Saturday, July 04, 2009

Political lessons

I often get asked to provide an overview of my political ideas. There are so many elements to my ideas -- the importance of coercion and security and how to reconcile coercion with the substantive common law principle of non-initiation of force, the unique and crucial nature of procedural law, the role of low exit costs in enabling freedom and motivating the creation of good law, good vs. bad legal competition, the use (and intellectual recovery, where necessary) of highly-evolved or promising ideas such as political property rights, choice of law and forum, separation of duties with checks and balances, limits on delegation, "smart" (technologically codified and enforced) laws, and so on -- that it's impossible to write a summary article. Therefore this post is more in the "link farm" style.

There are hundreds of pages of reading material here. Which you should tackle depends on which areas you disagree with or don't understand.

Utopians -- those who think government is or could be an institution based on voluntary agreements or peace, or anarchists who think voluntary or peaceful interactions would dominate in the absence of legal procedure based on coercion -- and those who don't know how such utopianism is readily rebutted by real history, should first read my articles about the central role coercion has, does, and will play in human interaction:

Hampton Sides Sheds Light on Olson and Coase

The Coase Theorem is False -- Contracts Depend on Tort Law

The next set everybody should read, as you can't understand politics without understanding the crucial role of legal procedure, and especially jurisdiction (a way to quickly evaluate any proposed new form of government or legal system: ask the proposer how arrest is distinguished from kidnapping, and search and seizure from trespassing and theft -- if they can't give a good answer, the proposal is based on ignorance and you need not waste any more of your time on it):

Why Legal Procedure Is Central to Politics

Three Kinds of Jurisdiction

Exit and Freedom

Property In Everything

Jurisdiction as Property

Political Property and the Evolution of Liberty

Unbundled Jurisdiction and Exit Costs

Government for Profit

Semayne's Case: Liberty of the House

Next are some lessons from the Roman style of government -- based on agency rather than political property rights. (This kind of government has dominated Western political thought -- if you have not read the previous list of articles it is probably the only way you can imagine that legal systems can work):

Democracy as Regular Rebellion

The Principle of Least Authority

Separation of Powers and Credible Commitment

Executive Power and the Interpretation of Laws

Unpredictable Elections

Those interested in the United States Constitution -- whether you want to emulate it, interpret it, revise it, or trash it -- will find the following of use:

Corporate Origins of the United States

Charters and Judicial Review

Due Process Property Rights

Civil Liberties and the Forever War

Comments on the United States Constitution (i, ii, iii)

For those who want to explore the use of technology to help codify and enforce law:

Wet Code and Dry

Security and the Burden of Lawsuit

Smart Contracts

Secure Property Titles with Owner Authority

A Formal Legal Drafting Language

Devices for Controlling Property

Liar-Resistant Government

For those who want to explore some related ideas on philosophy and history:

The Irreducible Complexity of Society

Objective versus Intersubjective Truth


An Introduction to Algorithmic Information Theory

Book Consciousness

Security and the Origins of Agriculture

Patterns of Integrity

Origins of the Joint-Stock Corporation

Finally, some notes on political action:

Ten Ways to Make a Political Difference

Feel free to comment or ask questions about any of these or other of my writings here.