The State and the Networked Economy

By Grady, Mark F. | Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

The State and the Networked Economy


Grady, Mark F., Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy


I. INTRODUCTION

This Essay will examine how the networked economy may affect the cause of liberty. The traditional view, very evident in the novels 1984 (1) and Brave New World, (2) has been pessimistic about information technology's probable effect on liberty. My own view is that the new networks, spawned by the Internet and other information technology, are hopeful developments. I will defend this optimistic viewpoint by looking at the history and nature of the state, including the despotic state, and then examine how information technology will predictably alter the balance between liberty and despotism.

II. PRIOR THEORIES OF THE ORIGIN OF THE STATE

I will examine four provocative theories of the origin of the state and then develop a synthesis from them, hopefully adding something new in this last step. The four theories are the Hobbes-Buchanan contractarian theory, (3) Karl Wittfogel's hydraulic despotism theory, (4) Robert Carneiro's circumscription theory, (5) and Mancur Olson's stationary bandit theory. (6) These theories of the origin of the state do not all make claims about how a state whose origin is so conceived will respect human liberty but are at least suggestive of such claims. Only the Hobbes-Buchanan theory describes a constitution, but the other theories can be significantly improved if we add the potential for a constitution along lines Michael McGuire and I have previously suggested. (7)

A. The Hobbes-Buchanan Contractarian Theory

Thomas Hobbes famously began his analysis with a consideration of the state of nature. He assumed that before formal governments existed people were reasonably equal in endowments. (8) From this rough equality of mental and physical assets, each had an equal hope of acquiring the same ends, which were scarce. Hence, individuals fell into competition with each other, which resulted in the "war of every man against every man." (9) In such a state, opportunities for production, investment, learning, and exchange were limited, because each individual possessed "continual fear and danger of violent death." (10) In order to relieve themselves of eternal conflict, individuals have an incentive to organize themselves into a commonwealth, which is a hierarchy that "tie[s] them by fear of punishment to the performance of their covenants and observation of th[e] laws of nature...." (11) They institute this commonwealth by giving a monarch or an assembly the right to represent them. (12)

Two hallmarks of Hobbes's analysis are that people at least hypothetically agree to a constitution that (1) legitimizes private law and (2) does not otherwise limit the sovereign's appropriations from his (or its) subjects. In fact, Hobbes was fairly adamant that the constitution did not limit sovereign appropriations. His analysis constantly emphasized that the constitutional problem was the legitimacy of private law.

Because Hobbes thought that worthy private law rules could not arise in the state of nature, he had to posit a commonwealth, created by the hypothetical contract among subjects or citizens, as the foundation for these rules, which he analyzed in detail. Correspondingly, when it came to the natural limits that might exist for the sovereign's appropriations, Hobbes found few. For instance, he asserted that no subject had the right to defend another against any government imposition, just or unjust, though he did admit the right of any subject to defend at least his own person against violent force, whether wielded by the commonwealth or by another subject. (13) Nevertheless, despite Hobbes, the real constitutional problem is the legitimacy of the sovereign's appropriations, as most constitution framers have recognized.

Even so able an analyst as James Buchanan has followed Hobbes in stressing as a problem the constitutional legitimacy of private law rules. More explicitly than Hobbes, Buchanan has claimed that the problem of sovereign appropriation is inextricably linked to the legitimacy of private law rules. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The State and the Networked Economy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.