You Are a Slave

January 21st, 2014   Submitted by Daniel Hawkins

VotingTo those unfamiliar with the libertarian-anarchist world, this is probably a jarring headline. I’m not a slave, you may think, I don’t have a master. I don’t work for free. I don’t get whipped. I own property. I am free. Libertarians and anarchists take heat for using the word “slave.” It’s not a light word to throw around, either. I agree. Slavery is very serious. To clarify, though, I’m not talking about chattel slavery. Chattel slavery is a horrific blight on the human race. It’s reasonable to interpret the use of the word as crass or naive. But not being bound by chains or ropes, and living in a nice house with nice amenities, and voting, and thinking you own yourself, does not mean you are not a slave. It’s not the physical condition of slavery that makes it slavery. Slavery is the denial of self-determination.

In the 1880s, former slave John Parker wrote that “[brutality] was an incident to the curse, but the real injury was the making of a human being an animal without hope.” While the pain and savagery of chattel slavery were inflicted on people, those were additional injustices to the state of being owned. The definition of slavery from Oxford Dictionary is:

“a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.” 

Now that we have the definition, let’s test my claim.

Do you work for free? Most people think this is one of the main characteristics of slavery. Historically, this is only partially true. Not only were there servants and house-slaves that were allowed a pretty high standard of living, but even those who worked the fields were paid in shelter, food, and clothing. Slaves with greater skills were even allowed a meager wage to spend when they were allowed to go to town. If being denied 100% of your labor makes you a slave, at what percentage are you no longer a slave? Today we pay taxes. While we may keep a large portion of our income, we do not keep all of it. When you file your taxes, take into account not only your income taxes, but sales tax, gasoline tax, sin tax, and every other tax imaginable, and you’re likely to have something close to a 50% tax burden. Make sure to remember that you may never see the products of your taxes in your community, since much of it goes to paying off debt and fighting wars. If you only own half of your labor, then you are a slave.

Do you get whipped or bound? To answer this question, we have to look at why slaves were whipped and bound. Firstly, it was a punishment. But really, it was to intimidate other slaves. It’s very important to understand that on the average plantation the proportion of slaves to non-slaves was at least five-to-one. So, it was necessary (in the mind of a slave-holder) to intimidate the slaves in order to prevent an uprising. To illustrate that we can compare chattel slavery to citizenship, keep in mind you are bound in a much more intelligent fashion. 5,000 innocent Americans were killed by police in the last 13 years. You’ve probably heard about the mass-surveillance and government intrusion into our privacy, as well as assassination and kidnapping of innocent individuals. While the purpose of this brutality on the part of State officials may not be to intimidate or control us, the effect has certainly been achieved. Consider those along with the Patriot Act and the NDAA, and you have a powerful recipe for rule by fear.

Do you own your property? The short answer is no. You probably didn’t build your house, but even if you did, the land at some point belonged to the government. The builders obtained permission from the government to even begin building. And even after all this, you still pay property taxes. As for other property, you pay sales taxes when you purchase it. You probably pay taxes on vehicles and most other things. So, if we apply the same logic to property as we did to income, if you do not own it entirely, is it really yours? No. You are borrowing your house and your property from the government. If you do not pay your taxes, the State will “re-possess” your property, implying that the State possessed it first. The government assumes you are only renting your property from them. You do not own it. You have never owned it.

Here’s the most important question: do you own yourself? A slave, by definition, is the legal property of someone else. If you were born, you are a citizen of the country you were born in. The “social contract” is said to be an implicit agreement all citizens make when they are born to follow that country’s laws, and prostrate themselves before the authority of the State. It is sometimes argued that voting gives you a voice in the political process, and you are therefore autonomous. That is not true. A slave who can pick a master is still a slave. Ask yourself these questions: Can you renounce your citizenship and still own property in your country? Can you renounce your citizenship and still trade in your country? Most importantly, can you ignore the law? No. The government suffocates any hope for true free will, even regarding victimless crimes, because a slaveholder must deny the self-determination of their slaves, or else they aren’t slaves. You are subject to the will of the State. You are not your master.

To conclude, there are a lot of noticeable differences between chattel slavery and modern slavery. Those differences afford us much more safety and comfort, but this is an evolution in slavery, not freedom. The chains are invisible, which makes today’s slavery much more effective. We are regarded by the State as livestock to supply the master with money. A “free range” tax cow. We are given a degree of freedom that chattel slaves were not, because being cramped and locked up drops the productivity of the livestock, due to sickness and depression. Taking livestock to pasture benefits the farmer. Occasionally an animal will run off, but if you set up enough punishment, and you give your animals a comfortable cage, they will return.

