Debate:Modern work is slave labour

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Information icon.svg This debate was created by Dvir6.


Before industrialisation, people worked for less than half a day, and had a few months off every year. Now things are supposed to be better, we have machines to help us, its much more prosperous, but everyone is expected to work for more than 8 hours a day with non-living wages, sometimes without weekend days off. People with half-day jobs are frowned upon for being lazy, and women are treated like they are ruining jobs if they get pregnant and take a few months off for maternity leave. Dvir6 (talk) 15:21, 2 April 2021 (UTC)

Uh, you seem to have some rose-tinted glasses there regarding pre-industrialization. People worked from dusk until dawn, and if they weren't working it was because they had serious parasites and illnesses which prevented them from working. Those "months off" didn't exist; when it wasn't harvesting/planting season the serfs acted as corvee, being required by their lords to maintain castles, bridges, and so forth. Heck, if people had all this supposed free time, religion wouldn't have needed to require everyone to get one day off each week to recover. Life was brutal and short, and as terrible as the sweatshops were, they actually were an improvement. Core (argue) 15:28, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
You are a capitalist, so you have every reason to lie about this. Dvir6 (talk) 18:14, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
Something tells me you don't have a lot of friends. Core (argue) 18:22, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
The sweatshops were not an improvement. Peasants became factory workers, ruled by merchants and capitalists rather than feudal lords (though in some cases lords and the gentry did own or share stakes in industry, making it possible for workers to serve under the exact same ruler), given no autonomy or freedom, and working in conditions that weren't passively harmful, but actively dangerous to human health. Farm life meant constant work, but so did factory work - only factories entailed inhaling thousands of pounds of smoke over your career, exposure to machinery that could tear you limb from limb or kill you in an instant. Moreover, children were often exposed to these exact same conditions. Child labor was ubiquitous in farming, true, but their workload was less, and they weren't expected to perform the same duties in the same places as adults, making them safer living on farms and rural areas.
Speaking of those areas, peasants left homes their families and friends had built, lived, and died in for generations and moved into rented tenements. Not only did this mean that past peasants were exposed to the more extreme tendencies of landlordism and rent-seeking while living in cities, but that they lived in far more unsanitary conditions. Cities were home to a variety of plagues, not to mention a massive increase in crime when compared to the countryside. Packed in among many other families, past peasants saw their autonomy, their space, their very freedom and control over their own lives diminished into nothingness. I'm not arguing that rural life was some idyllic paradise, merely that sweatshops should not be celebrated as an improvement over them. Life today is far better than either of those eras, not because of sweatshops, but because of the people, movements, and ideologies that fought against them, and the reforms they brought about. IveBeenFrank (talk) 19:29, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
Let's take this idea totally seriously. What is slavery? Why is slavery wrong? ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 18:25, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
Life expectancy of the UK, 1765 to 2020. It starts in the mid-high 30s, then rises slightly to the low 40s as the industrial revolution kicks in. Very slight improvement, but certainly not worse. Core (argue) 21:18, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
A lot of that will be from reductions in infant mortality, so technically it is possible that adult health still declined, at least initially. Either way, this seems to have veered away from the initial suggestion that modern work is slavery, which it isn't, and not even comparable to the historical institution. Serene (talk) 21:25, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
Slavery is an institution in which some people are treated as the property of others, generally with some element of forced labor. Working 8+ hours a day including weekends is not slavery, nor is facing social disapproval for working less. Non-living wages are perhaps a minimal necessary condition, but not in-themselves sufficient to constitute slavery. None of these involves any element of ownership of persons. Also, from an abstract economic perspective, if the market price point for labor is above the minimum wage, it will go there anyway. If it is below, the tradeoff for the minimum wage is increased unemployment, and as it happens, the unemployed do not make a living wage. Serene (talk) 22:08, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
The difference between a slave and a servant: A slave is a commodity while a servant is a paid worker. A slave is sold to other people and is forced to work for them, a servant asks to work for other people in exchange of goods. I don't like Capitalism, but as GC said, this whole debate is a joke. MarioSuperstar77 (talk) 22:25, 2 April 2021 (UTC)
Ok, I'll address the poorly stated premise. While it's true the "work or starve" mentality of modern capitalism is less than ideal (to put it mildly), especially in nations with weak welfare systems it is not in fact slavery. Slavery is distinguished from other forms of labor by the workers being property (meaning they can be bought or sold, as one would with livestock), that status (especially in the US) being both hereditary and and including the slave's family, the status being legally binding, and that status being permanent unless the owner chooses to revoke it. Modern capitalism for all of its problems isn't that. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 22:33, 2 April 2021 (UTC)

Non sequitur[edit]

The conclusion ("Modern Work Is Slave Labour") doesn't follow from the stated premise. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 20:20, 2 April 2021 (UTC)

I thought this entire page was a drive by shitpost tbh. Marquee Moon (talk) 00:07, 3 April 2021 (UTC)
At the same time, it's something some people genuinely believe, and I'd like to see the OP make a better and clearer case for the definition of slavery that includes not only sweatshop workers in Bangladesh(a bit of a stretch, but the case to make is there) but also "skilled" office workers like me who could leave my current job at any time, get by on savings long enough to find another, and find a comfortable living with some reasonable limitations on how much I'm expected to work. With that understanding we could also ask what future vision of labor is not slavery. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 14:10, 7 April 2021 (UTC)
Maybe the OP is one of those post-scarcity anti-work folk? Uncle Mark (talk) 14:13, 7 April 2021 (UTC)
Obviously once robots replace all workers and there is no more work left, the masses won't be enslaved. Now, to ensure the unemployable swarms don't simply vote for Socialism, having a job or owning a business will become a requirement to vote. In order to sell this, a bunch of reality TV shows need to be created to turn the public against the now-enlarged underclasses, the people who would've once been absorbed into the local factories but now have nothing. Thus shows like "1000 lb Sisters" or "Here Comes Honey Booboo". Once those underclasses are properly demonized, the public at large will begin demanding for the sterilization of the poor. </snark> CorSock (talk) 14:16, 7 April 2021 (UTC)