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Nancy Maclean’s Democracy in Chains (2017) is an attempt to provide a narrative arc for the rise of free market ideas in political action during the second half of the…
Nancy Maclean’s Democracy in Chains (2017) is an attempt to provide a narrative arc for the rise of free market ideas in political action during the second half of the twentieth century and into the first decades of the twenty-first century. The central character in her narrative is neither F.A. Hayek nor Milton Friedman, let alone Adam Smith or Ludwig von Mises, but James M. Buchanan, the 1986 Nobel Prize winner in economics. MacLean argues that rather than extol the virtues of the market economy as Hayek and Friedman did before him, Buchanan focused on the dysfunctions of politics. Due to a series of argumentative fallacies and failures that follow from her ideological blinders, I argue that MacLean’s attempt is a missed opportunity to seriously engage some very pressing issues in public choice and political economy and understand how James Buchanan attempted to resolve them in a democratic manner. As such, Democracy in Chains is not only a mischaracterization of Buchanan and his project but also a poignant lesson to us all about how ideological blinders can subvert even the sincerest effort to unearth truth in the social sciences and the humanities.
In Democracy in Chains, Nancy MacLean draws attention to the influence that James M. Buchanan’s work has had on the political economic discourse of the past half century…
In Democracy in Chains, Nancy MacLean draws attention to the influence that James M. Buchanan’s work has had on the political economic discourse of the past half century. Buchanan and his collaborators in the Virginia Political Economy tradition have provided intellectual firepower for efforts to delegitimize democratically sanctioned policies aimed at alleviating the dysfunctional consequences of market activity. While MacLean’s account contains some well-documented inaccuracies, her characterization of Buchanan’s agenda is broadly accurate. This chapter assesses Buchanan’s economics in light of the themes raised by MacLean. His work, we shall argue, is a modern manifestation of what Marx termed “vulgar economy,” that is, ruling-class ideology posing as science.
A review of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America focuses on the implications of her historiographic method…
A review of Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America focuses on the implications of her historiographic method in reading Jim Buchanan’s work and the resulting failure to take seriously the underlying framework of constitutional political economy that informed both Jim Buchanan’s and Frank H. Knight’s work. MacLean’s historiography is that of social movement history, which sublimates the interests and motivations of the individual to that of the movement. The real scholar disappears into simply an agent of the movement’s master plan. Because MacLean is suspicious of the movement she believes Buchanan to be part of, his work is interpreted solely in light of what she assumes to be the master plan. In particular, she ignores Buchanan’s habit of returning to key themes in order to develop new modes of analysis. MacLean focuses solely on his public choice work, ignoring the latter developments of constitutional economics and even moral order.
Two issues in MacLean’s account are the focus on the review. The first is simply a research mistake that she drew unwarranted conclusions from regarding Buchanan’s connection to the “massive resistance” movement against desegregation of Virginia public schools. The second issue reveals MacLean’s unwillingness to consider the changes in Buchanan’s scholarship over his career. Taken together, the issues indicate that she refused to read Buchanan on his own terms in order to understand the progress of his work, even if she disagreed with him at the end.
Can we model politics as exclusively based on self-interest, leaving virtue aside? How much romance is there in the study of politics? We show that James Buchanan, a…
Can we model politics as exclusively based on self-interest, leaving virtue aside? How much romance is there in the study of politics? We show that James Buchanan, a founder of public choice and constitutional political economy, reintroduces a modicum of romance into politics, despite claiming that his work is the study of “politics without romance”: Buchanan’s model needs an ethical attitude to defend rules against rent-seeking.
We claim that Adam Smith, more than David Hume, should be considered one of the primary intellectual influences on Buchanan’s public choice and constitutional political economy. It is commonly believed that Hume assumes in politics every man ought to be considered a knave, making him an influence on Buchanan’s idea of politics without romance. Yet, it is Smith who, like Buchanan, describes rent-seeking and suggests that public virtues may be the remedy through which good rules maintaining liberty and prosperity can be generated and enforced. Smith, like Buchanan, rejects sole reliance on economic incentives: the study of politics needs some romance.
Discusses James Buchanan′s contribution to the important topic of cost‐containment in the area of health care. Historical and ideational in its thrust, it seeks also to make a more general contribution by showing how the methodology of public choice can be applied to a specific issue in economic and social policy. Examines the precise body of theory which Buchanan brings to bear when attempting a politico‐economic calculus of consent. Considers the causes of the rise in the cost of health and assesses Buchanan′s anxieties in respect of the burden. Discusses Buchanan′s solutions and explores alternatives to the options he endorses. Concludes that Buchanan′s answers may not appeal to all readers, but they are a fruitful area of research and speculation.
