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Fb2 The State (Collected Papers of Anthony de Jasay) ePub

by Anthony de Jasay

Category: Politics and Government
Subcategory: Political books
Author: Anthony de Jasay
ISBN: 0865971706
ISBN13: 978-0865971707
Language: English
Publisher: Liberty Fund (December 31, 2009)
Pages: 330
Fb2 eBook: 1726 kb
ePub eBook: 1962 kb
Digital formats: docx doc mobi rtf

Series: Collected Papers of Anthony de Jasay. I don't speak lightly when I say that Anthony de Jasay's "The State," deserves consideration alongside some of the great works of contemporary political thought.

Series: Collected Papers of Anthony de Jasay.

series The Collected Papers of Anthony de Jasay

series The Collected Papers of Anthony de Jasay. Can, Jasay wonders, this seemingly inexorable expansion of the state be stopped? Or is the rational next step a totalitarian enhancement of its power? Anthony de Jasay is an independent theorist living in France.

Anthony de Jasay (15 October 1925 – 23 January 2019) was a Hungarian writer, economist, and philosopher. He studied in Székesfehérvár and Budapest, and obtained a degree in agriculture. He then worked as a freelance journalist, but was forced to flee Hungary after the Communists nationalized his father's property. This, and the events in early 1980s Poland inspired de Jasay to author his first book, The State (1985).

Can, Jasay wonders, this seemingly inexorable expansion of the state be stopped? Or "is the rational next step a totalitarian enhancement of its power?" Anthony de Jasay is an independent theorist living in France

Can, Jasay wonders, this seemingly inexorable expansion of the state be stopped? Or "is the rational next step a totalitarian enhancement of its power?" Anthony de Jasay is an independent theorist living in France.

Anthony de Jasay, one of the most independent thinkers and influential libertarian political philosophers of. .The State is a brilliant analysis of modern political arrangements that views the state as acting in its own interest contrary to the interests of individuals and even of an entire society.

Anthony de Jasay, one of the most independent thinkers and influential libertarian political philosophers of our time, challenges the reigning paradigms justifying modern democratic government. The articles collected in Political Philosophy, Clearly delve deeply into the realm of political thought and philosophical criticism.

Anthony de Jasay was born at Aba, Hungary in 1925. While his initial interest and training were in economics, he has later turned to political philosophy, and his writings draw on both

Anthony de Jasay was born at Aba, Hungary in 1925. While his initial interest and training were in economics, he has later turned to political philosophy, and his writings draw on both. He is widely considered as one of the foremost liberal philosophers.

-Alan RyanThe State is an idiosyncratic and brilliant analysis of modern political arrangements that views the state as acting in its own interest contrary to the interests of individuals and even of an entire society. As Nobel laureate James Buchanan has observed, Jasay subjects the state to a solid, foundational analysis, grounded in an understanding of economic theory, informed by political philosophy and a deep sense of history.

Anthony de Jasay, a noted scholar and long-time friend of Liberty Fund, died January 23, 2019. He had been incapacitated by a stroke a few weeks earlier but tried to remain active until the end. I last heard from him on January 4, through his very brave wife Isabelle. Anthony de Jasay, a noted scholar and long-time friend of Liberty Fund, died January 23, 2019.

Anthony de Jasay says he is an independent scholar and philosopher. Jasay’s most recent work takes something of a new direction. In The State, he argued that the very notion of a contract enforcer hired because contracts are unenforceable is illogical. He uses words intentionally, so one assumes he endorses the ambiguity. He is independent, first, in the sense that he works for himself. Contractarians ignore the fact that the state, once created, will have interests of its own and that paramount among these interests is survival. In the case of the state, Jasay argues that survival means growth.

The State by Anthony de Jasay. Its central theme-how state and society interact to disappoint and render each other miserable-may concern a rather wide public among both governors and governed

Strikingly original. . . . De Jasay offers the most compelling account of what is wrong and dangerous about the state."

—Alan Ryan

The State is an idiosyncratic and brilliant analysis of modern political arrangements that views the state as acting in its own interest contrary to the interests of individuals and even of an entire society. As Nobel laureate James Buchanan has observed, Jasay subjects the state to a "solid, foundational analysis, grounded in an understanding of economic theory, informed by political philosophy and a deep sense of history." The results include a "devastating critique of the absurdities of modern welfare economics." Jasay traces the logical and historical progression of the state from a modest-sized protector of life and property through its development into what he believes to be an "agile seducer of democratic majorities, to the welfare-dispensing drudge that it is today." Can, Jasay wonders, this seemingly inexorable expansion of the state be stopped? Or, "Is the rational next step [for the state] a totalitarian enhancement of its power?"

Anthony de Jasay is an independent theorist living in France. Jasay “believes that philosophy should be mainly, if not exclusively, about clarifying conclusions that arise from the careless use of, or deliberate misuse of, language. There are echoes here of  . . . Wittgenstein's later philosophy.” His books, translated into a half dozen languages, include Justice and Its Surroundings and Social Contract, Free Ride.

