Citizens of the Imperium

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-   -   Slavery/indentured servitude (http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discuss/showthread.php?t=4543)

batmagoo April 28th, 2006 07:49 AM

Fishing for opinions on the likelyhood of slavery/ indentured servitude occuring outside of the TI, and the government types that would support this sort of trade.

Chuck

Maladominus April 28th, 2006 08:36 AM

Outside of the Third Imperium?

Yes, of course slavery EASILY EXISTS outside of the 3I. It just depends on the local government. I would say that very hi-tech worlds (TL11+) have less need for slavery. Why? Ummm, because they would have already be using robots for cheap manual labor. Robots are superior to living slaves. Robots typically do not revolt. Robots do not insubordinate their masters. Robots do not need to be fed (well, they do need to be recharged). Robots can be built to be far STRONGER than sophont humanoid slaves. I could go on and on, but you get the idea by now.

Government type. Hmm, democracies would refrain from slavery. Of course, an Athenian Democracy might still have slavery (like the Greeks did). But the form of slavery would be dynamic, where the slaves are allowed to be upwardly mobile, and eventually buy their freedom, or allowed to buy their citizenship.

Balkanized planets which have several hostile warrior-like nation-states... heck YES, at least a few of them will engage in slavery. Even better. The "warrior-nations" will take slaves as prizes of conquest and battle. This would be analogous to Roman-era slavery. They enslaved zillions of individuals from conquered nations. And later on, some of those slaves rose in social standing, and their grandchildren even become Emperors.

Worlds with a Bureaucratic government type CAN engage in a form of indentured servitude. The Vilani Imperium did it. They FORCED billions of sophonts to sit on their ass and do as they were told, no questions asked. Questioning authority is a no-no under the Ziru Sirka. You do not question authority. You do as you were told. You do whatever task was assigned to your caste or to your lot in life. This sort of ultra-conservative society was the hallmark of Vilani stagnation. So yes, indentured servitude can exist in a very bureaucratic world.

Government Type 1. Planet is government by company elite. Inhabitants are company employees. This is possibly a form of indentured servitude. The employees are legally obligated to serve their terms of employment while living in that world. Can they just quit employment or demand a raise anytime they wish? LOL. Right. Think again. The company is so ▮▮▮▮▮▮ POWERFUL that it literally owns and governs entire planets or star systems. It is essentially a corporate dictatorship.

Government Type 6. Captive government. The planet is held captive by another planet. Or the planet in question is a colony. Enslaved population? Well sure, there is that possibility here. Taxation without representation.... pretty much defines colonial slavery.


Solomani Confederation?

In theory, the Confederation probably does not endorse 'slavery'. In practice, many of the racist strongly pro-Solomani Cause planets will allow enslavement of non-Solomani. Yes, these racist Solomani will regard most aliens as filth. "Aliens" are sub-humans, below the Solomani genetic master race. And the non-Solomani will likely be treated as 3rd class citizens in certain racist and bigoted worlds of the Confederation. The central government of the Confederation itself will turn a blind eye. The only thing the Solomani Confederation will not tolerate??? It will never allow its member-worlds to legalize enslavement of Genetically Solomani Humans.

Maladominus April 28th, 2006 08:44 AM

Addendum:

Inside the Third Imperium:

GURPS Traveller: Humaniti sourcebook says that the Geonee people (in Massilia sector, within the Geonee Cultural Region) practice a limited form of slavery. The Males consider their females as property.

The Imperium has done nothing to ban this ancient Geonee practice (of treating their females as property).

However, before you make any false conclusions on Geonee males enslaving their females, it's really best to read the entire Geonee entry in GT Humaniti, if you can. For example, it says there that:

a Mother (whose husband has died) must be accounted for by her son, and therefore she is permanently chaperoned and kept by one of her sons. The son must consider his widowed mother as his property, and he must treat her and maintain her as a prized possession. She is his mother after all!!

So yes, the Geonee do practice "slavery", but it is a very very weird way of doing it. The Geonee are a very property oriented culture. Everything must belong to someone.

Valarian April 28th, 2006 08:47 AM

Any sort of Government could have a form of slavery or indentured servitude. However, the type of government may determine how well slaves are treated.

For example: Athens in Ancient Greece was a participatory democracy and had many slaves.

Slavery can take many forms
- Slavery. Persons directly owned by another person. Slaves may be able to be sold freely or restrictions may apply. E.g. you can't sell children without their parents until they've reached an age of majority or, you can't separate legally married slaves (marriage would have to be sanctioned by the owner).
- Serfdom. Persons tied to land, if the land is sold the serfs transfer with it. Usually found in feudal societies.
- Bondsmen. Indentured debtors - the debt can either be taken on by the state and the bond be state owned, or the bond is directly owned by the creditor. The difference between this and slavery is that the bondsman earns a set wage for daily work and is free when the debt is paid off. Unscrupulous governments / creditors can ensure that the debt is never paid off by charging the bondsman for board / clothing etc. The allowed charges and wages earned could be regulated to avoid this.
- Gender Slavery. A gender has limited or no rights in the society, and is effectively owned by the other. The society would be extremely matriarchal or patriarchal.
- Caste System. Rigid birth castes set the level of society a child will be at for life. The lowest castes may be no more than slaves in some societies if the restrictions on their rights are harsh enough.

