Capitalism and Morality

Letter 1

From: Klaus Schmidt

Sent: Monday, November 30, 2020 3:16 PM


Subject: “Morality” with regard to the initial of force

Dr. Block,

My name is Klaus Schmidt and I’m an Ancap who is a great fan of your work. You’ve always stated that capitalism is an amoral system and is not concerned with moral beliefs. My question is, would determining when it’s acceptable to aggress against another individual be included in the realm of “morality”? I’ve read so much of your work but have yet to come across an explanation and my guess is that the conduct of how we deal with aggression has more to do with ethics as opposed to morality. It seems that other writers may have gotten this confused? I know Michael Huemer made a comment about that in an article regarding your view on animal rights. Clarification on this would be greatly appreciated.

All the best,


Letter 2

On Monday, November 30, 2020, 01:59:30 PM PST, Walter Block <> wrote:

Dear Klaus:

Thanks for your kind words. They mean a lot to me.

My view is not that that capitalism is an amoral system. Rather, it is that Austrian economics is. In contrast, libertarianism deals with aggression. I am an Austro libertarian, but the two strands are very different. I also love Mozart and chess, and, again the two are very different.

Best regards,


Letter 3

From: Klaus Schmidt

Sent: Monday, November 30, 2020 10:43 PM

To: Walter Block <>

Subject: Re: “Morality” with regard to the initial of force

Dr. Block,

Your distinction is well taken. I think I may not have phrased the question correctly and I can do better. Here’s an except from your article Libertarianism and Libertinism:

“As a political philosophy, libertarianism says nothing about culture, mores, morality, or ethics. To repeat: It only asks one question, and gives only one answer. It asks, “Does the act necessarily involve initiatory invasive violence?” If so, it is justified to use (legal) force to stop it or punish the act; if not, this is improper.”

So when discussing when it is justified for you to coercively punish someone for an action, does that fall under the purview of justice, morality, ethics, or something else? Some would say that “justice” falls under an ethical or moral principle. Suppose I say it is not acceptable for you put your hands on me and/or punish me for stealing from you (maybe an advocate of the belief that free will doesn’t exist, we can’t control our actions, and therefore retribution is unjust). Would that not lead to an argument revolving around morality or ethics? Then there would have to be a concession that libertarianism does say something about morality or ethics regarding this one stance of when punishment is acceptable.

On a completely unrelated note I very much enjoyed your debate with Dr. Richard Wolff recently and he had a long debate with David Friedman a few weeks ago that I think you’d enjoy (if you haven’t seen it). There will be at least one more between the two shortly from what I understand. A deontological approach to a debate with Wolff would prove far better, but this was good. It’s a curious thing when Dr. Wolff’s focus of his “socialism” revolves around democratic ownership within the workplace. He believes it’s difficult for these co-ops to function under current “State capitalism”. Without the State would his utopia prevent firms from operating under any type of hierarchy if it were voluntary? He talks about the oppression of the employee, but it’s a rather interesting concept if he then believes only these co-ops should exist. His ideology clearly has some form of compulsion pitted against the worker. Anyway, here’s the link    : Dr Richard D Wolff Vs Dr David D Friedman | Socialism Vs Capitalism Debate

Dr Richard D Wolff Vs Dr David D Friedman | Socialism Vs Capitalism Debate



Dear Klaus:

I offered to debate Wolff in a series on different topics. He declined.

Here are my views on free will:

Block, Walter E. 2015. “Free will, determinism, libertarianism and Austrian economics” Dialogue, Issue 3, p.1;

Van Schoelandt, Chad, Ivan Jankovic and Walter E. Block. 2016. “Rejoinder on Free Will, Determinism, Libertarianism and Austrian Economics.” Dialogue, Issue 2;,%20Determinism,%20Libertarianism%20and%20Austrian%20Economics.EML/1_multipart_xF8FF_2_p565__DialogueBook2eng2016_81_95.pdf/C58EA28C-18C0-4a97-9AF2-036E93DDAFB3/p565__DialogueBook2eng2016_81_95.pdf?attach=1;

Best regards,



6:10 am on April 13, 2021

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