- New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by Edward Stringham
Chapter 4: The Edge of the Jungle
* 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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