st\ripped from context
to be a slave was to be plucked from one’s fam, kin, friends, and community, stripped of one’s name, id, and dignity; of everything that made one a person rather than a mere human machine capable of understanding orders
except.. deeper.. ie: id, dignity, not really what we crave.. not really our essence.. they are more part of the stripping away than the legit us ness..
began this chapter with answer: by making distinction between commercial/human econs.. where (human) money acts as social currency to create/maintain/sever relations between people rather than to purchase things
in human econ – each person is unique.. and of incomparable value.. each relation is unique.. objects (of exchange) such as raffia cloth or bundles of copper wire.. make one who one is – illustrated by way the objects used as social currencies are so often things otherwise used to clothe/decorate the human body.. that help make one who one is in the eyes of others..
in this sense.. term human econ is double edged.. thee are after all, *economies: that is, systems of exchange in which qualities are reduced to quantities.. allowing calcs of gain/loss..
we could have a legit human *econ.. sans the double edge.. sans the systems of exchange.. sans the calcs .. ie: oikos (the economy our souls crave).. ‘i should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’ – gaston bachelard, the poetics of space
how is their calculability effectuated? how does it become possible to treat people as if they are identical? the lele ie gave us a hint: to make a human being an object of exchange, requires first of all *ripping her from her context; that is treating her away from that web of relation that makes her the unique conflux of relations that she is and thus, into a generic value capable of being added/subtracted and used as a means to measure debt.. this require s a certain violence
again.. take it deeper .. get to maté basic needs – a&a ness
to make her equiv to a abar of camwood takes even more vilence, and it teakes an enomrous amoutn of stained an ssystematic vioelnce to rip her so compeltely from her context that she becomes a slave
real point: certain sorts of violence were considered morally acceptable.. no neighbors would rush in to intervene if a guardian was beating runaway ward (woman). . and it as because women know that this is how their neighbors, or even parents, would react that ‘exchange marriage ‘ was possible.. this is what i mean by people ‘ripped from their contexts’
this is what i mean by people ‘ripped from their contexts’
can’t begin to think about such questions w/o taking into account the role of sheer physical violence..
because there is every reason to believe that slavery w its unique ability to rip human beings from their contexts, to turn them into abstractions, played a key role in the rise of markets everywhere
the death of us ness
slavery is the ultimate form of being ripped from one’s context, and thus from all social relationship that make one a human being. another way to put this is that the slave is, in a very real sense, dead.
slaves/whales = dead.. because st\ripped of context
one becomes a slave in situations where one would otherwise have died.
a slave couldn’t owe debts because was dead.. in roman law.. quite explicit.. lost liberty, family , possessions.. so if later regain freedom.. would have to start over.. remarry his widow et al
socially dead – he had accepted the contempt which deprived him of personality
this essential horror of slavery: the fact taht ti’sa kind of living death
orlando paterson works out exactly what it has mean to be so completely and absolutely ripped form one’s context..
first of all he emphasizes.. slavery is unlike any other form of human relation because it is not a moral relation. slave-owners might dress it up in all sorts of legalistic or paternalistic language, but really this is just window-dressing and no one really believes otherwise; really, it is a relation based purely on violence; a slave must obey because if he doesn’t, he can be beaten, tortured, or killed, and everyone is perfectly well aware of this.
second of all, being socially dead means that a slave has no binding moral relation s w anyone else.. he is alienated from ancestors, community, fam, clan, city; e cannot make contracts or meaningful promises.. except at whim of his master..
third, slave’s situation was one of utter degradation.. ie: the captive, having refused his one final chance to save his honor by killing himself, must recognize that he will now be considered and entirely contemptible being
yet.. at same time.. this ability to strip others of their dignity becomes, for he master, the foundation of his honor
it is only by threat of sticks, ropes, spears, and guns that one can tear people out of those endlessly complicated webs of relationship w others (sisters, friends, rivals..) that render them unique, and thus reduce them to something that can be traded..
in human econs.. when this ability to rip people from their context does appear.. it is most often seen as an end in itself..
the squelching of one man’s individuality was seen as somehow swelling the reputation, the social existence, of the other… in what i’ve been calling heroic societies, of course, this kind of addiction and subtraction of honor/disgrace is lifted from a somewhat marginal practice to become the very essence of politics..
heroes become heroes by making others small.. this very ability to degrade others to remove unique human beings form the hearths/fams and thus render them anonymous units of accounting.. the irish slave girl currency, the welsh washer women – is itself the highest expression of honor.. in heroic societies, the role of violence is not hidden – it’s glorified
that such relations of intimacy can often develop between men of honor and those they have stripped of their dignity.. history can well attest.. annihilation of equality also elims debt.. of any relation other than power.. it allows a certain clarity.. why kings have notorious tendency to enjoy company of slaves..
something more here though.. king/slave are mirror images.. unlike normal humans who are defined by commitments to others.. they are defined only by relations of power.. they are as close to perfectly isolated, alienated being as one can possibly become
alienated/isolated from all the st\ripped from context ness