Anarchy, Preferences, and Robust Political Economy

24 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2009 Last revised: 13 Feb 2009

Brad Taylor

Australian National University - School of Politics and International Relations

Eric Crampton

University of Canterbury - Economics and Finance

Date Written: February 10, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Robust Political Economy, Anarcho-capitalism, Economics of Religion, Ideology, Endogenous Preferences

JEL Classification: D63, D70, H11, K40, P10, Z12

Suggested Citation

Taylor, Brad and Crampton, Eric, Anarchy, Preferences, and Robust Political Economy (February 10, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1340779 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1340779

Brad Taylor

Australian National University - School of Politics and International Relations ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://bradtaylor.me

Eric Crampton (Contact Author)

University of Canterbury - Economics and Finance ( email )

Private Bag 4800
Christchurch
New Zealand
64 3 364 2824 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.canterbury.ac.nz/personal_pages/eric_crampton

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