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
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
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
, 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