A while back, I mentioned that it wasn't clear to me why people were representing Pete Leeson's book The Invisible Hook as a story about "the economics of anarchy." Well, I'm reading it now, and I'm more puzzled than ever: it seems to me the correct description of the history Pete relates is that "even pirates, desperate scoundrels though they were, saw the need for government and were able to cooperate to establish such."
For instance, Pete quotes a political speech advocating the election of a particular pirate as captain, where the speaker recommends electing a leader who can "ward us from the Dangers and Tempests of an instable Element, and the fatal consequences of Anarchy" (p. 23). You see, the speaker wanted this guy elected to avoid "the fatal consequences of Anarchy"... and he thought avoiding that would be a selling point to his listeners.
A few pages later, Pete tells us that "each pirate ship required a leader" (p. 27). Of course, the basic meaning of 'anarchy' comes from the Greek αναρχια -- without a leader. So, if they 'required a leader', they were avoiding, not embracing, anarchy! The pirates themselves discussed "how shatter'd and weak a Condition their Government must be without a Head" (p. 27).
More on the dichotomy Pete posits between 'coercive' government and 'purely voluntary' governance, in 'Reading Leeson, Part II,' coming soon to a blog near you.
In the meantime, let me say this is a lively, well-written book, and well worth reading even if you wind up disagreeing with some of its conclusions.
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