James M. Buchanan and the Soul of Classical Political Economy

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) The Soul of Classical Political Economy curates ten previously unpublished works by James M. Buchanan. The editorial introductions to these are independently valuable as scholarly works; they shed light on the context in which the papers, essays and letters were written, and draw important connections across Buchanan’s different writings. In this review essay, I consider Buchanan on classical liberalism, Knut Wicksell and the role of the economist in light of these newly available writings. The book and review essay should prove of interest not only to historians of economics, but also to scholars and economists generally, as Buchanan’s views on the classical tradition provide important philosophical support for the entire neoliberal enterprise, particularly as it relates to public policy, public economics and public choice.

Abstract

Boettke and Marciano’s (2020) The Soul of Classical Political Economy curates ten previously unpublished works by James M. Buchanan. The editorial introductions to these are independently valuable as scholarly works; they shed light on the context in which the papers, essays and letters were written, and draw important connections across Buchanan’s different writings. In this review essay, I consider Buchanan on classical liberalism, Knut Wicksell and the role of the economist in light of these newly available writings. The book and review essay should prove of interest not only to historians of economics, but also to scholars and economists generally, as Buchanan’s views on the classical tradition provide important philosophical support for the entire neoliberal enterprise, particularly as it relates to public policy, public economics and public choice.

Peter J. Boettke and Alain Marciano (2020)

The Soul of Classical Political Economy: James M. Buchanan from the Archives

Mercatus Center, George Mason University

ISBN 978-1942951971

$16.95

 

James M. Buchanan was a prodigious scholar; he published nearly 30 books and more than 300 journal articles and book chapters. Yet, such lists go little way to capturing the impact Buchanan had on 20th-century economic thought. He is widely considered the father of the fields of public choice and constitutional political economy. In 1986, he received the Nobel Prize in Economics in recognition of his contributions to political decision-making and public economics. Indeed, that the field is now called ‘public economics’ can be attributed to Buchanan and his effort to push the boundaries of traditional public finance. Buchanan’s work ranged across topics, such as fiscal federalism, public debt, fiscal policy, marginal-cost pricing, public goods and externalities, with his contributions united by an underlying world view that prioritised individualism, consensus and laissez-faire – what he considered the ideals of Western civilisation (Buchanan, 2007). Given the depth and breadth of Buchanan’s writings, it is not surprising that they have inspired an extensive secondary literature (for example, Wagner, 2004; 2017; Backhaus and Wagner, 2005; Medema, 2005; 2011; Johnson, 2014; Colander and Freedman, 2018; Kuehn, forthcoming; Levy and Peart, 2020; Marciano, 2020a; 2020b; 2020c).

In addition to being an adept technical economist, Buchanan was also a social philosopher. It is this side of Buchanan that comes through most effectively in Peter J. Boettke and Alain Marciano’s (2020) The Soul of Classical Political Economy: James M. Buchanan from the Archives – the title a homage to Buchanan’s (2000) own ‘The soul of classical liberalism’. Boettke and Marciano curate ten previously unpublished works by Buchanan, selected from the more than 280 linear feet of archival materials that encompass the James M. Buchanan Papers at George Mason University. The editorial introductions to these are independently valuable as scholarly works; they shed much light on the context in which the papers, essays and letters were written, and draw important connections across Buchanan’s different writings. Some of the papers Boettke and Marciano chose to include are ostensibly technical – for example, Buchanan’s comments on Paul Samuelson’s solution to the problem of public goods provision (Buchanan, 2020a). Others, such as ‘Democracy: limited or unlimited’ (Buchanan, 2020c), are highly philosophical. Boettke and Marciano’s volume also contains 15 lectures on Virginia political economy given at George Mason University between 1985 and 2001. Many are by leading figures of public choice. All contribute to the historiography of the field.1

