Specific Performance Contracts; Long Range Contracts; Voluntary Slavery

You say this:

“The employee can work with that company, but once the employee is fired or voluntarily dissolves employment, they’re forbidden, by initial voluntary contract, from working with anyone else, ever.”

But why would anyone sign such a crazy contract in the first place? And if a person was stupid enough to sign such a contract, I think the law should compel enforcement of it. The only non-irrational reason I can think of for signing such a contract would be if the payment for doing so were very hefty. Then, there would be far less compunction about enforcing it.

You also say this: “How would you prevent locking contracts that perpetuate forward, indefinitely?” This sounds like voluntary slavery to me. I append a reading list on this issue, below.

Best regards,


From: F
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2018 4:37 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject: Homeowner’s Associations under Anarcho-Capitalism

Professor Walter Block,

I had a few thoughts and concerns regarding the structure of an anarcho-capitalist society. Let me first make it clear that I’m a strong adherent to anarcho-capitalism (especially regarding the non-aggression principle), but none the less, I do ultimately have a few concerns. I do not think minarchism would be necessary to prevent these concerns, nor do I think a traditional state would; I just have no idea how to address these ideas. What’s presented below isn’t meant to be “aha! Gotcha!” moments or my attempt to dismantle anarcho-capitalism; they’re more thoughts that I’ve stumbled on and am having trouble addressing or thinking through, myself. Therefore, I’m seeking your help on them.

How would you prevent locking contracts that perpetuate forward, indefinitely? For example, say an employee works in a small town and you can’t really afford to move to a bigger city (which would have stiffer competition among firms). It’s not uncommon, in small town, for there to be a single company that dominates the area’s economy. My concern isn’t the single company, itself, but what is to prevent that single company from establishing a contract that locks employees to it, forever? The employee can work with that company, but once the employee is fired or voluntarily dissolves employment, they’re forbidden, by initial voluntary contract, from working with anyone else, ever. In this way, the contract is voluntary, but the employee is locked to that single place of employment indefinitely. This could extend to more extreme forms of the company having contract clauses like: “we literally own you and your children”. I realize competition would generally minimize these kind of contracts, as restrictive contracts wouldn’t be attractive to employees, but in areas with low competition or that are dominated by a single company (Hershey, Pennsylvania is an example of that), how would this not break down to locking employees, forever, to employment? Companies could use company script and other similar behaviors to generally push an employee into a sort of neo-feudal kind of living system, could they not?

Likewise, for homeowners’ associations (hereby referred to as “HOAs”), how can these entities not be prevented from acting like mini-states or eventually banding together to become fully fledged state? While I agree HOAs are a great example of voluntary government, wouldn’t indefinite contract locking become a problem? For example, even under a HOA, I could see them stipulating as part of the contract that “we will have regularly scheduled votes on economic matters within the community”, which could result in ignorant economic decisions like socialized medical care or other wealth transfer programs for all members of the HOA. Furthermore, the HOA contract could stipulate members are bound by the contract even if they leave or move away from the HOA. Worse yet, couldn’t the HOA contract state that any children of its members will be automatically bound to the contract, as well? In this way, there’s a pseudo “social contract” that perpetuates itself forward, initially voluntarily, but starts resembling the state more and more over time (especially once all initially voluntarily joining members have died and the only people who agree, voluntarily, to the contract are those who move in).

Hypothetically speaking, such HOAs could even allocate funds for the purchase of more land to expand their “domain”.  Over time, multiple HOAs could (through the voting of their members, established on the initial contract) merge together or have agreements with other associations to honor each other’s contracts. In this way, vast swaths of geographical areas could very well become controlled by a single HOA or several of them.

Employment would  be very difficult to come by without being a member of one. This would end up looking very very much like a traditional state; yes, initial membership was completely voluntary and joining them would still be voluntary, but becoming a member would mean you and your relatives are tied, forever, to it. To be honest, I find this far more concerning and problematic than “wouldn’t warlords just take over” or “private defense companies would just band together and end up controlling everything or replacing the state anyway”.

I realize that having  a “tax” or socialized structure in HOAs would be rarer,  for profitability reasons, but given enough people buying into an idea, I would imagine there would still be a great deal of socialized costs occurring (that didn’t resemble modern insurance). You could argue that “well, HOAs don’t currently engage in this kind of behavior, so why would they under an anarchist society”, but I’m not sure this is a very compelling argument, because the state currently does exist, so HOAs don’t have much reason to do something like this. I do think the proclivity to engage in state-like behavior would be dramatically reduced (initially), as it’s not likely that HOA groups (until they became incredibly large at least) would have the ability to devalue currency or take on as much debt as traditional states, but I do tend to wonder if this merging of HOAs into an (initially) “voluntary” state could happen.

