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Olson. Dictatorship, Democracy and Development. APSR 87 no. 3 Sept. 1993: Starting point: no society can work satisfactorily if it does not have a peaceful order and usually other public goods as well At the same time, question: can a peaceful order emerge by voluntary agreement? Answer: complicated by the group size< important variable> =in small groups a generally peaceful order will emerge by voluntary agreement (as in tribes, early settlements of preliterate societies, or groups of like-minded people who share common beliefs, language and common understanding) =in large groups, not so. A large population, Review of the literature suggests that just as a small groups can usually engage in spontaneous collective action, very large groups have difficulties in achieving collective action and other collective goals through an agreement among the individuals in the society. 568/14 First Blessing of the Invisible Hand (as in Adam Smith who posited the invisible hand for economic transactions) Roving vs Stationary Bandits:
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Variety of stationary banditry in history
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Unformatted text preview: =autocrat: tends to impose far higher taxes and to maximize his surplus-he is faced with short time horizon, and it is in his interest to confiscate the property of his subjects, to abrogate contracts he has signed and generally to ignore the long-run economic consequences of his choices =not so in democracies or representative government: Long-time horizon, need to respect individual rights, makes a credible commitment to respect the law, and be aware of long-term consequences of his choices. -here Olson asks the question of how would gov’t by a rational self-interested autocrat compare with a democracy? =the answer is that democratic competition, even when it works badly, does not give the leader of the government the incentive that an autocrat has to extract the maximum attainable social surplus from the society to achieve his personal objectives. +the problem of how to move from autocracy to democracy is a tough one. And we will see in the course of the term....
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This note was uploaded on 12/06/2011 for the course POLI 211 taught by Professor Sabetti during the Spring '08 term at McGill.

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