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George's stance on slavery


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I find the politics of slavery in ASOIAF confusing in a way in which they make me think George is not so fiercily against it, which is incredibly weird because I know he's an incredibly progressive hippie.
 
I'm not in any way claiming he's in favor of slavery, not at all, however in some instances I think the text has a weird viewpoint in which it excuses some parts of slavery.
 
Anyway, here's my point:
 
- The Braavosi pay back the Valiryans for the ships they "stole" while escaping. This is writen in such a way that makes me think the story considers it an honorable deed (which means George considers it an honorable deed). No slave would think that way tho. I mean, I never met a slave, but I don't think they would think they should pay back to their enslavers, if anything their enslavers owe them a bunch of money for all the free labour and such. Having the Braavosi pay the valiryans for a few ships is in my opinion one of the less believable parts of the story, and makes me think of the french forcing the hatians to pay the french a lot of money for freeing themselves.
 
- In Meeren a slave asks Dany to castrate a former slaver who raped another slave. Dany says the slave in question was the slaver's property, so it wasn't rape. However, you can't own a person and he definitely raped her, he should be punished. It's not like the nazis weren't punished after WW2 because what they did was legal... However, this could be considered character error rather than the text excusing the behaviour of the slvaer, that's why I bring the next point:
 
- Killing people is wrong, obviously, and the story often makes a point that executions aren't justice, but not all executions are presented equally in the text. Robb executing Karstark, or Jon executing Slynt aren't portrayed as misdeeds by the story, you can even make the argument that both executions are protrayed as the right move, then there's Dnay in Slaver's Bay. What she has to do is make peace with the slavers, not only that but marry one of them. These are people who treat people like cattle, like property, people who frequently rape, murder and torture other humans, but Dany is protrayed as wise and good for making peace with them and marrying Hizdar, while the two characters who advice executing the slavers are the bloodthisty Skahas and Daario. So again, it seems like the text (and therefore George) approves Dany making peace with so heineous people. And yes, I get it, slavery was legal when they did those things, but the point still stands, slavery is inherently wrong, no matter the law, is fundamentally unjust and heinous, so the law shouldn't matter in this case. Would any of you think less of Dnay if she would've executed all of the slavers? I wouldn't.
 
Anyway, what do you think?
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What I think is, "Woah there!"

If George has come out in interviews or his Not-A-Blog blog and said 'This is my stance on slavery', then you'd have some substance to go on.

From the books of ASOIAF we know absolutely NOTHING about 'George's stance on slavery'. We know about the thoughts of fictionalised characters in a dark world, who are all flawed narrators. If the author has confused you about his stance, it means he's done a damned good job.

It's a poor writer who creates pantomime villains; the best writers produce characters like Milton's Satan, where'the devil gets all the best lines'. Convincing villains need believable motivations. Even the rulers of Old Ghis presumably thought their use of slaves was justified, just like most people in the real world have no ethical qualms about the mass slaughter of cattle to satisfy their palates. So every character is doing right in their own eyes, and NONE of them are the author's eyes/mind/stance.

Edited by House Cambodia
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3 minutes ago, House Cambodia said:

What I think is, "Woah there!"

From the books of ASOIAF we know absolutely NOTHING about 'George's stance on slavery'. We know about the thoughts of fictionalised characters in a dark world, who are all flawed narrators. If the author has confused you about his stance, it means he's done a damned good job.

If George has come out in interviews or his Not-A-Blog blog and said 'This is my stance on slavery', then you'd have some substance to go on.

I get that, but the way in which Braavos paying Valyria for the ships sounds off, as does the way he writes about Jon executing someone who disobeyed him vs Dany executing a bunch of slavers.

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Hes not glorifying it no hes writing it into his world in a believeable way. He's created an ancient world where slavery still exists yes and is used by very powerful states.

The bravosi reveal their new state to the world and unfortuantly theres still a lot of slavery there....they intend to trade worldwide so pay for the boat to foster goodwill with those slavery states  BUT refuse to pay for lost slaves. 

 

As for  dany she chooses to end slavery and takes meeren to rule , now in doing so she allows the former slavers to live and remain rich and powerful  so she has to strike a balance. Bear in mind shes in the middle of a  learning process in how to properly rule....she has wanted peace but the slavers saw that was weakness and began their harpy war! Thankfuly we know in the wasteland she has embraced 'fire and blood' so will return with the right balance of wanting peace and reconcilliation but mixed with  ruthlessness, the slavers will learn to fear her and obey or die

 

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2 minutes ago, CamiloRP said:

I get that, but the way in which Braavos paying Valyria for the ships sounds off, as does the way he writes about Jon executing someone who disobeyed him vs Dany executing a bunch of slavers.

