Walter Block Defends His Academic Freedom
A large group of students want me fired from my faculty position. The main charge they make against me is that I believe slavery is wrong for the wrong reasons—“because it goes against Libertarianism, not because it is morally wrong.”
This is the opening paragraph of Walter Block, “Some Students Want Me Fired for a Thought Experiment,” Wall Street Journal, July 15 (July 16 print edition.)
The students who want him fired, you might be surprised to learn, do not read carefully. Possibly they don’t read at all.
As Walter has made clear in much of his voluminous writing, his libertarianism is based on moral grounds. So to oppose slavery because it goes against libertarianism is to oppose it morally, at least in Walter’s value system.
Because of the Journal‘s copyright, I can’t quote the whole article, but I love Walter’s last paragraph. Anyone who knows Walter knows that he’s being totally honest and sincere here:
Although the students who signed the petition—none of whom, I believe, have ever taken one of my classes—want me fired, I bear them no ill will. They are young people, just starting out. My door is always open. I invite any and all of the signatories of the petition, some 650 of them so far, to engage in a dialogue with me about these issues. More than 4,500 people have signed a counterpetition saying I deserve a raise. I am very grateful to them.
By the way, his thought experiment about entering into voluntary slavery is a good one. Walter says that he believes one should be able to do it but that very few libertarian intellectuals agree with him. I am among those few. Indeed, I argued about this with Walter’s mentor, Murray Rothbard, at a Libertarian Scholars’ Conference in 1976 or 1977.