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The People’s Romance: Why People Love Government (as much as they do)

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  • Klein, Daniel

    ()
    (Department of Economics)

Abstract

Using Schelling’s analysis of mutual coordination and focal points, I interpret Smithian sympathy as sentiment coordination. When the yearning for sentiment coordination seeks, further, for it to encompass the whole social group and looks naturally to government for the focal points, we have The People’s Romance. This yearning for encompassing sentiment coordination asserts itself by denying individual self-ownership. Government activism and coercion become romantic ends in themselves. The People’s Romance is evident in the writings of communists, social democrats, and others who champion the achieving of a “common understanding,” “common endeavor,” or “shared experience.” The People’s Romance helps to explain a wide variety of political and cultural puzzles. I explore whether The People’s Romance can be compatible with classical liberal goals and values, and conclude in the negative.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 31.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: 09 Feb 2004
Date of revision: 11 May 2005
Publication status: Forthcoming in The Independent Review (www.independentreview.org), 2005.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0031

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Keywords: Sentiments; coordination; collectivism; statism; coercion; liberty;

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References

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  1. Mark Pennington, 2003. "Hayekian Political Economy and the Limits of Deliberative Democracy," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 51, pages 722-739, December.
  2. Paul H. Rubin, 2003. "Folk Economics," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 157-171, July.
  3. Daniel Klein, 1997. "Convention, Social Order, and the Two Coordinations," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 319-335, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Klein, Daniel & Pan, Xiaofei & Houser, Daniel & Schwarz, Gonzalo, 2011. "Experiment on the Demand for Encompassment," Ratio Working Papers 163, The Ratio Institute.
  2. Klein, Daniel B., 2008. "Resorting to Statism to Find Meaning:Conservatism and Leftism," Ratio Working Papers 126, The Ratio Institute.

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