[source/credit line] I. M. D. Little in Ordered Anarchy, 2007

Comments to eBook The State (Collected Papers of Anthony de Jasay)
Reighbyra
I don't speak lightly when I say that Anthony de Jasay's "The State," deserves consideration alongside some of the great works of contemporary political thought. That it is not already may possibly stem from its pessimistic conclusions on two points: (a) the government is not an instrument of the people but must necessarily be its own entity with its own concerns, and (b) any state that wants to stay in power must grow in order to do so. When last comes to last, Jasay is probably best seen as something of an anarcho-capitalist who believes that the best solution may be to leave us to govern ourselves (and offers interesting reasons, stemming from game theory, why we may be able to do this).

So, why see the state as its own entity with its own concerns rather than as an instrument of the people? Well, first, there is the basic reason enumerated by other public choice theorists that the state - as any organizatoin - is a collection of individuals who have their own interests, and while they may be "public servants," they are also their own people. Second, any state that is worth a salt (even a minimal government) must be concerned with having enough power to retain power, even if this is only a well-intentioned interest in staying around to maintain order. That, in itself, means that it has at least one (self-serving) concern that is outside of its housekeeping duties.

It is here that Jasay discusses the problems with social contract theory: the idea that government exists because people in a state of nature came together and collectively decided, in the interests of security, to cede at least some power to government. First, why would people do this? If they are the types of selfish sorts who make life "nasty, brutish and short," why would they muster enough altruistic sentiment to sign a contract giving up power for the common good? If they are the altruistic type who would give up personal power for the common good, then a contract would be unnecessary because good will would already abound. If they are distrustful of others abusing personal power and are signing a contract to prevent free riding, defection, etc, then WHY TRUST A GOVERNMENT TO HOLD A MONOPOLY ON POWER (if it can defect, free-ride, etc)? Moreover, a social contract is circular in that it is a contract made to ensure that contracts can be made safely.

Jasay then talks about why a minimal state simply can't survive at its present size (which is why he is not a minarchist). A minimal state is one that allows freedom of contract and interferes only when there are disputes over contracts and to ensure enforcement of contract law. But in order to have enough power to successfully do this, and to stay in power doing it, it needs more power than is likely to come from a minimal state. (This is not new; it was also written about in the latter part of Oakeshott's The Politics of Faith and the Politics of Scepticism). By way of example, the then-new United States found immediate faulty with its 'weak' government under the Articles of Confederation, and even when writing its 'minimal government' constitution, saw fit to include a clause essentially allowing the government to do anything above and beyond the constitution that IT judged to be 'necessary and proper.' Incidentally, this is also why Jasay writes against the belief that constitutions can be checks on power: only people can be checks on power, and when the people checking the power are members of the same organization to whom power is vested, well...

But what about democracy - the concept where government can only be government based on the consent of the governed? Jasay sees reasons why democracies (and any government that rests on consent) is sure to grow: they must buy votes by favoring some over others. In order to get votes and keep votes from one's competitors, one must please a majority of those who will vote by "serving" them (tarrifs, redistribution, actualizing their favorite programs, etc) and, since those cost money that the government does not itself generate, it must coerce money from other citizens. But this can't simply happen in one shot: it must keep happening because, as long as there are elections, there is competition to outdo who is trying to outdo you. People must be pleased and as old favors become habit, new favors must be promised. Etc.

Quite soon, we have a scheme where government has quite a bit of power, for as long as you have the power to give to some with the wealth from others, you have the power to pick winners and losers, generally rather arbitrarily by imposing a favorite view of fairness onto everyone. Some might object that in a democracy, the government simply adapts the policies of the majority and their notion of fairness and that may be true. But as Jasay writes, she who can decide who's view of fairness will win the day is essentially deciding which view of fairness she thinks is best (even if 'best' only means 'most advantageous to my situation').

One more thing must be mentioned: Jasay's compelling critique of utilitarian argumentation, which government must NECESSARILY use (except in the rare instance where taking sides leaves none worse off and at least some better off). The problem is that there is simply not "objective" way to compare interpersonal benefit. Will Jones be less worse off if we take his money than Smith, the recipient, will be better off? WE have no way of knowing because (a) we can't know all the consequences of that act, (b) we can't really know what they each would do with the money, and (c) we can't, in any reliable way, tell whether Smith's enjoyment of the money does or doesn't outweigh Jones's enjoyment of the money except with subjective intuition. Yes, we can argue about marginal utility, but Jasay tears that to smithereens. Long and short: any utilitarian justification for making some worse off to make others better off is a necessarily subjective intuition that imposes government's favored view onto everyone coercively.

I go on so long because I want to give you a flavor (albeit a vastly oversimplified one) of what Jasay's book argues. His influences are eclectic, drawing heavily on public choice economics, game theory, political theory, etc. And he is quite good at all of them. Even if one is tempted to disagree with some his conclusions, his analysis is very astute and absolutely well-reasoned. This book is one that anyone concerned with government and its relation to individuals simply should not ignore!
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