Feb 242012
 
 February 24, 2012  Posted by at 10:07 pm Finance
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on TumblrFlattr the authorDigg thisShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

John Vachon Duet September 1940 St. Mary’s County, Maryland. “John and Louise Dyson, aged Farm Security Administration borrowers. Mr. Dyson was born into slavery over eighty years ago. Mrs. Dyson is the mother of fifteen children”

 

“Debt” has been used as a means of slavery throughout human history, in ancient societies dating as far back as thousands of years ago, such as those in Mesopotamia, Egypt, North/South America, etc. Debtors in these societies would be forced to relinquish their crops, land, freedom and even their wives and children to satisfy unpaid debts. Such extravagant periods of debt creation often culminated in the necessity for systemic debt forgiveness (or “Jubilee”) by the decree of chiefs, emperors and kings to simply maintain some sense of social order [see Debt: The First 5000 years].

However, the decree of the all-powerful ruler no longer exists in these traditional forms, in which the rulers and landed aristocracy could easily maintain their power through force even after all lower classes’ debts were wiped out. Instead, our modern network of nation-states requires a continuous level of economic and financial coercion to exert discipline and maintain the status quo relationships of wealth, power and dominance [see The Debt-Dollar Discipline].

As explained in Our Depraved Future of Debt Slavery (Part I), our global society is facing conditions of systemic dependency, greed and malice very similar to those which existed in the American South of the late 19th century, which created a system of slavery for blacks just as ruthless as that which existed before the Civil War. The modern industrial and financial elites cannot tolerate any policies of systemic debt forgiveness, since almost all of their wealth is invested in instruments tied to those debts (including the underlying currencies).

At the same time, they cannot continue extracting surplus value when large segments of the developed world’s population remain saturated with debt, which acts to suppress aggregate demand for goods, services and capital investment. In order to continue making profits, then, they must have extensive access to very cheap labor and fixed capital inputs. They must transform the consuming classes of the first world into indentured servants and slaves through already established channels of financial and political oppression, and also pick up productive assets for “pennies on the dollar”.

Last time, we looked at one obvious way in which the modern slave state has been forming – the rise of the privatized prison-industrial complex which has become a venue for detaining ever-larger numbers of people in the poorest and most socially manipulated classes of our society, such as low-level drug users and dealers. These prisoners provide a constant stream of enslaved labor to wealthy corporate interests, just like the convict leasing system of the late 19th and early 20th centuries used primarily for African-Americans.

Vast amounts of money and resources are devoted by state and federal government agencies towards maintaining a perpetual “war on drugs” that merely reinforces the very profitable industry of drug addiction, use, trafficking, punishment and imprisonment in a vicious cycle. More recently, though, we have managed to manufacture another perpetual threat/response paradigm which provides the justification for modern enslavement – the “war on terror”.

Everyone should now be aware of the argument that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allows the U.S. federal government, in coordination with the U.S. military, state governments and a sprawling intelligence network, to indefinitely detain any person in any place, including U.S. citizens, suspected of participating in or aiding “terrorist activities” without any due process of law (such as formal charges and trials).

Without getting into disputes over legal interpretations of the Act or its constitutionality, it is still undisputed that this type of legislation, which is in the company of such notables as the Patriot Act, represents a clear trend towards suppressing domestic dissent and expediting the mechanisms of incarceration. When peoples of a society are burdened with vast amounts of unpayable debts, it is predictable that they will eventually protest against those debts in whatever ways they can, ranging from intentional defaults to physical resistance.

 

 

Just look at Greece, where the people are being forced to take on more external debts (with interest) through their government as these debts become increasingly difficult to pay back, and while the benefits all run to a small group of elites. They are made to suffer through brutal austerity so that they can stay in debt, just like the recidivist drug addict stays in the prison system. Inevitably, such a state of affairs leads to violent riots and protests by the masses, which, in turn, lead to violent reactions by the state, which then feed back into more violence by the people.

