Lincoln and the Politics of the “Towering Genius”

STEVEN B. SMITH

AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT, Volume 7, Number 3

Abstract: This article examines Lincoln’s “Lyceum Speech” with its concern for the “towering genius” in politics against the backdrop of the recent rise of populism and demagoguery. Lincoln’s concern was with a new kind of problem, namely, the appearance of the romantic hero in politics, a figure presaged in the writings of Emerson and Thoreau and that took the form of radical conscience politics. The model of the transcendental hero was John Brown, whose abolitionist impulse put individual conscience above the law. I contrast the transcendental hero to Lincoln’s conception of constitutional statecraft as based on an ethic of moderation and self-restraint. The article concludes with a contrast between Lincoln and Tocqueville’s worry that the American democratic republic would be characterized by the absence of individuals of grand ambition. Lincoln, I argue, is a better guide to the politics of the contemporary moment.

Economic Foundations of the Territorial State System

AVIDIT ACHARYA, ALEXANDER LEE

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE

Abstract: The contemporary world is organized into a system of territorial states in which rulers exercise authority inside clearly defined boundaries and recognize the authority of other rulers outside those boundaries. We develop a model to explain how the major economic and military developments in Europe starting in the fifteenth century contributed to the development of this system. Our model rationalizes the system as an economic cartel in which self‐interested and forward‐looking rulers maintain high tax revenues by reducing competition in the “market for governance.”

Money as meta-rule: Buchanan’s constitutional economics as a foundation for monetary stability

PETER J. BOETTKE, ALEXANDER W. SALTER, DANIEL J. SMITH

PUBLIC CHOICE

Abstract: This paper explores James Buchanan’s contributions to monetary economics and argues these contributions form the foundation of a robust monetary economics paradigm. While often not recognized for his contributions to monetary economics, Buchanan’s scholarship offers important insights for current debates, especially the renewed interest in narrow banking in the wake of the financial crisis. We argue that the post-2007 crisis milieu creates a unique opportunity to recognize, as Buchanan did, the vital role that money plays in the market as the ‘grammar of commerce.’ That recognition makes the need for more fundamental reform of our monetary regimes at the constitutional level more apparent, making Buchanan’s work on monetary constitutions more relevant than ever before. We then discuss how adopting Buchanan’s monetary framework can improve both monetary scholarship and institutions.

Escape from Europe: a calculus of consent model of the origins of liberal institutions in the North American colonies

VLAD TARKO, KYLE O’DONNELL

CONSTITUTIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY

Abstract: The migration out of Europe and the establishment of North American colonies presents us with a great puzzle: why did the colonists establish democratic forms of governance? Considering that early democratic colonies appeared even before philosophical works such as those of Locke and Montesquieu were written, it is difficult to make the case that ideology was the driving factor. We show that the calculus of consent model proposed by Buchanan and Tullock (The calculus of consent, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, 1962) offers a simple but subtle solution this puzzle. Because migrants formed much more homogeneous communities, and because, thanks to the large geographical expanse, the inter-jurisdictional externalities were small, the efficient level of consensus within each colony was much greater than in Europe, and the scope of efficient centralized decision-making was much smaller. Hence, a structure of decentralized democratic communities emerged as the efficient outcome.

Spinning the industrial revolution

JANE HUMPHRIES, BENJAMIN SCHNEIDER

THE ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW

Abstract: The prevailing explanation for why the industrial revolution occurred first in Britain during the last quarter of the eighteenth century is Allen’s ‘high wage economy’ view, which claims that the high cost of labour relative to capital and fuel incentivized innovation and the adoption of new techniques. This article presents new empirical evidence on hand spinning before the industrial revolution and demonstrates that there was no such ‘high wage economy’ in spinning, which was a leading sector of industrialization. We quantify the working lives of frequently ignored female and child spinners who were crucial to the British textile industry with evidence of productivity and wages from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. Spinning emerges as a widespread, low‐productivity, low‐wage employment, in which wages did not rise substantially in advance of the introduction of the jenny and water frame. The motivation for mechanization must be sought elsewhere.

A culture of rent seeking

SEUNG GINNY CHOI, VIRGIL HENRY STORR

PUBLIC CHOICE

Abstract: Tullock [J Dev Econ 67(2):455–470, 1967] introduced the concept of rent seeking and highlighted the social costs associated with collecting and lobbying for or against tariffs, investing in human and physical capital to facilitate or protect against theft, and expending resources to establish a monopoly. A large portion of the rent-seeking literature suggests how formal and informal institutions impact for rent-seeking activities. Culture also affects rent seeking. Communities can have a culture of rent seeking (CoRS), i.e., a perception shared by members of a society that having influence over political allocations is an important and potentially preferable source of private benefit than other avenues of pursuing economic gain. In this paper, we explore how culture affects the nature and level of rent seeking that a society pursues, and whether institutional shifts can strengthen or break down a CoRS.

Two Rights of Free Speech

ANDREI MARMOR

RATIO JURIS

Abstract: My main argument in this paper is that the right to freedom of expression is not a single right, complex as it may be, but spans two separate rights that I label the right to speak and the right to hear. Roughly, the right to speak stands for the right of a person to express freely whatever they wish to communicate to some other persons or to the public at large. The right to hear stands for the right to have free and unfettered access to any kind of content that has been communicated by others. The right to speak and the right to hear are two separate rights, grounded in different kinds of interests. I try to show that this division of rights and their respective rationales can be utilized to explain how we think about some of the limits of the right to freedom of expression, particularly in the context of conflicts between the right to speak and the right to hear, conflicts that are rather pervasive. I also argue, though perhaps less conclusively, that in thinking about the limits of freedom of expression, an exclusive focus on the harm principle would be misguided. There is no reason to deny that speech is often harmful, sometimes very much so, but the prevention of harm is not sufficient to justify legal prohibition, at least not in this case.