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Slave Contracts - What's up with that?

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PirateRothbard Posted: Fri, Apr 30 2010 2:12 PM

It seems to me that the majority of Libertarians are against allowing a person to sell themselves into slavery. (Block and some others being exceptions).

 

 By extension, I would assume they would also oppose "lashing contracts", as in I sign a contract allowing you to lash me under certain conditions.  (Say, for example, if I don't pay back certain debts.

 

I view this as a very sad limitation on libertarian theory.  In the above example, for instance, I might have to pay much higher interest rates if any "lashing contract" if the lender believes that a lashing contract is not a genuine contract. 

What's up with that?

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Uh, I thought Block was for voluntary slavery on a free-market?  Voluntarily choosing to become a slave seems like one of the ultimate undefendables to defend, methinks.  

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nandnor replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 3:23 PM

It seems to me that the majority of Libertarians are against allowing a person to sell themselves into slavery. (Block and some others being exceptions).

 

 By extension, I would assume they would also oppose "lashing contracts", as in I sign a contract allowing you to lash me under certain conditions.  (Say, for example, if I don't pay back certain debts.

 

I view this as a very sad limitation on libertarian theory.  In the above example, for instance, I might have to pay much higher interest rates if any "lashing contract" if the lender believes that a lashing contract is not a genuine contract. 

What's up with that?

Slave contracts (and any contract that is not an exchange) is not a praxeological category of exchange, and thus the economic benefits of free market activity do not apply to it.

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"Slave contracts (and any contract that is not an exchange) is not a praxeological category of exchange, and thus the economic benefits of free market activity do not apply to it"

I fail to see the distinction between a person putting their house up for collateral as a loan and putting themselves up for collateral as a loan.  .

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"Slave contracts (and any contract that is not an exchange) is not a praxeological category of exchange, and thus the economic benefits of free market activity do not apply to it"

I fail to see the distinction between a person putting their house up for collateral as a loan and putting themselves up for collateral as a loan.  .

The popular thing among mises forum Rothbardians is to claim that anything they don't like is 'praxeologically' wrong. Your best option is to ignore this.

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Liberte: "The popular thing among mises forum Rothbardians is to claim that anything they don't like is 'praxeologically' wrong. Your best option is to ignore this."

I can has proof?

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bloomj31 replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 4:11 PM

I mean yeah, if it's not legal to intervene and force people to stop making these arrangements then it will probably happen sooner or later.  Not a big selling point on libertarianism to me either tbh.  

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I can has proof?

The 48 million pages of 'natural law' arguments wilderness is involved in?

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Liberte: "The 48 million pages of 'natural law' arguments wilderness is involved in?"

So Wilderness (and I suppose you mean a few others in those threads as well) represents all Rothbardians on the Mises forum? I thought you were against these types of generalizations. No wait, your 48 million condescending posts prove that you like to generalize a lotz. 

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
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nandnor:
Slave contracts (and any contract that is not an exchange) is not a praxeological category of exchange, and thus the economic benefits of free market activity do not apply to it.

Slave contracts are exchange. I give license to punish me in any way possible. You are just totally wrong here. See Block's paper on this.

Also, a crime like murder is an involuntary exchange. One then has the right to enslave a murderer (imprison/kill).

People seem to assume that since we say something ought to be legal, it would happen more often than it does now if it were to be legal. There's lots of bridges around, but I don't go jumping off them.

Democracy means the opportunity to be everyone's slave.—Karl Kraus.

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Sage replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 4:24 PM

Slavery Contracts and Inalienable Rights: A Formulation by Roderick Long

Short version: you don't own other peoples' obligation not to aggress against you, therefore you cannot sell it either.

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Too bad people don't have an obligation not to agress against you and a contract is nothing but jurisprudential procedural formalism.

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I'd be interested to read more about 'slave' contracts from an informed perspective that considers title-transfer theory. e.g. is being a 'slave' an act of specific performance? perhaps the person that wants to be on the slave side should offer his enslaver a performance bond, in the case that the enslaver thinks the slave will later suspend his slavishness. .... kinda would defeat the purpose though i guess....

