- oD 50.50
What does ‘freedom’ mean? The historical study of slavery shows that liberation in the form of manumission never propelled former slaves to the freedom enjoyed by slaveholders. Full and equal citizenship, or socially recognised personhood, continued to be denied to African Americans following their emancipation from chattel slavery, as were reparations for slavery and economic justice. In the Americas, the ‘liberty’ envisaged by abolition’s rich, white, and male architects remained perfectly compatible with the persistence of gross racial, gender, and class inequalities. Today, the ‘freedom’ proposed by many anti-slavery activists and their political or business allies is little different. Legal freedom from the dominion of an individual employer, creditor, ‘trafficker’, or husband is meaningless without independent access to the means of life and full and equal social and political rights, including freedom of locomotion within and across borders.
There is no doubt that it is preferable to be included in than excluded from the game that allocates access to material resources and social privileges. It is better to be exploited than discarded as entirely extraneous to social and economic life; it is also better to be protected against disease, starvation, and ignorance by hierarchical forms of social protection than to be counted as not worth protecting at all. But if we are committed to overcoming domination in all its guises, we have to want more. Read on...