A few American acquaintances told me of a new approach to the ancient history that gains strength in popular science and is favorably met by the official ideology. According to this theory, there was no slavery in the early civilizations (Egypt, Middle East, Mesopotamia etc.), and all their wealth and great cultural achievements were produced by the free full-righted citizens in their honest service to the supreme interests of reason and creativity…
Well, I must admit that such a view is very convenient for the leaders of the modern American civilization. It diverts the minds of Americans from the simple fact that their well-being is mostly based on enslaving the whole world and exploiting billions in the interests of the rich few. Of course, a pretty woman receiving expensive gifts from a respectable lover can be unaware of that the generous gentleman makes his living by robbing banks or keeping banks (which is principally the same). She would only enjoy a careless life full of pleasure, and she may have candid pity for those miserable who did not find a good guy to feed them.
However, being unaware of slavery does not reduce or eliminate it. The three principal stages of civilization (slavery, feudalism and capitalism) are all based on exploitation of one person by another, and it is only the forms of exploitation that change. This does not mean that people were happy and free before civilization; on the contrary, they were much more dependent on their environment, and the very idea of freedom is inapplicable to the pre-civilized societies. Civilization brought freedom to few by the expense of many, it has opposed freedom and slavery and developed this opposition to the extent of contradiction, which is bound to be eliminated in a new kind of sociality, removing any slavery (and hence any freedom) at all.
Returning to the Ancient Egypt, one could remark that its rise on the bones of numerous slaves is practically beyond all doubt. Still there are those who endeavor to reverse the meaning of some common words, referring to religion as spirituality, and to slavery as freedom; such tricksters will probably deny the existence of slavery, since they have long since renamed it. There is a whole library of written documents indicating that slavery was a common phenomenon in early Egypt. Of course, one should be careful with interpretations, and each historical document requires a critical analysis. But even if we were unaware of pharaohs bringing thousands of slaves back to Egypt from their military campaigns, the idea that the famous pyramids were built by disinterested artists without any compulsion does not seem too convincing. This new American theory of free citizens building the pyramids by joint effort is sheer nonsense; the assertions that the erection of those frightening tombs was to the benefit of the lay people, which were thus sponsored by a kind and wise pharaoh, are obvious lie. And this lie has been invented to conform with the modern tale of many workers receiving their living from a good bourgeois, who hired them to build him a fashionable house, or an office sky-scraper, or strategic missiles and bombers to bring more people to obeisance. The truth is exactly the opposite: it is the mass of working people that provides living for a bourgeois; the bourgeois robs these people of the major part of their labor, of their health and strength, without any real compensation.
However, while all the bourgeois are of the same ilk, working people may belong to different layers, with the working class of one nation being in a privileged position compared to another; the population of the rich capitalist countries shares a small part of the profits squeezed by the bourgeoisie from the other countries. For instance, after the USA have occupied Iraq, American capitalists are free to exploit its natural and human resources, and billions of dollars will flow to their bank accounts; with that money, they will hire more Americans to produce more articles of luxury and more weapons, which will stimulate American economy as a whole and indirectly increase the average level of life in the USA. That is why American workers tend to support any act of international piracy on the part of their country, and the majority of American citizens can feed on the blood of the countries devastated by US troops. Honest Americans will always remain on the periphery of the social life, with no chance to be heard.
Today, science often gets sacrificed to profit, and the very word "science" becomes identified with anything but scientific research. A silliest fantasy can be promoted by the media as a cutting-edge discovery, while former scientists are more engaged in search for funding than in search for truth. Some of them yield to the pressure and start cooking stupid sensations to attract capital; they often finish with convincing themselves in the lies they tell, and becoming the advocates of the existing socioeconomic system, stretching facts to the ideology of the ruling class. This especially concerns the social sciences, where financing is strictly dependent on the ideological gain. Thus scientific history gives way to apologetic history, using the speculations on the human past to embellish the ugly today. That is the seamy side of their pretence to have proven that no slavery has ever exited, or, at least, it has never been a dominant economic mechanism.
Of course, no pure abstraction can exist in the real world, and one can be certain that any real economy combines the elements of different origin, and different stages of economic and social development are intertwined in any particular society. The earliest civilizations retained many relics of the primitive communal system, like modern capitalism incorporates the elements of feudalism, slavery, or the tribal tradition. However, this does not deny the existence of the objective stages of historical development, like the fact that all the letters are simultaneously present in any text does not mean that there is no alphabet. The theory of economic and cultural formations is one of the greatest achievements of the historical science, and no advocate of the right of one nation to enslave the rest of the world can annihilate this clear and constructive idea.