Re: [OPE-L] WTO rep. proposes "compassionate slavery" for Africa

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Thu Nov 16 2006 - 09:44:07 EST

Hi Ian Hunt,

On your satire which does indeed raise very interesting problems.

1. As  Maurice Godelier has asked in the Enigma of the Gift, why in
today's society in which almost everything can be bought and sold the
individual may not be bought or sold by a third party. Not everything
is negotiable in our profit oriented society. Not all that is sacred
melts into air.  Individuals as corporeal and spiritual singularities
cannot be put on the market as commodities where as they deal in the
market as economic agents. And why can people be deprived of their
freedom by putting them in prison for debt while they cannot be sold
to reimburse that same debt?

2. Ethical argument may prove less decisive than we wish in
countering not a liberal/contractualist defense of slavery but a
Nietzschean one which would rest on three assumptions, as laid out by
James R. Flynn in How to defend Humane Ideals: "only superman merit
moral concern; therefore, worrying about what people deserve applies
only to superman; therefore, superman can treat herd mean as means to
their own ends, with the proviso that supermen should not do anything
that would demean themselves in their own eyes."

3. I think what's lost in the satire is the ways in which the 'free'
sale of labour power for a wage (behind which stands the only legal
apparatus of private property) already shares and indeed sharpens
some of the key features of chattel slavery.


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