Re: [OPE-L] Inter-species slavery

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Nov 22 2006 - 17:54:55 EST

>Hi Paul:
>For what it's worth, many science fiction plots center around the prospect
>of humans being enslaved by 'aliens' or vice versa.  The idea that
>humans could enslave aliens isn't particularly controversial, that is,
>if you accept the possibility that there are 'suitable' (for enslavement)
>life forms on other planets, is it?
>Whether we have already enslaved other species is another question.  I
>think that domesticization (sp?) can be a euphamism.  Aren't some
>elephants, for instance, enslaved?

Paul does not seem to be answering so I'll say the obvious. No,
elephants are not slaves though their domestication may well be cruel
and unethical.

But your interesting point here seems to be that only an animal which
resists human domestication can be enslaved.

But the point has shifted. Allin and Paul wanted to establish a
general model of animal slavery with the human practice as just one

Here you seem to be saying that 1. only humans are slave makers ---I
agree with that and 2. humans and a select few other mammals can be

But are elephants enslaved? Even those domesticated from birth?

Yet a slave can make a choice to remain enslaved and resist on the
job, buy manumission, ingratiate and win favor or risk death in the
attempt to escape.  An elephant is under genetic control to escape
into the wild. In this sense an elephant does not make a choice; he
does not choose to resist domestication or 'slavery'.  A slave always
does make a choice--this was Jairus' Sartrean point in his Historical
Materialism piece.

Slavery is in other words a specific set of institutional contraints
on the choice making subject of same species. Elephants are not such
a subject.  They are animals cruelly turned into instruments of
humans. They are not slaves.

Enslavement is a a social relation between human beings.  To fail to
see this is to miss what gives actual slavery its  dynamics.

To put it another way:  elephants don't experience this 'enslavement'
in the same way as humans.

Moreover, elephants are indeed  a different species than humans while
slavery involves (according to David Brion Davis) the bestialization
or animalization of members of the same species, the denial of their
specifically human capacities--imagination, reason, language.

  Though slavery is an ancient institution, this process reached its
zenith in the nineteenth century United States in which scientific
racism in the form of polygenesis--the so called American school of
anthropology--took hold.


>In solidarity, Jerry

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