Identity and Off-Diagonals: How Permanent Winning Coalitions Destroy Democratic Governance

31 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2019 Last revised: 11 Apr 2019

See all articles by Peter J. Boettke

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Henry A. Thompson

George Mason University

Date Written: March 20, 2019

Abstract

The growing preoccupation with identity within public discourse raises important questions concerning its effects on democratic governance. Building on the work of James M. Buchanan, we hope to show that:

1) the logic of identity politics raises costs to political cooperation,

2) the phenomenon of identity politics flows from the increased rents associated with the identity group formation and

3) that this rent race has deleterious consequences, i.e., the subversion of democratic governance.

The incentive of coalitions to define themselves along identity-related lines threatens democratic governance by enabling the formation of permanent winning coalitions. Without the ability to move between groups and take part in democratic governance, individuals who compose the permanent losing coalitions may choose to defect entirely, immersing the system in tribal violence.

Keywords: Permanent Winning Coalitions, Artifactual Man, Democracy, Identity Economics, Identity Politics

JEL Classification: B53, D72, P16

Suggested Citation

Boettke, Peter J. and Thompson, Henry, Identity and Off-Diagonals: How Permanent Winning Coalitions Destroy Democratic Governance (March 20, 2019). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 19-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3356652 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3356652

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-1149 (Phone)
703-993-1133 (Fax)

Henry Thompson (Contact Author)

George Mason University ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

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