You Are Not a Slave, Act Like It

I wrote the comments in the image 5 months ago and shared it to r/Anarcho_Capitalism. The following conversation with a now [deleted] user, along with many others, ensued. I hope it proves enlightening on the topics of the state’s claims over our bodies, liberties, and property, as well as the broader question of property rights.

[deleted]: The government literally has a perpetual gun to our heads, we are not free

Skyler: You are under duress, yes, but as long as you don’t accept their authority as legitimate, you are a free person. Their gun is a technical problem needing mitigation or solution.

[deleted]: If we are always free then freedom has no value. I value freedom, so i must believe that there is a time in which people are not free. I dont believe people are currently free, for numerous reasons involving the state.

Skyler: Two senses of “free” are being used here. I am at times under duress (life or safety or liberty/freedom being threatened), but since I’m not a slave, I am a free person. I think you are too, since I’ve seen no evidence otherwise.

[deleted]: Slavery is not diametrically opposed to freedom, slavery is the total lack of freedom, there are many points between freedom and slavery that i would consider not free. The more the state impedes freedoms, the closer to slaves we are, the move to fiat currency was the biggest example of this, we do not own our commodities anymore as the value of them are dictated by the state.

Skyler: The closer to slaves the state believes we are. We aren’t, until we believe it with them.

[deleted]: Except when they literally own us and everything else, we actually are slaves.

Skyler: Ownership is a social and mental construct. If you don’t believe they actually have ownership of you then you’re not their slave, you’re just their victim. If you do believe they have ownership of you or that their claim of ownership of you is in any way valid, then you’ve already given up the game, why would you oppose them? Wouldn’t that be theft or their property?

[deleted]: I dont believe ownership is a social construct, the same line of reasoning can be used to justify the seizure of my property and so it is foolish to believe such a thing. That is our fundamental disagreement, and i will not budge on it.

Skyler: If ownership claims are not a social construct, then what are they?

[deleted]: Reality, twig is in birds mouth, twig belongs to bird

Skyler: Even if he stole it from another? Sounds like your preferred property norm is “might makes right” possession. Why should anybody prefer that property norm?

[deleted]: Thats why we consider theft immoral, if property is just a social construct, why would it be immoral to steal? They didnt own it anyway, property is just a construct.

Skyler: Morality is also a social construct. If you have disagreements on either moral behavior or property norms with your neighbors then you’re both just dealing with technical problems. You’ll either figure out how to solve those problems peacefully, or not. If you’re future oriented then you will prefer peaceful solutions to violent ones.

[deleted]: Property being immorally stolen doesnt mean that property is a construct, i can steal your arm, by chopping it off, is your arm a social construct?

Skyler: My arm is a scarce resource, and we reduce conflict over scarce resources by developing property norms, by assigning ownership, the exclusive right of control. Social construction.

[deleted]: Your own arm is a social construct? Tell me then, what isnt a social construct? Because if i used your justifications, i could call literally everything a social construct.

Skyler: Now you’re misquoting and misrepresenting me. Try again.

[deleted]: I dont care enough about this debate to misquote and misrepresent, you literally implied that your own arm is a social construct

Skyler: False. I said that arms are scarce resources and that property claims over arms as a scarce resource are a social construct. I’m beginning to question your reading comprehension which makes discussion all the more fruitless.

[deleted]: Arms are not a scarce resources, almost everybody has two, claims on a scarcity are not a social construct, i claim my computer, i am the only one who uses my computer, i would still claim it if were the only person on a desert island, therefore that claim cannot be socially constructed because there is no society on said desert island to contruct the construct.

Skyler: Scarce in the sense in which I’m using it means rivalrous (or conflictable). Two people can’t use your arms at the same time without creating conflict. Ergo your arms are a scarce resource whose ownership needs to be allocated and clearly defined. If there’s nobody else around then there’s no need for allocating ownership claims. Just use the scarce resources that you want to use, there’s no potential for conflict because there’s nobody else around. There’s no need for property norms because there’s no society. Again, property rights are a social construct for this very reason.

[deleted]: “My” arms? There is a need to claim property if nobody is around, the bird moves the twig to its nest so that it is not lost to the elements. Property rights arent a social construct and theres no such thing as property norms it a human and animal universal. Name one other society that has a different concept of property.

Skyler: Antebellum South claimed Africans as property. That’s a different concept of property than, say, the United States today. Checkmate.

[deleted]: No it isnt lmao, their concept of property is exactly the same, they just claimed a different sort of property. You actually thought won the argument?

