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Is Voluntary Government Possible? A Critique of Constitutional Economics


  • Walter Block
  • Thomas J. DiLorenzo


A social contract theory of government can be used to place a stamp of approval on all, or most, of the actions of the existing government (for example, Rousseau). Thus, the theory of the divine right of kings began as a check on government, as an order to the King to stay within divinely-commanded laws; it was transformed, by the State, into a divine stamp of approval for anything the King might decide to do. (Murray Rothbard) According to public choice theory, the market and the state are both devices through which cooperation is organized and made possible. This theme of voluntary government is most prevalent in the subset of public choice known as constitutional economics. We believe that the analogy between politics and markets made by constitutional economists is theoretically weak and clouds rather than enhances our understanding of political economy. Politics has very little in common with non-coercive, voluntary exchange in the marketplace.

Suggested Citation

  • Walter Block & Thomas J. DiLorenzo, 2000. "Is Voluntary Government Possible? A Critique of Constitutional Economics," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 156(4), pages 567-567, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200012)156:4_567:ivgpac_2.0.tx_2-s

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    Cited by:

    1. Edward Stringham, 2006. "Overlapping Jurisdictions, Proprietary Communities, and Competition in the Realm of Law," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 162(3), pages 516-534, September.
    2. Matei-Alexandru APÃVÃLOAEI & Octavian-Dragomir JORA, 2014. "“Deciphering The Political Entrepreneur’S Black Box”: On The Income Function Of The Ultimate Decision Maker In State Affairs," Review of Economic and Business Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, issue 13, pages 153-174, June.
    3. Edward Stringham, 2014. "Extending the Analysis of Spontaneous Market Order to Governance," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 42(2), pages 171-180, June.
    4. Van Den Hauwe, Ludwig, 2017. "Monetary Constitutionalism: Some Recent Developments," MPRA Paper 83052, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Benjamin Powell & Edward Stringham, 2009. "Public choice and the economic analysis of anarchy: a survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 503-538, September.
    6. Benjamen F. Gussen, 2013. "On the problem of scale: Spinozistic sovereignty as the logical foundation of constitutional economics," The Journal of Philosophical Economics, Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, The Journal of Philosophical Economics, vol. 7(1), November.
    7. Jacques Sapir, 2016. "Influence of the European Union and the Euro on Public Management Rules in France," Public administration issues, Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 195-218.
    8. Tudor Gherasim Smirna & Mihai-Vladimir Topan, 2015. "The Struggles for the Establishment of the National Bank of Moldavia In Light of the Theory of Political Entrepreneurship," Romanian Economic Journal, Department of International Business and Economics from the Academy of Economic Studies Bucharest, vol. 18(56), pages 167-180, June,.
    9. Walter BLOCK, 2016. "Anti-aircraft Missiles and Gun Control," Journal of Social and Administrative Sciences, KSP Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 77-82, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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