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Thank Mhysa for “Freedom”


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#1 AntZ

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 05:16 AM

“Slaves,” she said, flushing. “We were his special slaves, though. Just like Sweets. His treasures.”

His pets, thought Tyrion. And he loved us so much that he sent us to the pit, to be devoured by lions.

She was not all wrong. Yezzan’s slaves ate better than many peasants back in the Seven Kingdoms and were less like to starve to death come winter. Slaves were chattels, aye. They could be bought and sold, whipped and branded, used for the carnal pleasure of their owners, bred to make more slaves. In that sense they were no more than dogs or horses. But most lords treated their dogs and horses well enough. Proud men might shout that they would sooner die free than live as slaves, but pride was cheap. When the steel struck the flint, such men were rare as dragon’s teeth; elsewise the world would not have been so full of slaves. There has never been a slave who did not choose to be a slave, the dwarf reflected. Their choice may be between bondage and death, but the choice is always there.

Tyrion Lannister did not except himself. His tongue had earned him some stripes on the back in the beginning, but soon enough he had learned the tricks of pleasing Nurse and the noble Yezzan. Jorah Mormont had fought longer and harder, but he would have come to the same place in the end.

And Penny, well …

Penny had been searching for a new master since the day her brother Groat had lost his head. She wants someone to take care of her, someone to tell her what to do.

 

The old man was not convinced. “Ah, they found corpses by the hundred. They dragged them inside the pit and burned them, though half was crisp already. Might be they didn’t know her, burned and bloody and crushed. Might be they did but decided to say elsewise, to keep you slaves quiet.”

Us slaves?” said the brown woman. “You wear a collar too.”

Ghazdor’s collar,” the old man boasted. “Known him since we was born. I’m almost like a brother to him. Slaves like you, sweepings out of Astapor and Yunkai, you whine about being free, but I wouldn’t give the dragon queen my collar if she offered to suck my cock for it. Man has the right master, that’s better.”

Tyrion did not dispute him. The most insidious thing about bondage was how easy it was to grow accustomed to it. The life of most slaves was not all that different from the life of a serving man at Casterly Rock, it seemed to him. True, some slaveowners and their overseers were brutal and cruel, but the same was true of some Westerosi lords and their stewards and bailiffs. Most of the Yunkai’i treated their chattels decently enough, so long as they did their jobs and caused no trouble … and this old man in his rusted collar, with his fierce loyalty to Lord Wobblecheeks, his owner, was not at all atypical.

 

A slave’s choice is between bondage and death. There is always this choice. Is it basically different than the choice Dany presented to the slaves she freed? I don’t think so because the options Dany served them are basically the same. She is the right master these former slaves feel proud to serve.

 

“Missandei is no longer a slave. I free you, from this instant. Come ride with me in the litter, I wish to talk.” Rakharo helped them in, and Dany drew the curtains shut against the dust and heat. “If you stay with me you will serve as one of my handmaids,” she said as they set off. “I shall keep you by my side to speak for me as you spoke for Kraznys. But you may leave my service whenever you choose, if you have father or mother you would sooner return to.”

“This one will stay,” the girl said. “This one . . . I . . . there is no place for me to go. This . . . I will serve you, gladly.”

“I can give you freedom, but not safety,” Dany warned. “I have a world to cross and wars to fight. You may go hungry. You may grow sick. You may be killed.”

 

Dany gave Missandei her "freedom" but the only realistic option for her was to stick with Dany and serve her.

 

Dany had left Astapor in the hands of a council of former slaves led by a healer, a scholar, and a priest. Wise men all, she thought, and just. Yet even so, tens of thousands preferred to follow her to Yunkai, rather than remain behind in Astapor. I gave them the city, and most of them were too frightened to take it.

 

Was it because you took all the fighting force with you? How were they supposed to defend themselves against the slaving cities surrounding them? The ruling system Dany left behind was such a farce that a butcher was able to grab the power for himself.

 

Grey Worm had remained Grey Worm. When she asked him why, he said, “It is a lucky name. The name this one was born to was accursed. That was the name he had when he was taken for a slave. But Grey Worm is the name this one drew the day Daenerys Stormborn set him free.”

 

Grazdan shrugged expansively. “If blood is what you wish, let it flow. I am told you have freed your eunuchs. Freedom means as much to an Unsullied as a hat to a haddock.”

 

You are free to do what? What can an Unsullied do instead of being a slave?

