Anarchy, State and Public Choice

Anarchy, State and Public Choice

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Edited by Edward Stringham

The book reprints the main articles from the 1972 volume Explorations in the Theory of Anarchy, and contains a response to each chapter, as well as new comments by Gordon Tullock, James Buchanan, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel and Peter Boettke. The younger economists are notably less pessimistic about markets and more pessimistic about government than their predecessors. Much of the new analysis suggests that private property rights and contracts can exist without government, and that even though problems exist, government does not seem to offer a solution. Might anarchy be the best choice after all? This provocative volume explores this issue in-depth and provides some interesting answers.

Chapter 4: The Edge of the Jungle

Gordon Tullock

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, public choice


* Gordon Tullock The existence of large, elaborate social structures among human beings is hard to explain on instinctive grounds. The point of this series is to look into the foundations of property rights and attempt to explain these foundations on the basis of assumptions of individual maximization. In general, we have been using the Bush model of natural distribution in which we follow ‘the old way, the simple plan; let him take who is able, let him keep who can.’ It is the purpose of this paper to add on to this model another rule of individual maximization which can, I think, be regarded as the foundation of all interhuman cooperation. Let me begin, however, by making two modest modifications of Bush’s basic model. Firstly, cooperative organizations may exist, even in a Bush state of nature. A pride of lions operates internally in terms of strength and combativeness of the individual members of the pride. Nevertheless, it is more efficient in its hunting so that a low-ranking member of the pride will normally eat more than he would if he attempted to hunt on his own. Similarly, we might expect groups organized on the Bush plan engaging in conflict, or in efforts to control or enslave other individual human beings or other groups. I take it that this is not a vital modification, but it does provide for an elementary construction of groups which gets us out of Hobbes’ problem that man must sleep. A group of ten could organize...

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