TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

African Slavery Highlights Evil of Involuntary Servitude

To Americans, it is almost unimaginable that a country still exists where hundreds of thousands of people are slaves. Yet in the impoverished western African nation of Mauritania, slavery is widespread, CNN reports in an extraordinary set of articles.

Americans rightly express outrage over such injustice. Slavery—aka involuntary servitude—violates the rights of the enslaved person to act on his own judgment, keep the fruits of his labor, and trade freely with others. It is among the vilest of institutions to blot human history.

But Americans often forget that involuntary servitude exists in degrees, and it remains evil to the extent it exists. Would we be satisfied if Mauritanian slave holders allowed their slaves to work for themselves one day a week, or two, or four? No, we demand total emancipation. Yet the average American is forced to work more than one day in four for the government, with the fruits of his labor forcibly seized and handed to others.

CNN reports that one former Mauritanian slave holder was inspired by the ideals of the Declaration of Independence (via the writings of Thomas Jefferson’s friend Lafayette) to co-found an abolitionist group. Americans too should return to the ideals of the Declaration and seek to fully and consistently implement them by calling for the abolition of involuntary servitude in all forms and degrees.

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Image: Wikimedia Commons (Benjamin Robert Haydon’s “Anti-Slavery Society Convention”)

Posted in: Individual Rights and Law

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Brian Phillips

    Interestingly, and not surprisingly, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and their ilk are silent on this issue. They are quick to denounce the perceived remnants of slavery in America, but fail to address actual slavery where it exists.

  • Chika

    Slavery is the manifestation of the unchecked human inclination to subdue others. While African chattel slavery in Europe and the Americas happens to be the most prominent, it is not a singular occurrence. Slavery existed in Africa hundreds of years before the Europeans and Americans took advantage of it to ship off millions of Africans to work for in their plantations. But slavery in Africa was drastically different from what was obtainable in Europe and the Americas. To read more about slavery in Africa, read the hisorical fiction Before We Set Sail