If I were to ask anyone to describe slavery, I am certain that the answer would be something like, “a black person working on the field while dragging his chains by his feet.” More or less, this is how people nowadays imagine slavery: black, chains, working on the field and a master.
When the British historians and people of the system speak about slavery, they focus on the aspect of work. They would define slavery as an economic system which allows some people, called slave owners, own other people, called slaves, who have to work for their masters.
In my view, there is one important aspect of slavery which the modern historians and intellectuals don’t mention or underline, and that is, decision making. This is not a mistake; they avoid mentioning it on purpose.
In short, a slave is a person who has given up one major right: the right to make decisions. So, this is the difference between a free person and a slave; one can make decisions freely while the other doesn’t have that right. The one who owns the slave makes the decisions for him or her with regard to work, service, marriage, and other major decisions of life, including the right to conduct business, education and politics.
By definition, someone who cannot make decisions for himself or herself, they have no choice but to do whatever the master orders: work, when and what to do, what kind of education to pursue, whether to get married or not. A slave does not have the right to purchase a house, property, or own a business. More importantly, a slave cannot be involved in politics and give ideas.
Slavery is relatively a modern phenomenon. It has appeared during the late stages of humanity, with the emergence of cities and concentration of population. Maybe the main reason behind the invention of slavery was the political control because primarily slaves don’t have the right to share ideas and own property.
Fast-forward to the modern, the British Empire supposedly abolished slavery. The American Civil War was all about this big change. However, there is one thing which the British Empire has done so perfectly: it has distorted the concept of slavery. They speak of chains and segregation, but they don’t mention the decision making because this aspect has not been abolished yet.
A slave – white, black, Asian, or a European, could drive a Bugatti, fly a plane, and live in a beautiful mansion, but he or she does not have the right to make decisions, own property or business, and give political ideas. This exactly the definition of slavery: no freedom of decision-making. I think we all understand very well what kind of slavery the British Empire has abolished – the imaginary one. It has simply removed the chains from the imaginary picture.
Well, you’re free at least to try if you’re a slave or not. Just try to make independent decisions, even if they go against the masters. Slavery has nothing to do with work. That’s a consequence.