It is often argued by our detractors, as well by one of the most prominent libertarians, that consistent adherence to the non-aggression principle implies the legalization of “voluntary slave contracts.”
I think, however, that Murray Rothbard’s title transfer theory puts this subject to rest. Refusing to abide by a contract, quite clearly, is a human right. One only becomes a thief if he refuses to compensate the property right of the other party by failing to compensate him for any “damages,” done.
If A wants to work/live with B forever, he can. But if he wants to quit after 5 weeks of mistreatment after signing a “slavery,” contract, he also can do that. He would merely have to compensate B for expenditures or inconveniences that — for whatever reason — wouldn’t have occured had the original agreement not been made. A verbal promise or even a contract isn’t binding on the inalienable will, but merely the quantifiable capital involved.
Moreover, a slavery contract is inherently illegitimate because one is simply unable to cede control of his “will” to another. That is, since one always has the power to object to another’s orders, shout him down, or run away, he still clearly exerts control over his will. Since such control is inalienable, one’s will is self-evidently not able to be given away by himself to another, as in a slave contract.
The transaction is also unjust on the part of the self-enslaver, because he is unable to truly transfer his immeasurably valuable mind and free will to the would-be-slaveholder. It would be equivalent to offering someone an infinite amount of gold for a service — it simply can’t be done.Published in