 

“They are expert in all the erotic arts as well. I had thought to make Your Grace a gift of them.”

“By all means.” Dany was unsurprised. “I shall free them.”

That made him wince. “And what would they do with freedom? As well give a fish a suit of mail. They were made to dance.”

“Made by who? Their masters? Perhaps your dancers would sooner build or bake or farm. Have you asked them?”

“Perhaps your elephants would sooner be nightingales. Instead of sweet song, Meereen’s nights would be filled with thunderous trumpetings, and your trees would shatter beneath the weight of great grey birds.”

 

Dany, have you asked any of your slaves before you gave them “freedom”? What kind of job openings do you plan to create for former erotic dancers? Digging ditches?

 

The slave sailors off the Selaesori Qhoran, sold singly, had gone for prices ranging from five hundred to nine hundred pieces of silver. Seasoned seamen were a valuable commodity. None had put up any sort of fight when the slavers boarded their crippled cog. For them this was just a change of owner. The ship’s mates had been free men, but the widow of the waterfront had written them a binder, promising to stand their ransom in such a case as this. The three surviving fiery fingers had not been sold yet, but they were chattels of the Lord of Light and could count on being bought back by some red temple. The flames tattooed upon their faces were their binders.

 

For the Unsullied as well. It was just a change of owner. Just like Penny is looking for a new master.

 

“Who is that weeping?”

Your slave Missandei.” Jhiqui had a taper in her hand.

“My servant. I have no slaves.”

 

“Should I pleasure the khaleesi?”

Dany stepped away from her. “No. Irri, you do not need to do that. What happened that night, when you woke . . . you’re no bed slave, I freed you, remember? You . . .”

“I am handmaid to the Mother of Dragons,” the girl said. “It is great honor to please my khaleesi.”

 

Looks like Dany’s revolution is not penetrating deep into flesh. Given that Dany used Irri as a bed slave (Irri of dutiful kisses); small wonder Jhiqui has such slips.

 

The poor wretch [Jorah] had returned too late. Daenerys Targaryen was wed, the guards on the pens had told them, laughing. She had taken a Meereenese slaver as her king, as wealthy as he was noble, and when the peace was signed and sealed the fighting pits of Meereen would open once again. Other slaves insisted that the guards were lying, that Daenerys Targaryen would never make peace with slavers. Mhysa, they called her. Someone told him that meant Mother. Soon the silver queen would come forth from her city, smash the Yunkai’i, and break their chains, they whispered to one another.

 

All of the entertainers were slaves. That had been part of the peace, that slaveowners be allowed the right to bring their chattels into Meereen without fear of having them freed. In return the Yunkai’i had promised to respect the rights and liberties of the former slaves that Dany had freed. A fair bargain, Hizdahr said, but the taste it left in the queen’s mouth was foul. She drank another cup of wine to wash it out.

 

Dany’s peace with the Harpy eroded her presumed role as Mhysa. Poor slaves. Dany first ignited their hopes for freedom and then she betrayed their hopes by marrying a slaver and becoming a lapdog for the Harpy.

 



#2 Game Of Thrones

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 05:25 AM

I agree. I'm on my iPhone so I can't use emoticons...

#3 Bryanfury

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 05:28 AM

To echo something Apple Martini said a few times, Dany's PoV gave a short-sighted, one-sided view of Essos and specifically Slaver's Bay. I don't absolve the Dothraki and the Astapori practices in regards to slavery, but when we see the world briefly through Quentyn's eyes, and then through Tyrion's eyes, it becomes a lot more difficult to just accept what Dany has done and is doing. Her boxed off world of cartoon villains is really shattered when you look at it from different perspectives.



#4 SeanF

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 05:29 AM

Plenty of freed slavesare desperately poor, and will do virtually anything to eat.

 

But, they can no longer be executed, whipped, or raped, at their masters' whim, or bred to produce children.  They have legal personality and can own property.  All of these things count as improvements, and explain why Dany is popular among the freed slaves, despite economic hardship.

 

Dany's handmaidens live as well as she does, and are free to leave her, even if they have no desire to.


Edited by SeanF, 31 July 2014 - 05:31 AM.


#5 LordStoneheart

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:00 AM

Wait, I don't get it.

 

Are you arguing that slaves are better off as slaves, no one is truly free because any hierarchy is slavery, or that many slaves who still cherish the concept of freedom even under bad circumstances are just wrong?



