Saturday, 25 November 2017

The animal slave body

"Because we can no longer stand the sight of slaves, we suppress them." (Nietzsche)

If a slave is someone who does work for you without compensation other than room and board, then are not all the farm animals our slaves? What is the work they do? They transform plant matter into meat. Rather than at a workbench, the inside of the animals' bodies is where the slave work occurs.

And what about the fish? Are they not our free range slaves? They transform nutrients in the ocean into food for us. Our long line trawlers and massive nets ensure they have no escape.

Q: What about if a tiger catches a deer, is the tiger making that deer his slave?
A: This is an apples-to-oranges comparison. The tiger directly apprehends the deer for his immediate survival. He does not commodify the deer. He does not sell it. He does not modify the habitat of the deer to maximize the amount of deer he can eat. He does not enclose the deer into pens and feed them an unnatural diet of rendered animal products.
Q: What if a human catches one fish for dinner? Is that slavery?
A: Again, this is so far outside how the masses eat from supermarkets. It doesn't compare in quantity or quality. Any sort of subsistence hunting or gathering is not comparable to the situation industrial agriculture is.

Thought experiment:
If you could go back in time to the time of clear-cut human slavery, and you gave each slave a smart phone (on top of their room and board), would they still be slaves? What if you moved their encampment further away from the work place, and then provided them with free cars so they could commute in heavy traffic? Would they still be slaves? What if instead of giving them food, you setup a grocery store where they could drive to on the weekend (on their own time off) to get free food? And add a vacation every second year - still slaves? If you take enter money into these equations, and the money balances out with the room and board and a few extras, are they still really free? If, as modern people can choose their own employer, if the slaves could choose for themselves the masters to which they were enslaved, would that have made them not truly slaves? Or is it all slavery under any system related to capitalism?
How about a universal income that provides adequate room and board and some extras for things like hobbies? Wouldn't that be a solution to give people the dignity that comes from the free will to choose how to go about their lives?

A universal income may be the only reform that can make capitalism half-decent for human flourishing. Wouldn't the system rather have one reform then to be radically replaced? Or is a universal income really such a change that it is radical rather than a reform?

No comments:

Post a Comment