Learning outcomes are as follows: understanding the difference between brand identity and brand image; applying various segmentation tools; understanding the appeal of the…
Learning outcomes are as follows: understanding the difference between brand identity and brand image; applying various segmentation tools; understanding the appeal of the aspirational brand and its consequence on private and public consumption; exploring the strategic options available to a brand facing a brand appropriation; exploring the pros and cons of opposing a brand appropriation; and developing a plan for the implementation of this strategy.
This case will help students understand the difference between the brand identity that the brand owners intend and the brand image that consumers actually perceive.
Complexity academic level
This case is designed to be used in marketing management, brand strategy or consumer culture course. Specifically, the case is designed for college seniors or master students with basic strategic marketing training. It should provide the basis of discussions on the topics of brand management, consumer culture, brand portfolio management, international marketing, repositioning strategy, brand architecture, brand equity, brand assets, brand appropriation and consumer relationships with brands.
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CSS 8: Marketing
The notion of constitutionalism and federalism as principal devices for limiting the power of government is central to F. A. Hayek’s political philosophy. A number of…
The notion of constitutionalism and federalism as principal devices for limiting the power of government is central to F. A. Hayek’s political philosophy. A number of political scientists have recently criticized Hayek’s (as well as J. M. Buchanan’s and B. R. Weingast’s) reasoning on this subject for its presumed “neoliberal bias.” This paper reviews this critique and takes it as a challenge to clarify certain ambiguities in Hayek’s – and, more generally, in liberal – accounts of constitutionalism and federalism.
Nancy MacLean’s book, Democracy in Chains, raised questions about James M. Buchanan’s commitment to democracy. This chapter investigates the relationship of classical…
Nancy MacLean’s book, Democracy in Chains, raised questions about James M. Buchanan’s commitment to democracy. This chapter investigates the relationship of classical liberalism in general and of Buchanan in particular to democratic theory. Contrary to the simplistic classical liberal juxtaposition of “coercion vs. consent,” there have been from Antiquity onward voluntary contractarian defenses of non-democratic government and even slavery – all little noticed by classical liberal scholars who prefer to think of democracy as just “government by the consent of the governed” and slavery as being inherently coercive. Historically, democratic theory had to go beyond that simplistic notion of democracy to develop a critique of consent-based non-democratic government, for example, the Hobbesian pactum subjectionis. That critique was based firstly on the distinction between contracts or constitutions of alienation (translatio) versus delegation (concessio). Then, the contracts of alienation were ruled out based on the theory of inalienable rights that descends from the reformation doctrine of inalienability of conscience down through the Enlightenment to modern times in the abolitionist and democratic movements. While he developed no theory of inalienability, the mature Buchanan explicitly allowed only a constitution of delegation, contrary to many modern classical liberals or libertarians who consider the choice between consent-based democratic or non-democratic governments (e.g., private cities or shareholder states) to be a pragmatic one. But Buchanan seems to not even realize that his at-most delegation dictum would also rule out the employer–employee or human rental contract which is a contract of alienation “within the scope of the employment.”
Prior to the first session I was asked about my view of rent seeking, mentioned in passing in the document of mine distributed earlier. I replied that my view had three…
Prior to the first session I was asked about my view of rent seeking, mentioned in passing in the document of mine distributed earlier. I replied that my view had three parts. First, I agreed that rent seeking, however defined, was ubiquitous. Second, I argued that rent seeking is not bad per se. Third, I argued that I found particularly disgraceful treatments of the allocation of resources to efforts to change the law as bad rent seeking. Both this person and Jim Buchanan (later in the conference) insisted that rent seeking was objectionable when it involved a transfer without a gain in efficiency, i.e. the creation of something productive. I responded that this view substituted the analyst’s definition of productive for that of the economic agent – who obviously believed that hiring a lawyer, etc. to help bring about a potential change in the law was a desirable, hence productive, use of his or her resources. I further insisted that this definition, especially when it was used in a blanket, indiscriminate way, functioned to privilege existing law and those benefiting from existing law and to deny people access to their government, and that it did so by manipulating the definition of rent seeking to give effect to selective antecedent normative premises hidden within the use of the term “productive” (in at least one discussion the term “artificial” was used). I pointed to this as a problem in the use of language. Further aspects of the terminology of rent seeking will be dealt with below.
One important discussion comes under Knight’s heading of “Social Control.” To appreciate his argument, one has to understand that Knight’s social theory is developed…
One important discussion comes under Knight’s heading of “Social Control.” To appreciate his argument, one has to understand that Knight’s social theory is developed within a tension between: (1) his knowledge that social control is both inevitable and necessary; and (2) his correlative desire for individual autonomy. One could add to that a hatred of social control, some of which is relevant. But what Knight dislikes is, first, selective elements of existing social control and, second, change of social control, e.g. change of the law by law, except for those changes of the law that remove the selective elements he dislikes; Knight is not opposed to all change of social control. In any event, the problem of social control is also for Knight (as it was for Vilfredo Pareto) the problems of social change and of the status of the status quo as well as of hierarchy.