Are you a slave?
A thought-provoking extract from After, book 1 of the Inspector West series.
The bus arrived at his stop in the city. He got off and ambled towards the bank. No point in rushing in for another routine day in the world of banking.
Paul started his day, like he did most mornings, sharing a cup of coffee with Henry, his team leader for the last two years. It was an opportunity to sort out the day’s priorities and discuss the state of the world before they got down to the serious stuff.
‘I look at the people working here, Paul, especially the ones that have been here for twenty years or more, and wonder how anyone can work in a place like this for that long and be satisfied with a basic clerical position.’
‘I think I might know why. It’s called economic slavery.’
‘Think about it. The first workers anywhere were slaves. I mean, who built the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China?’
‘I thought it was the emperor.’
‘Well, he got the credit but who actually did all the work? The slaves and all they got for it was food and lodging. The emperor lived in luxury while the ordinary working man slaved away building the great whatever.’
‘But you can’t be serious about slavery in today’s world.’
‘It’s more subtle these days. In the past, the rich could buy and sell slaves on the open market. They can’t do that anymore and they don’t have to. We turn ourselves into slaves. Think about it. The rich still own the means of production. They make all the things we need and want. They advertise all their wonderful stuff, which we can buy in their shops with money they will lend us, provided we agree to sign a mortgage, a bill of sale or credit card and work for them for minimal wages to pay it all off.’
‘Paul, you’re having me on, aren’t you?’
‘Henry, what’s stopping you from resigning this morning? It’s such a neat system most people don’t even realise they’re slaves, until it’s too late.’
One of the fun parts of writing crime fiction is you can tackle any social issue within the context of the story. Who knows how many others I slipped into this one?