Without relying on extensive historical detail, so much has been adequately accomplished on the topic by historians and analysts as Aptheker, Alexander, Blackmon, and Puryear amongst others, rather, it is my intention to reveal, simply and succinctly, the economic basis of SLAVERY as it has evolved into the 21st Century.
In the United States, SLAVERY occurs in three spheres of history:
Sphere 1: Chattel Slavery –1619 – 1865 During this early period, slavery remained a universal institution, practiced in all societies accross racial, national, and class tendencies. Slavery was the primary mode of production worldwide. In the case of the so-called New World, the “africanization” of the slave trade rendered it a “peculiar institution” designed not only for “exploitation”, but “repression.” The slave does not own or control his or her labor and such labor-power is the “property” of an owner or master. Manumitted slaves; nonetheless, were mandated under the Slave Codes.
Sphere 2: Feudal Slavery (Sharecropping) — 1865 -1965 In order to control raw material, agriculture, and other resources the northern industrialists devised a system based on contracts and enforced by the 13th Amendment to bind former chattel to the land. This form of the feudal system became known simply as “sharecropping,” but proved nearly as repressive as the former order. Sharecropping was enforced by the so-called Jim Crow laws and the Black Codes. With automation, mechanization, and technical advances in agriculture coupled with the super-exploitation of migrant labor, and the internationalization of capital, sharecropping became obsolete, creating a new underclass. Thus, the exponential rise in mass incarceration — the New Jim Crow.
Sphere 3: State Slavery (the New Jim Crow) — 1965 -Present The state as an apparatus of class rule, is an organ of violence, control, and repression. The ruling class uses the state to enforce the capitalist order (or whichever order prevails in the struggle of classes). The Prison/Slave Industrial Complex is the third largest industry in the United States.The repressive machinery of the state is sustained by revenue and profits obtained through the exploitation of slave labor. Tax dollars do not sustain the PSIC.
Each of these systems of production was preceded by a period of “Reconstruction” in which “civil rights”, voting rights, and other political advances gave way to the prevailing economic order. The first reconstruction (1776-1786) was anti-colonial/pro-chattel slavery. The second reconstruction (1865-1875) was sharecropping. The third reconstruction (1965-1985), characterized by “law and order”, the “war on drugs”, and “mass incarceration”, ushered into history the New Jim Crow.