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 15: Reflections After Three Decades

James M. Buchanan

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


James M. Buchanan It is interesting that the new papers here are devoted to a critical re-examination and re-evaluation of seminar papers written in the early 1970s – papers that represented responses to the turbulent events of the 1960s. For those of us in the academies, the institutions of order seemed to be crumbling about us, and those institutions that seemed able and willing to resist the sheer will toward destruction by the anarchists – a proper descriptive term – were few and far between. One of the institutions that did resist was VPI, now renamed Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic and State University). Under the leadership of Marshall Hahn, this university had little time for the anarchists, who, as they folded their tents, again demonstrated their relative weakness of will against even the slightest of genuine opposition. The seminar papers, as published in the small volumes edited by Gordon Tullock (1972, 1974a), as well as Tullock’s book, The Social Dilemma (1974b) and my own book, The Limits of Liberty (1975), should, at least in part, be interpreted as reactions to the times written by those of us who were, ourselves, relatively cozy in our own private cocoon of academia and able to observe the outside world. Stimulated more or less directly by Winston Bush, we found explorations into the properties of anarchist equilibria to be fascinating in their own right, as well as indirectly topical in the extreme. These works, along with my earlier book with Devletoglou, Academia in Anarchy (1970), implicitly interpreted,...

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