Against Libertarian Sweatshop Fans

Articles by Michael Kleen. Part 1 and Part 2.
In my opinion, a sweatshop is an antiquated form of wage slavery that does not belong in a free society any more than conscription or the Atlantic slave trade. Economists like Paul Krugman have provided an ideological foundation for sweatshops because they are an integral part of the globalist worldview, but that is a worldview that libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, and other likeminded individuals oppose. Therefore, it is in our interest to not only distance ourselves from this exploitive form of labor, but to repudiate it entirely.

The central tenant of my argument is that force and aggression do not always have to involve the threat of immediate physical harm. A person may be coerced into surrendering their property (or their labor) under a variety of conditions. For example, being tricked into signing a contract he or she cannot read or understand, having the welfare of his or her family threatened, or being required to rent equipment essential to the job while being paid barely enough to cover those expenses. All of these are common practices at sweatshops.

My purpose in attempting to apply the non-aggression principle to this issue was to provide a skeleton around which an effective, free-market argument against sweatshops could be formed. The reason the issue of sweatshops in particular needs to be addressed, as opposed to just force or fraud generally, is because there appears to be a significant number of people who claim to both support the free market (or anarcho-capitalism) and sweatshops. Not only is this position contradictory, in my opinion, but it hurts the free market cause by playing right into the hands of our opponents, who believe that a free(d) market would bring back the worst aspects of industrialization.

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3 replies »

  1. while i agree with this not all sweatshops are sweatshops. local cost of living does need to be taken into account. however, this low cost of living exists only because of the oligarchs sucking wealth out and stopping development in the 3rd world.

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