As I say, he wrote them well. You get Jon's inner voice justifying his actions, and you get Dany or her supporters' inner voices justifying hers.  A good writer like George makes YOU do the thinking; a bad writer tells you what to believe.

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1 minute ago, House Cambodia said:

As I say, he wrote them well. You get Jon's inner voice justifying his actions, and you get Dany or her supporters' inner voices justifying hers.  A good writer like George makes YOU do the thinking; a bad writer tells you what to believe.

That's not what I'm talking about tho. The people in favor of executing the slavers are Daario, who's an evil motherfucker, and the Shavepate, whom at the very least we shoulnd't trust; while Jon gets an approving Nod from Stannis.

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7 minutes ago, astarkchoice said:

The bravosi reveal their new state to the world and unfortuantly theres still a lot of slavery there....they intend to trade worldwide so pay for the boat to foster goodwill with those slavery states  BUT refuse to pay for lost slaves.

mmm I don't know, I don't get that from the book

 

"Sealord Uthero Zalyne put an end to that secrecy, sending forth his ships to every corner of the world to proclaim the existence and location of Braavos, and invite men of all nations to celebrate the 111th festival of the city's founding. By that time all of the original escaped slaves were dead, along with all of their former masters. Even so, Uthero had sent envoys from the Iron Bank to Valyria several years prior, to clear the way for what became known as the Uncloaking or the Unmasking of Uthero. The dragonlords proved to have little interest in the descendants of slaves who had escaped a century before, and the Iron Bank paid handsome settlements to the grandchildren of the men whose ships the founders had seized and sailed away (whilst refusing to pay for the value of the slaves themselves)."

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2 minutes ago, CamiloRP said:

That's not what I'm talking about tho. The people in favor of executing the slavers are Daario, who's an evil motherfucker, and the Shavepate, whom at the very least we shoulnd't trust; while Jon gets an approving Nod from Stannis.

2 very dofferent things though

Dany wants a peace with the people she means to rule, now she probably should be a tougher yes but not the massacre daario wants, a  more a surgical apparoach is needes

Jon executing slynt isnt anything to do with slavery , slynt chose the watch over death and made his choice to disobey its commander publicly.

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6 minutes ago, CamiloRP said:

Daario, who's an evil motherfucker

I'm not willing to make that kind of judgement about a character we haven't heard from directly. GRRM writes his characters (and events) in more nuanced ways and thus disguises his opinion of them more than perhaps you are prepared to grasp.

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5 minutes ago, astarkchoice said:

2 very dofferent things though

Dany wants a peace with the people she means to rule, now she probably should be a tougher yes but not the massacre daario wants, a  more a surgical apparoach is needes

Jon executing slynt isnt anything to do with slavery , slynt chose the watch over death and made his choice to disobey its commander publicly.

Exactly, and the idea to execute the slavers is showed in the text as wrong, while the idea to execute Slynt is showed as the right move.

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5 minutes ago, House Cambodia said:

I'm not willing to make that kind of judgement about a character we haven't heard from directly. GRRM writes his characters (and events) in more nuanced ways and thus disguises his opinion of them more than perhaps you are prepared to grasp.

Ha!, I'm being simplistic for the sake of brevity, I had tons of arguments in this forum arguing that no one is "Evil" and no one is "good", but in those reductive terms, the people who are in favor of executing the slavers are depicted as "evil".

Also, you can maybe try ro argue without attacking my ability ot understand the text. I don't think it's cool for you to act like your interpretation is the only correct one and if I disagree it must be because I can't understand the text or "are not prepared to grasp" it, specially for someone who's first reply showed you didn't understand the post...

and I say it again: the way in which George writes this issues, not what teh characters say or do, but the way in which the story presents them, shows a perspective I consider weird, specially for a pregressive guy like George, who's definitely against slavery.

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5 minutes ago, astarkchoice said:

 It IS wrong to execute them en masse indiscriminately.

I disagree, those people rape, torture, murder and enslave.

It's also the rigth move politically: Dany's subjects are former slaves, and there isn't true justice if Dany lets their enslavers live, hold power, and get more influence in her government than the former slaves.

 

And it was wrong for Jon to execute Slynt, yet the text portrays it as good.

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3 minutes ago, CamiloRP said:

I disagree, those people rape, torture, murder and enslave.

It's also the rigth move politically: Dany's subjects are former slaves, and there isn't true justice if Dany lets their enslavers live, hold power, and get more influence in her government than the former slaves.

 

And it was wrong for Jon to execute Slynt, yet the text portrays it as good.