There is much to unpack in Boettke and Marciano’s collection, as is indicated by the diversity of topics taken up by different reviewers (Dekker, 2022; Jensen, 2021; Desmarais-Tremblay, forthcoming; Meadowcroft, forthcoming). Although Boettke and Marciano do not explicitly tip their hand on the choice of title, the importance for Buchanan of the intellectual tradition of classical liberalism and its concomitant political economy permeate the collection.2 This is of interest not only to historians of economics, but also to scholars and economists generally, as Buchanan’s views on the classical tradition provide important philosophical support for the entire neoliberal enterprise, particularly as it relates to public policy, public economics and public choice. As such, his thinking has often been contrasted with that of Richard Musgrave, the leading mainstream Keynesian public finance economist of the 20th century in the US (see, for example, Buchanan and Musgrave, 1999; Farrrant and Paganelli, 2005; Johnson, 2005; Desmarais-Tremblay, 2014). However, it was not Keynesianism that Buchanan identified as the primary competitor of classical liberalism; rather, classical liberalism shares ‘the ability to satisfy generalized human yearning for a supra-existent ideal … with its archrival, socialism, which also offers a comprehensive vision that transcends both science and self-interest’  (Buchanan, 2000: 113).3

As such, perhaps a more striking juxtaposition of ideas can be found with Gunnar Myrdal – Nobel prize-winning economist, public intellectual, Social Democratic Party politician and architect of the Swedish welfare state.4 Both Buchanan and Myrdal wrote extensively on the classical economists and Knut Wicksell.5 They had a deep appreciation for the political-economy tradition. They agreed that economists would benefit from recognising the limitations of formal theorising and by working from explicit value premises.6 They share a further feature, in that both sought an ‘inner consistency’ in ‘building [the] edifice’ of economic theory (Myrdal, 1975: vi; on Buchanan’s ‘remarkable unity in his research program’, see Boettke and Marciano, 2020: xix). Yet, Buchanan and Myrdal drew radically different conclusions about the role of the state and what economists should do. This review essay considers these themes in light of the newly available writings in Boettke and Marciano’s (2020) collection.

Reflecting on its ‘soul’, Buchanan (2000: 112) described classical liberalism as ‘a vision of an ideal, over and beyond science and self-interest’.7 More practically, as the animating philosophy autochthonic to classical political economy, classical liberalism is a political-intellectual tradition that recognises individual freedom as the paramount value.8 The message of classical liberalism is one of ‘tolerance, of mutual respect … [a] defense of individual liberty and freedom’ (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: 401). Markets are the central organising institution of the classical liberal society, and, indeed, the ‘political function of the market economy was widely appreciated’ by the classical economists (Buchanan, 2020c: 412, emphasis in original). The result is policy prescriptions for laissez-faire: ‘support for limited government, constitutional democracy, free trade, private property, rule of law, open franchise, and federalism’ (Buchanan, 2000: 112). Yet, despite its obvious harkening to the political economists and philosophers of the 18th and 19th centuries, the phrase ‘classical liberalism’ did not emerge until the interwar years (Johnson, 2020). Friedrich Hayek, Frank Knight and Henry Simons were some of the first to append ‘classical’ to ‘liberal’ in an effort to distinguish it from the many sorts of social liberalism that had emerged in the previous half-century – from the liberalism associated with New Deal policies, to the liberalism of the social welfare state. The use of ‘classical’ was meant to convey ‘a highly skeptical attitude toward government and toward persons placed in agency roles to act in the name of collective units’ (Buchanan, 2020c: 412).

As a discipline, however, economics had been moving in the opposite direction. The post-war period was dominated by experts who did not hesitate to proffer policy advice on how to maximise the social welfare. As the epitome of the mid-century technocrat, Myrdal (1955 [1929]: 112) had little patience for classical liberalism and its ‘“do nothing” policies’. He had two primary complaints. The first was economics’ false claim to agnostic science. All economic theory encompassed values, though these were often implicit and undeclared. Myrdal argued that it would be better for economists to make an open statement of their principles, which could then be evaluated in tandem with the theory or policy put forth. These principles ‘cannot be established arbitrarily; they must be relevant and significant for the society in which we live’ (Myrdal, 1955 [1929]: viii). Buchanan agreed, though choosing a set of principles that were obverse to those of Myrdal. Buchanan’s choice ‘to work within a philosophy … to look at the universe … from a specific vision or window of social order’ (Buchanan and Samuels, 1975: 21) provided the keystone of his social thought (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: xix). It was the unique perspective provided by the classical liberal window that allowed Buchanan to glimpse the potential of the public choice research programme.9

