Essay:Towards A Consistent Libertarianism
My name is Lilly and I am a consistent Libertarian. There are many Libertarians about, who claim to believe in liberty and private property, but their belief in these matters is marred by inconsistencies. I wish to follow Libertarianism without inconsistencies.
I support capital punishment. If someone kills another human being, then the family (legal heirs) of the victim should have the right to have the perpetrator killed. However, I disagree with the current system in a few ways. I think the death penalty should be reserved for cases with very clear evidence, e.g. where there are eyewitnesses, where there is no serious doubt about guilt. A good example would be Anders Breivik. The legal term is "reasonable doubt", but I think the way it gets interpreted in practice, it is a lot looser standard than it should be.
I also think the family of the victim should also have the right to spare the life of the perpetrator if they wish. This is unlike the current system, where the judges, jurors and prosecutors and others who decide these matters have no legal obligation to respect the wishes of the victim's family, even if they sometimes informally take those wishes into account. In the current system, a murderer may be executed even if the victim's family strongly oppose it; I don't agree with that.
One question is, if the family are allowed to show mercy to the killer, what if the killer themselves was family - could they insist to show mercy to themselves? I would suggest the right to have the killer executed is a property right belonging to the victim. This form property (an execution right) is brought into being by the act of murder. It is not absolute; it can only be exercised against a person if that person is proven beyond all serious doubt to be the murderer. As a form of property, this right will be inherited by the victim's family. The victim through their will can decide who inherits this property right, and any conditions governing it. If they do not leave a will, or their will is silent regarding this right, then some default rules can be applied so that the family inherits (intestacy).
Our question then, of how to stop the murderous heir from sparing their own life, has a simple answer - a murderer is not allowed to inherit from their victim. Hence, the murderer cannot inherit any part of the execution property right, and hence cannot use it to prevent their own execution. I think this rule makes sense, because murder is a form of theft (taking away someone's property in their own life), and murder by a heir is two forms of theft, since it is aimed not only at stealing someone's life, but also at stealing their possessions through inheritance. So this prohibition, on the murderer inheriting from their victim, follows from private property rights.
I would also support the ability of the execution property right to be exercised in other ways than by executing the murderer. One other way it should be able to be exercised is by enslaving the murderer. The murderer then becomes the property of their heirs of the victim, a slave over whom they have absolute property rights, including the right to buy and sell them, to kill them, and to do anything else they wish to them.
As a Libertarian, I support the re-establishment of the institution of slavery. I think this is the only consistent position for a Libertarian to adopt. As a Libertarian, I believe in self-ownership - I am my own property. But, I do not have full and unencumbered property rights in something if I cannot transfer that right (whether by sale or gift) to whomever I please. Unless I have the right to give myself as a slave to another, or to sell myself into slavery, I do not fully own myself.
A slave cannot own property. Even the clothes on their back belongs to someone else. It thereby follows, that although I can gift myself into slavery, I generally speaking cannot sell myself into slavery, because I could not own the consideration being paid. However, I could sell myself into slavery with someone else receiving the payment as their property. I could also take out a loan with myself as collateral. Loans with enslavement clauses could be of great economic benefit to many poor people, who lacking any other collateral are denied access to credit. By being able to use themselves (or their children) as collateral, they could gain access to credit, which they could use to invest in small business - what a great way to make the dream of entrepreneurship accessible to the very poor.
In this new understanding, there are two types of people - those who are self-owned (free), and those who are owned by another (slaves). A person may be enslaved by their own free choice, as consequence of a default clause of a loan contract, if proven to have committed a crime, or if proven to have committed a tort against another and having failed to pay damages for that tort.
Since the slave is property of their owner, the slave-owner has the absolute and unfettered right to do with their slave whatever they wish - sell them, lease them, kill them, whatever they wish. Slave owners have the right to use their slaves sexually and prostitute them out to others. Slave owners have the right to use corporal and capital punishment on their slaves, to torture them, and to use them for medical or scientific experimentation. To say otherwise is to limit the rights of private property, which is the foundation of economic freedom, and essential to capitalism which has produced so much prosperity and technological wonders in the modern world.
Slave ownership should not be restricted to individuals only. Corporations, churches, private associations, etc., should all be capable of owning slaves. Slavery could prove a great benefit to the corporate world, since for many purposes slaves will likely be found to be preferable to employees.
