Chattel Slavery in the USA: Baltimore 2015

I've heard some people say that chattel slavery ended in the USA. Chattel slavery is defined as when a slave is considered property of an individual. The owner of a slave can do with that property as they wish. Work it to death, kill it, or give it a privileged role in the big house if the slave is submissive, obedient, and loyal enough. But the owner of a chattel slave cannot be held legally accountable for murder, even if the owner kills a chattel slave for no reason whatsoever but being drunk and in the mood to murder, because property is not a person and only persons can be murdered. The owner of a chattel slave can do with that slave anything the owner wishes.

What tricks people into thinking that chattel slavery ended in the US is that it was nationalized. Slaves are no longer the property of individual slaveowners, but the property of the state. It is the state that can now kill slaves with impunity, as they are not free persons but merely property.

We see this all across the United States, and currently in Baltimore. But it is not called by its name. It is called police brutality, police killings, racist policing, a double standard, and similar euphemisms, but what is described is the owner of chattel slaves, the state, acting through its overseers, the cops, killing its chattels with impunity.

If you can be killed by someone, at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all, you are not free, you are a slave. A chattel slave. It doesn't matter if you are owned by an individual or by a group of individuals (the state), you are not free. You do not have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, a right to due process, or any other human rights. You are not a person, you are property.

It is time to call chattel slavery by its name. It has not ended. It is, in fact, what makes the USA exceptional. If you take exception to chattel slavery, you are considered to be against property, not against slavery. Those who condemn people who destroy property are validating the righteousness of property ownership, including the ownership of chattel slaves. Owners can do as they wish with their property, but slaves, being property themselves, are not allowed to own property, unless their owners grant them that right, and are certainly not allowed to damage property.

When the USA pretended to abolish chattel slavery, which in many cases it now calls prison labor, it somehow forgot to free the slaves. They were never given back wages or compensated for the brutality they had endured. They were not granted a share of the fortunes made from their exploitation. A small settlement consisting of 40 acres and a mule was proposed to give the appearance of legality, but not even this was received by the "freed" slaves. They were left to shift for themselves in a racist system that did not accord them equal rights. And their former owners became, rather than individual slaveowners, a state that practiced chattel slavery. The fugitive slave catchers became local law enforcement officers, and often their positions, like their attitudes, were and are inherited. Chattel slavery continued as before, with the only change being that it was nationalized and the state, the government, rather than individuals, became the new slaveowners.

If you own chattel slaves, you have the right to abuse some and to favor and privilege others. But you still retain the right to do with your property as you wish.

The law in the United States has little if any relationship to justice. It can be interpreted at the whim of a judge, and the judge can be swayed by falsified evidence and perjured testimony. We even had a case, that of Troy Davis, where the Supreme Court ruled that factual innocence is irrelevant and immaterial if a person was properly condemned to death by a court of law. In other words, if you were convicted of a crime and sentenced to death by a court, your slavery, the absolute right of your owner, the state, to put you to death is in no way legally impeded by the fact that you were subsequently proven to have been factually innocent of the crime for which you were convicted. The conviction rendered your status as a chattel slave legal under the 13th Amendment, since conviction of a crime is an exemption to the abolition of slavery, so you can be killed by the state whether or not you committed that crime. For there to be justice, proof of innocence would have to render any such court conviction null and void, but there is no justice in the USA.

Blacks are not being killed by cops. Blacks are being killed by the state, as the cops are merely agents of the state. And the cops are almost never prosecuted for killing Blacks because even if they haven't committed or been convicted of any crime, Blacks are seen by the state as property, as its chattel slaves, which the state can kill with the same legitimacy that factory farms kill chickens.

Chattel slaves do not have recourse to the law, as they do not have the same legal rights as free people. Fighting for privilege within a government or state that is still practicing legal chattel slavery, legitimizes that slavery. Voting or running for office in a system that practices chattel slavery is not a precious right or progress, it merely indicates that some slaves want to be slave owners themselves, rather than abolishing slavery, as it is the only system they know.

Chattel slavery was never abolished in the USA. The chattel slave owned by three partners in a plantation was no less a slave than the slave owned by a single plantation owner. The government of the USA is nothing but an ownership group, a consortium of slaveowners originally formed to protect and perpetuate the institution of chattel slavery. Daily, that capitalist ownership group, the state, kills its Black chattel slaves with the impunity of someone trashing their unwanted property. Whether it is an individual, their agents or overseers, or a government and its agents and overseers that owns you, if they have the power of life and death over you, you are a chattel slave. It is time to call chattel slavery by its rightful name. And it is high time it was truly ended and abolished, as Malcolm X said, "by any means necessary."

Power to the people!

