Working Paper — Smith et al.: Anarchy, Groups, and Conflict

Anarchy, Groups, and Conflict: An Experiment on the Emergence of Protective Associations” by Adam C. Smith, David Skarbek and Bart Wilson.

In this paper, we investigate the implications of the philosophical considerations presented in Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia, by examining group formation in a laboratory setting where subjects engage in both cooperative and conflictual interactions. We endow participants with a commodity used to generate earnings, plunder others, or protect against plunder. In our primary treatment, we allow participants to form groups to pool their resources. We conduct a baseline comparison treatment that does not allow group formation. We find that allowing subjects to organize themselves into groups does not lead to more cooperation and may in fact exacerbate tendencies for conflict.

Working Paper – Fink: Under What Conditions May Social Contracts Arise?

Under What Conditions May Social Contracts Arise? Evidence from the Hanseatic League” by Alexander Fink.

Social contractarians commonly take social contracts to be solely hypothetical and refrain from elaborating on the factors that influence the feasibility of the formation of social contracts. In contrast, this paper aims at providing a discussion of the conditions affecting the feasibility of social contracts. It is argued that the more aligned the preferences of group members for public goods are, the more the individuals share similar social norms, and the smaller the group is, the more feasible a genuine social contract becomes. I provide evidence in support of my contention from the medieval Hanseatic League. At the Hanseatic Kontor in Novgorod, one of the four major trading posts of the Hanseatic League in cities outside of Germany, German merchants agreed to live under the rule of a constitution that gave rise to a political authority for the Kontor society.

Working Paper – Taylor, Crampton: Anarchy, Preferences, and Robust Political Economy

Anarchy, Preferences, and Robust Political Economy” by Brad Taylor and Eric Crampton.

We consider the relative robustness of libertarian anarchy and liberal democracy to meddlesome preferences. Specifically, we examine how the liberty of those wishing to engage in externally harmless activities is affected by people who wish to prevent them from doing so. We show that intense, concentrated meddlesome preferences are more likely to produce illiberal law in anarchy while weak, dispersed meddlesome preferences are more likely to do so in democracy. Using insights from the economics of religion, we argue that anarchy is more likely than democracy to produce small groups with intense meddlesome preferences. Absent government provision of public goods, voluntary groups will emerge to fill the gap. Strict religious groups – ‘sects’ – are more able to overcome collective action problems and will therefore be more prevalent in an anarchic society. These sects are apt to instil intense meddlesome preferences in their members and have the ability to enforce them: anarchy produces the situation to which it is most fragile. Our argument reveals unresolved questions in the conventional understanding of institutional robustness.

Working Paper – Stringham, Hummel: Pure Market Economy

If a Pure Market Economy Is So Good, Why Doesn’t It Exist?” by Edward Stringham and Jeffrey Rogers Hummel.

Many economists argue that a pure market economy cannot come about because people will always have incentives to use coercion (Cowen and Sutter, 2005; Holcombe, 2004). This working paper maintains that these economists leave out an important factor in social change. Change can come about by altering incentives or preferences, but since most economists ignore changing preferences, they too quickly conclude that change is impossible. History shows that social change based on changes in preferences is common. By recognizing that preferences need not be constant, political economists can say much more about changing the world.

Welcome to Analytical Anarchism

The purpose of Analytical Anarchism is to create an open forum for the academic community to promote and discuss research in analytical anarchism.

What is analytical anarchism? As the subtitle says, it is the positive political economy of anarchism, or simply, anarchism from the economic point of view. Anarchism here simply means the absence of government. Peter Boettke divides anarchist thought into three categories:

1. Utopian — following in the tradition of William Godwin’s An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793).
2. Revolutionary — following in the tradition of Mikhail Bakunin and the First International, 1864-76.
3. Analytical — in the tradition of Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty (1973) and David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom (1973).

The analytical anarchism research program has developed out of this last tradition, and is currently being pursued by economists such as Pete Leeson, Ed Stringham, and Chris Coyne.

Why anarchy? Research in anarchism has a fundamental theoretical importance for understanding the mystery of cooperation among strangers, which forms the basis of modern social order. Understanding anarchy also has a critical practical importance for transition economies, Third World development, and post-war reconstruction. Economic analysis of these problems cannot assume a functioning state.

For an introduction to the subject, see Boettke’s “Anarchism as a Progressive Research Program in Political Economy.”

Scholars and students working in this field are invited to submit working papers and posts discussing the literature, general issues, potential research topics, etc.