The future of the defeated

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“Woe betide those who have been defeated!” This old admonition reminds us that human civilization has arisen and developed, on the one hand, according to the vision and directives of the winners in the various conflicts and innumerable wars fought by humanity over the millennia, on the other hand, with the hard work of  the “slaves”, with the silent and sometimes rebellious sacrifice of the “defeated.”

Often, the latter were bearers of an expression of a higher civilization with respect to their winners. They, the vanquished, once submitted, always had to bend their will to give effect to the will of the winners, also – and especially – in a respectful tribute to the “strength” and “power” that led them to supremacy. In some lucky cases, the educated slave – an expression of the civilization of the vanquished – was employed as a teacher of the children of the winners and, under the circumstance of an entire life devoted faithfully serve the winners, he often received, as a sign of gratitude for his good work, the status of “freed”.

The condition in which ancient slavery put the vanquished, compared with the more subtle and less obvious forms of slavery or pseudo-slavery in modern society, shows the extraordinary importance slaves had for their masters, even simply as “workforce”; to the point that they often became part of the familia and constituted an important endowment. Hence, their masters were very much concerned about their health, treatment, basic needs of a slave (so he could effectively serve the masters), and his healthy life. Excluding the possible emotional ties which could arise over a long term, the pure and simple interest bond that linked the master to his slave was broken in modernity, with the combined effect of the abolition of slavery in its evident shapes after the introduction of money and wage labor.

The actual existence in the modern era of lost ethical and social responsibilities, with the collapse of the protection lower classes gained over centuries in western societies and the clear resurgence of “free forms of exploitation” of human beings forced to survive in conditions of minimal subsistence and sometimes even absolute misery, offensive to human dignity, should give us food for thought, and make us call  certain operations of “human trafficking” or “new slavery”, which take place before our eyes in large slices of the global society, by their real name.

The tool that currently transform people not into slaves, but – even worse than it used to be! – into mere servants, a scrap of human society, is the deprivation of any possibility of getting a job and the disappearance of a minimum subsistence income.

We should recall that in human history, which we might call elite in a Paretian sense, has always been the power to rule the world, and when reason imposed itself, it has prevailed only because those who had power allowed it to happen. A peaceful change of balance, or that of the global or local structures of our times, is unthinkable without the agreement of those who hold the power at present.

Some of you may argue that the power, in today’s globalized world is fragmented and divided into different “elitist” hands, that progress has eliminated slavery, while technology has greatly expanded the “weapons” that can be used – beyond the chemical, biological, nuclear and neutron – to the point of making them so refined as to be able to overpower the enemy without eliminating his existence and without causing serious material damage to what exists. Economic and financial wars are a typical example of it.

All this is so true that computer codes, namely, software capable of pointing a title on the “market” and simulating in fractions of a second high-frequency transactions, changing value at any moment through the mechanism of supply and demand, hence manipulating the market, have become “weapons” in the hands of powerful groups. The destabilization of large areas in which they have interests has become a devious “weapon”, leading these areas to civil war and to build refugees in their own home. They are used as means to attack in hegemonic unmentionable plans, or simply to force wage restraint through migration from unfortunate areas.

Refined concepts of economics and finance that – through the game of inflation differentials in areas of free trade with common currency – can scuttle an entire economy privileging another have become elite “weapons”. The so-called financial derivatives, attack tools for managing the prices of raw materials and food and cause artfully local government, bank, and institution crises have become obvious elite “weapons”. Sovereign public debts, swollen through interests paid by private nations of their sovereignty in favor of private banks, so that crisis-induced lower their real growth rates and be lower than the real interest rated levied on the debt, and thus put those nations under conditions of “no debt sustainability”, the primary tool to require them to bend to their will – all this has become a “weapons” elite too.

In all these cases, these tools are destructive. They allow people to appear hypocritically friendly with the neighbor, secretly considering him not an opponent to beat and to shake hands at the end of the fight, but an “inferior” being to subdue.

The dire visions of those who are immersed in conspiracy theory need to be countered not through the power of old and new ‘‘arms’’, but through our behavior, example, intelligence, education, and righteousness. This is what the globalized world needs if mankind wants to make a quality leap towards a new phase of evolved history. Otherwise, that general “weeping and gnashing of teeth” should not exist, of course except for a small number of “human beings”, successful, strong and powerful elite.

Rocco Morelli

Scientific Director of the Environment and Society Association

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