[Writing Contest} An Essay on Slavery in the Amarr Religion

The History of Slavery in the Amarr Religion
Analyzed through a Gallente Academic Lens

While debate does exist as to exactly when slavery first became a religious practice for the Amarr, and if it was widespread since the inception of the Amarr faith, most evidence, and the conclusion of most Gallente scholars, is that, while the practice of slavery was not unknown to Amarr living on Amarr island prior to the arrival of the Udorians, it was uncommon at best, and certainly not part of religious practices during this period. This is seen in the fact that references to slavery are nearly entirely absent from Scripture that is from that time period, while the term serf is seen with some frequency in Scripture that was written during this era. While there certainly are some similarities in the two systems, they are very distinctly different, especially in the way that slavery is currently justified in the Amarr religion.

Now, that said, there is a significant minority that does believe slavery rather than serfdom had become common by the time of Amash-Akura, and that the historical figure of Molok was the leader of a slave rebellion. However, there are many competing theories about the historical figure of Molok and the differences between him and the mythological figure he has become, and many other theories assert competing views, or suggest that references to this were non-contemporary descriptions of what was actually a rebellion of the serfs and lower class commoners – something that may have seemed to later historians to be no different from a slave rebellion, especially if they wished to draw parallel’s between Molok’s rejection of spiritual authority with the rejection of the social order and temporal authority that a slave rebellion would suggest to most of their readers.

For the most part, there is a strong suggestion that slavery begun, certainly as a religious practice, perhaps following a secular process that had slightly predated it, or perhaps at the same time as secular practice, either near the end of the original Reclaiming, or just after it. The theory here is that there was a large defeated population that had not yet accepted the true faith, that needed to be controlled in some way so as to prevent the conquests from being for naught, and, not coincidentally, were, as a recently conquered people, ripe for economic exploitation. Slavery was seen as a logical solution to a problem that exploited an opportunity at the same time. For the new planet-wide empire, it seemed to have only benefits, and religious scholars must have been only too happy to agree.

Now this period of slavery among the Amarr is known among Gallente scholars as “First Wave Slavery.” It was not part of some grand plan, it was not meant to be forever, or even something they specifically intended to repeat, for at the time they thought there would be no one else to repeat it one. It was simply the most efficient method they could think of for the existing circumstances to achieve the desired results – and, it should be noted, it is a method many cultures, including ones belonging to the Federation, have employed sometime in their history. It may not be right, but it is common among many empires throughout all history in all cultures.

Now, the view many Gallente scholars have is that, as with many things in the Amarr religion, it does not really matter why it started out, eventually it continued long enough that it became tradition, and became codified religious dogma. It had worked well for them, so surely it must be a tool given from God.

But in the thousand years or so between the finishing of the Reclaiming and the discovery of spaceflight, it ran its course. It did its job. The Udorians were converted and controlled, their economic exploitation built an empire, and eventually became less efficient as automation was developed, and the needed types of jobs shifted. In short, it worked exactly the way the Amarr say that slavery is meant to work, and then it was all over. A success story, one might say. Everyone was converted, religiously, politically, and largely culturally, and there were few if any slaves left. And, it should be noted, the Amarr religion was also in decline. Few Amarr were religious anymore, those that were focused largely on inward spirituality and not on conversion. And then the Amarr discovered they could get to the stars.

This changed things. In the stars were many new worlds, new places to bring the word of God to, which for a thousand years, there had not been. It was not long before they discovered the Ealur, and, perhaps assuming that since slavery had worked for them before, they should try it again, they enslaved them in short order. The Ealur being the Ealur, this went very well for them, which was taken as an encouraging sign, confirmation that this was divinely ordained. Gallente scholars term this “Second Wave Slavery.”

While started with the same intention as First Wave Slavery, there was a marked shift in its promotion as a one-size-fits all tool to bring every people under the rule of the Amarr and God, becoming a matter of regular policy and religious dogma, and accepted as simply a way of life. It is during this period that we start to see a comprehensive theology of slavery begin to take form.

A number of different theological strains of thought about slavery saw their best development during this era, most centered on slavery as a way to pay off some debt (Purification Theory, Debt Theory, and Contrition Theory were primarily developed during this period). Subjugation Theory, which has become common in recent times, is a more modern outgrowth of these. Obligation Theory was initially popular, but died out during the later part of this period. Assimilation Theory and Reward Theory would also be developed in counter to these other theories, they later waned in popularity, but have recently enjoyed some resurgence.

