OPINION-The Slave Market

Slavery Takes a New Form.

File:Boulanger Gustave Clarence Rudolphe The Slave Market.jpg

The Slave Market by Gustave Boulanger (1824-1888).

Slavery has existed since the beginning of recorded history.  Given its prevalence in the earliest civilizations it is likely that the institution existed even in primitive prehistoric societies. We know it continues to exist in many parts of the world even today.  It is a phenomenon so common among civilized societies that it is doubtful that it will ever be eradicated.

The factor common to all slave holding societies is a small but dominant ruling class – the so called idle rich.  This class established its supremacy in the United States in both the North and the South early in colonial history.

In the South slavery assumed the traditional historical model, that is, the slaves were property bought and owned by the pampered rich.  The model was somewhat different in the North in that the slaves were not considered the property of the wealthy.  Slaves in the North were either indentured for long periods of time or were victims of what is today described as wage slavery – slavery’s modern form.

But the common factor was present in both models and was evident in the sharp division between classes represented mainly by a small rich ruling class and a struggling and captive underclass.

We see today in the United States a movement toward distinct class divisions of the type that existed early in the nation’s history and that inevitably rend a society apart.  With the decline of the middle class and a sharp rise in a rich, domineering upper class, the period of growing equality among the classes is clearly drawing to a close.  That short lived period of increasing equality is now being replaced by a distinct class structure.

We are on the verge of becoming a society in which half of its members will be dining out while the other half will be waiting the tables.  We are approaching a time in America when the vast majority will be faced with the prospect of limited opportunity.  We are becoming an America most of us will not recognize.  Although we are loathe to admit it, the hard reality assaults us every day.

We are becoming a nation divided into two classes: A small wealthy elite and a growing underclass to serve its needs. As the past so clearly teaches us, the disparity is a symptom of a society in the first stages of decay. And so it is with us today. We are a nation in decline.

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