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« A Forgotten Treasure: Jack High's Maximizing, Action, and Market Adjustment. | Main | Economics and Literature Suggestions »


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Excellent response, Pete.

Indeed. Very well put.

Just a side note...using the word anarchism and talking about policy implications in the same post is almost laughable.

Any hopes of erasing anarchy, anarcho-capitalism, etc from our lexicon. As long as these words are around, there will be no policy implications taken from Austrian work. There's plenty of good subsitutes. Koch should fork over some money to hire Frank Luntz and give us some new words. We need a complete overhaul of language


Wonderful analysis.

The anarchic though experiment allows us to better understand how to convert political decisino making into market decision making once the decisions or set of them, is large enough in scope that political (human) decision making is not possible. It also helps us know the opposite.

Thank you for providing a framework for discussion.



This was an excellent post. Getting away from normative anarchism, I want to ask, though, if it makes sense to apply "the logic of choice" to the development of institutions. I understand that a big part of this resarch program involves the endognenization of institutional structures. But it seems more correct to try to understand how institutions shape individual behavior (even immutable economic laws like incentives, demand, information, etc.) rather than the other way round. My impression from this literature is that the logic of choice can be applied universally to many different institutional structures to understand how social cooperation persists and develops. So while instititions have been endogenized, individual behavior has not. The real task for those who are concerned with institutions is explaining how the development of institutions themselves shape and transform individual behavior. It seems to me a fundamental error to apply the standard price theoretic model of individual behavior to commerce and political networks in 16th Western Europes, for example (not to mention pirates!).

This is where I think the Old Instutionalist school has a leg up on NIE and its cognate fields.

I would definitely agree with this post.

It's interesting, actually, that most of the libertarians I know (ok, well I suppose it's only a few) don't know/understand/bother with Austrian economics specifically because they DON'T associate economic freedom with liberty.

They want to government to return social liberties (like drug policy, etc.) but don't associate government economic intervention as a violation of liberty.

Granted, these are the jaded libertarians of the younger generation who are probably libertarian in name only (who liked Ron Paul in the primaries, but rallied around Obama during the general election when they saw him smile).

Is this progressive research program in anarchism hiring? Where can I apply?

FWIW, I'm *not* a radical libertarian, but I'm happy with everything BPete says in this post. As a relative statist -- compared to BPete et alii! -- I'm more into policy design, but I don't think BPete said anything to the effect that policy design is somehow tainted or unclean.

Excellent Post.

Congragulations Pete L. and Chris C.. Btw, I have read both the "Laws of Lawlessness" and "After War;" and I continue to refer to them when exploring the power of rational choice theory

A query, please, from a New Zealand Libertarian/Objectivist.

Are you making the equation in this article of Libertarian = Anarchist?

Laissez-faire capitalism has to be at the bedrock for any society in which individual freedom (built upon the non-initiation of force) is to thrive, so the Austrian School of economics and Libertarian politics (when combined with Objectivist philosophy) are natural, and happy, bedfellows, for the most part.

But to view Libertarianism and Anarchism as synonymous is, in my mind, to have built an analysis based upon a complete misconception of one, or both, of these idea-sets.

I think Mark's comment is important.

There is a lot of intellectual dishonesty that goes with the terms libertarian and anarchist. When talking to certain company, anarchists will refer to themselves as libertarians leading to the confusion.

I don't think anyone is saying libertarianism= anarchism. I think anarchists like to cover themselves up by calling themselves libertarians.

And on the other end of the spectrum, how many people truly go around calling themselves Marxists these days? Similarly, there are only "progressives" now.

I'm working on a piece that places anarchy outside the assumed precepts of ideology. The crux of which is defining ideology as a process.

Of course I only have a blog, computer and secret text from a perhaps dead professor . . . I always miss the meetings.

"I think anarchists like to cover themselves up by calling themselves libertarians."

Heh. I find myself sometimes doing the opposite. "Anarchist" goes over better with leftist crowds than "libertarian" (which in turn goes over WAY better than "conservative," which anyway is too vague and could mean too many things).

I have read Pete´s paper and I believe that while it is interesting and informative, it remains very much at the surface and elementary.
Much of the spontaneous order thinking and tradition have been taken over by the game theorists. One of the answers I - probably among others - would like to get is why Austrians believe their approach is distinctive, novel and fruitful even in comparison with approaches that use modern techniques.

Has anyone studied the Internet as an example of market anarchy? It is a system of property rights and transactions without a government, so it would seem to be relevant.

As a side note, it also provides huge numbers of public goods (network protocols, virus protection, free software, etc). Much of the world's communication is becoming more and more reliant on public goods produced voluntarily in what is basically anarchy (e.g., Linux, Apache and MySQL).


Look at the Winter 2005 issue of the Journal of Law, Economics and Public Policy --- it is a special issue on the law, economics and technology of private contract enforcement in cyberspace that I edited. Great papers by Bruce Benson, David Friedman, Ben Powell, Ed Stringham, Pete Leeson and Chris Coyne.


A reference to this issue on a left-liberal blog, with some criticism of Pete Boettke and "Austrian autodidacts".


If I am wrong in my interpretation of Marshall, then so is Wicksteed and a boat load of other economists. Marshall's famous phrase was it takes both blades of the scissors to cut the paper --- utility and cost. The Austrian and Wicksteedian reply was Yes, but both blades of the scissors are made of the same stuff --- the subjective utility of the decision maker. Supply, in other words, reflects alternative demand. Why the commentator cannot see this point, is quite surprising for anyone who has studied the history of economic ideas.

I guess we can leave it at that.


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