From: Gary Barnett
Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2020 7:44 AM
To: Walter Block <email@example.com
Subject: “Voluntary’ slavery
I hope this finds you well.
I only have one comment, and that is that there is no such thing as
‘voluntary’ slavery. That is simply a complete contradiction, and as
you know, I do not accept any theory based on such obvious contradiction.
Slavery is a state of one being held and owned against his will, and
voluntary contract is based on mutual consent. Never shall the two be
one and the same. For if any situation exists where one claims to
agree to be a slave, he was never a slave in the first place, and if
held by force after any conflicting contractual agreement between the
parties was reached, that contract would necessarily be null and void.
I am taking the time to write to you because I take this argument to
be counterproductive, and in fact, a dangerous game based on
inconsistent logic. Any that enter into a voluntary contract cannot be
said to then lose all voluntary rights. If that were the case, the
contract was flawed at the outset.
If you argue that the contract was not fulfilled by the alleged slave,
and that the alleged slave owner could then sue for damages or
continued ownership, that would nullify the ‘voluntary’ slave argument
altogether, as the situation would revert to a conclusion that was
identical to any other voluntary contract, and not one based on true
slavery. True slavery could never sanction any redress by the slave.
I find this conversation troubling and without merit, for if this type
of behavior is considered libertarian, then that is why I am no
libertarian, and never will be. I will remain an anarchist, and always
retain a clear vision of the truth instead of accepting any and all
inconsistencies and open-ended contradictions.
I know you are busy, as am I, so no reply is necessary.
Sincerely … Gary
On Oct 11, 2020, at 10:37 AM, Walter Block <firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
My son, God forbid, has a horrid disease. $10 million will cure him.
I’m poor. I don’t have anything like that amount of money. Mr. Burns
of the Simpsons is very rich. He’d like me to be his slave. He may
whip me, even kill me, and he won’t be a criminal. He can make me pick
cotton, give him econ lessons. So, he gives me the money which I turn
over to my son’s doctors. Then I got to his plantation to be a slave
of his. We both gain, as is per usual for all voluntary acts, at least
ex ante. I value my son’s life more than my freedom. Mr. Burns values
my servitude more than the money. Why can’t I call this arrangement
voluntary slavery? It’s voluntary. We both agreed to it. It is slavery
in every element of that concept. If I try to escape, the cops will bring me back to his plantation.
Here are some readings on this:
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.
Andersson, Anna-Karin. 2007. “An alleged contradiction in Nozick’s
entitlement theory.” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, Fall:
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;
Block, Walter E. 2001. “Alienability, Inalienability, Paternalism and
Law: Reply to Kronman,” American Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 28, No.
3, Summer, pp. 351-371;
Block, Walter E. 2002. “A Libertarian Theory of Secession and
Slavery,” June 10; https://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block15.html;
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;
Block, Walter E. 2004. “Are Alienability and the Apriori of Argument
Logically Incompatible?” Dialogue, Vol. 1, No. 1.
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.
Block, Walter E. 2007A. “Secession,” Dialogue. No. 4; pp. 1-14;
Block, Walter E. 2007B. “Alienability: Reply to Kuflik.” Humanomics
Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 117-136;
Block, Walter E. 2009A. “Yes, Sell Rivers! And Make Legal Some Slave
Contracts” The Tyee. July 25;
Block, Walter E. 2009B. “Privatizing Rivers and Voluntary Slave Contracts”
Boldrin, Michele and David K. Levine. 2008. Against Intellectual Monopoly.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press;
Frederick, Danny. 2014. “Voluntary Slavery,” Las Torres de Lucca 4:
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.
Mosquito, Bionic. 2014. “The Sanctity of Contract.” April 19;
Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, State and Utopia, New York: Basic
Steiner, Hillel. 1994. An Essay on Rights, Oxford: Blackwell
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
Barnett, 1986, 1988; Calabresi and Melamed, 1972; Epstein, 1985;
Evers, 1977; Gordon, 1999; Kinsella, 1998-1999, 2003; Kronman, 1983;
Kuflik, 1984, 1986; Long, 1994-1995; McConnell, 1984, 1996; Radin,
1986, 1987; Reisman, 1996, pp. 455f., 634-636; Rothbard, 1998; Smith, 1996, 1997; Unknown, nd.