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bloomj31 replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 4:27 PM

And too bad if there are multiple courts and no single common law system, it's entirely conceivable that one regional circuit would declare slavery legal and there would be no federal system that could overturn that ruling.

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And who says anything about selling 'obligations not to aggress'? A slave contractee is selling his body. Long's response is non sequitur.

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And who says anything about selling 'obligations not to aggress'? A slave contractee is selling his body. Long's response is non sequitur.

I actually agree with you for once.

Democracy means the opportunity to be everyone's slave.—Karl Kraus.

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Spideynw replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 4:53 PM

A slave is an involuntary servant.  How does one voluntarily enter into involuntary servitiude?

No, there is no such thing as a voluntary slave contract.

At most, I think only 5% of the adult population would need to stop cooperating to have real change.

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bloomj31 replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 4:59 PM

Spideynw:

A slave is involuntary servitude.  How does one voluntarily enter into involuntary servitiude?

One voluntarily signs one's name on a slave contract.

The execution of the contract is involuntary, but entering into the contract was not.

 If we took your logic to apply to all things legal, anytime someone signed a contract they could just nullify it by saying they no longer wanted to be a party to it.  

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Clayton replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 5:08 PM

"Slave contracts (and any contract that is not an exchange) is not a praxeological category of exchange, and thus the economic benefits of free market activity do not apply to it"

I fail to see the distinction between a person putting their house up for collateral as a loan and putting themselves up for collateral as a loan. .

You have to go back to why there is law in the first place. In human affairs, disputes arise. Disputants can resolve their disputes through violent means if they so choose, but violent dispute-resolution is costly and risky. Since humans have the capacity to talk and reason, there is another option, verbal dispute-resolution. Verbal dispute-resolution is vastly less risky and costly and, where both parties can impose roughly the same costs on one another in the event of violent confrontation, it is in the interest of both parties to resolve their dispute verbally. The systems of verbal dispute-resolution which have emerged over time we call "law". Law is the alternative to violent dispute-resolution.

So, whether a slave has rights depends on whether he can bring his master to task and provide sufficient incentive to his master to seek legal resolution of the dispute. Many of the pro-voluntary slave contractarians want to treat contractual slavery as if it is not a complicated problem but it is different from other legal disputes since the slave likely has no property with which to purchase legal representation or secure protection from a protection agency. But it doesn't make sense to simply presume that any slaveholder waving a slave-contract actually has rightful ownership of his slaves. At the very least, such contracts must be subject to review. The real question is who will advocate for the slaves since, absent advocacy, their situation is pretty much hopeless. Family members, friends or charity groups (with an abolitionist bent) could fund advocacy for individuals held in unjust slavery. Whether a contractual agreement to accept enslavement will be legally binding is, I think, something we can't know ahead of time and likely would vary from one place to another (slaveholders' property rights have varied significantly through history and from one region to another). Only a process of legal discovery fueled by free competition in customary law could tell what the "right" answer is.

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MaikU replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 5:09 PM

Oh, slave contracts. An oxymoron. The classic. What if I am masochist, and I wish to have a master (preferably a woman) to punish me very very hard? Can I "sell" then my body?

 

P.S. If I can't, then who the hell owns me? THE OTHERS!!!! angry

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"But it doesn't make sense to simply presume that any slaveholder waving a slave-contract actually has rightful ownership of his slaves"

Like any contracts, there are going to be questions about what "really happned". I still don't see this as a unique problem for slave contracts.

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A slave is involuntary servitude.  How does one voluntarily enter into involuntary servitiude?

No, there is no such thing as a voluntary slave contract.

Actually I defined slavery above correctly. This type of semantic trick is a failure.

Besides a contract between two parties, I could in re (judicial action not between two or more disputants) make it known that the first comer can do with me as he pleases. My juridical status is then similar to an animal or rock.

What those who deny total commodification are doing is saying their is a limit to how much one owns themself. The only legitimate boundary to a willing person's actions is where those actions affect other people and their property. These are the societal boundaries of order.