 

 

Proof of intent--weaseling the genocide laws

The US has escaped being held accountable for genocide by insisting on a requirement that there be proof of intent before genocide can be determined. Since it is impossible to see inside someone's mind, it is impossible to prove intent, and a perpetrator can easily lie about their intentions. This weaseling about proof of intent was frequently used in the US to shield people accused of sexual harassment. Yes, he sexually harassed you and you have witnesses and a video, but he claims he intended it only as a joke so you have no proof of intent and therefore no case. I think the sexual harassment laws have been modified but the international genocide laws have not.

All that does is illustrate how futile it is to appeal to laws. Imagine if the proof of intent standard was used for property crimes, Yes, he broke that window, but he claims that his intent was to demonstrate his baseball swing with a bat, so you have no case. Or, yes, he stole your wallet, but he claims he was merely intending to demonstrate his pick-pocketing skills and give it back to you, so you have no case. Or, yes, they robbed that bank, but they claim that their intention was merely to use the security camera tapes for a reality show, so you have no case. With property crimes, the fact of the crime having been committed by the perpetrator is, alone and by itself, sufficient evidence to get a conviction--no proof of intent is needed. But with crimes against humanity, you have to prove that the perpetrator really intended to kill millions of innocent people and that they weren't, as the US continues to claim, merely collateral damage.

Worse than chattel slavery.

According to James Petras in his essay, Techno-Financial Capital and Genocide of the Poorest of the Poor our current situation is much worse than chattel slavery. With chattel slavery, slaves were considered a resource and their unpaid labor had enough value to capitalists that slaves were bought and paid for. With today's capital concentrated in industries that have no use for unskilled labor, poor people have no value whatsoever and are seen only as surplus and a potential threat.

So what is happening now, all over the world and here in the USA, is genocide, pure and simple. The cold-blooded mass murder with the purpose of exterminating a group of people who can be identified as being poor. That's at least half of us everywhere and in many places, like Yemen and US ghettos, it is all of us.

The struggle to survive is not an easy one. Poor people have few ways to escape and few places we are welcome. Bombing people in Yemen and Gaza is shooting fish in a barrel--there is no place to go to escape the bombs and no way to fight back.

By the time people realize that they are the targets of genocide, it is usually too late. A few lucky survivors write books, but millions are dead, their precious lives erased.

The Petras article was reposted on Sibel Edmonds' website boilingfrogspost.com which is very appropriate as we are indeed like frogs in a pot, rarely realizing that the temperature is increasing until the water boils.

The number of Blacks incarcerated in the United States rises steadily. The number of Blacks murdered by police rises steadily. Yet people go out into the streets to protest, pointing to the Civil Rights Movement as having achieved progress while things get "progressively" worse day by day.

The war against the poor was never proclaimed. But we can see it everywhere. Not just the bombings and the murders by police, but the outsourcing of jobs, the unavailability of affordable housing, the cuts to social programs. Local law enforcement has been federalized under Homeland Security and is being militarized at taxpayer expense. Cops show up at nonviolent protests wearing riot gear. The government is intent on suppressing civil unrest, civil dissent, and civil disobedience because the US government is not in any way civil. It is a violent imperialist government concerned only with protecting and increasing the profits of the private interests that fund elections to keep it in power. Those interests own and control the government and voters merely legitimize that ownership and control by obediently voting to make it appear as if this sort of government was and is voluntarily chosen by the people. It isn't and it never was.

US elections constitute the most expensive marketing campaign on earth, with billions spent on each presidential race. Corporations see this as a very lucrative investment, as they get back trillions in tax breaks, subsidies, government contracts, and deregulation as long as they can get out the vote to give their wholly-owned political puppets the veneer of being popularly elected. If people didn't vote, the government could no longer pretend to be democratic and it would be exposed for the private corporate empire it is.

It is understandable that targets of genocide may not realize what is happening to them until it is too late. People tend to think that things happen to others but won't happen to them. If you don't know that your government is trying to kill you, you might be tempted to appeal to it in ways that make you an easier target.

Chattel slaves were valued for their labor, so while they weren't paid, they were usually given the bare minimum they needed to sustain life, so that they could continue to work. Genocide victims have no such luxury. They are given nothing, worked to death, or simply killed because they exist as surplus--what the capitalists call useless eaters.

Petras is right and I was wrong. The United States has always been and still is in the genocide-for-profit industry, but the genocide has come home. The difference is crucial, as chattel slavery can be survived but genocide cannot.

 

War?

YES!  War is the term used by our government when it attempts to justify its actions. War implies a violent yet legitimate conflict or fair contest between factions, states, etc., but when the opposing group being slaughtered has no power to fight back, this is not war. This is an imperious, calculated massacre. Unquestionably, this is genocide.

A day in the life. . .

With the collapse of civilization and the ugly dominoes that will quickly fall along with it, everything may very well change in a day, but humans won't be around long enough to write let alone read a book about the doomed anthropocene epoch. If they could, it would probably be a pack of lies.

  broken heart

It is always sad when slaves believe they're free.

