by Michael Rivero
You are a slave.
I know that’s not what you want to hear as you hoist your New Year’s champagne, but it is the unpleasant truth that we all face going into 2004.
Movies and public school like to portray slaves as bound by chains and beaten with whips, creating a polarized image of slavery that can be pointed to with the comment, “You are not like that, therefore you are not a slave.” But history shows that slaves have been treated in all manner of ways, some more cruel than others, yet even with the most kind treatment, a slave remains a slave.
Setting aside the stereotyped image of a slave as a bleeding chain-bound wretch, slaves throughout history are often hard to recognize. In some cases, such as the Medieval Serfs, they were held slaves to the rulers by religious belief, and did not see themselves as slaves even though they were treated as such.The favored slaves of Asian potentates wore jewels to make a movie star gasp, yet were still slaves for all their finery and comfort.
So, what is a slave? How do we define a slave? What test do we use to tell if someone is a slave. What makes them different from free people?
Free people can say “no”. Free people can refuse demands for their money, time, and children. Slaves cannot. There is no freedom without the freedom to say “no”. If someone demands that you do something and you can say “no” and refuse to do it, then you are a free human being. If you can be forced to do something or surrender something that you do not wish to, then you are a slave. No other test need be applied.
When you are forced to surrender half your life’s work to the government in ever-increasing taxes, then you are a slave.Throughout history, slaves were expected to perform the work needed for their own upkeep, then perform additional work for the rulers. For Roman slaves, the ratio of work-for-self versus work-for-rulers was about 50-50. The same ratio applied to Medieval Serfs, and even to the slaves of the American south. And, when you add up all the overt taxes, covert fees, tariffs, excises, plus the increased price you pay for products to pay the taxes of the companies that make those products, you will find that Americans are at that same “half-for-self” versus “half-for-rulers” ratio! Can you say “no” to the confiscation of half of your life? Can you even get the masters to maybe reduce the burden by a significant amount? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
The masters have decided they want wars on anyone living over oil. The idea is that it is better for American corporations to steal the oil they need than to pay for it. Millions of Americans (and millions more around the globe) did not want the war, but the masters started them anyway, by lying to the people. Could you refuse the war? Can you refuse being lied to? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
The rulers want your children for their future wars. Legislation for a draft is already in Congress. Can you refuse the confiscation of your children? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.
The government has been caught lying over and over again to the people, from who really did 9-11, to the legality of the tax system, to Cheney’s Energy Task Force papers, to Saddam’s WMDs. Americans are the most lied-to people on Earth. Can you refuse to be lied to? Can you punish the liars? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.