Slavery has been with us for as long as we can remember.
In Egyptian history it is recorded slaves were used for agricultural labour. The Phoenicians traded them. The Greeks, Hittites, Persians and Mongols all enslaved other cultures, as did the Romans later, and during the Dark Ages the term of choice was ”serfdom”.
But we repudiate the notion of slavery.
Dating to the 3rd century BC, evidence of discontent with this heinous practice may be seen in the abolishment by Ashoka of the slave trade in the Mauryan Empire, which at the time covered most of India. Similar efforts are later seen in China (200 BC), Ireland (500 AD) and Venice (960 AD), with the eventual, complete ban on slavery in Iceland (1117), Sweden (1334) and both Lithuania and Japan in the 16th century. Portugal, a full century before the ratification of the US’ 13th amendment, frees its slaves on the mainland, as well as in its possessions in India, with the rest of the European continent and the Ottoman Empire to follow. Mexico, Serbia, Cuba, Uruguay, Canada and many other nations all precede the US in the abolishment of slavery.
Yet, we still have slaves.
According to the 2012 UN report on human trafficking, an estimated 15 million women and children are kept in captivity today mostly serving to satisfy, with their dignity, the lascivious desires of their owners, with another 7 million used for hard labour. In the US alone, 7 million (BJS 2013) are managed by the American penitentiary system, whose captivity serves to maintain the enormously profitable incarceration arm of what Eisenhower once called the ”military-industrial complex”. And to no lesser an extent, the billions of taxpayers in the world are all slaves.
Freedom for all?
The architect Frank Lloyd Wright once remarked that unless all individuals in a society are free, their government is merely an expediency of enslavement.
In the American culture, which has so made a fuss over the idea of freedom that it’s recognised the world over for it, liberty is founded on consent. The American Declaration of Independence, makes the curious proposal that governments instituted amongst men derive their power from the consent of the governed. This notion was carried through to the crafting of the Constitution, whose preamble states it was ordained to: ”secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”
The average, tax-paying American will tell you he’s free. But how can a man call himself free when he pays taxes, which by definition are an imposition, a contribution exacted from him against his will by the threat of violence?
Isn’t the very definition of slavery the subjugation of a man’s will through the threat of force or violence? and if so, isn’t the IRS, as Lloyd Wright suggested, merely the apparatus for the enslavement of Americans, and therefore unconstitutional?
Indeed it would be, if income tax were compulsory… but Congress has gone to extreme lengths to make sure the 16th amendment codifies a system of voluntary taxation i.e. Americans may have been fooled into thinking they must pay the tax, that somehow it’s legal for their freedom to be abridged in this egregious manner, but it’s not. They are indeed free (constitutionally speaking) and thus not obliged to pay the IRS (the specific legal argumentation, obviously, would have to be made as a separate exercise).
There is great discontent today with the out-of-control machine that government in America has become. A machine that, as is more obvious every day to a greater number of Americans, is hell-bent on ruining the once great nation.
A machine that exports jobs, leaving Americans dependent on food stamps, that pilfers their pockets at the federal, state and local levels and uses the funds to finance increasingly militarised police forces that can kill Americans with impunity, as well as armies that invade other nations creating disastrous outcomes for their citizens and a chilling backlash where once there was good will, a machine that serves itself with the big spoon, at the expense of those it purports to serve.
Things are not well, and given the observable course, they can only get worse. Whilst Americans bicker over partisan issues of gay rights, support for Israel and offshore phracking, the national debate is missing the topic most singly important to the well being of the society: that what keeps the engine running are the funds foolishly surrendered by Americans under the misconception that they have no choice.
Empirically, it is clear that Americans no longer believe their vote matters, that the choices of candidates are such that picking one over the other makes no difference. What isn’t clear is that their choice is twofold: they can vote at the ballot, or with their dollars.
As economic conditions continue to deteriorate, this is a question that the American authority will seek to avoid at all costs, for withdrawing support from the machine is equivalent to putting an end to the current power structure.
Given the current situation, it may be too late to demand redress for our grievances, but at least let no one cry that they never had a choice. The choice is available to anyone: withdraw from the system, from the banking system, stop filing tax returns (please note I’m not advocating any crime here, it is possible to stop filing legally) and financially supporting the monster that is causing so much suffering in the world, or stand responsible for your own undoing.
Can it be done? Certainly.
Are there consequences? Absolutely.
…but at some point a man must take a stand.