Monday, July 12, 2010

Modern slavery

I read about modern human slavery, what I call the modern human condition already in my early teens, and it quickly became a part of my writing. It’s present some way or another in almost every story I’ve written, but most of all in my first novels, The Defenseless and The Slaves. I read about people being kidnapped to distant lands and started to dig deeper, and then I found stories about people, refugees, immigrants coming to Europe, United States and the West in general that were turned into slaves, in many ways, not only as sexual slaves or cheap labor, but in far more fundamental ways… joining those already there.

This was a time when I, in ever more fundamental ways found that the description of modern society as basically fair was a base lie. I can’t recall exactly when that thought first struck me, but I would guess it was a slow realization, as I gathered more knowledge and more basic understanding of how the current world works.

I decided, made a conscious decision early on, on many things, to focus on the story, but also to include what concerned, excited and enraged me, both on a personal level and with society as a whole, no matter where it might lead me and the stories I wrote. This fit well into my early disgust for any kind of censorship. I watched how unpleasant truths were edited out of the main news stories and on every level of society. That before-mentioned modern condition was a non-issue.

It still is.

My books are political, of course they are, since everything ultimately is political. Not party political, mind you, but about the lives we live or don’t live. They tell an engaging story, but in that story is everything that I am and care about. Yes, art and the person making it is the same. Most current stories told by established artists are as bland and boring and non-engaging and shallow as the person writing it. When a slave is embracing his or her existence as a slave, like most present-day people do and writes a story about any given subject the result is doomed to be rather bad.

My pledge to myself and the world, both as an artist and a Human Being has been and is quite different. I attack life head on. As a review in Green Anarchist wrote years ago, about my novel ShadowWalk: «This is full-on reality. Blood and sweat and shit - nothing's toned down or dulled. The intensity of life comes through strong and meaty. Real life bursting off the pages».

I love that, of course. It’s nice to have confirmation that you are on the right track now and then.

Slavery, the obvious and the non-obvious is the modern condition, and we’re all its victims, and I will always fight it with everything I am.

«Approximately a million people are each year sold to forced labor, prostitution or quite simply slavery. It’s a common myth that slavery is abandoned in our time.

It’s shameful that we in 1993 are faced with a world encompassing slave-trade, from Brazil to Bangla Desh, in China, Thailand, Pakistan and Europe, in San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, New York, Boston…»

Excerpt from speech held by
Joseph P. Kennedy II
In the American Congress, Thursday, July 15th 1993

«None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free»

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Errico Malatesta, "L'Anarchia", 1891



A varied and good life


Free the Slaves said...

Thanks for a great posting. I understand how coming to grips with the size of modern slavery can leave people feeling overwhelmed. But there's an interesting paradox about the 27 million slaves in the world - yes, it is a huge number, the largest ever in human history, but it is also the smallest fraction of the human population to ever be in slavery. Likewise, the amount of money slaves pump into the world economy is big, around $50 billion a year, but it is also the smallest fraction of the global economy to ever be represented by slave labor.

The truth is that slavery has been pushed to the edge of its own extinction and working together we can tip it over the brink. There’s a law against slavery in every country, and more and more people are united in wanting to end it. I hope you'll visit and share our website -, and have a look at our book on how we can bring slavery to an end in 25 years, it is called: Ending Slavery: How We Free Today's Slaves.

All best wishes,
Kevin Bales

Amos Keppler said...

As stated in the article. In my opinion every single person in civilization is a slave. The situation is worsening, not improving.