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Ownership changes

The standard Libertarian rationale demonstrating that slavery is not possible relies on the notion that ownership implies control. As we cannot separate our mind from our body, we cannot relinquish control of it to a different person, therefore slavery is inherently impossible.

We look at the problem differently. We own our own body and our mind is contained within it. Therefore we own our mind. This only makes sense because our mind is what makes us, us. This means that our mind is our property to do as we please. For example, if would not own our mind, then we would not have the absolute right to ingest drugs or to think. Before doing so, we would have to ask for permission to something or somebody else.

Therefore without the anti-slavery clause, we could sell our body (including our mind contained within it) or if in debt it could become our creditor’s property. As this is not acceptable, the clause was included.

The notion that in order to own something we have to have control over it is true, but said control is only exercised at the property level, not at the item level. In other words, if we own a cat, this cat is our property. We can sell it or we can kill it. We control its destiny. However, we do not control the cat’s will because the cat has its own mind. We do not control when is hungry or sleepy. We do not control when it wants to play or scratch our furniture. Yet, the cat is still our property. This very same example also applies to humans. If a human enters into slavery, the owner controls the human’s destiny, but it cannot control its will.

History seems to be on our side. Over thousands of years people enslaved people without any problems at all. They did not dwell about their will or mind, they just enslaved them.


A further argument is that slavery equates unwillingness for the slave and this is abduction.

We see the problem differently. If we willingly decide to sell our body into true slavery, there is no unwillingness so their argument is mute.

If we are taken into slavery because of debts (as described above), this is again not against our will because we willingly accepted the terms and conditions of the Master Contract (which is a fully executable contract). Our state of slavery is simply a condition brought about by our impossibility to pay our creditors. Hence, this is again not against our will.

It is precisely to prevent these two scenarios that the anti-slavery clause was inserted.

A person’s status

The meaning of the word “slave”

Another argument points out that a person’s status as a person cannot be forfeited and as such it is afforded protection from coercion.

This argument is complex but our point of view is vastly different. We see no contradiction between the status of a person as a person and it being a property. Each one of us is a person and at the same time a property (our body) with a property owner (oneself). If this would not be the case, then our rights over our own body would not absolute. Somebody else would be the owner or partial owner of our body and we would hence had to ask permission to do certain things.

The concept that when a person becomes a slave it somehow changes from a person to a non-person (i.e. an object) is foreign to us. The very nature of people cannot be changed. However, what can change are their rights. The name change from person to slave does not imply a change in status but a change in rights. A slave continues to be a person and a property simultaneously but without any rights. Again, as this is not acceptable, an anti-slavery clause must be included.

Complaint and settlement

Further developing their argument, they point out that a person who is not fully controlled by another will always be able to raise the complaint of injury or damage that would be settled through the legal process.

As previously explained, absolute control is not required for ownership. Again, history bails us out. In the past although the transition from person to slave equated the transition from person to object, the practical consequences of such transition was the removal of all rights. Whether a slave is technically considered a person or a non-person is irrelevant because under any label they have no rights!

As they have no rights, even if slaves raise a complaint of injury or damage, they have no right and hence their issue cannot be settled.

Furthermore, in an Absolute Austro Libertarian system as there are no governments or laws (contracts rule supreme) there is no way to settle anything in the classic understanding of “legal”. And so, even if salves would be able to raise a complaint of injury or damage, they would not be able to settle it through “legal” procedures. They would only be able to settle it through mediation procedures, but these procedures only deal with contractual obligations. As a slave willingly accepted the Master Contract and through mechanisms in said contract this person became a slave (without any rights), any mediator would have to find no cause to settle!

Servitude contracts

Servitude contracts are contacts willingly entered into, whereby in return for a consideration a person (let’s call it A) forfeits some to all its rights and becomes a de-facto (as a matter of fact) slave for person B. This is most certainly a fully valid contract in an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system. Let’s assume the worst case scenario, a scenario where all rights were forfeited.

Even in this scenario, a servitude contract does not sell the body of person A to person B. It only forfeits all rights. What person B has purchased is the right to do with person A as person B feels appropriate, however, person B does not own person’s A body. Furthermore, if included in the contract, person B could harm person A up to including producing death. This is again perfectly viable in an Absolute Austro-Libertarian system since the body of person A is his/her own property to dispose as he/her sees fit.

If person A no longer wishes to fulfill the contract, this person can break it. Said contract breach would simply mean that person A is now responsible with all his/her properties to the full extent of the damage (i.e. the contract breach) to person B. Person A may then pay damages and the issue is settled.


In contrast with servitude contracts we have slavery. In this scenario whether by contract or by debt, the body of person A actually becomes the property of person B. Therefore person B could inflict any damage to the body of person A without any repercussions since it is his/her property and as such, person B has absolute rights to it.

This is yet another practical reason to include the anti-slavery clause.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

Continue to The issue of slavery - Part 3


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