Re: [OPE-L] Inter-species slavery

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu Nov 23 2006 - 11:32:59 EST

> I would say that slaves are those subordinate organisms whose
> labouring capacity is equivalent to that of the enslaving species.
> This category is empirical and testable, those about subjects
> and their free will seem much harder to test.

Paul C:

To begin with, elephants are a wild animal which has never *as a
species* been domesticated.  (NB: emphasis in previous sentence).

Secondly, they were captured.  This is unlike some domesticated
animals like dogs and cats which *for the most part* came to associate
with humans because it was mutually beneficial for the humans and these
non-human species.

Thirdly, their use (outside of the horrors called circuses and the prisons
called zoos) was productive.  Their special laboring capacity, especially
before the advent of motor vehicles and steam power, etc. -- was their

Of course, whether elephants can be slaves depends on how one defines
slavery.  One could, for example *define* slavery in such a way that only
humans are slaves and slaveowners.  I think this is a mere formalism,
though.  Your 'thought experiment' with pre-humans seems germane.  Here's
another thought experiment: suppose the evolutionary process continues and
another life form evolves from homo sapiens: can't we envision the
possibility that the new species will enslave the old or vice versa?
Who are slaves and who are the enslavers depends on concrete historical

Primitive communism and slavery are modes of production, I think, which
are possible for other species.  Feudalism and capitalism, I think, aren't
... for a variety of reasons.

In solidarity, Jerry

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