Barnett, Randy E. 1986. “Contract Remedies and Inalienable Rights”
Social Philosophy & Policy Vol. 4, Issue 1, Autumn, pp. 179-202
Barnett, Randy E. 1988. The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule
of Law, Oxford: Clarendon Press
Barnett, Randy E. 2007. “Libertarians and the War.”July 17;
Calabresi, Guido and Melamed, Douglas. 1972. “Property Rules,
Liability Rules, and Inalienability: One View of the Cathedral,”
Harvard Law Review, Vol. 85, No. 6, April, pp. 1089-1128
Epstein, Richard. 1985. “Why Restrain Alienation,” Columbia Law
Review, vol. 85, 970
Evers, Williamson. 1977. “Toward a Reformulation of the Law of Contracts,”
Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 1, Winter, pp. 3-13;
Gordon, David. 1999. “Private Property’s Philosopher,” The Mises
Review, Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring, pp. 1-7
Kinsella, N. Stephan. 1998-1999. “Reply to George Smith: A Victim’s
Right to Punish,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1,
Winter, pp. 79-93
Kinsella, N. Stephan. 1998-1999. “Inalienability and Punishment: A
Reply to George Smith,” Winter, Journal of Libertarian Studies.
Kinsella, N. Stephan. 2003. A Libertarian Theory of Contract: Title
Transfer, Binding Promises, and Inalienability, Journal of Libertarian
Studies 17, no. 2 (Spring): 11-37
Kronman, Anthony. 1983. “Paternalism and the Law of Contracts,” 92
Yale Law Journal
Kuflik, Arthur. 1984. “The Inalienability of Autonomy,” Philosophy and
Public Affairs, Vol. 13, No. 4, Fall, pp. 271-298
Kuflik, Arthur. 1986. “The Utilitarian Logic of Inalienable Rights,”
Ethics, 97, Oct. 1986, pp. 75-87
Long, Roderick. 1994-1995. “Slavery Contracts and Inalienable Rights:
A Formulation.” Formulations. Winter;
McConnell, Terrance. 1984. “The Nature and Basis of Inalienable
Rights,” Law and Philosophy, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 25-59
McConnell, Terrance. 1996. “The Inalienable Right of Conscience: A
Madisonian Argument,” Social Theory & Practice, Fall, Vol. 22, Issue 3, pp.
Radin, Margaret Jane. 1986. “Time, Possession and Alienation,” 64
Washington University Law Quarterly, 739
Radin, Margaret Jane. 1987. “Market-Inalienability,” Harvard Law
Review, Vol. 100, No. 8, June, pp. 1849-1937
Reisman, George. 1996. Capitalism. Ottawa, Il.: Jameson Books
Rothbard, Murray N. 1998 . The Ethics of Liberty, Humanities
Press, Atlantic Highlands, N.J., 1998 , pp. 40-41, 135-136;
Smith, George. 1996. “A Killer’s Right to Life,” Liberty, Vol. 10, No.
2, November, pp. 46-54
Smith, George. 1997. “Inalienable Rights?,” Liberty, Vol. 10, No. 6,
July, p. 51
Unknown Author. No date. “But What About Voluntary Slaves?”
From: Gary Barnett
Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2020 11:45 AM
To: Walter Block <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: “Voluntary’ slavery
Sorry Walter, I don’t buy it.
Very sincerely … Gary
Ok. No problem. Libertarians disagree on several issues: this one, voluntary slavery, but also abortion, immigration, the LP, strategy, Israel.
We can agree to disagree on these issues, and also work together in support of each other on the other 99% of issue in political economy on which we enthusiastically agree with each other.
Walter4:46 am on March 22, 2021 Email Walter E. Block