Also relevant here is Myrdal’s second complaint regarding the artificial compromise between production and distribution embedded in neoclassical theory. At least since the late classical economists, it was assumed – without evidence, Myrdal claimed – that there exists a trade-off between economic growth and economic equality, an inherent ‘antagonism between welfare and progress’ (Myrdal, 1975: 41).10 Such a view implicitly biased policymakers against government intervention, resulting in pervasive poverty and entrenched inequality. Unlike the classical economists, Myrdal had little faith that economic growth could ameliorate poverty and inequities; instead, ‘uninhibited market forces were themselves responsible for magnifying inequalities’ (Myrdal, quoted in Barber, 2008: 12). Classical liberalism, as ‘the conservative version of Adam Smith’s doctrine of harmony’, had proved insufficient, claimed Myrdal (1955 [1929]: 112). Instead, he turned to ‘economic “planning,” i.e. positive intervention’, to achieve his vision of social democracy (Myrdal, 1955 [1929]: 112).11 Through a combination of extensive government work, novel contributions to economic theory and the sheer force of his personality, Myrdal engineered and institutionalised Sweden’s distinctive focus on class equality and what he called ‘preventative social policy’.

One fundamental difference between classical liberalism and the modern liberalism of the Myrdal kind is that the latter implicitly accepts the premise that people are naturally unequal – unequal across their abilities to access economic resources, political power or social status (Buchanan, 2005).12 To rectify these inequalities, the modern liberal seeks to co-opt the power of the state. The classical liberal philosophy, on the other hand, assumes individuals are natural equals in the sense that they have equal rights and operate in a shared system of natural liberty. ‘Each person stands equal before the law of the land, and each person is given equal weight in the ultimate determination of how the law shall be changed’; without such guardrails, we would devolve into ‘a pure transfer society’ (Buchanan, 2020c: 408). The individualist view that emphasises equality of opportunity contrasts with the collectivist position, which ‘seeks to remove still more activities from the market process and collectivize them’ (Buchanan, 1971: 238). The collectivist considers the individualists’ ‘attempts to “equalize opportunities,” to be both indirect and inefficient means to secure distributive justice … the collectivist prefers direct equalization of consumption in terms of specific goods and services’ (Buchanan, 1971: 238). Thus, while the individualist generally supports confiscatory inheritance taxation, significant spending on education and targeted policies to alleviate poverty, the collectivist – in a list that reads straight out of Myrdal’s social policy prescriptions – will ‘tend to advocate a nationally collectivized health service, extensive programs for public housing, public recreation facilities, public libraries, publicly funded cultural programs, publicly operated as well as publicly financed education, public television broadcasting’ (Buchanan, 1971: 238).

With the rise of collectivist thinking, social planning and the social welfare state, Buchanan’s ‘old Chicago School’ economists – ‘old-fashioned liberals’ – found themselves ‘inadequately represented in the welter of current controversy’ (Simons, 1938: 1; see also Buchanan, 2020d). What economics needed, they argued, was ‘more emphasis on Adam Smith. People were losing their understanding’ of the philosophy of economics (Buchanan et al, 2006: 133).13 How did it come to be that Smith’s wisdom was lost and that ‘elementary errors in political theory were initially made and came to be almost universally accepted for a century?’ (Buchanan, 2020c: 413). Buchanan’s explanation lies in the confusion engendered by the rise of democratic movements in the mid-19th century. In this new political environment, the classical prescription for minimal government was re-conceived of as minimal governance by monarchs and autocrats; it was not presumed to extend to democratic systems. The ‘potential for governmental coercion’ was assumed to vanish once universal franchise was achieved – Buchanan (2020c: 413) named this the ‘electoral fallacy’. Not everyone fell victim, however. The extension of the franchise and shift to parliamentary governance spurred some economists to respond to the changing political landscape by developing models of voting designed to elucidate how societies could reach collective decisions about publicly provided goods and services. Early variations can be found in works by Emil Sax, Antonio de Viti de Marco, Knut Wicksell and Erik Lindahl.

