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

Chapter 11: Choosing for others: A neglected element in the theory of collective action

James M. Buchanan and Yong J. Yoon

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


In formal analysis of collective action, usually attention is focused on problems arising in aggregating the separate orderings into coherent collective results. Our concern is not with the aggregation problem. Instead, our focus is on the particular characteristics of the alternatives themselves. Alternatives in collective actions are fundamentally different from alternatives in market choice (apples and oranges). Regardless of motivation, collectivization forces attention on the distribution of benefits and costs among others in the sharing community. We first examine the formal structure of alternatives as these are confronted by a participant in the collective action. The second feature involves distributional patterns made necessary by collectivization.

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