It is a symptom of debt slavery that has plagued societies for centuries and has even led some of them to outlaw the issuance of interest-bearing debt altogether. As stated before, though, such a path does not compute for the powerful creditors and their beneficiaries today, which is why the last thing the Eurocrats will discuss at their now weekly Summits is a policy of systemic debt forgiveness (the PSI deal does not even come close to counting). Even the Troika itself has admitted that Greece’s debt/GDP could very well remain at 160% for the next decade despite bailouts, austerity and “voluntary” debt swaps.

If you woke up tomorrow and were told that many of the Greek protestors/rioters, along with lower class tax evaders/debtors, were now being indiscriminately and indefinitely detained without judicial process and that uniformed soldiers and tanks were being deployed to the streets of Athens, would you be very surprised? I’d hazard a guess that most people who follow the news wouldn’t be, but they would still call you a fanatical nutcase if you suggested anything similar could happen in America, the “land of the free”.

 

 

That is despite the fact that our private and public debt (per capita) situation is worse than that of Greece, and our level of unchecked executive authority is much, much worse. In the post-Reconstruction south, state laws were re-written and federal laws were ignored when it came to increasing the levels of incarceration and debt servitude (peonage) among blacks. Today, federal laws have all but usurped the police powers reserved to the states under the 10th amendment and become the primary mechanisms of enslavement.

Michael Barnholden’s book, Reading the Riot Act: A Brief History of Rioting in Vancouver, explains how the original “Riot Act” passed by the British Parliament in 1714 has been put into effect since that time, and how it is still active law in Canada. The act gave enormous amounts of discretion to the executive arm of government in identifying and detaining “rioters”. In his review of the book, Max Sartin points to the socioeconomic premise underlying the Riot Act that was insightfully indentified by Barnholden.

The Rain Review of Books

 

“All of the riots, from those characterized by racism to those attributed to drunkenness at sporting events, are said by Barnholden to have a connecting thread in the exploitation inherent to the capitalist economy and the need of the ruling class to garner the consent of its subjects when possible or their submission by force when necessary. The legal definition of a riot and its presentation by the media are functional to the interests of the ruling elite, at the expense of the working class, including the unemployed and prisoners.

 

Barnholden frames the question in terms of human rights versus property rights, damage to property taking precedence over harm to human beings. The author’s concept of human rights isn’t defined in the book, leaving open the question of whether such rights, or the very idea of rights itself may be just another legal technicality, like the definition of a riot, subject to the whims of those in power.

 

Barnholden himself points out that “a job is the only guarantee within capitalist society of the basic human rights of food and shelter, and there is no right to that”. But he also describes a paycheque as an element of coercion. Employment under a manager is exploitive and oppressive, but it’s the only way to achieve certain basic necessities of life, which as human beings we supposedly have a right to access. But we have no right to employment (which is also “wage slavery”) and so our most basic rights become meaningless.

Barnholden gets to the root of why economic coercion under a capitalist system can easily turn into outright slavery, enforced by the corporatist state. There is absolutely no reason why the Riot Act in its most subjective form cannot once again be adopted by the U.S. and other Western nations as an additional means to threaten an increasingly distrustful population with incarceration, and to carry out that threat when necessary. In fact, current trends suggest this is exactly what will happen.

The protections afforded U.S citizens in their Constitution against arbitrary oppression by the federal government have been undermined in just about every way possible since 9/11. That is indeed a scary reversal from the post-Civil War era, because it means that state and local governments are helpless to protect their own citizens from federal encroachment. This is especially true at a time when state governments are also wading deep in pools of stale debt, and must sell out their citizens to get temporary financial aid, which first makes its way into political pockets and then straight to the major banks.

The indefinite detentions of the West in modern times began under the Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF), enacted before the invasion of Afghanistan, but now the NDAA has put Congress’ official stamp of approval on the very broad interpretation that was afforded the AUMF by the Bush Administration. The federal courts (including the Supreme Court) have been extremely reluctant to challenge any of these unconstitutional executive powers, and indeed have sanctioned them in many cases.