An iconoclast with a penchant for troublemaking, Wicksell is widely considered the progenitor of both public choice economics and the Swedish welfare tradition (Johnson, 2011). At a time when Sweden was socially and religiously conservative, Wicksell campaigned for legalised contraception, workers’ rights, expanded access to higher education, the confiscation and redistribution of inheritances, the extension of the franchise, national health insurance, and reform of the tax system. As such, Wicksell had a ‘decisive influence on the evolution of political ideas’ in Sweden; Wicksell ‘played a large part in the remarkable reshaping of Swedish society’ during the inter- and post-war years (Lindahl, 1952: 267; see also Myrdal, 2005: 7, 15).14

One of Wicksell’s most important contributions to public economics was to break with the view that governmental expenditures were fundamentally unproductive. Instead, Wicksell sought to legitimise government-provided goods and services as evidence of ‘progress toward parliamentary and democratic forms of public life’ (Wicksell, 1967 [1896]: 87).15 Wicksell proposed that any plan to provide a public good or service should be paired with a corresponding tax scheme. Individuals would vote on successive tax–expenditure plans until one received unanimous consent: ‘It will always be theoretically possible, and approximately so in practice, to find a distribution of costs such that all parties regard the expenditure as beneficial and may therefore approve it unanimously’ (Wicksell, 1967 [1896]: 89–90). Although a strong supporter of universal franchise and parliamentary governance, Wicksell realised that majority rule might fail to ensure that everyone who paid taxes received corresponding benefits. Instead, only unanimity could guarantee that ‘justice would thereby have been done at least to the extent that each man received his money’s worth’ (Wicksell, 1967 [1896]: 75). Individuals or groups would have little incentive to misrepresent their preferences since, by doing so, they would risk that the service may not be provided. Rather than hamstringing collective decision-making, Wicksell (1967 [1896]: 73) believed that the unanimity rule would ‘transform into public activities proper many activities which today are left to private initiative’. For Myrdal, the social welfare state was the 20th-century manifestation of Wicksell’s vision.

A second element of Wicksell’s thought that would carry through to the next generation of Swedish economists was his insistence on the need to rectify inequalities prior to policy considerations: ‘justice in taxation tacitly presupposes justice in the existing distribution of property and income’ (Wicksell, 1967 [1896]: 108). To achieve a proper redistribution, Wicksell proposed the steeply progressive taxation of inheritances. Under his plan, capital raised through the taxation of inheritances would be transferred to the young of society, with the funds to be used to reinvest in the capital stock through homeownership, the starting of a business or the funding of higher education. While few of the next generation embraced Wicksell’s inheritance tax scheme, his formulating of a two-step process became a ‘fundamental assumption of the whole [Swedish] theory of public finance’ (Myrdal, 1955 [1929]: 176–7).

Buchanan’s (2020a) response to Samuelson’s solution to the public goods problem hinged on Wicksell’s unanimity scheme. Instead of linking ‘market failures with the intervention of the state’, Buchanan argued that Wicksell’s decentralised process could achieve a Pareto-optimal outcome just as effectively. Furthermore, Wicksell’s scheme had an advantage over Samuelson’s: it prevented burdening one or a handful of individuals with paying for the public good while others who benefitted paid nothing (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: 9). Indeed, to understand Buchanan on ‘public economics, public finance, and market failures and how to solve them … requires a discussion of Wicksell’ (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: 4).16 Of Wicksell’s most important contributions, Buchanan states that the first was to redirect focus from identifying optimal social policies to examining the rules under which tax–expenditure decisions should be made. The second was to demand that the central evaluative criterion of the market – voluntary consent – be applied to collective decision-making. Wicksell’s unanimity requirement thus represented ‘the only criterion to ensure that expenditure proposals are really worth making’ (Buchanan, 1967: 117). Indeed, ‘the Wicksellian contribution serves much the same function here as the economist’s assumption of perfect competition in the theory of private-goods demand and supply’ (Buchanan, 1968: 97).