Valarian April 28th, 2006 09:00 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Maladominus:
Hmm, democracies would refrain from slavery. Of course, an Athenian Democracy might still have slavery (like the Greeks did). But the form of slavery would be dynamic, where the slaves are allowed to be upwardly mobile, and eventually buy their freedom, or allowed to buy their citizenship.
Not necessarily that dynamic - don't fall in to the trap of "democracy = good". Democracy is no better or worse than any other system of government - it's just the most consistent. The only reason for having the possibility of earning freedom is to limit the possibility of revolt. There is always the hope that you can earn that release from servitude if you follow just the rules.

<At the risk of being told to go to the pulpit :rolleyes: >
Premise: the best form of Government is a benign dictatorship.
Drawback: you never know who's going to be the next dictator.

A government that is outwardly democratic (representative or participatory) can restrict voting rights to a particular group of citizens. If the restrictions placed on the group are harsh enough then the citizen becomes a slave.

In game terms, a democracy can have a high law level.

daryen April 28th, 2006 09:33 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Maladominus:
Government type. Hmm, democracies would refrain from slavery.
Uh, dude, you have taken American history in class, right? [I checked, Maladominus claims to be from the US.]

The pre-Civil War United States was a functioning representative democracy with a well established slave system.

Any political system can support slavery if they so desire.

veltyen April 28th, 2006 10:19 AM

Quote:

A government that is outwardly democratic (representative or participatory) can restrict voting rights to a particular group of citizens.
It isn't that. The group ignored isn't even considered in most cases. There have been several waves of suffrage since the greek days.

The general arguement used is that the uncounted group (Women, working class men, various racial distinctions) were weakminded, or if not that under the control of an already existing class.

Citizens in ancient greece had to be land-owners (and male and greek and head of the household of course).

This meant that if you weren't a land owner it was thought that you would vote as your landlord. What would be the point of granting tennants suffrage, that would just balance the vote towards those with many tennants.

Then married men would get an extra vote, at the time of female suffrage.

It wasn't a deliberate repression, just a complete failure to exist in the worldview.

--

Slavery is a fuzzy term. If someone controls your life and death, and can treat you like property to be used and discarded...
... then I really shouldn't live in a society that could ever call a draft.

I wouldn't call that slavery as such, as in some way it is enslavement of self (assuming those subject to the draft have suffrage).

--

Pulling back to indentured servitude, even concepts such as "Company stores" have this in the modern day. Any situation where an excessive salary is offered, but prefaced by a loan being taken out, should set off warning signs, being a trademark of people trafficking and the above situation.

Sixteen Tons is an interesting illustration of this.

I suspect capitalism (which isn't a government type - see the above comment about democracies) encourages indentured servitude. Any situation to the economic advantage of one party over another using any legal (or hard to catch) method is encouraged.

In some ways the classic "merchant" traveller game could be considered indentured servitude in a twisted kind of way.

Consider the PC's, each with a share in a very expensive ship that they owe an enourmous amount of money for. They need to continuously do dodgy high risk ventures to stay ahead of their loan, and to keep up with the repairs and maintenance on their vessel. Else it wouldn't be any fun. [img]smile.gif[/img]

The holders of the loan get benefit from holding the loan - return on investment - in a non-inflationary universe, without any risk to themselves. The lure of enourmous profits has been dangled in front of the PC's, followed by crippling repayments and expensive refits, trapping them.

Hmmmmmm.

Fritz_Brown May 2nd, 2006 02:54 PM

veltyen, what you describe isn't really indentured servitude, unless the mortgage holder can tell you what to do in every aspect of your life.

Democracies can certainly practice slavery. But, they usually don't practice it terribly long (epochally speaking) if its a very large polity. If it has a relief valve, though (the North, pre-Dred Scott), it might go on for quite some time.

The Hebrew (Old Testament) concept of slavery is actually more often an indentured servitude. And, contrary to what some think, it provided quite a few protections. Slaves had to be released every seven years (the Sabbath year); you had to treat a slave as a regular wife if you slept with her; slaves were essentially part of your household (extended family); etc. There was also a provision for a slave becoming your slave permamently - but only if they wanted to: in the sabbath year, they would declare their intention to remain your slave, and the owner would pierce their ear against the doorposts.

I agree that the main provision for slavery would be in warring states.