One legal tradition from the days of illegitimate, involuntary slavery that would still be valid, should anyone even try voluntary slavery contracts, is that the slavemaster would assume responsibility for his slave's actions. This would be another reason to suspect that nobody would even do this were it legal.

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bloomj31 replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 5:20 PM

I would definitely own slaves if it were legal.  Probably females.  

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Why take on all that responsibility when you could just get a new hooker every day?

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bloomj31 replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 5:26 PM

I dunno, I guess it depends on the cost.  If the girls were cheap, why not just own them?  It's like going to Blockbuster.  If you really like the game, why not buy it?  

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Sage replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 6:06 PM

bloomj31:
I would definitely own slaves if it were legal.  Probably females.

And there's the answer to the why libertarians are a bunch of white guys thread.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 7:31 PM

bloomj31:
I would definitely own slaves if it were legal. Probably females.

And there's the answer to the why libertarians are a bunch of white guys thread.

It highlights the credibility problem that populist liberalism faces with the mainstream public - odds are that people who are "opposed" to government are not so much opposed to any government whatever as they are opposed to any government they're not running. This is why it is so important to highlight that liberty is not an absence of law, it is an absence of a dual-law system where some people are subject to different laws than other people.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 7:35 PM

"But it doesn't make sense to simply presume that any slaveholder waving a slave-contract actually has rightful ownership of his slaves"

Like any contracts, there are going to be questions about what "really happned". I still don't see this as a unique problem for slave contracts.

There is a built-in conflict of interests. If you sue me and I'm too poor to hire a lawyer, I might get screwed over. That's life and just one of many ways in which life sucks. But if you're the reason I'm too poor to hire a lawyer, then there is a conceptual problem with the whole situation. You are representing both sides of the dispute, that is, there is no dispute and cannot be any dispute. Saying that this is as it ought to be is equivalent to saying that the only resolution to false enslavement should be violence which seems obviously false to me. To say that this is equivalent to any other contractual dispute is simply false.

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I would definitely own slaves if it were legal.  Probably females.  

Haha. Seconded.

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bloomj31 replied on Fri, Apr 30 2010 7:56 PM

Sage:

And there's the answer to the why libertarians are a bunch of white guys thread.

I wouldn't just have black slaves.  I'd be an equal opportunity slave owner.  I bet there'd be plenty of people from any number of different races that would own slaves if it were legal.

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bloomj31:

I wouldn't just have black slaves.  I'd be an equal opportunity slave owner.  I bet there'd be plenty of people from any number of different races that would own slaves if it were legal.



Ignore white guilt objections.  Every single race has and/or is currently engaged in slavery.  It's just no longer economically viable or preferable on the scale & scope it once was.  

Although I have to admit, democracy is proving to be quite the reinvention of slavery, especially under the guise of "humanism" (which ironically veers into totalitarian territory quite frequently).    

As for the voluntary slavery, I think very little people would find this workable.  At best, a form of indentured servitude maybe, but even in a state-society, one could easily find better opportunities without resorting to being a slave.  

The point is that the option should not be "humanistically" enforced against, if a given individual might find such an arrangement to their benefit.  

For instance, the homeless mentally challenged (or even just plain homeless) might greatly benefit from such a relationship if they have explored other options or have no other options.  

But again, I do not forsee market forces ever favoring slavery again, unless at some point someone hits the red button & we are sent back a few hundred or a thousand or so years due to rebuilding in the aftermath.    

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Esuric replied on Sat, May 1 2010 12:56 AM

The majority of women in this country are currently tied up in a voluntary slave contract; it's called marriage. Women sell their bodies to men in exchange for financial security. It's the oldest contractual relationship.

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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Esuric:

The majority of women in this country are currently tied up in a voluntary slave contract; it's called marriage. Women sell their bodies to men in exchange for financial security. It's the oldest contractual relationship.

LOL

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thelion replied on Sat, May 1 2010 1:40 AM

Slavery destroys the labour market's flexiblity, because it is the ultimate long-run rigid price-fixing contract (this case, concerning wage and occupation).

