Several years ago I coined the term "pretty slavery" and have used it many times in my communications with others to convey the notion of the gilt cage. In a past article, I set forth the notion that freedom is an all or nothing deal. There are no "degrees" where freedom is concerned. One is either free or is not. There is nothing between the two. Degrees only present themselves under conditions of oppression and slavery where the master or tyrant decides what shall be allowed and what shall not. This is by necessity an arbitrary position regardless of how well intended the tyrant may be, for no matter how benevolent one's master, you are always subject to that over which you have no control. There is nothing in principle that constrains the master's hand; nothing to prevent his presumably reasonable base of principles from wandering into whim and caprice.
All that aside, there is nothing in credibly derived principle that endows one man to act as the master of another. The Canon Of Individual Sovereignty makes this quite solidly plain. Therefore, no matter how one attempts to slice the pie, he will find it quite impossible to concoct a logically legitimate basis for one subset of a population dominating another. It simply cannot be done except as a felonious action where those dominated have not given their consent.
This may seem intuitively obvious when one looks to the histories of personalities such as Stalin and Mao, whose colorless brutality made obvious to the world that they were monsters needing little more than a tail, horns, and a pitchfork to complete the image. Somewhat less obvious becomes the examples epitomized by men such as Hitler whose personal charisma and charm drew in millions of Germans who thereby fell for his lies and help usher forth the destruction of most of the European continent and tens of millions of lives.
It is therefore not the obvious monster with whom we must beware, but rather of the one with the smiling faces of our beloved aunts and uncles - whose words soothe us, set us at ease and comfort, and promise us great peace, happiness, wealth, health, and endless prosperity. Their appeals and arguments often carry such brute emotional force that we are compelled to forsake our normally good habits of circumspect skepticism. We forget to ask the more pointed questions or pursue answers with yet more querying. This is a terrible error into which even otherwise intelligent, smart, diligent, and careful adults fall and it is rapidly proving to be humanity's undoing.
What, then, is "pretty slavery"? Simply put, it is the gilt cage wherein one is allowed enough of what one wants such that he tolerates all other violations of his rights. The characteristic of pretty slavery that is the greatest danger is that it is tolerable and even acceptable to those who subscribe to it. In a great many instances it is, in fact, demanded.
Why, you may ask yourself, would anyone demand to be a slave? The answer comes in two parts. Firstly, the subscriber often is unaware of his status as a slave, usually and precisely because he can do enough of the things he wants such that he sees no reason to "rock the boat", or rationalizing the nonsense that one has to make sacrifices or cannot always have what he wants, and so forth down a considerable list. Secondly, he accepts the shackles of his status because he is seeking to get something at no cost to him, which is to say, something for nothing. He does not care enough not to trade away B, C, D, E, etc., if he can be provided with A.
There are many aspects to this and the layers are numerous and possessing many entanglements and convolutions with each other.
The gay man who wants to be able to marry his partner will be satisfied if allowed that privilege in exchange for his silence when the men in charge prohibit his neighbor from keeping and bearing arms because he has no personal interest in such rights or perhaps even disagrees with them. In other words, if the concerns of his neighbors do not coincide with his own, their rights become meaningless at best to him and so long as he has gotten what he wants he will remain otherwise compliant and tolerant of tyrannies that do not touch him directly.
The fundamentalist religious man, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or what have you is often more than happy to see the rights of the gay man trampled into the dust so long as that nativity scene can be displayed in the town square or his children allowed to pray in school. To those people the rights of their neighbors whose interests do not coincide or in this case perhaps even conflicts with their own means nothing to them. Less than nothing, in fact, because he often finds them inimical.
Pretty slavery means lifting not an eyebrow when one's fellows rights are stampeded into the dust by law and those who enforce it with physical brutality so long as you have enough of what you want. Pretty slavery is the result of having been bought off by a mob of dangerous thugs whose tacit message to the slave is this: "now that we are agreed about what you are, the only question remaining is that of price." That is the pitiable truth about the man who tolerates his pretty slavery, the only thing differentiating one from the other being the price at which he is willing to sell his soul and those of his fellows, the latter being the sin for which there may be no forgiving.
Do what thou wilt with thine own life, but presume not to dispose of mine without consult or consent.
Pretty slavery is indeed a fraud because it is slavery that is masqueraded either as "freedom" or as being "necessary". We already know that it is the farthest possible thing from freedom, but what of the necessity angle that is so often employed with such nearly universal success against the average man who is either incapable of or unwilling to make use of his brain for something even slightly more than a hat rack?
We have heard nearly every president in our lifetime utter the assertion that "everyone must make sacrifices". Oh really? Says who? And what sacrifices are we to make? Who decides what they shall be, who shall make them and who will be exempt? On what basis are these decisions made and how did the people making them acquire the authority to do so? These are but the first in a long list of questions that need to be asked and the answers, such as they may be forthcoming, must be very carefully scrutinized for odor.
I was once in a meeting that had been called by our district manager at AT&T. He attempted to foist this sacrifice nonsense upon us regarding a now-forgotten issue. The room full with about 70 peoples sat silently as the manager went on with his dreary dictates. At one point he said, "we can't eat steak every night, can we?", to which those present silently acquiesced, some even nodding in agreement. My close friend and associate, Charles, by that time had had enough and very unceremoniously called the manager on his baloney by asserting, "I do". The manager was so taken aback by the challenge to his phony nonsense that he really had nothing to say save to toss out his weakly offered counter that "most" people could not afford to eat steak every night. Upon what he made that assertion is anyone's guess, but in typical fashion the people in the room got all uncomfortable, which was very visibly the case based on facial expressions and body language, and remained silent. After the meeting adjourned, Charles and the manager continued the exchange and I admired his having taken a stand against the latter's ridiculous comments offered to make the decisions in question more palatable to his people.
When those around you, be they political pros, acquaintances, or even strangers break out their manure shovels and start piling on the bullshit about how your status as a slave is actually freedom or that it is necessary for whatever reason such as "fairness", it behooves one to expose the nonsense by asking the questions beginning with "why?" and "who says". Keep chipping away until the shoveler runs out of his stock in trade. Defy the lies by challenging those who perpetrate and perpetuate them at every opportunity.
Howard Zinn is credited with with the following quotation:
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem."
Do as you will, of course, but may I respectfully recommend you reject slavery in all its forms, regardless of how innocuous or "necessary" it may seem?
As always, please accept my best wishes.