Historians tell us that Viking/ Norse society was divided into three categories: Jarls (nobles), Karls (freemen) and Thralls (slaves). It is estimated that one quarter of Norse society during the Viking age were thralls. Most thralls were foreign captives, some were convicts or debtors. Slaves were one of the most valuable forms of plunder to be gained by raiding. They could be sold for a lot of money. Most societies that the Vikings traded with wanted slaves to do the menial work that supported civilization and enabled the upper classes to live a life of liesure. And of course many were desired as sex slaves. There was a big market in the East for women from the West. Dublin Ireland was established by the Vikings and served as a major slave market for them. The modern English word slave comes from the name “Slav”; at one time so many of the captive thralls sold in England were slavs from eastern Europe that the name stuck.
Vikings may have used slaves more than was thought: New clues suggest slaves were vital to the Viking way of life — and argue against attempts to soften the raiders’ brutish reputation&…
New clues suggest slaves were vital to the Viking way of life — and argue against attempts to soften the raiders’ brutish reputation…Archaeologists are using recent finds and analyses of previous discoveries — from iron collars in Ireland to possible plantation houses in Sweden — to illuminate the role of slavery in creating and maintaining the Viking way of life.“This was a slave economy,” said Neil Price, an archaeologist at Sweden’s Uppsala University who spoke at a recent meeting that brought together archaeologists who study slavery and colonization. “Slavery has received hardly any attention in the past 30 years, but now we have opportunities using archaeological tools to change this.”Small houses surround a great hall at a Viking site in Sweden called Sanda. Some archaeologists believe this may have been a Viking plantation with slaves as the labor force.Scandinavian slavery still echoes in the English language today. The expression “to be held in thrall,” meaning to be under someone’s power, traces back to the Old Norse term for a slave: thrall.
Of course you would expect the type of free resources slavery offers (literally other human beings who work tirelessly to serve your needs, for free) to produce an r-slide, thus you would expect those areas with high usage of slaves would tend to be more r. Indeed, the Norse slave trade was focused around Sweden:
The Scandinavian slave trade mainly occurred in the early history of Sweden when the trade of thralls (Old Norse: þræll) was one of the pillars of the Norse economy. During the raids, the Vikings often captured and enslaved militarily weaker peoples they encountered, but took the most slaves in raids of the British Isles and Slavs in Eastern Europe.
There is a very Yin/Yang aspect to r/K. Taking forced labor makes short term sense from a Darwinian standpoint, to aid in conquering as many enemies as possible. Slaves provide cheap labor and allow a greater fighting force to be fielded, which can prevent being defeated and killed or enslaved yourself.
Yet free resources will inevitably corrupt the most capable of bloodlines and shift the population toward r – and slavery essentially provides free resources. Any K-selected population which keeps forced labor following dominance (during the resultant period of ease), will produce a heightened slide toward r, and indeed probably is demonstrating signs of the r-addiction to free resources already, by taking slaves in the first place. You see this from the Roman Empire, to the Swedish Empire, to the US today, which offshores much of its manufacturing to foreign nations with cheap labor. Only a rabbit has the addiction to free resources, and the ability to self delude, which allows one to enslave another human being and still look themselves in the mirror each day.
In short the more ease you seek, the more you will ultimately shift toward r and initiate a collapse. The harsher things get (and the more harshness you embrace), the more you will be heading toward a golden age of ease and prosperity. It is very counterintuitive, and appears at first glance exceedingly difficult to hack in such a way as to produce a successful society which will not collapse at some point.
The apocalypse will always cometh, it will just do so faster if you are a pussy.
Addendum – this epigenetic corruption of our species’ toughness by ease is a longer term effect, and is not to be confused withshort-term selection effects, which are far more potent and immediately affecting – and which probably require (and will produce) a lot of competition-mediated mortality to initiate their reversal.