 

Proof:

Here's a Mises style utilitarian arguement. Slavery is against free market because it causes increasing rigidity in wage prices, with all the problems for the information allocating role of the market.

 

There is no such thing as unemployment in a slave-owning society, but neither is there a flexable labour market where wages dictate what industry should have more people allocated to it.

 

Slavery is not in anyone's interests, unless you want a stagnationist society with huge business cycles.

 

Any land-lease contract creating a basis for a free market customary law would require agreement against slavery contracts in the same way it would require people not to form a communist government if they decide to.

 

Edite: Oh; and marriage is not slavery. There is divorce. And so on.

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Esuric replied on Sat, May 1 2010 1:48 AM

Edite: Oh; and marriage is not slavery. There is divorce. And so on.

All contracts can be broken. There is a penalty, but the same is true for divorce (usually costs the man 50% of his wealth).

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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nandnor replied on Sat, May 1 2010 4:10 AM

I fail to see the distinction between a person putting their house up for collateral as a loan and putting themselves up for collateral as a loan. 

It is a contradiction. A person cannot own anything if he does not own himself. There is no "someone" who could own "something" if that someone does not own himself. It is already physically impossible: there would be no means to exercise property ownership if there is no means to exercise action.

This is visible by the types of slavery used in history: (almost) pure slavery in ancient ages meant no ownership for the slave, only positive rights. Serfdom had limited slave obligations and limited ownership.

So in effect, for "slavery" to be excgange and the would be slave to retain capability to own anything, it would have to be wage labour of some degree, not slavery. Moving closer to slavery would take away the capability to own and thus not be exchange any more.

The popular thing among mises forum Rothbardians is to claim that anything they don't like is 'praxeologically' wrong. Your best option is to ignore this.
Not praxeologically wrong(which is nonsense in the first place), but not a category of exchange.

Slave contracts are exchange. I give license to punish me in any way possible. You are just totally wrong here. See Block's paper on this.

My child has now fallen ill
with a dread disease. Fortunately, there is a cure. Unfortunately, it will
cost one million dollars, and I, a poor man, do not have such funds at my
disposal. Fortunately, you are willing to pay me this amount if I sign
myself over to you as a slave, which I am very willing to do since my
child’s life is vastly more important to me than my own liberty, or
even my own life.

I didnt read the whole article but the would be example of slave exchange is not exchange. The would be slave would not gain ownership rights to anything through this, as such it would not be exchange. His child getting the cure would be an externality, not exchange in the praxeological sense.

 

And who says anything about selling 'obligations not to aggress'? A slave contractee is selling his body. Long's response is non sequitur.
Again, not exchange. Giving up the rights to the property that allows to exercise property rights means giving up capability for exchange, as property rights are a precondition for exchange.

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Marko replied on Sat, May 1 2010 4:36 AM

The majority of women in this country are currently tied up in a voluntary slave contract; it's called marriage. Women sell their bodies to men in exchange for financial security. It's the oldest contractual relationship.

Aren't you the romantic.

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Paul replied on Sat, May 1 2010 5:46 AM

I would definitely own slaves if it were legal.  Probably females.

What makes you think you can't?  Go to BDSM/TPE forums, instead of here, though...

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MaikU replied on Sat, May 1 2010 7:39 AM

Esuric replied on Sat, May 1 2010 8:56 AM

 

The majority of women in this country are currently tied up in a voluntary slave contract; it's called marriage. Women sell their bodies to men in exchange for financial security. It's the oldest contractual relationship.

 

haha, the best comment, so far yes

"Dude... Roderick Long is the most anarchisty anarchist that has ever anarchisted!" - Evilsceptic

(english is not my native language, sorry for grammar.)

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bloomj31:

One voluntarily signs one's name on a slave contract.

The execution of the contract is involuntary, but entering into the contract was not.

As such, it is no contract at all.

bloomj31:

 If we took your logic to apply to all things legal, anytime someone signed a contract they could just nullify it by saying they no longer wanted to be a party to it.

That is how contracts work.  Of course, if one breaks his word too often, who will enter into contracts with you anymore?

At most, I think only 5% of the adult population would need to stop cooperating to have real change.

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