In contrast to Myrdal, Buchanan rejected the distributional features of Wicksell’s work. The ‘contractarian exercise does not require rectification of prior injustices before application to the relevant forward-looking questions’ (Buchanan, 1991: 206–7). Although acknowledging that Wicksell was strongly opposed to the prevailing distribution of income and property, Buchanan argued that he would have objected to redistribution through the fiscal mechanism for fear that political groups would exploit the system to redistribute income and enrich themselves ‘under the guise of the “general welfare”’ (Buchanan, 1952: 601). This distinction between redistribution at the constitutional level versus the policy level is important. For Buchanan, redistributive decisions could be made as part of the constitutional process, but they should not be part of the fiscal process, where the rights of individuals would inevitably be violated without full unanimity (Buchanan and Samuels, 1975; Buchanan, 1987). Buchanan’s choice to avoid distributional questions has long posed difficulties for the public choice research programme. An exception is Buchanan (1971), from which much fruitful work could still emerge.17

‘Why did Buchanan mention and cite Wicksell more than the others?’, ask Boettke and Marciano (2020: 5). Buchanan’s choice to emphasise some features of Wicksell and downplay others is largely dismissed by Boettke and Marciano. In doing so, they provide a well-needed push to some public choice scholars to worry less about ‘what Wicksell really meant’ and/or the correctness of Buchanan’s interpretation, and to focus more on the ideas and ideals of Finanztheoretische Untersuchungen (Wicksell, 1896).18 ‘What really matters’, they argue, is how the ethical and social-philosophical content of Wicksell’s analysis provided a springboard for Buchanan to challenge the many normative presumptions embedded in mainstream public finance (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: 4). Boettke and Marciano (2020: 5–6) subsequently provide a novel reading of Buchanan’s work on fiscal federalism from within the Wicksellian ethical framework, bringing this early work into alignment with the central themes of Buchanan’s lifetime research programme.

In 1979, Buchanan published his What Should Economists Do? (Buchanan, 1979), an updated and extended version of his 1964 paper.19 Nearly 50 years earlier, Myrdal (1955 [1929]: 191) had devoted a chapter of The Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory to the ‘Role of economics in politics’; the title could easily have been, ‘The role of economists in politics’. Compared, they illustrate how views about how we should or should not do economics are inextricably linked to what we think economics is and what we see as the reason for economic theory.20 Such fundamental differences are irresolvable – the result of looking at the world through different windows. Yet, serious wrangling over differences remains a valuable enterprise that can elucidate how and why different paths emerge from the same starting point. Buchanan was quite willing to have such discussions, his version of ‘Knightian conversations’ – to poke, prod and learn from differences of opinion, and to wrestle with the meaning of such concepts as positive and normative (see, for example, Buchanan and Samuels, 1975; Buchanan and Musgrave, 1999).

Buchanan saw economics as a social science, distinct from the natural sciences. He believed that economists who attempt to deploy the natural science methodology fail to appreciate ‘distinguishing features of social science’, notably, the endogeneity between the subjects of study and the scientist (Buchanan, 2007: 151). Rather than the ‘science of choice’, there was more value to considering economics as the study of exchange.21 If one adopts this view, the job of the social-philosopher-economist becomes to observe and describe how socio-institutional structures might affect exchange interactions. The subsequent step is to consider the impact of changes in institutional structures on these exchange relationships; indeed, this was the thrust of the Calculus of Consent.22 None of this suggests that the job of the economist was to nudge people to better behaviour or to offer policy advice under the guise of expertise (Buchanan, 1979). Jacob Viner had it right, claimed Buchanan (2020d: 441): the real ‘task of economists was to expose fallacies in the arguments of politicians rather than to offer positive advice’.23

