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

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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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  • Klein, Daniel, 2004. "The People’s Romance: Why People Love Government (as much as they do)," Ratio Working Papers 31, The Ratio Institute, revised 11 May 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0031
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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 B., 2008. "Resorting to Statism to Find Meaning:Conservatism and Leftism," Ratio Working Papers 126, The Ratio Institute.
    2. Daniel Klein & Xiaofei (Sophia) Pan & Daniel Houser & Gonzalo Schwartz, 2011. "Experiment on the Demand for Encompassment," Working Papers 1020, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Mar 2011.
    3. Ted Balaker & Cecilia Joung Kim, 2006. "Do Economists Reach a Conclusion On Rail Transit?," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 3(3), pages 551-602, September.
    4. Daniel B. Klein & Harika Anna Barlett, 2008. "Left Out: A Critique of Paul Krugman Based on a Comprehensive Account of His New York Times Columns, 1997 through 2006," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 5(1), pages 109-133, January.

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    Keywords

    Sentiments; coordination; collectivism; statism; coercion; liberty;

    JEL classification:

    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General

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