Individualism and Political Disorder

Individualism and Political Disorder

James M. Buchanan and Yong J. Yoon

Inspired by F.A. Hayek’s Individualism and Economic Order, this book also stands in contrast to the themes of that work, by emphasizing that collective action works differently from the way the market works. The chapters comprise papers written by James M.Buchanan, both with and without Yoon’s co-authorship, after the publication of his Collected Work volumes. These chapters reflect the authors' thoughts on politics, seen through the lens of fiscal policy and the tragedies of the commons and anti-commons in collective action. The pathologies of democratic politics rigorously analyzed in the book prove the relevance of Buchanan's constitutionalism


James M. Buchanan and Yong J. Yoon

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, political economy, public choice theory


An anticommons problem arises when there exist multiple rights to exclude. In a lengthy law review paper, Michael A. Heller has examined “The Tragedy of the Anticommons,” especially in regard to disappointing experiences with efforts to shift from socialist to market institutions in Russia. In an early footnote, Heller suggests that a formal economic model of the anticommons has not been developed. This paper responds to Heller’s challenge. We analyze the anticommons problem in which resources are inefficiently underutilized rather than overutilized, as in the familiar commons setting. The two problems are shown to be symmetrical in several respects. We present an algebraic and geometric illustration and extend the discussion to several applications. Of greater importance, we suggest that the construction is helpful in understanding the sources of major value wastage in modern regulatory bureaucracy.

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