Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Men And Ivanhoans

(Boy's Life, December, 1973)

Master Trader Thomas Overbeck says:

"'We're after a profit, yes, but not to exploit these poor beings.'" (The Van Rijn Method, p. 325)

There are two meanings of "to exploit." The traders can make a profit only by paying Ivanhoans x credits to harvest a quantity of adir, then selling that quantity for more than x credits. In one sense of the word, to do this is to "exploit" the labor of the Ivanhoans. However, by "exploit," Overbeck means something more like to pay them so little that they remain impoverished or to work them so hard that their health suffers as a result. In fact, he thinks that, if the city-dwellers can get a share in the adir trade, then they will be able to rebuild their civilization which was destroyed by civil wars and barbarian invasions.

An agreement that is not only acceptable to both sides but that also measurably benefits both sides over time cannot count as "exploitation" in the sense intended by Overbeck. However, if competitive pressure makes the traders try to reduce the pay or to extend the hours of adir harvesters, then some Ivanhoans will begin to think about "exploitation" in the first sense.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree with your definitions of "exploitation," in both the bad and good senses. And, alas, when the Polesotechnic League began to decline, the danger of the Ivanhoans being "exploited" in the bad sense would increase. Unless the Ivanhoans had modernized sufficiently that they were able to defend themselves?