Boettke and Marciano (2020) take up the role of economists in the second section of The Soul of Classical Political Economy when introducing Buchanan’s notes on ‘The London theory of opportunity cost’ (Buchanan, 2020b). While Buchanan’s particular take on subjectivism runs throughout his catalogue of writings, from his doctoral thesis through his Nobel address, few have considered how subjectivism influenced his view of what economists should and should not do (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: 26–9). Subjectivism requires granting the premise that economists cannot know the valuation of harm or benefit from a policy; these can only be revealed by the individual(s) in question. Rather than a presumption of omniscience, economists would be better off presuming ignorance (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: 27). A subjectivist view removes economists from the role of policy adviser; instead, the role of the economist in discussions with politicians and government bureaucrats becomes defender of the values of freedom and liberalism (Marciano, 2020b).

It is perhaps no surprise that a collectivist Swedish technocrat would feel confident declaring that ‘his greater insight into causal connections has given him a “higher standpoint” from which others can benefit’ (Myrdal, 1955 [1929]: 177). A governmental advisor and politician in Sweden, Myrdal would spend another ten years at the United Nations, building the institutions of the post-war international economic order. In his view, economists should deploy their expert knowledge to the advantage of society; their expertise should be tempered with socio-institutional understanding and an ability to adjust to circumstance. ‘Economics ought to be practical’ (Myrdal, 1955 [1929]: 191); indeed, ‘a hundred years of theory have shown that it is not enough to declare solemnly that we must be strictly scientific, that we must confine ourselves to the examination of what is and refrain from propositions about what ought to be’ (Myrdal, 1955 [1929]: 129, emphasis in original). Although Myrdal’s desire for a practical economics was anathema to Buchanan, their views illustrate a fundamental tension in economics – and especially in public choice – between the desire to be scientific and objective, and the desire to effect change or to be practical. Are economists dentists, engineers, plumbers or armchair philosophers? Cleary, where Myrdal was willing to get his hands dirty, Buchanan favoured a much more circumscribed role for economists, one as the designers of constitutions and institutions.

The Soul of Classical Political Economy (Boettke and Marciano, 2020) ends with two essays by Buchanan on the financial crisis that engulfed the world from 2007 to 2009. Responding to critics who blamed economists for not predicting the recession – and who particularly blamed Chicago School economists for creating the conditions that led to the crisis – Buchanan distinguished between those who see markets as institutions and those who see markets as mechanisms. Failing to appreciate the necessity of governing rules for institutions led economists to a tautology: markets are always efficient and ‘no failure, no crisis can be anticipated’ (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: 432). A ‘mindset’ that effectively suggests ‘a defense of the unqualified statement that “markets work” … must share some of the blame for the failure reflected in the crises’ (Buchanan, 2020d: 439–40). The problem was a lack of imagination, declared Buchanan. In ignoring the importance of rules and institutional design, economists were left unable to discern that ‘the rules and institutions that emerge in quasi-anarchy of modern financial markets do not pass muster under any process test for efficiency’ (Buchanan, 2020e: 449); what failed were the rules designed by self-interested participants in the system. These were not rules established through consent at a constitutional level. Buchanan’s solution was to encourage economists to redirect their focus from evaluating outcomes to evaluating the process, a position he had long advocated. Economists should ‘look to the laws and institutions, the constitutional framework, within which exchange takes place’ (Buchanan, 2020d: 446). Indeed, it was ‘sobering … how little our discipline – “economics” or “political economy” – has advanced beyond Adam Smith. His critique of the “man of system” who concentrates on end states rather than the process through which these are generated remains as appropriate in 2010 as it did in 1776’ (Buchanan, 2020d: 446).

