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Leeson - Pirate Democracy

Leeson - Pirate Democracy - The economics of Pirate...

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The economics of Pirate Democracy: Leeson Pirates created and operated their democracy within a sophisticated and more elaborate system of institutionally separated powers, which predated several 17 th and 18 th century government’s adoption of such institutions. Ex: the first sector of separated power didn’t appear until 1812 in Spain England didn’t get separation of power until glorious revolution in 1688 Although some systems of divided power predated that of pirates, none were as thoroughgoing as those of pirates. Ex: in Athens only a minority could vote (male citizens only) Pirates located authority with the community and not a handful of aristocrats or politically privileged elites. Pirate democracy implies a pirate society that required collective decision-making. The paradox of Power: To ensure collective decision making, each pirate ship required a leader because: o Times where snap decision making is necessary, no time for debate. o Need method of maintaining order, distributing victuals, payments and administering discipline. o A leader is needed to ensure cooperation and enhance a pirate’s ability to profit The paradox of power: the combination of the need for authority and the fact that the very introduction of such an authority generates strong incentives for him to abuse his power creates the “paradox of power” o b/c individuals are self interested, they require a government to govern them, by that same token b/c the leader is also human and self interested the governed need some way to ensure the leader doesn’t use his power to self serve himself.
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