Robots?
Quote:

Originally posted by Maladominus:
I would say that very hi-tech worlds (TL11+) have less need for slavery. Why? Ummm, because they would have already be using robots for cheap manual labor. Robots are superior to living slaves. Robots typically do not revolt. Robots do not insubordinate their masters. Robots do not need to be fed (well, they do need to be recharged). Robots can be built to be far STRONGER than sophont humanoid slaves.
You haven't read too many of Asimov's Robot books, have you? ;) One real issue, though, would be that a society based on a slave economy would never develop robots - what would be the impetus? Slaves are way cheaper when you take into account R&D, initial manufacturing costs, etc.

Now, a slave economy that had cheap robots introduced (from outside) to them might make for an interesting society. Imagine a place where the slaves are gradually "freed" as robots take their place. But, the society doesn't ever go through the normal stages of recognizing the former slaves' "humanity". So, this group of folks is now thrown out of society altogether (maybe exiled to the wilds) and replaced wholesale with machines. You could have all sorts of fun with: luddite revolts; removing the 3 Laws from the robots so they could protect themselves, which leads to a revolt against their "slavery"; maybe get a more advanced society from the ex-slaves, as they actually have incentive to improve their lot; etc.

Quote:

Originally posted by Valarian:
<At the risk of being told to go to the pulpit :rolleyes: >
Premise: the best form of Government is a benign dictatorship.
Drawback: you never know who's going to be the next dictator.

No, the drawback is that I'm not the dictator... :D

epicenter00 May 2nd, 2006 04:46 PM

Slavery is a pretty emotionally laden term. Conditions that are, essentially identical to slavery are called by other words if the writer is sympathetic to the culture.

I would actually say that slavery exists within the Third Imperium as well as outside of it. It probably outright thrives in some places. The TI tends not to muck around that much with a planet's internal politics unless it sends shockwaves out to local region.

Slavery can even exist hand-in-hand with high-tech. Indeed, it might even become easier. What if on some planet criminals, the poor, and so forth are rountinely collected. They are given shelter, food, and jobs. In return, the government injects them with a chemical tracer (mostly for the peace of mind non-slaves) and they are routinely subjected to further daily hypno-chemical treatment which are reinforced by weekly medical checkups. These chemical treatments essentially make the short-term memory unable to pass data onto the long-term memory easily but does not affect the ability to use pre-learned skills (slaves would be carefully monitored during the training period).

Essentially, you never get bored or frustrated with a task and neuro-chemical treatments are used to ensure that you're always curious and interested in your "new job." Entertainment could consist of a single album by a single pop star you like. Put it on repeat and by the time the album is over, you've forgotten you listened to it the first time.

Slaves are less used for grunt labor and instead used in boring or unrewarding jobs that still require judgement (something robots are poor at) or human contact. They might be used to supervise robot work crews, act as maintenance inspectors (for instance, driving the same circuit of 20 oil pumping stations in the middle of nowhere, every day, for years), acting as pilots for in-system ships that don't have jump-drive, customer service, and phone solicitation jobs.

They might even have a robot monitor follow you around. Not because they're afraid you're going to escape, but because the robot would follow you around recording your actions so that if you discover some new and improved method of doing something, it won't be lost when your memory goes away.

Such a planet's slave population might be quite large, they'd freely take the most vile criminals from other worlds. And ostensibly, the slaves would be reasonably content with their lot, slave productivity could be very high with a fine-tuned system. The planet would probably be quite wealthy (megacorps would probably love this place - and if you're willing to ship products made here very far away, no college students are ever going to protest the use of slave labor). I doubt the Imperium would say a thing about it.

Some people with few prospects in life might deliberately sell themselves into slavery. The government might offer certain guarantees regarding "work terms" (like 6 months - probably a popular option among college students looking for jobs during the summer, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years) or something and pay you a decent amount. In return, you could do the most boring, repepitive jobs and not mind at all. For you, you sign the contract, get trained, then your work-term is over, you're that much wealthier. Then you have the option of signing up again...

Mind you, the entire system is open to incredible fraud (adventure hook). Another adventure hook might be that the players are paid by a patron to go find a slave in such a society and convince the guy to leave. What if the guy was like a noble or something, and had done something terrible, the love of his life had died, or he was just depressed. He might be perfectly content to be a slave forever.

Imagine well-meaning player characters freeing such a "horrible" place by mucking with the system. Now you suddenly have like half of the slaves who want to just be hooked up back to their drug-induced happy land. The other half are unwilling and want to leave ASAP. And don't forget among that other half are violent criminals including rapists, child-molestors, murders, and what have you...

Ptah May 2nd, 2006 06:32 PM

epicenter00, a very elaborate set-up, and rather kind. ;)

Why give the masses drugs for free when you can sell them the "Soma" instead. Combine with some subliminal conditioning. A good "soma" could be one that gives the best "high" when doing repetative tasks that require attention to detail. People buy it because it makes there job bearable, and in fact quite enjoyable.

For criminals, I guess you still need to
"hook" them on it first but it might be part of a rehabilitation program, especially if it curbs violent tendencies. All part of a better society through pharamcology.


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