On wage slavery

published Jan 02, 2012, last modified Jul 31, 2016

A complete rebuttal to the preposterous belief that "wage slavery" has anything to do with slavery.

On wage slavery

DrMandible on Reddit is "against wage slavery", and defines it as such:

A wage slave is somebody who is compelled to work in a job as a direct alternative to starvation.

Note the open equivocation in there, hidden in the italicized text. Oh yes, the passive voice can be used for tricking people to great effect. This phrasing is intentional: it is the key in selling the myth of "wage slavery" -- this is a leading sophism towards the false conclusion that "entrepreneurs enslave their employees" (a common pernicious belief that many people seek to rationalize).

The standard argument for the idea of wage slavery goes something like this:

  1. Slavery is compelled labor.
  2. The employee working a shitty job is compelled to work that shitty job.
  3. Thus, the employee working a shitty job is a wage slave.

This "wage slavery" argument is very convincing. It is potent because all human beings already accept premise #2: every one of us is, indeed, compelled to work (in one sense of the word) until one has enough wealth. The "thing" that compels people to work, is reality. No one, not even the richest man, can escape the fact that, if one just consumes and consumes resources without doing anything productive, one will eventually starve and die. This circumstance of reality applies to everyone.

To leverage this generally accepted fact into "wage slavery", DrMandible relies on the ambiguity of the verb "to compel" to execute a masterful bait-and-switch. He expects you to infer a hidden premise that makes "is compelled" equivalent to "entrepreneurs compel":

  1. Slavery is compelled labor.
  2. The employee working a shitty job is compelled by reality to work that shitty job.
  3. (Hidden sleight of hand premise) "Your bodily needs compel you" is the same as "entrepreneurs compel you".
  4. Entrepreneurs compel the employee to work a shitty job.
  5. Thus, the employee working a shitty job is a wage slave.

That false premise, in bold text, is the "rabbit-out-of-the-hat" dirty language trick that proponents of "wage slavery" use, to try and pass a fact of reality as a shameful and reproachable attribute of the people they envy.

Of course, DrMandible takes great care not to state this implication explicitly -- the trick relies on keeping this hidden, because once you make it explicit, it's beyond obvious that the argument conflates two different meanings of "to compel": a person having to work to avoid hunger (first meaning) is entirely different from a person having to work to avoid being brutalized, kidnapped or killed at the hands of another person (second meaning). They rely on the first meaning of "to compel" (to which we're all subject), to deliberately elicit in other people the emotional response, mental imagery and moral revulsion that normal people associate with the second meaning of "to compel": actual slavery. It's rank emotional manipulation.

Formally stated, this is the correct argument without equivocations:

  1. Slavery is labor compelled by another person.
  2. The employee working a shitty job is compelled, not by another person, but by reality to work that shitty job.
  3. Thus, the employee working a shitty job is not a wage slave.

So, for DrMandible to conclude that the entrepreneur paying a "shitty" wage is "enslaving" people or "compelling" them in any way, is irrational. It's an attempt to blame undesirable facts of reality onto people he hates. And it's a dishonest and low form of "argument" -- a cheap sophism.

DrMandible continues to explain to us what makes wage slavery "wage slavery":

The operative consideration is choice. [...] But when a person must choose between a job she hates (or even between several jobs she hates) or else starve

DrMandible, of course, presents us with a false choice. Let's examine it.

Before the "wage slavemaster" makes an offer for a shitty job, the employee has these choices:

  1. Living off of his own existing stuff.
  2. Being self-employed.
  3. Starting a business.
  4. Starving to death.
  5. Begging for help.
  6. Foraging for food.
  7. Hunting for food.
  8. Going to a soup kitchen.
  9. Going to a charitable organization

After the "wage slavemaster" has twirled his mustache, adjusted his monocle, and offered the employee a "shitty" job, this is the map of choices:

  1. Living off of his own existing stuff.
  2. Being self-employed.
  3. Starting a business.
  4. Accepting the shitty job.
  5. Starving to death.
  6. Begging for help.
  7. Foraging for food.
  8. Hunting for food.
  9. Going to a soup kitchen.
  10. Going to a charitable organization

I'm sure the list is incomplete, but I count eight choices versus nine choices.

This is proof positive that, contrary to the claim that an employee has no choice whatsoever, the actions of the "wage slavemaster" have actually increased choice for the employee.

OK, now we've covered the "operative consideration of choice". Look at how DrMandible reaches the illogical conclusion that a person offering you a shitty job is somehow decreasing your choice. I suppose it's easier for proponents of the "wage slavery" concept to continue believing that they are "victims", than it is to get up off their asses and improve their own conditions. It's a mystery of mysteries how a person can claim "more choices is fewer choices"... untli you consider laziness and envy.

The trick explained above is used over and over by leftarchists in their doctrinal justifications. They routinely see aspects of reality, and then they reinterpret those facts to blame them on their "sworn enemies". For example, when they say "property is violence", they're blaming the rightful owner of an object (who acquired it peacefully and without coercion) for the facts of reality that things are rivalrous, that they want to have the object, and that they can't have it without working for it. Their whole ideology can be reduced to "mommy, my brother has more toys than I do, authorize me to steal some of his toys, and I'll be happy".

Their irrational doctrine can always be refuted by iteratively clearing up concepts and going straight to the facts, because it always comes down to fundamental denial of concrete, observable facts. This is why they always fog, equivocate, attack and insist on remaining in the abstract, when they see you go for the concrete: because they already know they are wrong.

It's nothing new that they do this. A man emotionally determined to make logical and rational mistakes to justify his beliefs, will make them regardless of his stated commitment to justice, ethics or truth. This man will be capable of the worst manipulations in the service of his own "peace of mind", because he has already become a master at manipulating himself.