That's one of the oldest Sufi stories, the owner of a flock of sheep hypnotizing them into believing that they are free so that they won't try to escape. And of course Harriet Tubman noted that you can't free slaves who don't know that they are slaves.

The revolution against England, which was just about to abolish slavery, was instigated by a consortium of US slaveholders. But once the revolution was over, they were frightened of the democratic tendencies in the country and in the Declaration of Independence. So they held an unlawful assembly and illegally ratified a Constitution that kept power in the hand of wealthy slaveowners like themselves. The Constitution was never submitted to the state legislatures, as a legal Constitution would have been, but was ratified by unelected delegates invited to state conventions by the consortium. In order to preserve slavery, but to fool the people into thinking that the Constitution was a document worthy of respect, they allowed a sort of sham vote, and even allowed slaveholders to vote on behalf of their slaves, although counting the slaves as only 3/5 people. That alone should have told people that the Constitution was a fraud. In addition, the people were not allowed to vote for the government positions with the most power, that is, the President and the Supreme Court, who were thus given the power to overturn any popular vote they didn't like.

The Civil War appeared to strike a blow against slavery, but as the book Slavery by Another Name, by Douglas A. Blackmon documents, from the time of the Civil War until WWII, slavery in the US became even worse than before, as slaves were cheaper and more disposable. That's because they were no longer purchased from profit-seeking slave traders, but from former slaveowners now organized as the Ku Klux Klan and local law enforcement, whose primary motivation was not profit but to keep Black people subjugated. It was only during WWII when the Soviet Union exposed the true conditions of slavery in the US, that Blacks could no longer be sold into slavery by any white person with a badge, but had to be convicted in a court of law with a record kept of the proceedings. Unfortunately, once imposing courthouses had been built all over the country, the judges and prosecutors who moved into them were the same old cops and sheriffs who had previously been fugitive slave catchers.

Denied compensation for their labor, the "freed" slaves were then mocked for their poverty, which was attributed to shiftlessness and laziness, although all the big fortunes in the US had been built on their backbreaking labor. Having previously been denied the right to an education, they were viewed as ignorant. And since they owned nothing, they had nothing to pass along to their children, unlike their previous owners who were still the wealthy pillars of their communities.

The Constitution ensured that the popular vote could never be the final say. It was, at most, a referendum that did not have to be taken into consideration by the government.

The United States, founded by the genocide of Native Americans, and grown wealthy through slavery, became a global economic powerhouse. It looted the world so that the privileged could enjoy a bloated lifestyle, while militarily suppressing those who objected to violence and looting. Of course the ones who objected were the ones who had benefited the least. They were not the looters, they were the looted--those whose ancestors had been stolen from Africa and exploited here as slaves for hundreds of years.

It is interesting that just as the US capitalist imperialist version of fascism has completely polluted the planet, so that nowhere is there unpolluted air to breathe, unpolluted water to drink, or unpolluted land to grow crops, and brought life on earth to the verge of extinction, some are beginning to wake up and understand that greed is not a god worth worshipping. Not the rulers, of course, but some of the chattel slaves and wage slaves who had been docile as long as they were able to somehow survive within the system. Once they understand that this system is unsustainable and not survivable, as it leads inexorably to extinction, they begin to resist--but of course that is much to late to do any good. The system should have been resisted from the beginning. But then again, is a species that kills its own for no reason other than greed, worthy of survival?

The tragedy is that most other living things will also become extinct, and they were never the problem.

"Scientists" point to "extinction events," and calmly assert that this is just another of many. But none before were man-made, so it was possible for the planet to survive. No planet can survive a nuclear holocaust. There is no possible technology to unpollute the air, water, and land we need to sustain life.

The United States no longer has the wealth of natural resources stolen from Native Americans, as they have all been squandered. It no longer has a higher standard of living than other countries. But it still has a few growth industries: the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, and of course the health-industrial complex as those exposed to chemical and radioactive pollution sicken and die.

The only pleasures that the rulers have left are to molest children, to get drunk, and to torture people. They cannot pay their debts and they cannot escape the global pollution that they themselves have caused. They know their time is almost up, and they want only to do as much more evil as they can.

As for the rest of the world, the people who are not rulers, it is also just a matter of time, but many of us would like to do as much good as we can while we're still here. Those are the ones the rulers hate the most. How dare we try to stop their profitable wars? How dare we try to stop their profitable pollution? How dare we recognize them as the sick, power-mad, tyrants that they are? How dare we, their slaves and servants, talk back to them or be disloyal?

If everyone did, things could change in a day.

 

 

Bravo!

Yes, I do believe it is just that simple. The State exercises legal genocide and yes, this is exactly what voters validate, because they too aspire to be slave owners themselves.  Well done, Mark!  As horrific as it is, I believe you have truly exposed the root of this voter sanctioned, legal and lethal operation. Stunningly put!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Discussion Forum