In every single part of the world, chattel slavery has been a part of human history. No region of any significant size has not had large populations of people sold as slaves and no region has not purchased slaves. There is no era in which slavery was not a significant part of societal relations. Even hunter-gatherer people abducted or claimed slaves as war or crime reparations or as spoils of war. Throughout history and continuing today, these human products were used as adopted family members, labour, sex slaves, human sacrifice and even more gruesome fates. Even when they weren’t traded, they were chattel in that they were considered the property of an owner, to dispose of as they wished.
Slavery increased wherever the trade economy flourished, as did the production of all products for sale. The trade empires of the middle east and Africa were in very large part built by the labour of slaves and the wealth brought by the slave trade. During the last two millennia and earlier, the Arab and African states made slavery for both labour and sex an integral part of their social structure. Although slavery is technically illegal in every part of the world now (in Saudi Arabia and Yemen not until 1965, In Oman not until 1970 and in Mauritania not until 2007) neither region has ever really eradicated it and both have recently seen greatly increased human trafficking of all kinds[cite]. In addition to the regular trade, disasters such as the wars in Syria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and elsewhere bring the international vultures of human trafficking as well as politicians not averse to ridding themselves of annoying populations at a profit.
Europe’s use of slaves dropped after the fall of the Western Roman Empire with the increase in serfs and indentured servants and the decrease in trade. Europe was still frequently raided for slaves for all reasons, particularly the Slavs who were so often raided that the condition of slavery became synonymous with their name. Possibly three million[cite] Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Moldovans, Circassians and Lithuanians were enslaved by Central Asian khanates between 1500-1774 or six and a half million between 1200 to 1760,[cite] in a trade several authors have dubbed the “harvesting of the steppe”. According to Mike Dash, “the great Russian historian Vasily Klyuchevsky … observed that “if you consider how much time and spiritual and material strength was wasted in the monotonous, brutal, toilsome and painful pursuit of [the Tatar] steppe predators, one need not ask what people in Eastern Europe were doing while those of Western Europe advanced in industry and commerce, in civil life and in the arts and sciences.”
The vast majority of this trade was destined for the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. The Slavs had been the site of frequent slave raids earlier by Vikings, Italy, and others for sale to the Byzantine Empire, but by the time of the Ottoman Empire the trade was huge, there and elsewhere. Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Britain, Ireland and Iceland were also raided by pirates from the Barbary coast and some estimates claim between 1 million and 1.25 million[cite] Europeans were captured by pirates and sold as slaves in Tunis, Algiers and Tripoli between the 16th and the 19th centuries. Slaves made up three quarters of the population of the Crimean Khanate and one fifth of the population of Constantinople. As huge and devastating as this trade was, it was matched or dwarfed by numbers enslaved in parts of Africa and does not include the smaller or more exotic branches of the trade like slaves from Karelia (Finland).[cite] Like Africa and the Middle East, eastern Europe has never eradicated this trade. The still primarily female slave exodus is still ongoing[cite], still with the complicity of some source and destination governments.
China at many times preferred peasant, serf and bonded labour to slavery, but large populations of criminals and foreigners were still enslaved throughout Chinese history and as now,[cite] any laws against slavery frequently did not reflect the reality. Like Africa and Europe, India’s preexisting slavery was greatly expanded by the Islamic slave markets. Later Indians were also sold to the European overseas empires. The Dutch had the largest slave trade in the world in the late 1600s and, besides enslaving the indigenous populations, they imported around 6000 African slaves and an unknown quantity of Indian slaves a year into the Dutch West Indies.[cite] South East Asian slave populations were huge, particularly in Thailand and Burma where some estimate a quarter or third of the populations in some regions were enslaved between the 17th and 20th centuries. All the above regions still have large populations in labour slavery today[cite], as well as sex slavery and purchased brides, increasingly as the female shortage in both India and China has become more acute[cite]. Nepal and other areas are frequently raided by traffickers for the sex trade[cite] and Nepal also has traditional slavery still in existence among the kamlari[cite]. Displaced populations like Burma’s Rohingya people are either pushed off into boats to die or they fall victim to the human traffickers, frequently associated with officials like those in the Thai navy[cite]. China also has indentured labour that is difficult to distinguish from slavery and they have mass trials and execute prisoners and political dissidents horrifically and on demand for the organ trade in what can only be called a human farming industry[cite].