Most theories of the time centered around purification from an existing stain, initially taken as being inferior due to lack of faith but quickly being realized inferiority due to race or other aspect, eventually also being realized as inferiority due to breach of law, causing slavery to become a common criminal punishment. Some did view it as simply a good way to teach so-called primitives a better way of life, and the slavery as the debt they owed the Amarr for spending resources to lift them up technologically, this quickly became viewed as more of a spiritual uplifting. With most theologies, the economic benefits were considered to be not really the point, but rather a happy accident that was, theologically the Amarr’s by right for being the most faithful people.

It was during this period that the brutal civil war known as the Moral Reforms occurred, which depleted slave stocks and caused a dire need for workers to rebuild. This signaled the start of a shift towards economic exploitation in slavery as the prime focus, though the shift was only beginning when the Amarr found the Ni-Kunni soon after, and so they were at first enslaved under older paradigms. It was, however, much more complete by the time the Amarr found the Minmatar, and so they were viewed primarily as a resource to exploit, marking the clear transition into “Third Wave Slavery.”

This slavery was more brutal and exploitative than before, while slavery in prior times had been harsh, and slaves regularly mistreated, now it was magnified greatly. Slaves were increasingly viewed specifically as a resource, and while lip service was payed to the ideas of it having a religious purpose as was established during the Second Wave, the majority of those who paid more than lip service to this ideal tended to do so according to more sadistic theologies, openly believing that those lesser than the Amarr should actively suffer as much as possible.

Slavery was used to fuel an empire, and that empire spread, seeking to enslave all. But eventually, the Amarr met others they were unable to enslave. And, with the realization that the Amarr were not invincible and some outside help, the Minmatar slaves launched a successful rebellion. This was a great shock to the Amarr in a number of ways. For one, they had, until recently, not met anyone who had told them ‘no.’ While there had at times been some amount of resistance to slavery among the various populations they encountered, none of them had put up any real fight, and most had in fact mostly accepted slavery. Many of them believed, or at least told themselves, that the slaves wanted it, for aside from the Minmatar, none had fought back in an organized way. This changed.

They had also never had, until recently, had to deal with others that could actually stand against them. While the new Republic would certainly have been crushed in a protracted war, it would have cost the Empire, and there were now other threats that might have taken advantage of that. Never before had they had to deal with others as equals.

Nor had they ever suffered defeat, and certainly not at the hands of those they thought inferior to them. The impossible had happened, their world had been turned upside down, and they were having to rethink everything, from how others were best converted to belief in God, to the economics of their empire, to their perceived invincibility and their very foundations of faith. A new age was beginning.

History does not yet tell us how slavery will play out in the Amarr religion and in the Amarr Empire. One thing is nearly certain, though, that it will indeed continue. Despite international pressure, and indeed a small but dedicated movement for abolition or at least reform domestically – including moves for reform at the very highest levels of government in the past few decades – it has been a part of Amarr culture for thousands of years, and Amarr culture changes slowly. While this is an exciting time of change, it is likely that slavery, in some form or other, will continue as part of the Amarr faith.

But many new perspectives on it are being offered today, and with the cultural exchange we see with the spread of the Amarr faith to other peoples, we get new and fresh theological insights that may enrich us, and drive us to something new that yet respects old traditions, promoting the lessons the Amarr faith suggests that slavery might teach, while yet respecting the freedom and consent of all. It is, as they say, truly an exciting time to be alive.

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It is an interesting take that when the Amarr Empire had conquered Udorians, there were “few slaves left”. I am not sure if history actually supports this idea. It seems to be colored by the (I believe) fairly modern Amarrian take on slavery: slavery as salvation, where the goal of and grounds for enslavement is conversion (cultural and spiritual).

I believe that historically and still also in the current day, slavery has not always been seen as a tool for conversion, but as “the way things are”. Built in to the Amarr religion is a strong sense of hierarchy mandated by God, and while some people rise above their original station (eg, are freed), ambitions to do so are not generally encouraged. Rather one’s place in life should be what one remains content with.

I think that even if an Amarr society where everyone was fully integrated and converted (spirits forbid), there would still be field slaves, as there would still be Holders, and every station and situation in between.

It is maybe difficult to see this from a Federation perspective, where equality of every person is so ingrained in the value system that it takes the place of a fact. But the existence of God’s hierarchy is similarly a fact to many Amarrians. The way Fate and clan are a fact to many freeborn Minmatar, it maybe makes it easier for us to figure out the Amarrian mindset; God’s system seems but a corruptio of that.

Slavery has certainly come to be simply ‘the way things are,’ it has been practiced for roughly three millennia of the Amarr people’s roughly seven thousand year history. And the Amarr do tend to be a people of tradition.

It is also certainly true that, generally speaking, hierarchy is important to the Amarr, and we see this in the Scriptures from very early on. This appears both in the orthodox Amarr faith and in a number of heresies that have developed, by the way. That said, we do sometimes see contrasting passages, and some communities, particularly members of other cultures following the Amarr faith, have found alternate ways to look at things. But – the key point here is that originally, these passages in Scripture about hierarchy did not mention slavery, but rather referenced serfdom.

