Issue of Slaver’s Bay
Daenerys gives herself the mission to civilize the Slaver’s Bay. But Martin shows at least somewhat correctly what happens when different groups, different cultures, meet: strife, conflict and bloodshed. Good intentions are not enough; in fact, idealism often makes the situation worse because it leads to inability to account for reality. And in her mission, Daenerys goes both not far enough (Astapor, which she abandons almost immediately) and too far (Mereen, where she is frustrated by “slow pace” of progress).
But very existence of Slaver’s Bay is a problem. Slaves there are so numerous, and so badly treated, that those societies should have logically collapsed inside-out long before Daenerys arrived there. In some cases, 80% of population are slaves (Volantis – 5 slaves for every free citizen), and states even use badly treated slave soldiers for their armies. This however is a carricature of historical slaveowning societies, as can be seen from three examples: Roman Empire, Caliphate and Ottoman Empire. Roman Empire did use slaves extensively: up to 20% of population were slaves. But while some slaves (such as miners) were treated very badly indeed, many slaves enjoyed comfortable life. Many teachers were slaves, and they were well-educated and very well-treated. Gladiators were another group which was well-treated: a gladiator was in fact much more similar to modern torero than to a stereotypical pop-culture gladiator. They were highly-trained, and very rarely fought to death. Gladiators were even paid. In fact, pay of a gladiator was so good that it attracted many free men as well. While deaths were unavoidable, the only gladiators which regularly fought to the death were convicted criminals.
Overall, Slaver’s Bay is a carricature; a society where every type of historical evil is taken, pushed to its limits, and presented in its most ugly form – many of which may not have ever existed to begin with. It is thus very easy to justify Daenerys’ expedition to improve the lives of ordinary people there. But much like historical (and modern) imperialism, this “civilizing spree” has very disruptive, and destructive, consequences – a road to hell is laid with good intentions. What has started as a humanitarian mission has ended up imperial colonialism. Daenerys’ end goal is in Westeros; she will thus inevitably abandon her conquest to take the Iron Throne – which she sees as her right. But in the process, she will have disrupted and destroyed social structures of Slaver’s Bay societies without providing a viable alternative. And she will take good part of young, work-capable populace with her and use them to invade Westeros.
This is also related to modern migration question. Multiculturalism and globalism are justified by two basic arguments:
- that Europeans should allow mass immigration into their countries because of the evils of colonialism and globalism
- that Europeans should allow mass immigration into their countries because Europe is more economically advanced
First argument, that Europeans should allow mass immigration due to their colonial past, is openly racist as it accuses the entire white race of being evil colonialists. Nevermind the fact that people of Balkans – from Croatia to Bulgaria, and from Romania to Greece – were victims of Ottoman imperialism, that the entire Mediterranean coast was regularly raided by Barbary slavers for centuries, that Muslim Arab pirates regularly raided Russia etc. specifically to capture sex slaves of fair skin and blonde hair. In fact, Europeans – even during worst excesses of colonialsm – were no better or worse than any other peoples. The only reason why Europeans, and not Africans or Americans, went on a conquering-colonizing spree, was that they could. But that had to do with social and technological developments and not with race, unless one believes into inherent superiority of one race over others. But that is a Catch-22: if European colonialism was a consequence of inherent qualities of people of European descent, then that means that Europeans are biologically superior to other races. If European colonialism was not a consequence of inherent qualities, then it means that modern-day descendants are not to blame for what their predecessors did.
Second argument has an inbuilt, inherent assumption that people from southern hemisphere (that is, not Europeans or East Asians) are incapable of getting themselves out of the problems. But there are three possible answers to that: 1) they are being held back by external forces – in which case globalism is bad; 2) they are held back by the fact that best minds are emigrating from their countries – in which case globalism is bad; and 3) they are inherently incapable of getting themselves out of the situation – which implies biological/racial inferiority and is thus racist.
Overall, modern arguments for multiculturalism are not that dissimilar from “White Man’s Burden”, an argument that white people have duty of civilizing the savages, among other means through colonization. The only difference between the White Man’s Burden and arguments for multiculturalism are that former assumed white people will go out of their countries to conquer uncivilized natives, while the latter assumes that natives will come to Europe to be civilized.