5. Symphony of Emergence 


Slavery, Abolition, 
And Eonic Sequence


Section 5.4.1

World History 
And The Eonic Effect

Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution
4th Edition
The Book
By  John Landon




  5. Symphony of Emergence  
     5.1 Cycle, System Return: The Axial Age  
        5.1.1 Non-genetic Evolution
        5.1.2 Karen Armstrong's The Great Transformation
        5.1.3 Art, Evolution and The Tragic Genre  
     5.2 Stream and Sequence: The Axial Transitions   
        5.2.1 Archaic Greece: The Clue 
        5.2.2 The Old Testament as Eonic Data 
        5.2.3 Aryans, Hinduism, and a Buddhist Revolution
        5.2.4 Axial China: Continuity and Discontinuity
        5.2.5 A Flowering of Greek Tragedy and The Birth Of    Democracy  
     5.3 A Rebirth of Freedom...Cycle, System Return       
     5.4 On The Threshold of World Civilization  
        5.4.1 Slavery, Abolition, and Eonic Sequence
        5.4.2 Religion and Empire   

 6. Transition and Modernity


    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

     5.4.1 Slavery, Abolition, and Eonic Sequence


Classical civilization is reaching a crisis point here in the Roman world, beyond which no progress is possible short of abolition, which, please note, ignites explosively just at our next divide.

Consider antiquity, then, in the wake of the Axial period, then the beginning of civilization. A system set to advance, with new elements of economy, simply nosedives, the factor of slave society growing progressively worse—until the medieval period, in the West at least. Christianity and Islam get honorable mention here, but they simply were unable to solve the problem, however much they laid the foundations for a ‘New Man’ able to handle the elements of modern civilization. We cannot neglect their crucial seminal contribution, nor blind our eyes to their inability to resolve the problem in full. This factor of slavery exists from the beginning, but never as a true functionality of real civilization, which cannot come into existence in such form, we should think.

In the worlds of Sumer and Egypt, the issue was ambiguous, but slowly deteriorating. But Marx is right in one way, the factor of ‘implicit class struggle’ attends the birth of the state. Critics of Marx correctly point out that ‘class struggle’ never appears until modern times. But that misses the point. The dilemma arises from the nature of the state itself, implicitly. One should wager a sum we would see, with close evidence, no intrinsic slavery at those points where state-emergence shows eonic determination.

It should be, we suspect, like the Greek case where the new and future mode is stillborn in the midst of the old. We can’t be sure without facts. After all, the myth of Exodus clearly records a great drama of ‘class struggle’ and incipient revolution. But we need better historical evidence. Slavery has perhaps existed since the Paleolithic in some form. And it seems as if ‘history’ is compromising here, ‘to get things done’, until the rise of industrial civilization and abolition. We simply can’t make that assumption so easily. A discrete-continuous system simply resets itself in a new future, and the past is truncated.

The subject, peasant, Neolithic farmer, or embryonic citizen, as an entity of socialization at the beginning of civilization, might be exploited, but he is an embryonic ‘citizen’, even before the grandeur of the Pharaohs. Class struggle is thus implicit in the birth of the state. But as to slavery, we might speculate that the system is inchoate and can go either way. Freedom is born in parallel with amplifying slavery. Thus we have no real evidence that slavery shows direct eonic determination. The point is that we cannot assume that ‘Big History’ is exploiting slavery on its way to a better future. Our transitions simply happen, the idea of freedom emerges, doesn’t take the first time, and the result is history getting worse, not better. But there will come an end state to the tragic era of slavery, but it will come in eonic time, not by slow evolution of liberty!

We could just as well say that men in the direct line of the eonic sequence prove unable to realize its real direction, or mix elements outstanding to the mideonic realization. Cynical Machiavellians might take note of just how much of humanity’s time they have frittered away. The Roman world can go no further, so to speak, until the issue of slavery is resolved.

All this may seem to be naïve idealism, but it is a reminder that we can specify no active agent behind our eonic sequence, which becomes ‘active’ (?) briefly, shuts down, and waits, apparently. But we do see something more like Santa Claus dropping gifts at regular intervals than some bloodthirsty spirit moving toward the ‘end of history’. It is savage man, projecting his carnivorous instincts against the universe that seems to be the problem. In general, while a realist attitude toward slavery might seem the normal view, world history appears to mostly a legacy of abnormalities, so far. The point of our argument is to summon up a dialectical antithesis, and then demand hard proof in a deductive model of any proposition asserting the ‘stage of history inevitability’ of slavery.

Market Evolution It is here in this period that the idea of the evolution of the ‘market order’ as the basis of historical sociology will fail: it does not evolve spontaneously against slavery (although the Roman Empire , it could be argued, has a considerable market evolution based on slavery). Instead the whole western system peters out and ends up in a Christian/Islamic medievalism. The picture of civilization at this point was not pretty, precisely because the market order was too immature to pass beyond slavery. The great irony, for those who think ‘self-interest’ as secular religion can explain history is the long delay in the birth of (modern-style) capitalism  and it almost seems like there was a need for a long religious preparation. The market order requires sophisticated help like everything else. We still see the last phase of the confusion in the modern transition where freedom grows in relation to the core, while slavery is exploited at the fringe, resulting in the historical confusion of the American paradox, a slave state grafted onto democratic generation. The ancient system never achieved the market order as it amplified the slave system into such institutions as the Roman latifundia. Such statements require the obvious qualification and challenge of noting that capitalism was essentially already born in one sense, in the snafu over ‘relative transformations’ our model handles properly.[i]  



  Web:  chap5_4.htm


[i] Aldo Schiavone, in The End of the Past (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), notes the way the Roman system reaches its climax in the early empire, as seen in the famous oration of Aristides (second century A.D.), To Rome, celebrating the Roman achievement, even as a sense of its impasse emerges as the anxious dread before a terminal system. 





Last modified: 09/27/2010