Anarchy, State and Public Choice

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Published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in the Advanced Studies in Political Economy series.

Although most people believe that some form of government is necessary, the necessity of government was an assumption in political economy that had never been analyzed from an economic point of view. This changed in the 1970s when economists at the Center for the Study of Public Choice engaged in a systematic exploration of the issue. Anarchy, State and Public Choice, the first book-length treatment on the public choice theory of government, continues and extends the research program begun more than three decades ago. It reprints the main articles from the 1972 volume Explorations in the Theory of Anarchy, and it contains a response to each chapter by a new generation of economists, as well as new comments by Gordon Tullock, James Buchanan, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, and Peter J. Boettke. The new generation is notably less pessimistic about markets and more pessimistic about government than previous generations. Much of the new analysis suggests that private property rights and contracts can exist without government.

Might anarchy be the best choice after all? This provocative volume explores this question in depth and provides some interesting answers. Economists, political scientists, philosophers and lawyers interested in public choice, political economy, and spontaneous order will find this series of essays illuminating.

“Serious academic work on anarchism is relatively sparse. Anarchy, State and Public Choice is a sign of life. A new generation of academic researchers is once again attacking questions of anarchism.”
Michael S. Rozeff

“The collection is well-rounded, including both purely theoretical analyses, as well as contributions with a strong historical and empirical focus…. This is an excellent collection not only for all those interested in the question of whether anarchy constitutes a feasible option that is superior to statist societies, but also for those interested in understanding how many real-world interactions do take place in the absence of effective third-party enforcement.”
Ralf M. Bader

“An excellent book that collects a set of helpful essays exploring the economics of bottom-up social organization—of anarchy. . . . Many contributors have gone on to venture more substantial discussions of state failure and non-state social organization like Coyne’s After War, Stringham’s Private Governance, and Leeson’s Anarchy Unbound. But this remains a valuable source of crisp, accessible discussions of anarchic social order.”
Gary Chartier



Edward Stringham

Chapter 1: Individual Welfare in Anarchy
Winston Bush

Chapter 2: Jungle or Just Bush? Anarchy and the Evolution of Cooperation
Jason Osborne

Chapter 3: The Edge of the Jungle
Gordon Tullock

Chapter 4: Social Interaction Without the State
Christopher J. Coyne

Chapter 5: Towards a Theory of the Evolution of Government
J. Patrick Gunning

Chapter 6: Do Contracts Require Formal Enforcement
Peter T. Leeson

Chapter 7: Before Public Choice
James M. Buchanan

Chapter 8: Public Choice and Leviathan
Benjamin Powell

Chapter 9: Cases in Anarchy
Thomas Hogarty

Chapter 10: Defining Anarchy as Rock 'N' Roll: Rethinking Hogarty's Three Cases
Virgil Henry Storr

Chapter 11: Private Property Anarchism: An American Variant
Laurence Moss

Chapter 12: Anarchism and the Theory of Power
Warren Samuels

Chapter 13: Polycentrism and Power: A Reply to Warren Samuels
Scott Beaulier

Chapter 14: Reflections After Three Decades
James M. Buchanan

Chapter 15: Anarchy
Gordon Tullock

Chapter 16: Tullock on Anarchy
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

Chapter 17: Anarchism as a Progressive Research Program in Political Economy
Peter J. Boettke