Today, the average citizen thinks life is good overall, and that the system is necessary. In reality, humans are manipulated by the State, allowed to choose their occupation, to think they own property, and to feel free, so they will pay more taxes. So, the next time you say, “I’m not a slave,” look around you. This is serious.

17 Responses to “You Are a Slave”

  1. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    Indeed, slavery is being forced to do what someone(s) else tells one to do. Pay is irrelevant. If one is paid one million dollars to do something they are being forced to do that is slavery. Slavery in 17th, 18th, and 19th century America was not free labor to the slave owners. The enslavers had to purchase the slaves and provide them food, clothing, shelter. They also had to hire someone to watch the slaves to keep them from escaping and they had to hire people to order them around. They also might have to pay someone to capture an escaped slave.

  2. Craig J. BoltonNo Gravatar says:

    Are bananas like vanilla custard. Yes, in some respects. Therefore, bananas are REALLY vanilla custard.

  3. Alex ZNo Gravatar says:

    Has anyone else recognized or contemplated the ridiculousness of this situation?

    In most of the Constitutions of the Western and democratic nations is some recognition of basic Human Rights, one of which is ownership of one’s person and the right to travel freely regardless of the accidental (to the individual) location of one’s birth. Every argument pro and con regarding these issues begin with the premise that “Fictional” entities and imaginary lines on the ground have the authority to undermine or negate our Natural Rights as Individuals.

    What is citizenship?

    In the broadest sense it is a nation’s claim of ownership of individuals. It’s not a Passport, it’s a “Slave Card,” to use Jeff Berwick’s term, and it can be denied or revoked by bureaucrats of the fictional entity known as the government or state, which is subject to change at any time with or without the approval of the tax-cows that feed these fictional entities.

    Yet over generations we have allowed the un-elected to trample Natural Rights.

    How is citizenship determined? Here’s my real life example:

    – I was born in the States to Canadian parents, I’m thereby a US citizen by the accidental location of my birth, and can establish Canadian citizenship based upon my parents’.

    – My paternal grandfather was a Pole who settled in Canada, thereby granting me the ability to establish Polish citizenship based on my heritage.

    – My maternal grandfather was 100% Ojibwe of the First Nations, which means I could establish quasi-citizenship of the First Nations of North America.

    – My maternal grandmother was of Irish and French Canadian heritage, which allows me to establish Irish citizenship.

    – My paternal grandmother was born in Canada to Ukrainian parents. I don’t believe Ukraine offers citizenship based on heritage.

    With so many options of citizenship open to this single individual the question arises, “how does citizenship in any of these fictional entities benefit me?” For the most part they don’t. They merely allow non-real or artificial entities to claim ownership and authority over me.

    The Boot-Strap Expat

    • Daniel HawkinsNo Gravatar says:

      Correct you are. To borrow from Nozick’s logic, you are no less a slave just because you are allowed to move from plantation to plantation.

    • Patrick QuinneyNo Gravatar says:

      Patriotism in its simplest, clearest, and most undoubted meaning is for rulers nothing else but a means of realizing their ambitions and venal ends; for the governed it is a renouncing of human dignity, intelligence, and conscience, and a slavish submission to the rulers. Wherever patriotism is championed, it is preached invariably in that shape. Patriotism is slavery.

      LEO TOLSTOY, The Open Court, Jul. 16, 1896

      • Alex ZNo Gravatar says:

        Though The Tao Of Power, by R. L. Wing translates it more eloquently, the essence of “Patriotism” shines through below.

        When the great Tao is forgotten,
        goodness and piety appear.
        When the body’s intelligence declines,
        cleverness and knowledge step forth.
        When there is no peace in the family,
        filial piety begins.
        When the country falls into chaos,
        patriotism is born.

  4. JaxNo Gravatar says:

    The definition of slave the author uses is wrong. One can be a slave without being legally recognized as the property of another.

    Think of human trafficking – the victims are slaves even if they aren’t legally property of another.

    • Daniel HawkinsNo Gravatar says:

      I understand I left out certain types of slaves, but I tried implying that the legality of human property is irrelevant. “Slavery is the denial of self-determination.” I believe most victims of human trafficking are bought and sold as chattel, legally or illegally, and are forced to work for these “customers” (which is a fallacious name for these scumbags), and being forced to work for someone at gunpoint is tantamount to slavery.

  5. thinkaholNo Gravatar says:

    It’s not even just that government has set itself up as our master, but it pimps us out to corporate/banking interests.

    If our money was actually ours the interest made on it would be paid to us.

