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'Consent Of The Vanquished'
Crackpot Mailbox: Baruch and James Discuss Hobbes and Slavery
Catching up
Nov 3, 2019, 12:43 PM (5 days ago)
to me
Hope all is well. I am glad you spent some time out West getting back in shape. Hopefully, you can make a trip out here to Israel once your books take off (and in these times, I think you're the most relevant author for a lot of young dudes-if they're getting this excited about some queer called Bronze Age Pervert, they could use your advice.)
Reading Hobbes' Leviathan yesterday, I noticed that he already makes a big distinction between a servant and a slave, like this:
Dominion acquired by Conquest, or Victory in war, is that which some Writers call DESPOTICALL, from Despotes, which signifieth a Lord, or Master; and is the Dominion of the Master over his Servant. And this Dominion is then acquired to the Victor, when the Vanquished, to avoyd the present stroke of death, covenanteth either in expresse words, or by other sufficient signes of the Will, that so long as his life, and the liberty of his body is allowed him, the Victor shall have the use thereof, at his pleasure. And after such Covenant made, the Vanquished is a SERVANT, and not before: for by the word Servant (whether it be derived from Servire, to Serve, or from Servare, to Save, which I leave to Grammarians to dispute) is not meant a Captive, which is kept in prison, or bonds, till the owner of him that took him, or bought him of one that did, shall consider what to do with him: (for such men, (commonly called Slaves,) have no obligation at all; but may break their bonds, or the prison; and kill, or carry away captive their Master, justly:) but one, that being taken, hath corporall liberty allowed him; and upon promise not to run away, nor to do violence to his Master, is trusted by him.
Not By The Victory, But By The Consent Of The Vanquished
It is not therefore the Victory, that giveth the right of Dominion over the Vanquished, but his own Covenant. Nor is he obliged because he is Conquered; that is to say, beaten, and taken, or put to flight; but because he commeth in, and submitteth to the Victor; Nor is the Victor obliged by an enemies rendring himselfe, (without promise of life,) to spare him for this his yeelding to discretion; which obliges not the Victor longer, than in his own discretion hee shall think fit.
And that men do, when they demand (as it is now called) Quarter, (which the Greeks called Zogria, taking alive,) is to evade the present fury of the Victor, by Submission, and to compound for their life, with Ransome, or Service: and therefore he that hath Quarter, hath not his life given, but deferred till farther deliberation; For it is not an yeelding on condition of life, but to discretion. And then onely is his life in security, and his service due, when the Victor hath trusted him with his corporall liberty. For Slaves that work in Prisons, or Fetters, do it not of duty, but to avoyd the cruelty of their task-masters.
The Master of the Servant, is Master also of all he hath; and may exact the use thereof; that is to say, of his goods, of his labour, of his servants, and of his children, as often as he shall think fit. For he holdeth his life of his Master, by the covenant of obedience; that is, of owning, and authorising whatsoever the Master shall do. And in case the Master, if he refuse, kill him, or cast him into bonds, or otherwise punish him for his disobedience, he is himselfe the author of the same; and cannot accuse him of injury.
Thank you so much for the invitation of hospitality. I have been so lucky to have been invited to visit so many places after having lived in one nasty place my entire adult life.
Baruch, thank you for this.
Hobbes' work will be featured prominently in the Plantation America project. He is very underrated and was writing about the role of the State in an era emerging from failed states and civil war—and poised to return to the same shortly.
We've known since the third year into this project that the idea of "slavery" in the Early Modern English Mind of Letters [the top 1% who counted among their numbers all intellectuals] only applied to people held in bondage outside of their cultural norms:
-To Christians held by Muslims
-To Europeans held by Africans
-To Africans held by Europeans
-To aristocrats held by merchants
-To kidnapped and abducted people whose bondage had not been sanctified by court order
Slavery was thought to be "Egyptian like" [referencing the Old Testament] and to be unjust and beyond social sanction. So, by definition, anyone who was named a "servant" was so named to deny impropriety on the part of his owner. The dueling narratives of the period, with servants claiming to have been slaves and masters claiming that they held no slaves was more than the semantic debate it has become, but rather real slings and arrows cast in a contest of wills that would eventually define North America as a land where only Africans can be regarded as having been enslaved. The winning of the literary debate between European slavery survivors and the master class, by the master class, has set us up for the current ebony on ivory race reparations purge I have lived through for these past 11 years.
So, the Hobbesian notion of slavery as existing only outside of the Ethnic-Economic Social Contract was generally shared and openly expressed in English Poor Laws from the 1300s and in The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, that slavery may only exist outside the social contract and therefore only criminals might be subjected to slavery within their own cultural matrix. This is why homelessness, joblessness, pennilessness and masterlessness were criminalized.
Interestingly, as I read Revolt of the Peasantry 1549 by Julian Cornwall, understanding that peasants were free men and regarded as having rights, even if rights subservient to the rights of their social betters, it is worthwhile to note two crucial aspects of the English view of bondage as the oft conquered nation emerged from the Middle Ages:
-That French agricultural laborers, both peasants and serfs, were regarded by English peasants as "slaves" and that they constantly feared being reduced to the French condition, and were often so reduced by the fortune-building of peasant land owners having risen to new nobility status through craft, graft and violence.
-That a major factor in permitting the gentry to impoverish the peasantry, and thus make them eligible for slavery by rendering them poor, which was criminalized in the aforementioned ways, was to arm their "servants" [unfree people who, according to tradition but not always in practice, agreed to being unfree in return for housing and food] and set them on the peasants and seize common lands on behalf of their lord, enclose them as private estates and thereby cripple the ability of free men to remain free, but place them on the vagabond road to eventual deportation as slave labor, according to schemes that claimed that they were either criminals justly enslaved for crimes or servants, having agreed to their condition to avoid swinging from a gallows rope. This use of slaves against free men by the master class was echoed in Plantation America as Africans were used to drive free Europeans from lands sought by the elite, as Chinese were used to deprived freed Africans and poor Europeans of work in the Old West and even today, as Pakistani men are trafficked into this country in such places as Pennsylvania and enslaved by their own betters as they are used to drive indigenous Americans from one of the last forms of free labor available to the working man, driving cabs and trucks. [1]
-1. A text from a reader: "slavery story from my paki neighbor she has a brother in PA illegal pakis there driving cabs and paying two thirds of their wages to their traffickers"
Thu, Oct, 24, 2019
According to the 16th century Hobbesian definition, these Pakis would be servants, as they were handled by co-ethnic ,masters and have tacitly agreed with their bondage by not taking their case to the police and are serving the identical purpose of permitting social interlopers and predators to drive free laborers out of the unfree market, just as the servants who raised the enclosures for their masters against the peasantry did throughout the 1500s.
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Add Comment
Bryce SharperNovember 9, 2019 1:17 PM UTC

As Martn Van Creveld said, Hobbes was the inventor of the modern nation state. His ideas about servanthood and government being a covenant are very similar to the political theories of 17th century Protestant jurists, even though Hobbes wasn't a religious man AFAIK.

If, as James said, that rulers use their slaves against freemen, it's the duty of freemen to find new rulers, thus 1776. One of the complaints in the Declaration of Independence was against the importation of foreigners by the elite and the multiplication of bureaucrats to eat out the substance of freemen.

Martin Van Creveld would probably agree with the idea that modern Western states are little more than tax plantations where the propertyless freeman are subject to constant internal wars by their elite. He wrote something very similar in "The Rise and Decline of the State." If you want his opinion on your writing or this topic, just email him. He loves hearing from his readers.