I think with the reintroduction of slavery, many religious groups will favour encouraging their members to donate themselves. For example, an organization like Scientology may encourage some of its members (e.g. Sea Org) to donate themselves as slaves to the Church. Of course, once you are a slave of your religion, you can no longer leave it, but many religions do not permit their members to leave anyway.
I only support a minimal government, responsible only for the minimum of responsibilities that cannot reasonably be met by the private sector (law courts, police, national defense, strictly limited taxes to support the above); and I see no reason why the government also should not be capable of owning slaves when doing so would be helpful in achieving its legitimate goals.
Slaves lack the power of contract. But they may act as agents of their owner, or of others, and thus bind the free on their behalf, subject to the law of agency. For example, I may give my slaves some money, and tell them to go to the store and buy some groceries. This is a valid contract of sale, but it is not between my slaves and the store, but rather between myself and the store, even though I used my slaves as my agents in negotiating it. But it is impossible for a slave to make a binding contract with their owner, although they can sure make unenforceable agreements (but obviously if the owner reneges on them, the slave has no legal recourse).
A slave owner can emancipate their slaves if they wish. Thus, the other-owned (slave) is converted into the self-owned (free) with the consent of their former owner. The slave owner might use the promise of eventual emancipation as a motivational strategy for their slaves (although such a promise would not be legally enforceable, since a slave cannot make a binding contract with their owner.) They might emancipate their slaves for purely personal reasons. Emancipation is irreversible and unconditional, since I am not truly free if my freedom can be cancelled. But it shall be illegal to emancipate slaves if one is doing so in order to frustrate one's creditors (just the same as if I was to burn down my own house, thinking that if I can't have it my creditors can't either.)
What of the children of slaves? Consider the case of farm animals, like sheep or cattle, to which slaves are analogous. The default rule with farm animals has always been, whoever owns the cow owns the calf, i.e. the owner of the mother owns the child. Now, this is only a default rule, and can be modified in accordance with the freedom of contract; for example, the owner of a bull may make it available to inseminate cows on the condition that the bull owner has a 50% ownership interest in the result calves. Another hypothetical case, if I steal prize bull sperm to inseminate my cows with, then the calves should belong to the owner of the sperm, for otherwise would be to reward my theft. But, ignoring such special circumstances, this default rule makes sense practically and biologically, given that maternity is usual obvious, paternity often unknown.
Applying the same principles to slaves, it follows that the child of a slave is the property of the owner of its mother.
However, we should consider the fact that free women are self-owned. They are like the self-owning cow. Since the owner of the cow is the owner of the calf, it follows that the calf of the self-owning cow belongs to the cow. Thus, the child of a free woman is her slave, from birth until such time as she chooses to emancipate it, or sell or gift it, or otherwise dispose of it. It follows that in the world of Consistent Libertarianism there are no freeborn, only slaves and the emancipated.
Emancipation from slavery is a great gift to give your child for their eighteenth or twenty-first birthday, or whatever age you prefer. The great thing about this, is you get to decide when your children will become legally emancipated from you, and get to impose whatever conditions you want on them, rather than it happening automatically at an age which someone else has chosen for you. You are the best judge of your own children, so you are the best person to decide at what age they should have the legal rights of adulthood, not at some inflexible cookie-cutter age of eighteen forced upon you by nameless faceless bureaucrats. The promise of emancipation is also a great carrot to motivate your children to behave well and work hard at school. Conversely, the threat of being sold to pharmaceutical companies for medical research is a great stick to keep your kids in line.
Consistent libertarianism defends the family by acknowledging children as the property of their parents, who they are free to deal with as they feel fit. This puts a permanent end to all government meddling in the family by busy-body social workers.
Suppose a free woman has a son, whom she does not emancipate, but neither gift nor sell nor otherwise dispose of, as long as she lives. Now she has died, what happens to her slave-son? Let us suppose, in her will, she left all her possessions to her son. Her son will then inherit all her property, including her possession of him. Inheriting ownership of himself, he thus becomes emancipated by inheritance. Suppose instead she left all her property to the local church. Then her son also becomes the property of the local church, and he is at their mercy (they may decide to emancipate him, or maybe instead they will sell him onwards and use the proceeds for charitable purposes.)