Gunnar Myrdal (1955 [1929]: 116) described Adam Smith as ‘an optimistic and confident humanitarian, who trusted in reason and harmony’; one could easily replace Adam Smith with James Buchanan in the aforementioned sentence and, by doing so, grasp the fundamental difference between the classical-liberal-individualist Buchanan and the modern-liberal-collectivist Myrdal. It is this distinction that provides the window by which to capture the essence of Peter J. Boettke and Alain Marciano’s (2020) The Soul of Classical Political Economy. There are competing visions of the world, of economics and of the role of the economist. It was much better to treat these as subjects for Knightian discourse than to disguise them with formalism and putative claims of scientific status. That Buchanan ‘viewed economics as political economy and political economy as a form of social philosophy’ permeated his work and provided a ‘remarkable unity in his research purpose’ (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: xix).

In addition to making substantive contributions to the discussion of economics as social philosophy, Boettke and Marciano’s (2020) volume also provides new insights into Buchanan’s biography. They include a discussion of the ‘darkest of the dark periods’ at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Buchanan’s effort to carve out a niche in academia where he could organise his scientific activities to his own liking (Boettke and Marciano, 2020: 69–81). Buchanan shared with Myrdal and their intellectual forefather, Knut Wicksell, a penchant for nonconformism. Myrdal, in particular, had much affection for economists who travelled their own paths. He believed that those with ‘outstanding talents stand above their own method; they cannot help making intelligent contributions, however impossible their questions’ (Myrdal, 1955 [1929]: 128). Indeed:

those students who have played a decisive role in the development of economic thinking – Adam Smith, Ricardo, List, Marx, John Stuart Mill, Marshall, Wicksell, Veblen, and Keynes, to mention only a few – have all been strikingly idiosyncratic, and it would be hard to believe that their personality traits did not set their mark on the direction and character of their contributions. (Myrdal, 1975: 58)

The same was certainly true for Buchanan – this comes through clearly in Boettke and Marciano’s (2020) collection, which contributes many new insights into Buchanan’s distinctive views of the nature and role of economics and of the economist. Scholars across the political spectrum will find the book a worthy investment.

Notes

1

They include Dennis C. Mueller, William Breit, Geoffrey Brennan, Charles J. Goetz and Mancur Olson. The nature, role and content of these lectures has been taken up in other reviews, for example, Desmarais-Tremblay (forthcoming). On the Virginia School, see also Levy and Peart (2020).

2

For example, Desmarais-Trembly (forthcoming) takes the ‘classical’ literally in his review, drawing out important legacies, from David Hume’s assumption that ‘every man ought to be supposed a knave’, to Adam Smith’s faith in the market to coordinate individuals not only for meat, beer and bread, but also for prosperity, harmony and freedom.

3
Myrdal (1955 [1929]: 108) identified the same essential conflict: ‘classical political economy develops the conservative brand of liberalism, socialism the revolutionary. The growth of political tension makes it impossible for the two to remain under the same roof.’ Indeed, Myrdal (1955 [1929]: 108) continues:

ideal types turn all too easily into political ideals. The principle of liberty has the same philosophical roots as economic theory as a whole. It thrives in the same environment of expanding capitalism. By ‘liberalism’ we shall mean in the following discussion this general, chameleon-like conception, including its vague, emotive associations with a certain way of life and its overtones which make for its high adaptable tough tradition.

4

Myrdal (1898–1987) was a generation older than Buchanan. He defended his PhD dissertation at Stockholm University in 1927; he was awarded the Nobel prize in economics in 1974. Buchanan (1919–2013) defended his dissertation at Chicago in 1948 (see Buchanan, 1948); he received the Nobel prize in 1986.

5

It was unfortunate that modern economics ‘most often remains aloof from these [philosophical and social] problems – much more so than a hundred and more years ago, when scholars like Adam Smith and Bentham and later John Stuart Mill, Sidgwick…were prominent both as professional philosophers and as economists’ (Myrdal, 1975: 57). Buchanan (2020d: 446) made a similar point, arguing that by focusing on end states instead of processes, modern economists have lost much of the message of Adam Smith.

