During the Antebellum period in the US, a northern industrialist criticized the institution of chattel slavery on economic grounds. He claimed that he could hire an Irishman at a fraction of what it costs to retain a chattel laborer. His opposition was not based on humanity, but on inhumanity. He favored "free" labor because it could use a person up and discard him more efficiently than could the institution of chattel slavery. Marxists refer to this more efficient form of employment as "wage slavery."
We sometimes think of freedom as the opposite of slavery. Given certain conditions, freedom can be more brutal and degrading than an explicit master/slave relationship. Life for Irish industrial workers in the US during the nineteenth century was marginally free and substantially inhuman. Work was difficult and physically dangerous. Play tended to squander meager wages on alcohol, gambling, and prostitution. Old age was not pretty, when achievable.
The same forces that degraded the quality of life for the immigrant worker of yore continue to exist. There are people who work their fingers to the bone in order to eke out a meager subsistence. There are people who suffer a premature demise due to physical and emotional degradation. There are other people who profit from this kind of dehumanization. There are the economic cheerleaders who point to the opulence and declare it to be a wonderful boon.
The slavery that we do not see with our own eyes, or even speculate about, is perhaps the most pernicious. When I learned about the British bankers' club, I caught a glimpse of plush prison slavery. I imagined how empty life must be for a woman who lives in the isolated prison of opulence. Her husband used her as a baby maker and now pushes her into the hands of pharmacological bondage. The man of the house flies off to meetings at exotic locales where he indulges in exploitative pastimes. The woman of the house is stuck at home or at the garden club slowly rotting her brain with drugs and idle chitchat.
There are other kinds of slavery that can bend flaccid hair. The movie Second Skin shows the dark side of Internet game addiction. A mother lost a young son to suicide with he was online. This drove her to try to rescue game addicts without a clue of what she was doing. The ikon of her own spiritual bondage was prominently on display in her home.
There are people who are so slavishly obsessed with the artificial institution of sin that they incarcerate the minds of children with the straitjacket of fear. This video reveals the textbooks of this enslavement effort:
Notice how the textbooks portray creationism as science and biological evolution as religion. Klan terrorism is whitewashed with a shabby veneer of civic pride. The math that is used in computer science is withheld from children as if it were an untested innovation. The Roman aspects of Protestant Christianity are ignored with a sleight of hand technique.
What experience do you have with slavery?
Links: Trailer for Second Skin (full upload).