Trading With The Enemy During Wartime?

From: N
Sent: Saturday, May 18, 2019 9:48 AM
To: walter block <wblock@loyno.edu>
Subject: Wartime

Hi, Walter.

Hope you are enjoying summer break.

Question:

What is your (libertarian) view of the responsibility of business during wartime?

Is it ok to trade with the “enemy” understood in terms of two sovereign nations engaged in a shooting war?

Have you written anything on this?

Best wishes, N

Dear N:

I have not published anything on this before. Thanks for the opportunity to think out loud about this. Here’s my take on this matter:

Suppose Country A and B are having a war with each other. One of them, A, is in the right, the other B, is in the wrong. This is necessarily true. One country has to be at least more right than the other. If it were an exact tie, if they were in effect both in the right, innocent, then they’d by definition, negotiate; seek the binding advice of a disinterested third party. They wouldn’t be in a shooting war.

Trading with the enemy is helping the enemy. Trade is always mutually beneficial, at least for the trading partners, in the ex ante sens. So, my take on this is that it would be alright, it would be virtuous, it would be acceptable, it would be compatible with libertarian doctrine, for a business firm in bad country B, to be a traitor to the evil cause of evil country B, and thus help A. But this would not hold the other way around. It would be evil for a business firm in good country A to aid and abet to evil machinations of bad country B.

Thanks for assuming that my view would be a (libertarian) view

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4:07 pm on May 18, 2019