery is an extreme exercise of power by some human beings over others, wielding the language of slavery is a claim to moral authority over others. It is no surprise that the advocates are ending the brutal and unacceptable exploitation and exploitative labor practices such as sweat shops, child sex trafficking, forced marriages and organ trading today refers to such phenomenon as modern day slavery. The reason for invoking the word slavery here instead of other definition such as bonded labor or child labor is clear, Slavery provokes emotional reaction, spurs people into action and support for a cause.

Although such practices are reprehensible with modern day slavery, we want to cross some familiar problems. If we took a definition of slavery used by activist fighting modern day slavery and the main definition is that slavery is something you can’t walk away from, and applied it just too western history, we find that nobody was free. Much like the modern prisoners. But we never call prisoners slaves. This is a political choice.