We anarchists do not want to emancipate the people; we want the people to emancipate themselves. »» Errico Malatesta, l'Agitazione, 18 June 1897


40 Years Later and We’re All Still Slaves

Posted on January 20, 2008
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If Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr hadn’t been shot on April 4th, 1968 while standing in front of his Memphis motel room he’d have celebrated his 79th birthday last week. Hmmm… actually he probably would have been dead from something else by age 79, but that’s not really the point. The powers that be have decreed that we should all memorialize him today. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of Martin Luther King. The man was brilliant and accomplished far more than the vast majority of men. My problem is with the government arbitrarily moving people’s birthday’s around just to fit their whims. But none of that is what this post is about. I just felt it needed to be said. MLK was assassinated 40 years ago this April as a result of his work for civil rights in America. And yet, today, Americans are still slaves.

Frederic Douglas, probably the most famous slave this side of Kunta Kinte, wrote the following in his autobiography in regards to being able to “buy his time” from his owner-

After mature reflection – as I must suppose it was Master Hugh granted me the privilege in question, on the following terms: I was to be allowed all my time; to make all bargains for work; to find my own employment, and to collect my own wages; and, in return for this liberty, I was required, or obliged, to pay him three dollars at the end of each week, and to board and clothe myself, and buy my own calking tools. A failure in any of these particulars would put an end to my privilege. This was a hard bargain. The wear and tear of clothing, the losing and breaking of tools, and the expense of board, made it necessary for me to earn at least six dollars per week, to keep even with the world.

Does that sound familiar to anyone? It certainly should, because if you replace “Master Hugh” with “the government” we’re all living pretty much the same way today. The only difference between Frederic Douglas and any modern American is that we deny our slavery while he worked to free himself. Let’s do a little compare and contrast, shall we-

SLAVES: Labor all day only to turn the fruits of those labors over to their masters
AMERICANS: Work all day to earn money which we turn over to the state in the form of taxes

SLAVES: Can be beaten or even killed for not following their masters’ directions
AMERICANS: Can be tasered, pepper sprayed or even killed for not following police directions

SLAVES: Can only marry who their master permits and only with the master’s permission
AMERICANS: Can only marry who the government permits and only with a marriage license

SLAVES: Can have their children removed from their home at the whim of the master
AMERICANS: Can have their children removed from their home at the whim of Child Protective Services

SLAVES: Can be sold to another master without being asked
AMERICANS: Must follow the rules of different politicians regardless of their vote

SLAVES: Can’t own land, but must live on master’s land at no cost
AMERICANS: Can’t own land, but must may property taxes to the government for the land we occupy

SLAVES: Personal possessions could be taken by the master at any time
AMERICANS: Personal possessions can be confiscated by the state at any time

SLAVES: Could only travel with master’s permission
AMERICANS: Can only travel with permission of the state through the form of drivers’ licenses and passports

SLAVES: Could be taken from their family without warning and sent to another plantation never to be heard from again
AMERICANS: Can be picked up on the street as a suspected terrorist and sent to a detention camp never to be heard from again


Maybe it’s me, but I’m not seeing a lot of differences. Where’s Martin Luther King (or even the ‘origina’ Martin Luther for that matter) when we really need him?

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