Skyler: Property is a characteristic assigned to a scarce resource. Scare resources aren’t property until they are taken out of nature, appropriated, by a person, with the intent on claiming ownership rights contrary to claims by other people. Different societies have considered various scarce resources as property, some disparately. We do not claim people as property, but other societies do (today) and have (in the past, such as my example, the Antebellum South). This is indisputable, obviously. In any event, property as a concept is meaningless without other people around (society) to either dispute or acknowledge ownership rights. You haven’t demonstrated otherwise.

[deleted]: What one claims as property does not change the concept of property, also, something can be considered property even if it isnt scarce. For example, all of the swans in england belong to the queen, they arent scarce. I just disputed your points, your points arent indisputable, all of your assumptions are wrong.

Skyler: Non-scarce can only be claimed as property through state action, as a matter of law, and creates artificial scarcity (rivalrousness). See Tucker and Kinsella:

Just because the Queen claims ownership of swans does not mean that anyone can use any particular swan without creating conflict with anyone else who wants to use the same swan. They are scarce (rivalrous, conflictable), and the Queen owning them does not change that fact.

You aren’t doing a very good job making your case and I’m sure I’m not the only one who can see that.

[deleted]: No sources are gunna change my understanding of words that i already understand, scarcity isnt that hard to explain, its relative, are there less swans than is desireable? No? Then there arent a scarcity of swans. Scarcity is something that actually is a social construct.

You are the only one who can see what you think youre seeing because nobody with common sense is reading this, because the answer is obvious, property is not a social construct.

Skyler: Words are also a social construct. As are property norms.

[deleted]: So what if words are social constructs? We all agree to abide by that construct do we not? I could just say that social construct actually means reality. And you cant argue back because, “words are a social construct,” moron

Skyler: This is getting ridiculous. Guess we’re done.


Skyler: That’s irrelevant as I’ve defined my terms already. Read the link, you’ll learn something.

[deleted]: I disagree with your definitions, and so do most people

Skyler: Irrelevant. I defined my terms and then used them in my arguments. Do you even logic?

[deleted]: Under your definition of property, you can never have a surplus

Skyler: What does that have to do with anything? Jesus.

[deleted]: It disproves your theory?

Skyler: It doesn’t. You’re speaking nonsense now.

Skyler: Morality is also a social construct. If you have disagreements on either moral behavior or property norms with your neighbors then you’re both just dealing with technical problems. You’ll either figure out how to solve those problems peacefully, or not. If you’re future oriented then you will prefer peaceful solutions to violent ones.

[deleted]: Morality is a social construct, and we constructed that morality, not to include theft as theft is not a construct but a reality.

Skyler: Theft depends on property norms and property norms are a social construct. That’s the reality.

[deleted]: Theft does not depend on property norms, its objectively defineable, theft is when a commodity with which an individual claims is taken by another individual, a social construct is decided by a collective, thats why theyre called social. An individual can claim commodities based on the relationship they have with said commodity, the claim is not a construct, it is a reality. You can have property without a society, if you take a coconut from a tree on a desert island, that coconut is yours, yet there is no society to construct that is there?

Skyler: Then I claim your body, and if you use your body without my permission you are stealing from me. Obviously this property norm is no longer in fashion, as it shouldn’t be. But it used to be, and still is in some parts of the world. Social construct. Fight for the property norm you prefer, persuasively or violently.

[deleted]: Your claiming of my body would be theft since my parents claimed it when i was born, and then they allowed me to claim it when i became an adult. It is not a property norm, therefore it cannot be in or out of fashion, it is a timeless fact. It isnt a social construct, it can exist outside of a society, therefore cannot be socially constructed.

Skyler: Property norms are totally irrelevant if there’s only one person. You have yet to show or prove the contrary. Try again.

[deleted]: Is something a “norm” when it has been the exact same for all of human history? Property isnt a new concept and hasnt changed.

Skyler: No shit, but what makes something considered property has and will.

[deleted]: Hasnt and wont

That’s the end of the conversation. This person replied twice a few times and split the threads. I tried to make it flow, but the first split was big enough that I just made it a separate section from the comment of mine he split from. Anyway, this person is extremely confused and uses very sloppy language. Perhaps they’ll do better as time goes on. I sure hope so. My own thinking has evolved over time, as I’m sure yours has as well. In any event, I don’t accept the state’s claims over me or my body, and so I do not consider myself a slave, the property of anyone else, and neither should you.

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Founder and editor of and, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.