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 14: Polycentrism and Power

Scott Beaulier

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


: a reply to Warren Samuels Scott Beaulier I. INTRODUCTION There is no doubt that the anarcho-capitalist faces challenges from all sides. Leftist anarchists tend to agree with anarcho-capitalists as to the source of problems in political economy essentially stemming from state, but they argue that anarcho-capitalists are mistaken in their defense of private property. Instead of turning to the rather traditional institution of private property, some argue that communal living with fully participatory democracy ought to replace the current capitalist regime.1 By contrast, many libertarians are critical of anarcho-capitalism for its lack of stability, the lack of historical examples of its success, or a belief that some goods must necessarily be provided by the government due to network effects.2 But there is another group among the critics that raises a challenge regarding the kind of governance that should be expected to exist and/or emerge out of an anarcho-capitalist utopia. Among this last group of eclectic scholars, whom we can try to generalize under the heading of public economists, one of the most sophisticated challenges to anarcho-capitalists has been raised by Warren Samuels. Throughout his career, Samuels has repeatedly raised the question to political economists: ‘Who is to hold the power in a particular social system?’ Whether a social system is a concentrated dictatorial nation or is instead a cluster of privately organized condominium associations, somebody is going to have the guns and control of the rules of the game in any social system. Therefore, the political economist is guilty...

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