SlaveryWhy was there ever slavery? as in if there was a time machine and we are able to go back and stop slavery(there was NO SLAVERY) will it affect the future that we live in today? i know there...


Why was there ever slavery? as in if there was a time machine and we are able to go back and stop slavery(there was NO SLAVERY) will it affect the future that we live in today? i know there is slavery in our time now 2012 but it is done in a different way please dont get the wrong idea

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I wonder what would have to be in place before slavery wouldn't be considered.  People would have to have a deep respect for each other's life without fear or jealousy of our differences.  We would have to be educated in correct principles of how to treat each other and everyone would have to agree to uphold those principles. Everyone would have to choose to treat everyone with kindness and love and not want to overpower or control other people. The darkest parts of human nature are those associated with hurting others in order to build ourselves up. The feelings that we and other animals have to survive tempts us to be winners by seeking out the weak in order to make ourselves look strong. As post 2 said, so many civilizations have had slavery. This teaches us about who we are as humans.  We have a dark side, but we can also build up our good side by exercising our free will for good and the benefit of others as well as for ourselves.  Finding that balance in society is difficult because everyone must be educated similarly in the ways of behavior, culture, and logic (to name just a few). Slavery exists today because the darker side of humanity still exists and because not everyone is educated or taught in the same ways.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Life would be very different without slavery.  While slavery was a deplorable act, it forced progress to move much faster.  Without slavery, many industries would have been delayed.  Slaves provided the ability to harvest large amounts of raw materials.  Factories were a new creation and they were able to process large amounts of material quickly.  Without slaves, those collecting the raw materials would not have been able to keep up with the demand.  Eventually, we created machines that replaced the slaves.  I think we would eventually have made the same progress, but slavery gave us a giant leap forward.  This is true for many civilzations throughout history, not just in recent history.  It is an unfortuantely reality.  We might wish that it had never happened, but we have to admit there would be significant consequences if slavery had never occured.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've read arguments that suggest that the ancient world, particularly Greece, was retarded in its economic development precisely because of slavery!  Having been able to manufacture gears and sophisticated mechanical calendars, and having demonstrated the the power of a primitive steam engine, they were poised on the brink of an Industrial Revolution.  But these were not seen as useful devices, merely amusements.  There was no need to apply them as labor saving devices, because they had all the labor in slavery they needed.

The historical need for slavery, human labor, has been thankfully replaced by more efficient machines. 

Had Greece had undergone an Industrial Revolution in ancient times, perhaps slavery would have ended then.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That's a tough question to answer because there was slavery in so many societies going back thousands of years.  It is very hard to know what Greece or Rome would have been like if they had not had slaves.  Would they have been less prosperous and therefore unable to (in Rome's case) conquer such a large empire?  Hard to know.

At least in the case of Britain and the US, it seems clear that the countries would have developed less rapidly without slavery.  It would have been much harder to raise the tobacco and cotton in the US or the sugar in the Caribbean in a time before machines if there had not been slaves.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that people naturally exploit the less powerful.  There has always been some kind of slavery.  I do not think it's just because slavery existed before that it still exists.  It's part of human nature.  Humans use everything to suit their needs.  We basically enslave animals, and the next logical step is to enslave humans.  You can get a lot more use out of a human.  Yes, most people think it’s morally wrong.  However, even in a society where it is not morally accepted people still do it.  I think that tells you that slavery would never really go away.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It was common in the past for victorious armies to enslave their losing foes (if they chose not to execute them), so putting a stop to past wars might have to occur first on your travel back in time. Slavery does seem to be such a terrible and antiquated system when viewed today, but there are still groups of people who use various forms of slavery, mostly via drugs and prostitution. Other groups prefer to eradicate their enemies completely through genocide (see Africa), as Hitler attempted to do with the Jews.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the New World, there were other possibilities for labor than slavery. Indentured servitude, while as brutal as slavery, was actually the first form of labor in the colonial Chesapeake. The type of slavery that developed in the New World was the product of a number of contingents factor, and there is no way to really assess which way the colonies would have developed in the absence of chattel slavery.  

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