A useful default legal rule, is that if a person owns their own children as slaves, then upon their death, if there is no will, or if their will does not clearly specify, then each of their children inherits themselves (and thus becomes emancipated themselves), and also inherits the ownership of any of their descendants. For example, Anna has a daughter Barbara who has a son Charles; Anna owns both Barbara and Charles as slaves. Barbara is slave of Anna, since whoever owns the cow owns the calf, and thus Anna as a self-owning cow owns her calf Barbara. Charles is a slave of his grandmother Anna, since he is the son of Barbara, who is owned by Anna. Now, Anna dies without a will; by this rule, Barbara will inherit ownership both of herself and Charles; hence Barbara will be emancipated by inheritance, and Charles will go from being a slave of his grandmother to being a slave of his mother. If Barbara had another daughter Darlene, who had a son Edward, then by the same rule Darlene would be emancipated by inheritance, and Darlene would inherit her son Edward as a slave. Barbara does not inherit Edward nor does Darlene inherit Charles.
Other than the special case where slaves inherit their own ownership at the same time, slaves cannot inherit property. Where a person knowingly leaves their property to a slave, the property is inherited by the slave's owner. Where a person leaves someone some property, not foreseeing that person would be a slave, then the bequest should be taken to be ineffective and void.
A slave is murdered if they are intentionally killed without the consent of their owner. Murdering a slave is a crime against their owner. A slave is raped if someone has sex with them without the consent of their owner. Raping a slave is a crime against their owner. It follows of course that it is legally impossible for a slave to be murdered or raped by their owner.
To summarise the different ways in which one may be enslaved: by gifting one's self to another; by defaulting on a loan where one has used one's self as collateral; by committing a felony such as murder; as a tortfeasor who fails to pay damages; by being born.
One myth I must address is the idea that slavery has something to do with racism. It has nothing inherently to do with that topic whatsoever. Certainly it is true, in some historical contexts, such as the history of the United States, slavery and race were closely linked. However, there is nothing inherently racial about slavery, and the problem in that situation was racism not slavery. It was a pity they threw the baby out with the bathwater! People of all races should be equally allowed to own slaves and to be enslaved. In the Old South, a black person owning white slaves would have been inconceivable, and probably illegal. In Consistent Libertarianism, there is no reason why a black person cannot own as many white slaves as they can afford.
I am a Christian, and I note that the Bible contains many passages supporting slavery. Although the Bible commends emancipating slaves, it makes clear that this is a praiseworthy act but not morally required. The Bible is also clear that it is a sin for slaves to disobey their owners. The Bible also strongly supports capitalism, private property rights, freedom of contract, and libertarianism. Given that consistent Libertarians will support slavery, the Bible's support for both libertarianism and slavery makes perfect sense. Thank you Lord Jesus for the wonderful gift of slavery!
I believe in natural law. The fake law of the statists and socialists can pretend to abolish slavery, but as a part of natural law it can never be abolished. By natural law slavery exists today, even though positive law seeks to prohibit it. But natural law is higher than positive law, and when positive law conflicts with natural law, it is null and void and of no effect. Thus slavery is already legal everywhere, whatever these invalid laws may say. Slavery is a gift from God, both in natural law, and the revealed law of the Bible, and no mere man can take that keystone of the gift of liberty away from us!
Welcome to the wonderful world of Consistent Libertarianism! I hope you will join me in making this dream come true.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: According to Consistent Libertarianism, am I a slave of my mother?
A: Quite possibly yes. Per the principles outlined above, you are a slave of your oldest surviving ancestor in the maternal line - your mother, or your mother's mother, or your mother's mother's mother, or so on. (This is assuming none of those ancestors were slaves of any one else.) If you want to be self-owned, write up a deed emancipating you from slavery and gifting you all the property currently in your possession, and convince that ancestor to sign it. If she will not sign it, try offering her money. (Technically the money will be her own already, but she will be happy to gain the possession of it, as opposed to just legal title.)
Q: Do Fathers have any rights to their children in Consistent Libertarianism?
A: By the principle of whoever owns the cow, owns the calf, no. If the mother is a self-owning cow, she owns her calf; the father does not. However, this is only a default rule, and is subject to alteration by freedom of contract. For example, you could include a clause in a marriage contract stating that husband and wife shall have joint ownership of the children of the marriage. Legally marrying your slave is not an option, since they lack the freedom of contract to make a marriage contract, although there is nothing stopping you from having children with them out of wedlock, and any such children would be your slaves entirely.
Lilly Poe Founder of Consistent Libertarianism