So it is clear that the Amarr have found in their history, indeed, for the majority of their history, other ways to have the same sort of hierarchy without chattel slavery. And so, speaking entirely from a theoretical academic point of view, one might develop the assumption that slavery is not in fact divinely ordained and needed for a proper hierarchy. I am sure those more learned that me could tell me where I have gone wrong here, though.

But can we go back to the way it was, now that we have slavery? Well, that is perhaps a better question, and the fact that there was a time when slavery was not considered part of God’s order is less important – it is now considered part of God’s order.

That said, I know some of my fellow Gallente who follow the Amarr faith have developed interesting answers to slavery, and, taking lessons from the kink community, practice voluntary submission to other people (who have been thoroughly vetted) in their community, providing a slave and Holder-like relationship that provides a certain hierarchy and each party with the benefits that they seek. It is an interesting experiment, that of course bears no resemblance to how slavery is actually practiced in the Empire, but I am curious to see its results.

It is always Interesting to see the Perspective of Outsiders, on the Great Religious Questions of the Amarr religions, as they have Views that are Distorted by different Lenses, rather than the traditional Lenses of those from within the Amarr religions.

Indeed. That said, it should be noted, that while my training and perspective comes from that of secular Gallente academia, I am in fact myself a member of the Amarr faith (albeit one of the Gallente branches).

It’s also interesting to see the variations of the Amarr faith that persist in the Republic. I’m not a believer myself, but there was a food bank associated with the Light of Matar sect on the station where I grew up, and sometimes we went there for groceries. Their theology does embrace slavery, but they believe that all humans are rightfully slaves to the divine, with even the clergy being nothing more than foremen. They have a particular hatred for the Amarr aristocracy, who they see as blaspheming by claiming to adhere to Scripture while not only proclaiming themselves to be free, but assuming the right to exert temporal power over slaves.

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I did not actually mean that just slavery is “the way things are”, but that to many Amarr people (that I have spoken to; I am not an expert by any means), “the way things are” is an important thing in itself. Maintaining a particular traditional social order is seen important because of its own sake.

I will thank you for not comparing actual slavery with the twisted games some people play about it. Freely given loyalty is not slavery.

Yes, I have heard a number of people speak of the believe that all humans are rightfully slaves of the divine, I understand that, while never popular among the Amarr, certain non-mainstream theologians have repeatedly come back to it, and indeed, while the language of slavery is absent, it is a theme seen in Scripture. Most Amarr of course hold that slavery for other races is somehow different, though, but some minority Amarr – particularly abolitionists – do embrace that the sort of slavery all humans owe to the divine is the same, be they Amarr or otherwise. It does of course tend to be less popular with the aristocracy (though I have heard of some who take the ‘foremen’ approach). I know there are some Gallente who also take this view, though of course many Gallente entirely reject language around slavery.

A Place for Everyone, and Everyone in their Place.

Yes. This is a recurring Idea in most Amarr religions. This Theme occurs in the writings of several Theologians in the Extremely Numerous Commentaries on the Scriptures that have been Written over the past few Thousand Years.

“People live best when each person has their place to stand, when each knows where they belong in the grand scheme of things and what they may achieve.” - Unsourced Quote found in “A Guide for the Suddenly Ennobled”, a Book I Found for Sale some Years Ago.

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I waited the loadout time on my Occator, in a back-alley dive that is 4 stars on the food and 1 star on the price. Settling in for a last meal before flight I happen to enter a discussion about this very subject. Of course, the dinner partner is named Andre. Nothing on a high scholarly perch, more conspiratorial and about why this is always pushed into deep dark corners and hushed tones.

Some of the questions that came up that night;

Rumors has it the slaves are drugged. If drugged, does it only work on Minmatarian, could Amarr use such things against others?

The arrival of the waiter always seemed to put an end to the existing question, but would spawn a new one.

No drug but DNA alteration, to keep members within their place in the universe. The famous Kameiras come to mind on this. The ethics of such a thing and the other empires refusal to speak out against such crimes of humanity. The logistics or how billions or people across hundreds of star systems is always glossed over but the certainty of the power of the empire is never in doubt.

Are people still be taken in Minmatar space, and transported to Amarr? Or, has the slave population in the empire reached a point it is self-propagating? Those born or bred into slavery have what rights?

Are folks escaping and living out their life in another empire? How are they escaping, is there an underground helping them? Does this mean the drugs are not working, or is there something deeper in affect?

Is there an organization hunting them, inside or outside the law.

After the last glass, and bidding farewell to my drinking partner, I made my way back to the comfort of my POD. I did have a strange feeling of being followed.