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Slavery is a system in which one must labour under the orders of another under the threat of violence.[1][2] Slavery is therefore a form of binary intervention in which the master compels the slave to engage in a certain kind of production. Slavery is "(a) forcing people to work at tasks the slavemaster wishes, and (b) paying them either pure subsistence or, at any rate, less than the slave would have accepted voluntarily. In short, forced labor at below free-market wages." Examples include conscription, anti-strike laws, the tax system, subpoenas and jury duty, and compulsory commitment for alleged mental illness.[3]

Slavery is by definition a hegemonic relationship, meaning that it is sustained through violence or threats of violence. The slave himself is an economic factor of production from the master's perspective.[1] This is in contrast with a voluntary employer-employee relationship, where the employee's labor, not the employee himself, is a factor of production for the employer.


Conscription is a specific form of slavery which requires a person to undergo military training and perform military duties (including war). It is commonplace in many countries around the world, such as South Korea, Israel, and Singapore.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Murray N. Rothbard. "1. Types of Interpersonal Action: Violence", Chapter 2-Direct Exchange, Man, Economy and State, online edition, referenced 2010-12-12.
  2. Spencer, Herbert. Man vs. the State. "All socialism involves slavery. That which fundamentally distinguishes the slave is that he labours under coercion to satisfy another's desires." 
  3. Murray Rothbard. "Involuntary Servitude". For a New Liberty. "Part of the essence of slavery, after all, is forced work for someone at little or no pay. But the income tax means that we sweat and earn income, only to see the government extract a large chunk of it by coercion for its own purposes. What is this but forced labor at no pay?"