They did that but shes ended it now she must mke peace with the factions otherwise itl be a bloodbath..she chose to avoid that plus she also chose to strike a deal she cannot be seen to go back on in the time she lives in. Pacts and oaths are critical to feudal society vassals miat see they can trust overlords word.

Slynt was given everuyý chance to back doen and h

 

ņmeuhhh

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4 minutes ago, astarkchoice said:

They did that but shes ended it now she must mke peace with the factions otherwise itl be a bloodbath..she chose to avoid that plus she also chose to strike a deal she cannot be seen to go back on in the time she lives in. Pacts and oaths are critical to feudal society vassals miat see they can trust overlords word.

Nah, if she kills all the Slavers no one will complain, besides, she could trial them before and she wouldn't be going back on any deals (if she did it right after she conuered the city).

 

Quote

Slynt was given everuyý chance to back doen and h

Jon himself even thinks he could've sent him to the ice cells, or tied him to his horse. But even then, not obeying your comander is not a worse crime than slavey.

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To my mind, there are characters who are unambiguously depraved.  Ser Gregor, Walder Frey, Ramsay Bolton, Varamyr Sixskins, Vargo Hoat, are vile men, without redeeming features of any kind.  There are no shades of grey there.

To my mind, most of the slavers fall into the same category.  It’s not just that they own slaves.  They revel in their cruelty towards them.  They institutionalise what Ramsay does at an individual level.

But, I get what you saying.  Adam Feldman makes the argument that the peace with the slavers was real, and just.  And that thematically, Hizdahr represents peace to Dany, whereas Daario represents violence.

IMHO, Daario represents terror wrought in hot blood, whereas Hizdahr and his class represent terror wrought in cold blood, lasting centuries (adopting Mark Twain’s analysis of the French Revolution).

The Shavepate and Daario are not good people, but they are right that the master class needs to be purged.  Not because of past crimes, but because they are incorrigible.  Each concession to them fuels more demands.  They hold a slave market outside the city, and Hizdahr tries to feed Penny to lions, both in breach of their promises.  And, they never tell Dany about the bargain their envoys struck with Volantis.

Edited by SeanF
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6 minutes ago, SeanF said:

But, I get what you saying.  Adam Feldman makes the argument that the peace with the slavers was real, and just.  And that thematically, Hizdahr represents peace to Dany, whereas Daario represents violence.

IMHO, Daario represents terror wrought in hot blood, whereas Hizdahr and his class represent terror wrought in cold blood, lasting centuries (adopting Mark Twain’s analysis of the French Revolution).

I read Feldman's point and liked it, I just seen your for the first time and I like it way more. It makes a ton of sense. Bravo.

 

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54 minutes ago, CamiloRP said:

Ha!, I'm being simplistic for the sake of brevity, I had tons of arguments in this forum arguing that no one is "Evil" and no one is "good", but in those reductive terms, the people who are in favor of executing the slavers are depicted as "evil".

Also, you can maybe try ro argue without attacking my ability ot understand the text. I don't think it's cool for you to act like your interpretation is the only correct one and if I disagree it must be because I can't understand the text or "are not prepared to grasp" it, specially for someone who's first reply showed you didn't understand the post...

and I say it again: the way in which George writes this issues, not what teh characters say or do, but the way in which the story presents them, shows a perspective I consider weird, specially for a pregressive guy like George, who's definitely against slavery.

Fair point and I apologise.  My unfair comment was in response to something you wrote you now say was simplistic and you didn't mean, so it threw me somewhat.

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51 minutes ago, CamiloRP said:

Nah, if she kills all the Slavers no one will complain, besides, she could trial them before and she wouldn't be going back on any deals (if she did it right after she conuered the city).

 

Jon himself even thinks he could've sent him to the ice cells, or tied him to his horse. But even then, not obeying your comander is not a worse crime than slavey.

No ome would complain..bar the massive states that rely onnslavery and the other slaver citybstates nearby whonare quite powerful...she didnt kill them all when she took thd city so she has opted agaisnt a fresh start based on a massacre.

He could have but that would be undermining his authority. Hes a teen boy incharge of a mininforiegn legion many former criminals he cant afford to lose authority

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5 hours ago, CamiloRP said:

I read Feldman's point and liked it, I just seen your for the first time and I like it way more. It makes a ton of sense. Bravo.

 

Twain's quote applies very well to the use of violence against the slave lords of Essos, IMHO.

"THERE were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.” 

I should add that for some of the fandom, the Terror inflicted on the slave owning class makes them "shudder" far more than the Terror inflicted by the slave owning class.

Edited by SeanF
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