Re: [OPE-L] Inter-species slavery

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Thu Nov 23 2006 - 15:52:16 EST

>Quoting Rakesh Bhandari <bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU>:
>>  >In the problematic within which I am working, the key category is
>>  >not the free subject, whose existence I believe to be a philosophical myth
>>  >reflecting the requirements of the juridical/moral
>>  >level of the state apparattus, but labouring capacity.
>>  Abstract laboring capacity or potential is difficult to talk about
>>  because we always
>>  only see it instantiated in one concrete form of another.  a
>No more than many other scientific abstractions. Energy, which
>is a close analogue in Marx's discourse, also exists in concrete
>forms, but that does not make potential energy any less valid
>as a concept.
>We can do empirical measurements of abstract labouring capacity, this
>is what the capitalist discipline of work-study does. It quantifies
>the average amount of time to perform a task with the average worker.
>We know that workers can be transferd between tasks, this is the
>key to the abstraction. Just as energy can transfer between forms,
>so can abstract labour in two ways:
>1. In any society by a reallocation of individuals between tasks
>2. IN commodity producing society by the exchange of embodied labours.

The capacity for what kind of work and labor do humans have?

>>  So it may
>>  be no less a metaphysical
>>  concept than free will. Slave makers have always denied that slaves
>>  have the same capacities
>>  or potentials that they do on the basis of what slaves do.
>Yes, but this is class ideology, just like the racist ideologies
>about different labouring capacities of black and white peoples.
>I agree by the way, that race is a social rather than a genetic
>category, but as such it has clearly had real effectivity.


>>  At any rate,there is indeed an important difference in the dynamics
>>  of human and
>>  ant slavery because in the former slaves are either individually or
>>  collectively
>>  resisting in hidden ways or struggling to buy manumission or
>>  ingratiating themselves to win favor or risking death in the attempt to
>>  escape.
>I think this is an unsafe generalisation. Slaves certainly have struggled
>for freedom, but whether this is universal is quite another issue.
>is also another strategy that will have been common.

So you see no difference in the kind of ingratation a slave is
capable of as compared to a dog? And you don't think that affects the
dynamics of slavery differently than your pet relationship?

>  But it is not
>clear that either of these are uniquely human. I have a dog that is
>the very image of servile ingratiation, and bulls for example, have
>at times to be subject to considerable constraint.

Which is under genetic control. The responses by slaves are not that;
there are degrees of freedom here and choices in a meaningful way.
That makes slavery the institution it is with the dynamics it has.
It's just a bad metaphor to read that back into the animal world or
the world of animal husbandry.

>>  This is one reason why the human mode of slave production has an
>>  essentially different dynamic
>>  than the ant mode of slavery.
>This may be true, but one should not assume that insect societies
>are free from class conflict, recently the struggles of worker bees
have begun to be documented and understood.

The class struggle of worker bees? No citation. Is this a joke?

I'm done.


>>  You dismiss the question of whether ants have behavioral equivalents
>>  to these forms
>>  of resistance by  saying that the question arises out of a humanist
>>  problematic. Saying that of course
>>  does not prove that ants do have behavioral equivalents.
>Agreed, it just means that the significance attached to it
>may be different.
>>  And I certainly deny that slaves (or slave masters) are free to make
>>  the world any way they wish--I have not  said anything which implies
>>  a naive belief in the power of free will; how they respond will
>>  depend on constraints out of their control, but those constraints
>  > never eliminate the degrees of freedom which slaves as members of the
>>  homo sapiens species have.  That is, slaves are homo sapiens not the
>>  beasts and animals slave masters have historically thought that they
>>  were.
>Obviously slaves are constrained. The very ideology of free will has
>always depended on the contradistinction between the situation of
>the free citizen and the slave. What I was getting at was that you
>locate the key difference between the situation of human and other
>animal property in the subjectivity of the slave, I locate it in
>their labouring capacity. Thus elephants, however cruel their treatment,
>and whatever their subjective capacities - which may be as great
>as our own - are not slaves as their labour is not redeployable
>into any trade or profession.
>The hypothetical neanderthal captives would have been slaves, since
>their labouring capacity would have been equivalent to the hominids
>controlling them.
>>  And human slavery also cannot be compared to ant slavery for
>>  functional reasons.
>>  Human slavery is motivated by  conspicuous consumption, maximal
>>  profit making and/or sexual pleasure. Entomology has nothing to teach
>>  us about this.
>I suspect that there is a more basic biological imperative.
>Look at the comparative survival and reproduction rates of
>slave owners versus non slave owners. The slave owners will
>have been better fed and more likely to see their children
>survive. This trait is shared with ant slavers.
>>  >
>>  >I would say that slaves are those subordinate organisms whose
>>  >labouring capacity is equivalent to that of the enslaving species.
>>  Well this seems to say that slavery is then an intra homo sapien affair!
>>  YOu don't agree with Jerry that even elephants are enslaved. And wouldn't
>>  the domesticated ants no longer have the same laboring capacity has
>>  the slave making ants, so
>>  no slavery among ants by this definition, right?
>As I understand it, the labouring capacity of the slave ants
>is the same as the masters.
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