#6 Kyoshi

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:25 AM

I'm honestly baffled.

 

I think it was BearQueen87 who said it's very easy to sit here, from a 21st century perspective, with all our text books, real-life experiences and history lessons, and criticize the issue of Meereen and abolition. However, in the case of Danenerys, she doesn't enjoy the same privileges we do. She is the template when it comes to abolition. Should the system of slavery be restored in Meereen, and a thousand years from the time of ASOIAF someone else tries to abolish it, they will look at Dany's quest and say "This works. This does not." I hope I did BearQueen87's opinion justice and quoted it as accurately as possible.

 

What alternatives do you have, OP? How would you have handled the issue of slavery? Are your alternatives full-proof, better than Dany's methods? Can you say, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the methods you propose would have worked? If your answers to the first two questions are feasible in the context of the novels AND your answers to the last three questions are yes then maybe you have the right of it: ending slavery was wrong.


Edited by Kyoshi, 31 July 2014 - 06:26 AM.


#7 Mikkel

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:26 AM

I think the crux of the argument is that freedom is not in all instances in the best interest of the (former) slaves, it depends on the circumstances, what you have to offer after freeing them, and the manner in which it is done. In many of these areas, there is room for critique of Daenerys: even if her heart is in the right place, her personal need to feel good about herself is not going to feed the hungry or cure the sick or protect the defenseless.

 

Personally my beef is not with the freeing of the slaves, though it's a good point that she never actually asks any of the slaves whether they'd prefer the (relative) safety and comfort of enslavement to freedom, with all the insecurity it entails. My beef (as far as the slaves go) is with failing to provide for them in a meaningful manner, particularly the Astapori, and of course in caving in and allowing slaves in the city, and her agreeing to re-starting the slave trade after having caused massive death and destruction in trying to abolish it wholesale.


Edited by Mikkel, 31 July 2014 - 06:37 AM.


#8 Danelle

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:28 AM

Freedom is slavery.

It is known. 



#9 AntZ

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:32 AM

Plenty of freed slavesare desperately poor, and will do virtually anything to eat.

 

But, they can no longer be executed, whipped, or raped, at their masters' whim, or bred to produce children.  They have legal personality and can own property.  All of these things count as improvements, and explain why Dany is popular among the freed slaves, despite economic hardship.

 

Not all the slaves were being tortured, executed and raped before Dany freed them. In fact, only a minority of the slaves were treated that way. The quote of Tyrion in the OP proves that. So, this improvement was practically nonexistent for the majority of slaves, who are used to behave well and not cause trouble.

 

Even if we count the right to own property as an improvement (it is by the way), that makes little sense if the economy is a total mess and the people can barely feed themselves.

 

Dany's handmaidens live as well as she does, and are free to leave her, even if they have no desire to.

 

That is not exactly freedom in that case, which is what I proposed in the OP. Freedom is meaningful if there are viable options but if there is only a single option, then it is not really freedom. It is similar to how two suckers who would do exactly the same thing should they selected stand up to be the president and the people use their “freedom of choice” to vote one of them.

 

Wait, I don't get it.

 

Are you arguing that slaves are better off as slaves, no one is truly free because any hierarchy is slavery, or that many slaves who still cherish the concept of freedom even under bad circumstances are just wrong?

 

Without coming up with a realistic model to replace slavery, all Dany does causes more deaths and suffering.

 

From the perspectives other than Dany’s, we see that some of the slaves prefer the safety and wealth that come with being a slave of a good master to “freedom to starve” or “freedom to die” (these are Dany’s own words).


Edited by Paper Waver, 31 July 2014 - 06:36 AM.


#10 MandrakeWench

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:35 AM

Perhaps what is better for a person depends on that individual. One person might feel it's better to be a slave with a comfortable home and food on the table; another might prefer freedom and the risk that one might be unable to make a living.

Here in our modern world I think we have a similar situation. In my country we do not have slavery per se. But many people are forced, thru situations not under their control, to work for a pittance or in very bad conditions. If there are no other viable options, it is somewhat like slavery. Though a slave master will not take away your child to sell on the auction block, woe be unto you if you are a minority, poor individual who allows your child to romp at a park while you are applying for a minimum wage job to feed that child. Just to cite one example of food for thought. What would Dany do?