Either way, those are among the bigger issues I can think of. Thanks, in advance.  F

On Voluntary Slavery:

In the view of Boldrin and Levine, 2008, p. 254: “Take the case of slavery. Why should people not be allowed to sign private contracts binding them to slavery? In fact economists have consistently argued against slavery – during the 19th century David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill engaged in a heated public debate with literary luminaries such as Charles Dickens, with the economists opposing slavery, and the literary giants arguing in favor.”

Andersson, 2007;  Block, 1969, 1979, 1988, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007A, 2007B, 2009A, 2009B; Boldrin and Levine, 2008; Frederick, 2014; Kershnar, 2003; Lester, 2000; Mosquito, 2014;  Nozick, 1974, pp. 58, 283, 331; Steiner, 1994, pp. 232-233; 2013, pp. 230-244; Thomson, 1990, pp. 283-284.

Andersson, Anna-Karin. 2007. “An alleged contradiction in Nozick’s entitlement theory.”

Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, Fall: 43–63; http://mises.org/journals/jls/21_3/21_3_3.pdf

Block, Walter E. 1969. “Voluntary Slavery.” The Libertarian Connection, Vol. I, No. 3, April 13, pp. 9-11.

Block, Walter E. 1979. Book review of Nancy C. Baker, Baby Selling: the Scandal of Black Market Adoptions, New York: The Vanguard Press, 1978; in Libertarian Review, January, Vol. 7, No. 12, pp. 44-45.

Block, Walter E. 1988. “Rent-a-womb market,” Thunder Bay Ontario Daily; June 26.

Block, Walter E. 1999. “Market Inalienability Once Again: Reply to Radin,” Thomas Jefferson Law Journal, Vol. 22, No. 1, Fall, pp. 37-88; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/market_inalienability.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2001. “Alienability, Inalienability, Paternalism and the Law: Reply to Kronman,” American Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 28, No. 3, Summer, pp. 351-371; http://www.walterblock.com/publications/reply_to_kronman.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2002. “A Libertarian Theory of Secession and Slavery,” June 10; https://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block15.htmlhttp://libertariantruth.wordpress.com/2006/12/08/a-libertarian-theory-of-secession-and-slavery/

Block, Walter E. 2003. “Toward a Libertarian Theory of Inalienability: A Critique of Rothbard, Barnett, Gordon, Smith, Kinsella and Epstein,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol.17, No. 2, Spring, pp. 39-85; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_3.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2004. “Are Alienability and the Apriori of Argument Logically Incompatible?” Dialogue, Vol. 1, No. 1. http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/2004/256gord6.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2005. “Ayn Rand and Austrian Economics: Two Peas in a Pod.” The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Vol. 6, No. 2, Spring, pp. 259-269

Block, Walter E. 2006. “Epstein on alienation: a rejoinder” International Journal of Social Economics; Vol. 33, Nos. 3-4, pp. 241-260

Block, Walter E. 2007A. “Secession,” Dialogue. No. 4; pp. 1-14;  http://www.uni-svishtov.bg/dialog/2007/4.07.WB.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2007B. “Alienability: Reply to Kuflik.” Humanomics Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 117-136;http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=0685BBB744173274A5E7CE3803132413?contentType=Article&contentId=1626605

Block, Walter E. 2009A. “Yes, Sell Rivers! And Make Legal Some Slave Contracts” The Tyee. July 25; http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2009/07/24/SellRivers/

Block, Walter E. 2009B. “Privatizing Rivers and Voluntary Slave Contracts” July 27;


Boldrin, Michele and David K. Levine. 2008. Against Intellectual Monopoly. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/against.htm

Frederick, Danny. 2014. “Voluntary Slavery,” Las Torres de Lucca 4: 115-37, http://www.lastorresdelucca.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=145:laesclavitud-


Kershnar, Stephen. 2003. “A Liberal Argument for Slavery,” Journal of Social Philosophy, 34

(4): 510-36

Lester, Jan Clifford. 2000. Escape from Leviathan. St. Martin’s Press. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312234163/qid%3D989845939/107-8070279-6411737

Mosquito, Bionic. 2014. “The Sanctity of Contract.” April 19;


Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, State and Utopia, New York: Basic Books, http://www.amazon.com/Anarchy-State-Utopia-Robert-Nozick/dp/0465097200

Steiner, Hillel. 1994. An Essay on Rights, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers; https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2mi4-xFgT7NNWhEQWNhbXB6enc/view

Steiner, Hillel. 2013. “Directed Duties and Inalienable Rights.” Ethics 123 ( January): pp. 230–244

Thomson, Judith Jarvis. 1990. The Realm of Rights, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press


2:46 pm on March 18, 2019