I believe it’s safe to say that most all of us sympathise with anyone who’s living in a condition of relative slavery and, if he has the courage to attempt to free himself, we root for him to succeed. Those of us who are the most compassionate would even offer him support in his quest, if we were called upon to do so.
But few of us think about slavery as being a modern institution. We tend to see slaves as victims of a racial divide who suffered disgracefully in times gone by.
So, we should take a look at the definition of slavery. In essence, it’s a state in which the product of an individual’s labour is forcibly taken from him. (His condition may include abuse, bondage, etc., but these are symptoms, not a definition.) The purpose for enslavement is always the same: to obtain the fruits of the slave’s labour, without mutually agreed-upon compensation.
And so, if we look at the bare bones of the definition, we easily recognize that if all of the fruits of our labour are taken from us, we are entirely enslaved. If a portion of those fruits is taken from us, we are partially enslaved.
Taxation is unquestionably, by definition, partial enslavement. It’s safe to say that virtually no one in the present world has ever been asked to sign away to his government the power to tax him. Make no mistake about it – taxation is achieved through force. You don’t wish to pay whatever is demanded? You go to prison.
Throughout history, there have been governments that taxed their minions ever-increasingly, eventually reaching the point that people began to leave the country rather than pay the usurious tax. (Rome declined in the fourth century as countless merchants left to live in the more-primitive north, amongst the barbarians, in order to escape tax enslavement. Similar developments have occurred in other countries throughout history.)
Although, in bygone eras, total slavery was quite common and occurred in every continent at one time or another, in our own time, governments have recognized that partial slavery is more effective – give people the impression that they’re free, whilst taking a major portion of the fruits of their labours from them in the forms of taxation and inflation.
But, at some point, people tend to rebel against slavery. First a few try it and succeed, followed by greater numbers, followed again by even greater numbers. In today’s world, we read falsified statistics of the numbers leaving a given country and those giving up their citizenship and don’t realise that these numbers are far from correct. They’ve been adjusted radically downward to make those running for freedom seem like anomalies.
Yet, as the former “free world” becomes increasingly oppressive; as the economic system breaks down, political leaders will experience dramatically diminished revenues and the only solution to keeping themselves in tax dollars (and in power) will be to tax the few remaining productive people far more heavily, to make up for the shortfall. It is at that point that an exodus will begin – first, quietly, then in increasing numbers. Then, emphasis on preventing slaves from running away will increase dramatically.
This will occur in three ways, as it always does.
The Owner Will Try to Prevent an Escape
In days of old, a slave owner would be likely to spend money to advertise in newspapers and print flyers to be distributed, offering a significant reward for the return of a slave. If the slave were recaptured, he would likely be flogged and might even be hanged.
An oppressive government is much the same. They’ll be happy to make examples of those seeking freedom, if their flight occurs after a no-exit date has been declared.
The Owner Will Pressure Other Jurisdictions Not to Accept Runaways
Historically, states and countries that have endorsed slavery have put the pressure on their non-slave-holding neighbours, warning that they will suffer if they give safe harbour to escaped slaves. Limiting trade and controlling the movement of money are the most immediate sanctions.
And, in fact, we’re already seeing this in the US today. With FATCA, the US is putting enormous pressure on banks worldwide to provide extensive information on any American holding an account there. And, if the US is not satisfied with that reporting, they levy huge fines. The outcome is as intended – most banks in the world no longer want Americans as clients… at all – the punishment for welcoming them is too great.
The next logical step is to limit expatriation in the same way – that other countries will be punished for taking in Americans as refugees after an as-yet-unnamed date.
The Chosen Destinations Will Become Overrun
Many destinations are presently sympathetic, welcoming the first “runaways.” But as numbers increase, the receivers of refugees will become like Californians in the 1930’s, who originally welcomed the Okies as potential low-paid farmworkers, but later turned against them violently when too many arrived to absorb into the population comfortably.
At some point, each existing destination will declare a moratorium on further refugees. Those who got in under the wire would be safe and sound, but no new applicants would be considered. (Again, this has historically been the norm.)
The final outcome would likely be similar to that in Germany in the late 1930’s, when German Jews who saw the writing on the wall, attempted to leave the country in ever-greater numbers. But, by far, the majority decided to wait and see if conditions worsened before exiting. Two things happened: 1) Destination countries collectively closed their doors to any further immigration of German Jews and, 2) Germany eventually made expatriation for Jews illegal. Those who were trapped went in their millions to slave labour camps, where total slavery was the universal rule.
This is not an anomaly – countries that find themselves in a similar situation, in which large numbers wish to escape, tend to drop the pretense of respect for freedom and resort to full slavery. Whether it be Mao’s work camps, or the Gulags of Russia, once the mask is off, partial slavery often is done away with and full slavery ensues.
Of course, we’d like to argue that all of the above examples are extreme and that nothing that severe could happen today. But then, those who fell victim in these examples also felt that way at the time, or they wouldn’t have stayed put and allowed themselves to be victimized.
Those folks were essentially the same as you or I. Their only shortcoming was that they failed to anticipate the fact that the historical economic and political warnings were occurring all around them, and they failed to vote with their feet.
Cover image credit: geralt
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