  6. BenNo Gravatar says:

    Even if you think you own your property, read your Deed. If you are married you will be refered to as “Tenants in Common”. Miss paying your Real Estate Taxes 2 years and you’ll find out who owns your property!! You can be a citizen with NO country; ie, Amish, Mennonites

  7. Neo VendettaNo Gravatar says:

    Funny fact: in the netherlands a gab in the law creats a posability to cansel your citizenship and become sovereign but its pretty useless if you are still on dutch terratory.
    but a gab in the laws of the seas allows a sovereign human to start their own nation.
    conclussion a dutchman can become free if he wants to.

  8. Craig J. BoltonNo Gravatar says:

    “Slavery is the denial of self-determination.”

    So, let’s see if we have this right. We are all slaves. Well, of course not by the ordinary usage of the term “slave.” So, to save the conclusion lets change the definition.

    War is Peace.
    Truth is Falsehood.

    What a great game.

    • Daniel HawkinsNo Gravatar says:

      I’m not sure where I changed the definition. I used the Oxford Dictionary definition, as well as the words of someone who was, in fact, a slave in the 1850s. Tell me, do you keep all of your taxes? At what magical percentage is it justified to steal the product of another while claiming that it is their duty as a citizen (a.k.a. subject) of the government–just a group of people who use violence to enforce their claims over land and life–to give you their duly earned labor? At best that’s extortion by a gang, but more realistically, that’s a slaveowner ensuring his forced labor gets done.

    • Sam SpadeNo Gravatar says:

      Think I’m ‘way late on this one, but, Craig: I like your responses.

      Most “anarchists” refuse to accept their freedom. They stay focused upon the egregious central political authority — fighting and arguing with the beast — and refuse sovereignty.

      I learned sovereignty in “the hole”. Let’s all hope nobody reading this has to experience “the hole” (solitary “confinement”). But it gave me time to think through sovereignty and liberty. That’s been over a half century ago — I’m nearly eighty.

      I strongly suggest anybody “contemplating their slavery” read this:

      But let me warn you: you probably won’t get past the first couple pages if you are not sincerely working toward sovereignty. The late Delmar England knew how to knock the noses off the idols of anarchy.


  9. JCNo Gravatar says:

    My suggestion, play the game, make as much as possible and USE IT AGAINST THEM. Be that monkey wrench in the gears with the knowledge that everything you do from this point on is to prepare for combat operations against the Slaver Police State. Teach your friends and family well that conflict is coming soon, so keep your ammo dry.

    • JayNo Gravatar says:

      Well said JC. There are many who agree and are doing just this. May patience and preparation be on your side.

  10. E.v.R.No Gravatar says:

    Whether slavery is an appropriate term to describe gov’s attempt to encompass every domain of human activity is subject to debate… I think authoritarianism in general does reflect an attempt at intellectual slavery, if not actual. Using the term literally is a bit difficult for me, because gov’s activities seem to discincentivize productivity in every domain it touches, and productivity is core to the definition of a slave’s purpose for the master.

    But that leads to something I have been thinking a lot about lately, and may be in line with Sam Spade’s comment…

    Without masters, there can be no slaves. So think about why it is that you think government is your master. How much are they *actually* your master, vs. you just assigning yourself a victim label and resigning yourself to the status of a slave.

    Which leads to what JC says… Do what you can, make your own life, if you have opportunities to render gov irrelevant (GoFundMe, Kickstarter, other crowdsource voluntary initiatives) — We should all be pushing in this direction as much as possible.

    Don’t give centralized authorities undue attention they seem to crave… Render them irrelevant. In part their power is derived by our acknowledgement of them, and their significance in our lives. They don’t care whether that significance is negative or positive — just that it is significant.

    Do your part to deprive them of elevated status… If we want authority to be irrelevant, we have to act as if it is already irrelevant.

    That does not mean we should be ignorant of its vile machinations, sleep with one eye open and all that — But we should not allow it to impede our voluntary virtues, most importantly, voluntary action.

    If we take the victims’ mindset and allow it to obstruct every endeavor, then we do become actual slaves, partly through our own misconceptions.

    In other words, part of dependence on gov/authority is a mental dependence based on defining yourself as a victim in some way. Even if you are 100% opposed to gov, by thinking of yourself in this way, you have created a dependence at very least on the IDEA of gov as your enemy.

    You are not defined by who you perceive as your enemy. There is more to life, certainly more possibilities available to you in yours, then simply thinking of yourself as a government slave.

    A lot of this has to do with what tends to happen to people when they accept the labels they (or others) project upon them. People who have been called thieves or criminals their whole lives inevitably embrace the label. The same is true of victims. If you think of yourself as a victim, eventually it is self-fulfilling and you will become one.

    Going around calling ourselves slaves is probably not a wise idea, even if it were true. Things tend to get worse when you accept the label…