Is Spanking Children Compatible With Libertarianism? Yes.

Is Spanking Children Compatible With Libertarianism? Yes.

Dear N:

I spanked my kids once, just once, lightly. It so traumatized me, not them, that I never did that again. But that is just my personal experience.

Obviously, there’s ALL the world of difference between a light swat, and, God forbid, child abuse.

The former can be defended on libertarian grounds, but certainly not the latter:

December 9, 2013. Debate: Walter Block and Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio on spanking children. Michael DeMarco;; skype: michaelmdemarco; 716-533-2171; Video:;

Block, Walter E. 2016. Starving Child, Part III: Spanking Children; November 5;

Starving Child, Part III: Spanking Children

Mosquito, Bionic. 2016. “Walter Hits One Out of the Park.” November 5;

July 16, 2017. Vancouver, BC, Canada. Walter Block debates Tim Moen, Leader of the Canadian Libertarian Party.
436 W Pender Street, downtown Vancouver at 2:30pm. Topic: Is spanking children compatible with libertarianism? Contact: Victor Pross:; or go here: Open to the public.

July 21, 2013. Interview with Steve Patterson, FEE

Thanks for your lovely letter on this matter:

From: N
Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2016 4:19 PM
To: Walter Block; Walter Block
Subject: thank you for defending spanking!
Dr. Block-
I just wanted to thank you for defending this difficult position.
I’ve come full circle on the topic myself, as I did suffer what I view as “abuse” level of physical “discipline” from my father.
As a result, with my children I had a “no spanking” policy, much to the chagrin of my wife.
I finally succumbed to the notion of spanking as my first became older and I didn’t like the direction I felt she was headed. It started when she refused to go to her room for a “time out”(the favorite method employed by most anti-spanking parents) during one episode.
She was defiant to an extreme, which was the last straw.(she was 9, this was about 4 years ago) I told her, “I’m going to have to physically put your in your room and I’m going to spank you if you don’t obey.” She said, “I’m not going to my room”.
So I picked her up, threw her over my shoulder in a fireman’s carry why, delivered a stout “whack” to her rear, and put her in her room.
I then announced to the whole family that I had failed them as a parent, and that the new policy going forward on disobedience would include spankings. (she has three younger sisters)
My oldest is particularly willful, I had to spank her 3 or 4 more times over the next 2 months.
4 years later…I haven’t had to spank her since, but I do send her to her room on occasion or pull privileges…she just doesn’t disobey anymore.
My other kids all received 1 or 2 spankings after that moment, but none have been needed for some time. (I still use “time outs”, but I get no push back now)
So spanking has been effective and I dare say important in my raising my kids.
I think the reason many people take an “anti-spanking” attitude is because they themselves were victims of physical abuse from a parent. (I know this is subjective) I know this is the case with Stefan Molyneux, aside from myself.
It is difficult to know what “normal” discipline(spanking) looks like when you received something more than that and often times you are so emotionally scarred by it you want nothing to do with the notion of inflicting pain on your child(even if it’s for their own good).
I will so leave open the possibility that there are some kids that might not need spanking, but that certainly isn’t my progeny.(and I take responsibility for passing the “defiant” gene, 🙂 )
Lastly, I’ve thought about the topic quite a bit because there is a tendency to vilify those spanking their kids by many in the libertarian community.(which is why I appreciate your defense so much)
I find the argument “for” spanking very similar to the notion of whether animals/aliens/us deserve NAP rights:
If an animal could elucidate and understand the NAP, and is capable of entering into a contractual understanding along those lines that they would be entitled, but they aren’t, like kids aren’t- until they are able to “homestead” themselves and can achieve a mental/emotional maturity to understand and abide by the notion of the NAP.
Some kids might be able to do this as 14, some at 18 some not until 22- some kids might never be able to (retarded) and they will need a caretaker accordingly.
It is an undisputed fact that the part of the brain responsible for rationality doesn’t develop in children for some time(though variable) and on that basis you are correct, you would be a deficient parent if you didn’t teach your child how to avoid danger(or a host of other important life lessons) even if it required a “spank”.
Keep up the great work Dr. Block!
PS. I also loved your example of having to change the diaper of an old/infirmed person who might be resistant out of some inability to reason anymore, like Alzheimer’s)


1:38 pm on December 27, 2018