In recent decades, Homer's millennia old story of Ulysses and the Sirens has become a popular and frequently used metaphor for illustrating the importance of institutions…
In recent decades, Homer's millennia old story of Ulysses and the Sirens has become a popular and frequently used metaphor for illustrating the importance of institutions, not least constitutional ones (cf., e.g., Elster, 1985; Finn, 1991, 3ff; Elster, 2000; Zakaria, 2003, pp. 7 and 250). In one retelling the story goes like this:The Sirens were sea-nymphs who had the power of charming by their song all who heard them, so that the unhappy mariners were irresistibly impelled to cast themselves into the sea to their destruction. Circe directed Ulysses to fill the ears of his seamen with wax, so that they should not hear the strain; and to cause himself to be bound to the mast, and his people to be strictly enjoined, whatever he might say or do, by no means to release him till they should have passed the Sirens’ island.Ulysses obeyed these directions. He filled the ears of his people with wax, and suffered them to bind him with cords firmly to the mast. As they approached the Sirens’ island, the sea was calm, and over the waters came the notes of music so ravishing and attractive that Ulysses struggled to get loose, and by cries and signs to his people begged to be released; but they, obedient to his previous orders, sprang forward and bound him still faster. They held on their course, and the music grew fainter till it ceased to be heard, when with joy Ulysses gave his companions the signal to unseal their ears, and they relieved him from his bonds.1
In almost all aspects of social life government intervention seems much more pervasive and intrusive today than ever before – at least in many of the Western countries…
In almost all aspects of social life government intervention seems much more pervasive and intrusive today than ever before – at least in many of the Western countries. Governments seem year by year to consume still more resources and to regulate the details of the actions and interactions of their citizens still further.
Advances in Austrian Economics maintains a strict policy of double-blind refereeing. The current volume, however, contains contributions unusual for this series, such as underground classics previously available only as samizdat manuscripts and an article appearing earlier in a refereed scholarly journal. It was therefore decided that not all contributions would be subjected to the normal refereeing process.
This volume of Advances in Austrian Economics brings together a number of studies, but split along two fields of concentrations. The primary, which makes up the vast majority of the pages of the volume, is dedicated to an examination and re-appreciation of the insight of the Austrian School of Economics usually referred to as the theory of interventionism and closely associated with the research of the Austrian School giants Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek (e.g. Mises  1996  1998; Hayek,  1976). Together they formulated and applied an innovative theory of how government intervention may come to have a dynamic character, where intervention in one area will tend to generate still more and still farther-reaching interventions. The second is a small section with a debate between on one hand, Walter Block and William Barnett and on the other, Gordon Tullock, which is part of a long on-going debate on Austrian business cycle theory, which initially began elsewhere (Tullock, 1987, 1989; Salerno, 1989; Wagner, 2001; Block, 2001).