#11 I'm the Party Pooper

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:35 AM

You know, in a world such ours it's easy to fail to appreciate the great difference among slavery and freedom, because we are so used to it as coming along heavy concepts like duty, obligations, responsibilities.. things that feel like chains trying to chuckle you, from time to time.

It's even more difficult when you compare the living conditions in Westeros to those of slaves in Essos.

But the difference is huge, slavers have right of life and death to you, they have absolute power on your body, on your needs, on your entire life, on your hopes.. they can deny you everything and torture you to death, you are a thing, a possession. nothing more.

Then when Tyrion comes in and makes those observations on how the slaves living conditions worsened and caused an unending trail of death, it's easy to antagonise Daenerys, especially considering that apparently she didn't consider it not even as a remote possibility at the beginning: she has been guilty of being clouded by a naive idealism, typical of young age.


But I myself have quite a more positive opinion of her. In fact, her naivety is not entirely a bad thing when you consider that it's at the roots of her capability of looking at the slaves as human beings, with innocent and compassionate eyes, and thus the main reason why she was the first person of taking over her shoulder the responsibility of changing things.

What has been done to the unsullied is inhuman, the thousands of children killed for nothing but training, what would have happened to Tyrion and Penny in the pit - being eaten by lions by no more reason than amusement - it's reckless and terrifying.


She may have chosen the wrong way to accomplish her plan, but has been right in the decision of doing something. For the first time there is hope for slaves future generations to live and prosper in a better world, and to develop a culture based on more modern values.

Edited by I'm the Party Pooper, 31 July 2014 - 06:40 AM.


#12 LordStoneheart

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:46 AM

Also, using Tyrion's point is rather daft as an example of choice. I know why he's saying they "chose" to be slaves in that another option is death and they're not dead, but that's not like a choice between a good job and a bad one. That's not a f**king choice at all. That's innate survival instincts that most humans would have. If I had literally nothing to lose, nothing to motivate, and nothing keeping me there, I might just choose the "die free than live as slave option" but many of these slaves are children, teens, mothers, fathers, people who either don't know any other way to live (Unsullied) or have an attachment such as family that would prevent them from actively seeking death.

 

Grey Worm I also find a poor example. He may be an Unsullied by it's obvious by the way he considers the name to be "lucky" because it was on the day he was "freed" that freedom is not meaningless to him. What can an Unsullied do free? Anything they choose like, idk, visit a whore house to be cuddled. (RIP Stalwart). I have a hunch that wouldn't have been an option for him back in Astapor.



#13 AntZ

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:47 AM

I think the crux of the argument is that freedom is not in all instances in the best interest of the (former) slaves, it depends on the circumstances, what you have to offer after freeing them, and the manner in which it is done. In many of these areas, there is room for critique of Daenerys: even if her heart is in the right place, her personal need to feel good about herself is not going to feed the hungry or cure the sick or protect the defenseless.

 

Personally my beef is not with the freeing of the slaves, though it's a good point that she never actually asks any of the slaves whether they'd prefer the (relative) safety and comfort of enslavement to freedom, with all the insecurity it entails. My beef (as far as the slaves go) is with failing to provide for them in a meaningful manner, particularly the Astapori, and of course in caving in and allowing slaves in the city, and her agreeing to re-starting the slave trade after having caused massive death and destruction in trying to abolish it wholesale.

 

Thanks, that is a good summary.

 

She is naïve and she has good intentions. But does that mean that she should be forgiven for all the damage she has caused unintentionally? Are those damages just broken eggs for the omlette she is making or should we realize that human beings are not eggs?

 

And what are we supposed to do with the fact that she became inconsistent with herself by marrying a slaver and allowing a slave market outside the city walls in which some slaves still secretly hope that the Mhysa will ride out and free them?



#14 Kyoshi

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:47 AM

I keep reading criticism of how Dany handled the situation. No one ever actually suggests a feasible solution?

 

A Dance with Dragons: Day 1 after the sack

Dany: Do you want to be freed?

Slave 1: No. I am an esteemed tutor at my master's house. My life is pretty dope.

Slave 2: Yes. My master sometimes rapes me. I am only property after all. I have no rights.

Dany: Slave 1, return to your master. Slave 2, you are free.

Slaver 2: Hey, how come I get to lose my slave and Slaver 1 doesn't? This is bullshit!

Xaro: Hey there Slaver 2, you want to take part in a war against this slave-freeing idiot?

Slaver 2: Sure thing, Xaro.

 

A Forum of Ice and Fire: Day 10000000000 after the book was published.

