Monday, September 09, 2013

Involuntary Servitude

Involuntary Servitude

Tibor R. Machan

I now have three grandchildren.  The latest, the young son and my own son and his wife, was born just a few days ago.  The other two, my oldest child’s, also boys, are now two and three years old.

I am reluctant to bring them into my political quarrels but it is impossible for me to divorce their lives from the ideas about individual rights that have occupied me for decades.  It is especially difficult to suppress my outrage at the fact that some of my colleagues in political philosophy hold views that literally consign my grandchildren into involuntary servitude without paying any heed to their own choices in the matter.  

That is what the likes of Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor, James Sterba, et al, have been arguing in philosophy books and journals for decades.  Just for being born, my grandchildren are supposed to owe others at least a substantial part of their lives -- their labor, their talents, their good fortune, etc. may legally be conscripted, or so these political thinkers at very prestigious universities argue.

Just consider that for having been born in a given country, the state -- the politicians and bureaucrats in the land -- embark upon confiscating and conscripting their lives, never mind whether they have agreed to this.  These erudite people, who teach at Harvard University, McGill, Notre Dame and elsewhere, contend that my grand kids do not have the full right to their life and liberty, not to mention property but must relinquish it so they and their preferred politicians and bureaucrats may use them as they judge fit.  This they do mainly by some sophistical argumentative tricks, such as the notion that being born ipso facto assigns part of one’s life to other people, never mind who they may be, whether they deserve it, whether permission was given to do such a thing.  

If this isn’t the same as slavery I don’t know what is.  No one asked the slave’s permission to be coerced to labor as told by the masters.  No one asked the slave whether his or her life is here for others to use and dispose of as the masters choose.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dr. Machan. I've been thinking a great deal lately about this subject. For me the individual and his or her right to self-determination has to be central to any discussion of political philosophy, ethics and justice. For instance, after much reading, consideration and effort I've come to the conclusion that any political or social system that doesn't hold protecting the rights of the individual as its central tenet cannot be just.

I've read the likes of Sandel and Taylor and quite frankly their arguments always reeked of sophistry to me.

Rick Croley