Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Politics/Economics versus Coercion/Cooperation

Equating economics with free exchange and politics with compulsion is not quite accurate, though it comes close. Economics is the business of the household or individual. Politics is the business of the city (polis) or the collective. Economic activity can include coercion, deception and unfair manipulation unless some mechanism constrains it. 
Perhaps we could create such constraints without entering the area of politics. Would politics cease to exist? If we eliminate all collectively owned property, what remains for politics to accomplish? Well, office politics will remain, politics within organizations. And perhaps we inevitably must own certain resources (the ocean, perhaps?) in common. Coordination problems, like driving on the right, qualify as political problems, though they may not need coercion. Large scale assurance contracts provide another example of non-coercive politics.
So I disagree with the implication that seeking economic power always creates a benefit and seeking political power always create harm (though perhaps this is a good short-hand). Legitimate power, whether economic or political, rests on the voluntary interaction among the participants within effective constraints that prohibit clear harm.
This is my reply to . 

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