Poster 1: Dany is an idiot. Did she really think that freeing half the slaves was going to end well. I mean come on, she should have had the basic intelligence to realise the other slavers were going to be pissed.

Poster 2: I totally agree with you. And she had no right.

Poster 1: All I'm saying is she should have either not freed slaves or she should have freed them all.


Edited by Kyoshi, 31 July 2014 - 06:54 AM.


#15 SeanF

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:48 AM

 

 

 

Not all the slaves were being tortured, executed and raped before Dany freed them. In fact, only a minority of the slaves were treated that way. The quote of Tyrion in the OP proves that. So, this improvement was practically nonexistent for the majority of slaves, who are used to behave well and not cause trouble.

 

Even if we count the right to own property as an improvement (it is by the way), that makes little sense if the economy is a total mess and the people can barely feed themselves.

 

 

That is not exactly freedom in that case, which is what I proposed in the OP. Freedom is meaningful if there are viable options but if there is only a single option, then it is not really freedom. It is similar to how two suckers who would do exactly the same thing should they selected stand up to be the president and the people use their “freedom of choice” to vote one of them.

 

 

Without coming up with a realistic model to replace slavery, all Dany does causes more deaths and suffering.

 

From the perspectives other than Dany’s, we see that some of the slaves prefer the safety and wealth that come with being a slave of a good master to “freedom to starve” or “freedom to die” (these are Dany’s own words).

 

 

But, we also encounter many ex-slaves, like Missandei, Grey Worm, Marselen, Symon Stripeback, who are very pleased to have been freed.

 

There are in all likelihood, many decent slave-owners in Essos.  And, the less decent slave-owners do have some vested interest in ensuring that a valuable piece of property is well-treated enough to work efficiently.

 

But, however, well-treated slaves are, they remain at the whim of their master.  They can be sent to be devoured by lions, like Tyrion and Penny.  They can be executed or tortured if they fail to please.  When their looks start to fade, they can be sold into brothels.  When they grow old, or become incapable of working, they can be turned loose to starve.  If they have children by other slaves, those children can be sold to an owner hundreds of miles away.  And, the creation of the Unsullied is horrendous. 

 

Worse, the existence of slavery means that the Dothraki and pirates kidnap free people to sell them into slavery.

 

Freedom means poverty for many people.  But, it's still worth having. 



#16 OldGimletEye

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:52 AM

I keep reading criticism of how Dany handled the situation. No one ever actually suggests a feasible solution?

 

 

Well, I wouldn't start a war with only about 8,000 troops. I would be afraid that I wouldn't be able to win the conflict and therefore having little chance of making the slaves lives better. I wouldn't plan a war based on some supernatural ability to find randomly misplaced army corps when I needed one.

 

ETA:

Also, I would make a basic decision, which would be: Do I want to get into the emancipation business or do I really want to be the Monarch of Westeros? Doesn't seem both are achievable in one lifetime.


Edited by OldGimletEye, 31 July 2014 - 07:16 AM.


#17 LordStoneheart

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:56 AM

I can say with complete honesty that I'd rather scrape by and work in poverty than be fed decently with the very real chance that I could be disposed of like a pair of socks, fed to lions, sold to another owner, sold to a brothel and raped, or just killed for S&Gs. Abolition may not be an easy journey nor have easy answers but ultimately it's the right step.



#18 David Selig

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 07:04 AM

Highly original thread. I am sure there is no chance it will become a train wreck soon.



#19 Nictarion

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 07:09 AM

So slavery is only bad if the slaves are mistreated? I find this a pretty ridiculous notion. It is wrong for any human being to be owned by another. End of story.

I would say the New Hampshire state motto sums up my feelings on it. "Live Free or Die"

#20 Mikkel

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 07:11 AM

I can say with complete honesty that I'd rather scrape by and work in poverty than be fed decently with the very real chance that I could be disposed of like a pair of socks, fed to lions, sold to another owner, sold to a brothel and raped, or just killed for S&Gs. Abolition may not be an easy journey nor have easy answers but ultimately it's the right step.

 

I like to think I'd do the same. But the point isn't what each of us would do, or want, it's that freeing the slaves, whether they will it or not, and destroying the economy and infrastructure of a wide area, without asking a single person what they would want, is in many ways as arbitrarily life-changing (and life-threatening) as anything the former slaves could have suffered at the hands of their masters.