Slavery was widespread in America, as it was on the other continents, and Europeans who landed in America both enslaved indigenous people and were occasionally themselves enslaved. As soon as overseas trade expansion began in the 15th century, so did renewed trafficking in slaves by Europe. The trans-Atlantic slave trade from Africa to America was a massive industry from the mid 1500’s to the mid 1800s, enslaving around 85,000 people a year at its peak[cite]. While slave raids have always resulted in very low survival rates for the victims, from causes such as long marches, foreign diseases, castration and abuse, the trans-Atlantic voyages were particularly long and horrific with inestimable death and suffering. In addition to slaves from Africa, political dissidents and victims of attempted genocide in Ireland and other unwanted or poor throughout Europe were sent as indentured servants in conditions sometimes close to slavery. With the progressive abolition of slavery in the colonies, their numbers were replaced by more indentured servants from India and China, also sometimes kept in conditions difficult to distinguish from slavery. As well as traditional slavery, the United States in particular has continued to keep servants in a state near indentured servitude through legal threats based on their visa status.
In the era of abolition, slavery was depicted in American colonies as a problem of racial equality. This approach disregards the entire history of global slavery which took place before racism was invented and which hasn’t been slowed at all by attempts to eliminate racism. The international focus on one part of the historical trade, labour slaves from Africa to European colonies, in particular the United States, has allowed all other slavery to operate with varying levels of impunity. When slavery becomes so visible it can’t escape notice, it is now called human trafficking. While the new term focuses on the sale of people rather than the use of them, they are both incomplete terms and the only reason to swap one for the other is to pretend that there was a point in history where slavery was abolished and now it is a historical topic. While there may no longer be African slaves picking cotton in the United States, there is unprecedented slave labour in the United States from the rest of America and even more slaves from around the world in the United States sex industry[cite]. Despite the fact that there are far more books and papers discussing the end of slavery than the continuation of it, slavery has increased in almost every part of the world[cite].
Slavery has also been depicted as a problem integral to production and capitalism. Both today and throughout history, there were huge populations of slaves purchased for consumption instead of production, slaves for sex and other service to the wealthy. Slaves as product instead of means of production have been widely ignored in movements focused on workers defined as those involved in manufacturing product. This has led many historians to depict the Arab slave trade as not related to labour and to talk about slaves being freed by marriage and adoption because the service of women and children continues to be unvalued. Exodus 21:2 instructed “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.” but Exodus 21:7 qualifies “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.” If marriage is involved there is no need to qualify. Then as now, we accept female slavery as a domestic cultural norm. If a boy is sold for labour, human rights groups call it slavery, but for a girl they use the term marriage in cases which are slavery by all definitions. Women and children’s bodies are also now a resource for the massive non-consensual porn industry, as product. Defining domestic and product slavery would require discussion of the roles of women and children in the wider society. The lack of autonomy of women and children in deeply patriarchal societies also makes it much more difficult to define the conditions which constitute slavery. If adult male standards were used, all women and children may be considered slaves in some communities.
Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written in 1948 to abolish slavery. In 1966 it was modified to ensure it still allows slavery of the lowest class, in prisons. In the private prisons of the U.K., U.S. and Australia, people in prisons are chattel, actually owned by the corporate prisons, and their labour and their bodies can be sold through corporate contracts. With the scandals involving police and judiciary funneling people into these prisons for payment,[cite] it is evident the prisons are the new cotton fields in the United States and the judiciary and police in these cases are acting as slave traders.
