The economic analysis of politics goes by many names: political economy, rational choice theory, formal political theory, social choice, economics of governance, endogenous policy theory, and public choice. Each of these labels picks out a subtly different intellectual tradition. Each tradition expands our understanding of the world. My favorite, though, remains public choice.
This episode features an interview of economics professor Edward Stringham from 2015 by Jeff Diest, host of the Human Action podcast (formerly Mises Weekends). Edward is the author of a book called Private Governance: Creating Order in Economic and Social Life, where he looks back at the history of private legal systems, and in so doing demolishes the idea that only the state can manage and adjudicate human conflicts. Today, Edward gives some concrete, real-world examples of how private governance operates in our statist world. If you’re interested in Rothbardian and Hoppean anarcho-capitalism, you’ll find Edward’s book a great addition to your library, and you’ll enjoy hearing this interview.
Regardless of your particular take on the use of foreign governments to stir up the camps of political opponents, there is a reason why the situation might be called a “constitutional crisis.” My point-of-view is that everything relating to the governance of a people ought to be above board. My suspicion is that the phrase politically above board is an oxymoron, literally impossible, factually impossible.
How many times have you heard the demonstrable falsehood, if you don’t like Politician X, then vote her/him out of office — or the inane, vote for the lesser of two evils? Voting, or not voting, is actually the least you can do.
The challenge of competing with governments is of course that they can kill anyone who doesn’t want to be a paying customer. This gives them a huge customer base. It turns out, people don’t like to be killed. So they pay government to avoid it.
It is beyond any measure of denial to assert that the American experiment in “limited government” – “constitutional” or otherwise – has proven itself an abject failure. The US government is the largest, most expensive, and most powerful cabal on the planet. And it shows no signs of reversing course. But for the true believers in minarchism, it gets even worse.
That said, it is the even smallest potential for “libertarian socialism” that causes me to distance myself somewhat from Hoppe. That one-in-a-thousand leftie who just wants to live peacefully in a commune with his or her buddies down the road – so long as their chosen lifestyle and preferred economic models are kept among themselves and other willing participants who are free to leave at any time – is not and should not be considered a problem.
The idea that a monolithic monopoly needs to provide all kinds of services whether we want them or not is stupid. It’s always been stupid. But it’s easier to see the stupid now that our lives are comprised of a growing web of voluntary subscription services and Amazon delivers everything for free.
The concern arises that 99 and 44/100ths% of the agenda of agencies are out of the control of anyone. There is a “set it and forget it” syndrome with them all. I have been in close proximity to the state, man and boy, for over 7 decades (haven’t we all, for varying lengths of time?), and I have never seen a bureau go out of existence.
This episode features an interview of economics and law professor Peter Leeson from 2017 by Trevor Burrus and Aaron Powell, hosts of the Free Thoughts podcast. They discuss rational choice theory as it applies to self-governance. What happens in the absence of government? They also discuss the difference between government and governance, what it means to be stateless, and how anarchy is perceived in the world today.