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Salvador Claramunt (2000)

Civilización y esclavitud. Conceptos antagónicos o simbióticos

In: De l’esclavitud a la llibertat. Esclaus i lliberts a l’edat mitjana. Actes del Col·loqui Internacional celebrat a Barcelona, del 27 al 29 de maig de 1999, ed. by Maria Teresa Ferrer i Mallol & Josefina Mutgé i Vives, pp. 743-748, Consell Superior d'Investigacions Científiques, Institució Milà i Fontanals, Departament d'Estudis Medievals, Barcelona. Anuario de Estudios Medievales, Anejo 38.


Claramunt offers some general reflections on slavery and civilization, starting from the observation that slavery is an uncomfortable issue where the slaver is always a stranger or at least a conqueror (p. 744).

It seems that, as a result of the “simple struggle to survive”, men have always repeated the pattern of the dominant/dominated, justified by juridical, theological, even utopian or transcendental reasons and discourses (p. 744). In spite of the “panta rei”-principle, the capital vices (“vicios capitales”) remain the same. According to the author, this is the source of both civilization and slavery.

For all the possibilities of knowledge and information today’s society offers, the world continues to repeat the same errors, just because the decisions of “those who organize the life of most and direct the course of society … continue to be dictated by prejudice, passion, or instinct rather than by reason, like in the times that (with a good hint of cynicism) we dare to call barbarian” (p. 745). Man cannot see “the logic of aberration when it lies in himself” (p. 746). It is therefore impossible for the study of the past to teach anything for the present, as shown by history itself: “A past that we study meticulously, interpret as a way to survive, and whose tangible result is never to learn the lesson that has left us its grotesque shadows” (p. 747).

Mankind always tends to justify the present while denouncing the past, without seeing that every past once was a present and even a future, and every civilization is based on the exploitation of man by man, which leads the author to ask whether we have already overcome the age of slavery.

concept sociology civilization slavery
by Annika Stello last modified 2010-04-29 08:49

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