With that legal framework for the federal and state executive branches in mind, it’s not hard to see how people could eventually be forced into peonage contracts by their private creditors or third party debt collectors. The truth is that both traditional contract law concepts such as “fraud/misrepresentation”, “economic/physical duress”, “unconscionability”, etc., which sought to protect disadvantaged parties from exploitation, and Constitutional protections against the ex-post revision of private contracts have been thrown into the trash bin of history.

In the final part of this series, we will see how legally enforced contracts of debt servitude could become a defining feature of developed world populations in the near future. Indeed, the concept has already been deeply planted across the Western world in very important ways. This will be a means of maintaining a system of debt slavery without literally imprisoning all debtors. However, none of these outcomes are guaranteed to be sustained over time, and so we will also explore why these populations may ultimately be able to shape their own futures, free from the burden of perpetual indebtedness.

Home Forums Our Depraved Future of Debt Slavery (Part II)

This topic contains 0 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  ashvin 2 years, 10 months ago.

Viewing 22 posts - 1 through 22 (of 22 total)
Author Posts
Author Posts
February 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm #8614

ashvin

John Vachon Duet September 1940 St. Mary’s County, Maryland. “John and Louise Dyson, aged Farm Security Administration borrowers. Mr. Dyson was born i
[See the full post at: Our Depraved Future of Debt Slavery (Part II)]

February 24, 2012 at 10:49 pm #943

Reverse Engineer

So what happens when the prisons run out of room for the debt slaves? Either REVOLT or the Human Waste Reprocessing Facility in San Antonio. Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.

RE

February 25, 2012 at 12:46 am #947

mrawlings

This was just one of the articles that I came across with a quick search of “debtors prisons”. I remembered reading something along the lines of the article linked below regarding people being arrested and put in jail for failure to pay debts or failure to appear in a court hearing regarding a debt or failure to fill out court ordered forms related to debt repayment. In any case, we should all know by now that when it comes to the exercise of power/authority by those with wealth and power, the legal test for justification is “close enough”.

“Are debtors prisons coming back?
Not really, but reports indicate more Americans are being threatened with jail — or jailed — for failing to pay their bills.”

http://money.msn.com/saving-money-tips/post.aspx?post=bf5c3932-1d21-436f-b20f-093e0da61b6c

February 25, 2012 at 12:58 am #949

GREG L

This is just a test to see if I can post successfully. I like this new setup!

February 25, 2012 at 1:35 am #952

ben

from the “debt slavery part 2″ thread:

“So what happens when the prisons run out of room for the debt slaves? Either REVOLT or the Human Waste Reprocessing Facility in San Antonio. Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.

RE”

move em out into the yard. and then construct another, bigger yard. if it is done right the vast majority of debt slaves won’t need to be in maximum security or even mimimum security as it exists today.

why not make it a drive-thru roach motel?

http://www.pakalertpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/fema-camps.jpg

and provide transportation reminiscent of the Green Tortoise

http://2012patriot.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/camp-fema-roadkill.jpg

February 25, 2012 at 3:24 am #958

jal

The “Debt Slavery” concept is a concept that need to be understood in its many possible forms.

1. Is working 40 hours a week, at two jobs, to be able to feed your kids “Debt Slavery” without being in debt, and having no savings?

2. Is working 12 hour days, 6 days a week, for 51 weeks and being housed 8 to a room and feed by “the company” with a small surplus income to put into your sock any better than #1?

3. Is it necessary to be in debt to be considered in “Debt Slavery”?

February 25, 2012 at 4:04 am #960

Punxsutawney

Jal,

#1 Not sure

#2 Personally, I would consider it imprisonment and slavery. But apparently if you are a shill for the elites, it’s just a great example of efficient enterprise.

#3 Hmmm, say a citizen of Greece has no personal debt, but the country does, and as such he loses his job, or has to take reduced wages through “Austerty”. Is not the effect then the same as if he was paying part or all of his income to pay off a personal debt? So yes, very much possible as the person had no choice.

February 25, 2012 at 4:06 am #961

ben

“So what happens when the prisons run out of room for the debt slaves? Either REVOLT or the Human Waste Reprocessing Facility in San Antonio. Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.

