SLAVERY AS A FACTOR IN CIVILIZATION
778§9 69:8.1 Primitive man never hesitated to enslave his fellows. Woman was the first
slave, a family slave. Pastoral man enslaved woman as his inferior sex partner. This sort of sex
slavery grew directly out of man's decreased dependence upon woman.
779§1 69:8.2 Not long ago enslavement was the lot of those military captives who refused to
accept the conqueror's religion. In earlier times captives were either eaten, tortured to death,
set to fighting each other, sacrificed to spirits, or enslaved. Slavery was a great
advancement over massacre and cannibalism
779§2 69:8.3 Enslavement was a forward step in the merciful treatment of war captives. The
ambush of Ai, with the wholesale slaughter of men, women, and children, only the king being
saved to gratify the conqueror's vanity, is a faithful picture of the barbaric slaughter practiced by
even supposedly civilized peoples. The raid upon Og, the king of Bashan, was equally brutal
and effective. The Hebrews "utterly destroyed" their enemies, taking all their property as spoils.
They put all cities under tribute on pain of the "destruction of all males." But many of the
contemporary tribes, those having less tribal egotism, had long since begun to practice the
adoption of superior captives.
779§3 69:8.4 The hunter, like the American red man, did not enslave. He either adopted or
killed his captives. Slavery was not prevalent among the pastoral peoples, for they needed few
laborers. In war the herders made a practice of killing all men captives and taking as slaves only
the women and children. The Mosaic code contained specific directions for making wives of
these women captives. If not satisfactory, they could be sent away, but the Hebrews were not
allowed to sell such rejected consorts as slaves—that was at least one advance in civilization.
Though the social standards of the Hebrews were crude, they were far above those of the
779§4 69:8.5 The herders were the first capitalists; their herds represented capital, and they
lived on the interest—the natural increase. And they were disinclined to trust this wealth to the
keeping of either slaves or women. But later on they took male prisoners and forced them to
cultivate the soil. This is the early origin of serfdom—man attached to the land. The Africans
could easily be taught to till the soil; hence they became the great slave race.
779§5 69:8.6 Slavery was an indispensable link in the chain of human civilization. It was the
bridge over which society passed from chaos and indolence to order and civilized activities; it
compelled backward and lazy peoples to work and thus provide wealth and leisure for the social
advancement of their superiors.
779§6 69:8.7 The institution of slavery compelled man to invent the regulative mechanism of
primitive society; it gave origin to the beginnings of government. Slavery demands strong
regulation and during the European Middle Ages virtually disappeared because the feudal lords
could not control the slaves. The backward tribes of ancient times, like the native Australians of
today, never had slaves.
779§7 69:8.8 True, slavery was oppressive, but it was in the schools of oppression that man
learned industry. Eventually the slaves shared the blessings of a higher society which they had
so unwillingly helped create. Slavery creates an organization of culture and social
achievement but soon insidiously attacks society internally as the gravest of all
destructive social maladies.
779§8 69:8.9 Modern mechanical invention rendered the slave obsolete. Slavery,
like polygamy, is passing because it does not pay. But it has always proved disastrous
suddenly to liberate great numbers of slaves; less trouble ensues when they are
780§1 69:8.10 Today, men are not social slaves, but thousands allow ambition to enslave
them to debt. Involuntary slavery has given way to a new and improved form of modified
780§2 69:8.11 While the ideal of society is universal freedom, idleness should
never be tolerated. All able-bodied persons should be compelled to do at least a self-
sustaining amount of work.
780§3 69:8.12 Modern society is in reverse. Slavery has nearly disappeared; domesticated
animals are passing. Civilization is reaching back to fire—the inorganic world—for power. Man
came up from savagery by way of fire, animals, and slavery; today he reaches back, discarding
the help of slaves and the assistance of animals, while he seeks to wrest new secrets and
sources of wealth and power from the elemental storehouse of nature.
By Paul Herrick