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 13: Anarchism and the Theory of Power

Warren Samuels

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


* Warren Samuels I. INTRODUCTION The objective of this essay is to provide a sympathetic but critical interpretation of the prospects of anarchism. The interpretation will be undertaken with the aid of a model of choice and power which I have developed and applied to other subjects but which is also relevant here.1 The procedure will be as follows. Part II will consider the general anarchist position. Part III will examine anarchism in terms of a general model of opportunity sets and interdependence. Part IV will continue the application of the general model of choice and examine anarchism in terms of the theory of power. Part V will present a partial application of the foregoing in a critique of Murray N. Rothbard’s For a New Liberty.2 First, let me state my personal sympathies and the modifying realizations which I feel must be juxtaposed to those sympathies. Together they form my bias. For almost a quarter century I have been deeply inclined to certain views which have seemed to be in sympathy with the spirit of anarchism. These are: (1) a desire for freedom for the individual to do his own thing; (2) a desire for order, for the comfort of predictability and security, so the individual can do his own thing; (3) the market as a mechanism of economic organization to enable freedom with order; and (4) a cynical suspicion, indeed, an antagonism, toward both the state, its officials and pretenders, and the nation-state system, and about the coercion and evils...

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