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 12: Private Property Anarchism: An American Variant

Laurence Moss

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


* Laurence Moss Perhaps the most novel ingredient of the student protest movement both in this country and in Europe was the large number of ‘New Left’ radicals who adopted a more critical stance toward Marx and Lenin and embraced in their stead various anarchist heroes such as Proudhon, Kropotkin, and Bakunin. During the Paris uprisings of May 1968, C.L. Sulzberger of the New York Times reported that throughout Europe ‘the real banner of unrest . . . is the black flag of anarchy and not the red flag of communism.’1 That same year the noted authority on linguistics and unabashed critic of United States policies, Noam Chomsky, described the revival of anarchist theory and practice, among members of the New Left, as the ‘most promising development of the past years’ and expressed hope that this development would help choke off the impending ‘American and world catastrophe.’2 The rebirth of interest in anarchist thought furnished a steady market for soft-cover publishers who eagerly provided a long list of reprints of great nineteenth-century anarchist tracts. Whoever thought that Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets or Bakunin’s God and the State would become something of campus best sellers;3 yet in 1971 one prominent New York college was offering no less than three courses on anarchism and each was fairly well attended. Perhaps the most outstanding evidence of the new wave of interest in anarchist theory was the decision of the Southern Economic Association to devote an entire session to ‘anarchism’ at their November, 1972 meeting. I believe that...

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