Saturday, May 16, 2015

Walter Block Responds to a Critic Who Calls for His Removal as Loyola Professor

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tue 5/12/2015 11:30 AM
Subject: Walter Block

My name is xxxxx, and I am a Loyola graduate from 2004 (B.A., History). This morning's Times-Picayune/ article on Dr Block's loss in his libel lawsuit against the New York Times contained some of the most hideous facts I've ever encountered about an academic, and that's saying something.

First, I'm happy that Dr Block's frivolous and self-serving lawsuit was dismissed. Not only did the Times not libel him, it actually did him a favor by not printing his actual quote. Had they done so, they would have outed Block as an idiot as well as a racist.

In his original comments, Block glibly glossed over the fact that, while slavery was compulsory, it was also dehumanizing, exploitative, murderous, soul-sucking, built an economy on the backs of the poor, and grossly stunted the development of huge chunks of an entire continent, which afterward, in a related note to slavery even as slavery technically ended around the world, had to endure the subjugation of racist and underhanded colonial powers eager to perpetuate the same type of exploitation, just not calling it slavery.

(If you can tell, I also posted my disgust in the comments to the article this morning).

Listen, I don't care what Loyola does with this man. But I will add my voice to chorus of people who are guessing that he should not be a university economics professor.



-----Original Message-----
From: Walter Block
Sent: Wed 5/13/2015 1:16 PM
To: XXXXX;;;
Subject: RE: Walter Block


Thanks for your letter. Are you still located in New Orleans? If so, I invite you to come to my office and talk to me about this. If not, I would be glad to discuss this issue with you via email. It is important that justice be done on this matter (well, on every other matter too).

I intend to blog this conversation. May I have your permission to use your name? Otherwise, I'll keep you anonymous, even though you do copy others on this.

Here is my first reaction to your letter.

I am and always have been, well, at least since I became a libertarian in 1963, a bitter opponent of slavery. But precisely WHY is this "curious institution" an abomination? Is it because the slaves picked cotton? No; lots of people pick cotton voluntarily. Is it because the slave ate gruel, lived in shacks, sang songs. No, lots of people do these things voluntarily. Is it, even, because the slaves were whipped? No, again. Sadists beat masochists with the consent of the latter, so that cannot either pinpoint the particular evil of slavery.

What then is the EXACT PRECISE REASON why slavery is disgusting and evil and malicious? It is because the slaves were FORCED into this situation. In order to prove this, in my interview with the NYTimes, I proposed a hypothetical situation: suppose, just suppose, work with me here, that, somehow, for some weird reason, people VOLUNTARILY agreed to engage in a situation just like the one that actual slaves were FORCED to undertake. That is, they were whipped (remember the masochist), ate gruel, sang songs, picked cotton, lived  in shacks, etc. Would this be so bad? Would this even remotely approach the situation of slavery? OF COURSE NOT. Why not? Because these people did so VOLUNTARILY. Would this be a bit weird? Well, yes, of course. But would it be a horror, compared to slavery. No. It would be, in the words I  used in my interview, "not so bad." I go further: it would constitute an interaction between consenting adults, and, at least under the libertarian law, would not be considered criminal.

Let me try another one on with you. You graduated from Loyola University. Therefore, since we promote "critical thinking" I'm sure you'll appreciate this one. Well, maybe.

Why are the Nazis quintessentially evil. Is it because they have the swastika, do the goose step, move their arms in the hiel Hitler salute, wear black leather boots, come from Germany? NO, no, no, no, no and no. These are only the superficial accoutrements of Nazism. The real reason the Nazis were an abomination, the only reason the Nazis were an abomination, was because they violated the libertarian principle of non initiation of violence. That is, the initiated violence against innocent  people. Now, suppose, work with me again on this, please, there were a group that featured the swastika, the goose step, the hiel Hitler salute, black leather boots, came from Germany, etc. But these people never, ever, not once, initiated violence against innocent people. I would of course find this group obnoxious (only because of association in my mind with real Nazis), but, compared to real Nazis, I would find this group "not so bad." Again, I go further. While I supported the Nuremberg trials which condemned actual Nazis to death, would these "Nazis" be engaging in criminal acts. No. Of course not. Hey, shouldn't a civilized society have room for weirdos?

If you disagree with this, I would be glad to hear your reasons.

Also, back to the slavery issue. As evidence that I  abhor slavery, I have a paper trail of publications favoring reparations  for slavery, from the great grandchildren of slave owners, to the great grandchildren of slaves. I could hardly have written this if I  thought that actual slavery (not the hypothetical variety mentioned above) was "not so bad."

Alston and Block, 2007; Block, 1993, 2001, 2002; Block and Yeatts, 1999-2000

Alston, Wilton D. and Walter E. Block. 2007. “Reparations, Once Again.” Human Rights Review, Vol. 9, No. 3, September, pp. 379-392;

Block, Walter E. 1993. “Malcolm X,” Fraser Forum, January, pp. 18-19;

Block, Walter E. 2001. “The Moral Dimensions of Poverty, Entitlements and Theft,” The Journal of Markets and Morality, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 83-93;;;

Block, Walter E. 2002. “On Reparations to Blacks for Slavery,” Human Rights Review, Vol. 3, No. 4, July-September, pp. 53-73;

Block, Walter E. and Guillermo Yeatts. 1999-2000. “The Economics and Ethics of Land Reform: A Critique of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s ‘Toward a Better Distribution of Land: The Challenge of Agrarian Reform,’” Journal of Natural Resources and Environmental Law, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 37-69;

Best regards,


Walter E. Block, Ph.D.
Harold E. Wirth Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics
Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business
Loyola University New Orleans
6363 St. Charles Avenue, Box 5, Miller Hall 318
New Orleans, LA 70118


  1. When I first heard about the Block-Times interview, I knew it would be trouble. Dr. Block knew what he said would sound controversial. He's a professor - it's his job to make people think. Problem is most are not interested in thinking. I'm guessing that his Loyola critic will never come around.

  2. Walter insists in trying, through precise logic, to convince idiots that they are wrong. Good luck with that. I taught economics for 35 years at the college level and cannot recall even one instance, not one, where an idiot that I was debating ever said: "You know Professor, you are right and I am wrong and I appologize for slandering you unfairly." Hell will freeze over first.

    1. These conversations aren't necessarily for the person with whom Walter is debating. Rather, they are for the on-lookers, like those people reading this blog for the first time. Keep it up Walter.

  3. Don't feed the trolls Dr. Block. It only makes them hungry for more.

    1. I disagree. The person who wrote the initial email has an opinion that is probably shared by many others. Confronting those objections is important. I would say necessary. Minds are changed through reason and evidence. The more that Dr. Block engages his critics, the better.