Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Suppose we were all slaves...

The following email was sent to  Dr. Walter Block and me, after Dr. Block announced the formation of his Libertarians for Trump group:
Recently, Walter Block writes:

Suppose we were all slaves, and the master said we could have a democratic election; we could vote for overseer Baddie, who would whip us unmercifully once per day, or overseer Goodie, who would do exactly the same thing, but only once per month. We all voted for the latter. Is this incompatible with libertarianism? Would this make us worse libertarians? Anyone who thinks so does not really understand this philosophy. For a remedial course, read this book: Rothbard, Murray N. 1998 [1982]. The Ethics of Liberty, New York: New York University Press.

As voting "slaves", what guarantee do I have the Goodie would follow up with his promise to whip us only once per month?  What if our previous experience has been that all slave masters previous had whipped us much more often than promised?  What if we had no evidence that either Baddie or Goodie could be trusted to only whip us, and that all experience shows us both will whip, beat, slap, rob, kidnap, cut, and maybe even shoot us?

Would it still be Mr. Block's position that it's compatible with libertarianism to vote anyway?

David Burns

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