The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Will the democrats bring back slavery?

Posted by rantingkraut on November 14, 2008

Well, it is safe to presume that they won’t revive the 18th century version. However, if slavery is defined generally to cover any case where ownership rights are claimed over another human being then the answer may well be yes. Obama is reportedly planning forced labour schemes for school children and for college students as a precondition for receiving a grant.

Of course, if you want to be nice about Obama, you could classify the former as an educational measure –a kind of extension of compulsory schooling. The latter is, strictly speaking, part of an essentially voluntary exchange (unqualified labour services in exchange for an education subsidy). The same can not be said about the forced labour program favoured by his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel wants a non-military forced labour scheme for all Americans aged 18-25 without even the pretence of choice –an American version of the Reichsarbeitsdienst.

Obama’s government may well be too busy fighting the economic crisis to waste time and energy on daft dystopian missions. Still, it seems ironic, that the party fielding the first black president should also plan a revival of slavery, albeit in a post-modern form.

[Edited for accuracy (15 Nov. 2008) in reflection on the comment below. The second sentence in the second paragraph originally took the form of a sub-clause beginning “…, and the latter as part of an essentially voluntary…”.]

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2 Responses to “Will the democrats bring back slavery?”

  1. Considering how many people exist in true forced labour situations, it is an insult to their plight to consider what Obama has proposed (and not officially, by the way) as “forced” labour. Service to the country in return for grant money for college IS NOT slavery by any means of the word. Slaves don’t get benefits. Slaves are not working toward freedom. Slaves have no chance to change their situation. Even those in debt bondage today will never shake off their yoke; this is as slavers have intended. But a term of service in exchange for a grant is a choice – one does not have to take advantage of the grant program. Choice is NEVER associated with slavery. By its very nature, slavery robs a person of choice. Further, many college students accept internships without pay as a way of gaining practical experience in a chosen field. By your estimation, I would imagine, they are slaves, too. Yet that very experience has allowed many students to move forward into significant and often well-paid jobs.

    So before you toss around the term “forced labour scheme” like you’ve uncovered the greatest injustice, take a moment to think about those who languish in true forced labour situations at the moment and how your ridiculous rhetoric might be better served making the public aware of the 27 million people held in slavery today.

  2. „Service to the country in return for grant money for college IS NOT slavery by any means of the word.“ True, and admittedly I could have argued this point more carefully in the second paragraph. It would still be unwise in my opinion, since such schemes tend to artificially inflate the unskilled labour component of the service rendered.
    The planned service for school children comes very close to forced labour and, as is argued quite convincingly in the linked article, the remaining distinction will largely be a formality. The real scandal is Rahm Emanuel’s plan. You seem to distinguish this from “true forced labour conditions” but don’t state how true and fake force ought to be distinguished. If one is legally required to render a service than this is forced labour by definition.

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