RE”

move em out into the yard. and then construct another, bigger yard. if it is done right the vast majority of debt slaves won’t need to be in maximum security or even mimimum security as it exists today.

why not make it a drive-thru roach motel?

http://www.pakalertpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/fema-camps.jpg

and provide transportation reminiscent of the Green Tortoise bus

http://www.socresonline.org.uk/6/2/02BusInterior.jpg

but a bit more like this

http://api.ning.com/files/ceevlG*NAIXYIyZoWqKIL8DMBuIvXLYue0yEcquheBT1l18Y5NC6D7mp-HURFvKGgkomsragXzV-jwTgVFVe9eF8SLdqDsQ9/CampFemaRoadkill.jpg?width=628&height=504

oh and yeah thanks for everything, ash.

February 25, 2012 at 4:13 am #962

scandia

Jal asked ” Is it necessary to be in debt to be considered in Debt Slavery “.
A brilliant insight, Jal. And a disturbing question.
I have used your question to help understand why an occasional employer tried to grind me for a fiver last week. My feelings were hurt:)
@Ash , Your writing about debt and oil have brought me out of ignorance in that I had not made the connection that fossil fuels enabled us to free human beings from slavery. Duh, it has been posssible to take the high road when we had a substitute for human muscle power. Before fossil fuels it was ” normal ” to have a master, hopefully a kind master.

February 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm #969

el gallinazo

As the Firesign Theater spoke on their classic album, Don’t Crush that Dwarf (in relation to soiled sheets), “Nothing’s on purpose, Ma’m.” Ash, you seem to be rebutting that observation. You must be a Conspiracy Factist. Excellent post.

Scandia, there was a small class in feudal Europe, between the serfs and the aristocracy, known as the freemen. Many were in the craft / guild systems. The aristocracy found it difficult to nurture high technical skill levels within the serf system itself, which was more geared to agricultural peasantry. However, this devolved into its own sort of slavery with the apprentices as virtual slaves, and the journeymen still under the sway of the “master” guildsmen. When there were enough masters in a city or town to allow honest competition for the services of a journeyman, then the daily wage was set by a free market, which allowed some freedom to the journeyman class. The term “journeyman” comes from the French “jour” for daily wage. One way the masters could control this was by allowing only masters to employ journeymen and limiting the number of masters through political coercion. Since we appear to be headed back into feudalism, one might as well become more familiar with the details and your future place in it. BTW, the terms apprentice, journeyman, and master are still used by the North American plumbers union. My recommendation is to study to become a braumeister. This will be a field in demand locally after the serfs eat the Budweiser Clydesdales. That evolved state of consciousness, as discussed in the Upanishads as “the realm of the thirsty shitfaced,” is a real up and comer.

February 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm #973

Bosuncookie

“That evolved state of consciousness, as discussed in the Upanishads as ‘the realm of the thirsty shitfaced,’ is a real up and comer.”

Made me laugh out loud!

February 25, 2012 at 9:15 pm #978

Dig Dirt

Aiming for a self reliant life on a small acreage while servicing the small mortgage and raising a child – (add to that, owner building ) , is getting close to self-induced slavery (to an ideal of freedom). Freeing The Mind is looking like a good option coz this body is sinewy enough from hard labour for me to want an i.t. Job!
Can the Upanishads help me El G?

Back to digging dirt

February 26, 2012 at 1:03 am #987

sumac.carol

Ash, thank you for drawing attention to the corporate angle on prison labour. In Canada, plans are in place to substantially increase the number of prisons, along with implementing mandatory minimum sentences, a move that is vocally criticized by the national bar association. This is all happening as our statistical agency points out that the crime rate is decreasing. Understanding how corporations can potentially benefit from prison labour, never mind the construction contracts, provides a rationale that is consistent with everything else we are seeing these days.

February 26, 2012 at 1:48 am #988

el gallinazo

Dig Dirt wrote:

“Can the Upanishads help me El G?”

I read them in my 20′s and I’m still fucked up at 65, so what do you think?