Slavery, like genocide, is a problem that has been with us in every region and every era. To our credit, both are now almost universally recognized as something we need to overcome, but we are nowhere close to doing so. Both are largely ignored by both media and public, perhaps because those whose job it is to see that these crimes do not go on are helpless to stop them. Despite the attempts at creating peacekeeping forces by the United Nations and others, we have not developed a way for larger society to protect one group of people who another are intent on massacring. Neither do we have any way to stop a lucrative trade economy in any product, particularly when many of those profiting occupy powerful positions. It is easier to pretend these things no longer happen.
A 2014 study on population growth projections finds an 80% probability that the world population, now 7.2 billion, will increase to between 9.6 and 12.3 billion by 2100.[cite] Growth will occur primarily from nations which have suffered from trade pillaging, including indigenous populations in the Americas. In the wealthy states, as well as the rapidly growing economies such as China, Brazil and India, an epidemic of aging is projected instead.[cite] At the same time, income disparity has reached a point where “eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.”[cite] More than ever in history, there are far too many vulnerable people to meet the needs of the few who can afford to buy them. There is also a global gender imbalance[cite] which has been caused by the gynocidal[cite] actions of populations in China[cite] and India,[cite] the current and projected largest populations in the world, as well as other places. Since China and India are also two of the wealthiest economies, they can afford to spread their severe imbalance to other nations.[cite] More than ever in history, women are a global commodity.[cite]
The fact that population growth is stabilized or dropping in industrialized countries and increasing in developing countries and poor populations is used to justify both active and passive genocide by the people controlling the technology to wage war and stop disease. The number of displaced people reached 65.3 million in 2016 and is steadily climbing.[cite] It is no longer necessary to conduct raids into peaceful territories for the slave trade. Wars and famine are driving large populations of desperate and untraceable people into the arms of slave traders.
With the Australian government’s recent sale of refugees to Cambodia,[cite] human trafficking has become openly a government activity again, as it always has been secretly. The U.S. military and Canadian resource corporations have for years disdained justice systems in favour of monetary payouts for the lives of people they murder.[cite] The trade economy has normalized the valuation of people in monetary terms to the point that it is customary to reply with a dollar value when asked for a person’s worth. The underclass in earlier empires were valuable labour. In modern times the vast majority are expendable product. Replacing labour slavery with waged labour and automation has only expanded the uses people buy slaves for. People are bought and sold as products for militias, prostitution, marriage, organ trafficking and even ritual killings. People are tortured for ransom and charged for their passage as refugees.
There is no need for wise rulers to create community in a supranational empire. Trade can make problem populations disappear and bring profit too. Inconvenient populations were, and still are, packed on cargo ships and traded as slaves or indentured servants or settled in penal colonies far away from home. Bounties for neighbours helped fill Guantanamo as well as slave markets throughout history and today. One of the primary sources of income for stateless militias is still the ancient standby, kidnap and ransom. With the growth of criminal industry, human trafficking is far more versatile now than it has ever been. Stateless militias traffic people to sell for every criminal use, but use them as well as drug mules, for weapons running, as sexual bribes to militia members and as ‘suicide’ bombers. Both stateless and state militias use child soldiers. Boko Haram fighting against the Civilian Joint Task Force youth vigilantes endorsed and supported by the Nigerian military was a war of children against children, something none of Nigeria’s ally states objected to and something media seldom reported in their periodic hysteria about Boko Haram.
