Thursday, July 16, 2015

#tbt Robert Hale 1923 Coercion and Distribution in a Supposedly Non-Coercive State

Okay, so admittedly this sort of strays from the realm of "economics" proper, but I think economists would do well to read it. In 1923, lawyer and economist (it was once possible to be both) Robert Hale argued that, despite platitudes to the contrary, the institution of property ownership itself is a coercive system.

Hale argues that the institution of private property is not so much about one's freedom to use particular objects, but rather one's ability to exclude their use by others with the backing of the violence of the state. Throughout the paper, Hale goes through several different iterations of potential conflicts of ownership and use to demonstrate precisely how coercive the supposedly non-coercive institution of capitalism is.

Download the paper here