February 26, 2012 at 4:16 am #993

DIYer

@el g,
It isn’t “budweiser” any more, it’s Inbev.
And I believe they have just sold off the clydesdales.

February 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm #1001

MR166

I found it interesting that this discussion on debt slavery has turned into a discussion on drugs and jails. In reality both debt and drugs can be highly addictive to most of the population. Both can bring instant gratification and lead us to put off thoughts of future consequences.

Used properly, both can and have benefited society and made our lives better.

Used for recreation, both can and do wreck havoc with our lives.

Governments are just as prone, if not more so, to become addicted to credit. It is like crack to them.

February 27, 2012 at 12:57 am #1021

el gallinazo

MR166

“I found it interesting that this discussion on debt slavery has turned into a discussion on drugs and jails. “

Huh? Part I was all about how the Jim Crow era used prisons as a form of slavery and how people in the deep north like MN are being throw in jail for not paying their debts. It didn’t “turn into” anything. That was the feature articles.

And over 50% of the dudes in jail now are in for victimless crimes such as minor drug possession without intention to sell. As people become more miserable, they will use more drugs, particularly alcohol, and as most of them are illegal, it will give TPTB more coercive leverage. And as the prisons are increasingly sold or leased to private corporations, these corporations want guarantees that they will have enough inmates to make them profitable. The US has by far the highest per capita prison population of any country in the world.

MR166, let me commend you for never using a recreational drug. It’s not easy to go through life without even an occasional beer, coffee, or cigar. I know because I gave beer up a couple of weeks ago becoming just too damn fat and my pants wouldn’t stay up. And I kicked coffin nails 23 years ago and counting. I had nightmares for years of lighting up a cigarette which would wake me up in a cold sweat. But if I am ever tempted to use a recreational drug, which is very unlikely as I live where I do at the forbearance of a government of which I am both a non-citizen and useless eater, I will check in with you to make sure that it is “used properly.”

February 27, 2012 at 1:07 am #1022

Supergravity

Public debt keeps people in state-sanctioned debt servitude without them personally being in debt, insofar as that the cause of taxes is love of the deficit. A whole country can be thrown in a forced labor market for its inextinguishable debt, with bureaucracies such as the IMF as sadistic warden.
Usually, wage-based purchasing power is continuously inflated away as a function of malicious monetarism and the exploitation of the money supply for private profit, creating a collective indentured servitude to the corporate-financial complex, and providing the cumulative conditions for accruing private debt and poverty-based crime.

February 27, 2012 at 1:50 am #1026

MR166

Libertarians are all for individual freedoms which on the surface is a good thing until Their money is taken away from them in order to support others who have ruined their lives utilizing their freedoms. Are you willing to take a crack addicted mother and her child into your home or will my taxes have to pay for them to survive? Perhaps we could employ them. I hear that heroin addicts make great taxi drivers. Perhaps you would like to have your children taught by a teacher on acid.

February 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm #1037

Golden Oxen

@MR166 What nonsense!

February 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm #1042

Reverse Engineer

Extremely difficult to keep people in debt slavery when you don’t have a functioning monetary system. The Euro is headed for the Great Beyond, the Dollar will not be far behind. So how do you hold people in debt servitude if you do not have a functioning monetary system?

RE

http://www.doomsteaddiner.org

February 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm #1052

ben

Reverse Engineer post=640 wrote: Extremely difficult to keep people in debt slavery when you don’t have a functioning monetary system. The Euro is headed for the Great Beyond, the Dollar will not be far behind. So how do you hold people in debt servitude if you do not have a functioning monetary system?

RE

http://www.doomsteaddiner.org

corruption is the system. there will always be money. right steveB? :sick: and money conversions/reversions. isn’t money just proxy debt? the state will credit people things they have commandeered via deflation, legislation, coup, or other twickewy: protection, food, clothing, and shelter, so long as they can provide, directly or indirectly, a surplus in return. jimmy the kneecapper don’t need no reason just an excuse. jimmy being vinny’s surviving cousin.

Viewing 22 posts - 1 through 22 (of 22 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.