The trade economy creates a market for whatever product it has to sell. No one needs to buy trafficked humans. The demand is created by the seller who convinces the buyer. The vast increase in the paedosadism market, where children are raped, tortured or murdered for adult entertainment is a horrifying example of created demand.[cite] There is a new and growing market in West Africa created by those who have convinced politicians that amulets from ritual killings are necessary for their electoral success.[cite] China is farming prisoners and political dissidents and harvesting their organs on demand to market them to a self-indulgent and wealthy population who have been convinced they deserve immortality.[cite]
One of the most interesting economic loops of the last century is in the paedosadism market. A very large number of powerful officials in governments and international organizations have been implicated in paedosadism,[cite] leading to much debate in the press as to the causal link between paedosadism and high office. There is an obvious feedback loop between a criminal underground which is in charge of human trafficking and those in positions of power who are either lured to participate or were selected for high office because of their blackmail potential. The frequency with which spy agencies are involved in these cases also indicates that they may be encouraging the election of politicians and others who they can easily control with blackmail. Besides the incredibly high number of politicians implicated in the UK,[cite] their are accusations that children from Kincora boys home were used by MI6 for blackmail of IRA and Sinn Fein members[cite] and accusations that Joris Demmink, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, was being blackmailed by Turkey[cite] and others. There have also been multiple cases of organizations such as United Nations peacekeepers involved in paedosadism, in Bosnia, in Somalia, in the Central African Republic and more. It is obvious that a criminal industry as huge as human trafficking cannot exist without borders and bank accounts being accessible to the trade and that access is ensured by a blackmail and bribery loop fed by the industry itself.
States also have multiple ways to profit from large populations now that large scale industrial labour is no longer needed. They are used for weapons advertising, as seen in the huge increase in arms dealer profits from the weapons trade shows being held over the slaughter of people in Syria, Gaza and elsewhere.[cite] They are used to fill prison corporations, a circular trade that has taxes pay corporations to imprison the citizens and then prisons sell the labour of prisoners to other corporations at a vast discount.[cite] People are made ill and their illness is used to profit the pharmaceutical and medical industries.[cite] Their food security is destroyed and the resulting famines are used to profit NGOs, a cycle well planned years in advance.[cite] Cartels in America sell drugs to the poor in the United States in exchange for the guns flowing down the Iron River from the United States to Central America.[cite] Weapons manufacturers in the United States profit on the lives of the poor in both Central America and the U.S. and then convince governments they need even more guns to stop the violence. Water everywhere is stolen and polluted by Coca Cola so that people are forced to buy Coca Cola.[cite]
Since the years during which IBM profited from cataloguing people for Hitler’s concentration camps,[cite] the tech industry has catalogued and spied on and murdered people for the powerful. Intelligence and military agencies have been accused of or admitted to conducting mass and individual experiments on foreign and local populations for decades and the findings are frequently used to profit industry.[cite] Food, environmental, worker and infrastructure safety are reduced by corruption, incompetence, and corporate greed, but even more so when the ruling strata would rather the population was reduced.
As people become more expendable, the popular uses for them are ever more genocidal. Drugs are as useful for immobilizing a large public and funding their tyrants as they were in the U.K. – China opium wars or Japan’s occupation of Manchuria. Today, China is more likely to be the supplier, as they are in providing fentanyl to the United States[cite] or heroin to Burma’s Kachin people.[cite] The three biggest criminal industries are all genocidal, a great help in removing populations standing in the way of resource corporations or threatening the wealthy. The weapons for populations to destroy each other with greater ease and the drugs to increase the violence and incapacitate effective resistance have been supplemented with the rapid growth of the human trafficking industry.
The trade economy and borders have made both genocide and slavery much more difficult to control. Both slavery and human trafficking are now illegal in every state in the world, but the states do not control the trade economy. Human trafficking is now the world’s largest criminal trade, ahead of weapons and drugs. Like the rest of the supranational merchant class, this economy operates above state jurisdiction. The United Nations has estimated there are now about thirty million slaves worldwide[cite] but it is impossible to know the real number. Traffickers are often supplied by organizations working with the most vulnerable people, from NGOs to military to child protection services. They haunt places where people may have gone missing for any number of reasons such as natural disasters and refugee migrations.
We have always had sectarianism. The difference now is we also have hierarchy. Those who treat the rest of us as an outgroup they have no empathy for are at the very top strata of society and have control over every aspect of our lives. We have always committed atrocities on people in our outgroups. The difference now is we can profit from those atrocities. Whether our actions have social approval or not, they can produce currency which will bring social approval. As long as we can buy social approval with currency we are no longer as susceptible to societal coercion. As long as our societies are non-existent, shunning and inclusion have no effect on us.
Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Citations will be transferred when I get a minute.