6
‘Every scientist is also a moralist. It is important that his value judgments should not be suppressed but stated frankly’ (Myrdal, 1955 [1929]: 177). Moreover, Boettke and Marciano (2020: 4) state:

There is a serious philosophical point that runs throughout Buchanan’s work, and that is that any theory of public finance necessarily takes on board, either explicitly or implicitly, a political philosophy, because we are necessarily dealing with questions regarding not just the scale of government but the scope of government. So, Buchanan urged fellow economists to be more explicit in order to encourage an honest and productive dialogue, whereas leaving these issues implicit and unarticulated by economists resulted too often in confusion and unproductive dialogue.

7

Distinctly in the minority for much of the 20th century, the ‘minimal objective of like-minded classical liberals’ became a commitment to ‘saving the books’ and the ideas of the classical political economists (Buchanan, 2000: 111). Buchanan’s professor at Chicago, Simons (1938: 2), explained that classical liberalism was ‘largely pragmatic as regards the articulation of particularization of its values; but its ethics, if largely pragmatic, also gives special place to liberty (and nearly coordinate place to equality) as a “relatively relative absolute”’. He defined classical liberalism as ‘the intellectual tradition … of Adam Smith, Herrmann, Thünen, Mill, Menger, Brentano, Sidgwick, Marshall, Fetter, and Knight and of Locke, Hume, Bentham, Humboldt, Tocqueville, Burckhardt, Acton, Dicey, Barker and Hayek’ (Simons, 1938: 1). Buchanan lists ‘David Hume and Adam Smith, the British Classical Economists David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, the Austrian school economists Ludwig von Mises, Joseph Schumpeter, F.A. Hayek and Israel Kirzner and Chicago school tradition of Frank Knight and Henry Simons’ (quoted in Boettke, 2014: 113–14).

8

Histories of classical liberalism include Bell (2014), Burgin (2012), Ellerman (2015), Innset (2020) and Rosenblatt (2018). As classical liberalism relates to Buchanan’s research programme, see Johnson (2020). The extent of overlap between classical liberalism and neoliberalism remains open to discussion.

9
As Buchanan (2000: 113) wrote:

The work of Adam Smith, along with that of his philosophical predecessors and successors, created a comprehensive and coherent vision of an order of human interaction that seemed to be potentially approachable in reality, at least sufficiently so as to offer the animating principle or moving spirit for constructive institutional change.

10
As Myrdal (1975: 10) wrote:

From Mill onward, the distinction had been used by economists as a means to escape from the problems of distribution by concentrating on those of production, usually with only a general reservation in regard to distribution and then thinking about distribution as a simple matter of money incomes. This reflected a bias in economic theory which is still with us … implying the view that egalitarian reforms are necessarily costly in terms of economic growth, and very definitely not productive.

11

The apogee of much of Myrdal’s early social reform work was Kris I Befolkningsfrågan (Crisis in the Population Question) (Myrdal and Myrdal, 1935), co-authored with his wife Alva. They proposed to address Sweden’s declining population through the creation of a social welfare state particularly organised to support women and children. This included child allowances, unemployment insurance and pensions, all part of ‘well-planned egalitarian reforms … an era of social reform, systematically focused on the welfare of children and the family’ (Myrdal, 1975: 9). The book was highly controversial, not only for the social policies advocated, but also for its unapologetic eugenicist positions.

12

As Buchanan (1971: 228) wrote: ‘The basic difference may reduce to one involving the implicit assumptions made about personal equality and inequality.  The individualist and the collectivist select different attributes of equality to be dominant characteristics in their model visions of social interaction.’

13

As Buchanan (2000: 113) wrote: ‘Many professing classical liberals have seemed reluctant to acknowledge the existence of what I have called the soul of their position. They seem often to seek exclusive “scientific” cover for advocacy, supplementing it occasionally by reference to enlightened self-interest.’ Instead, economics is ‘like theology and for approximately the same reasons’; this explains why economics has ‘failed to arrive at generally accepted results’ (Myrdal, 1955 [1929]: xvi).

14

Wicksell established Sweden as an international leader in economic theorising. By the 1920s, the Stockholm School – including Gustav Cassel, Bertil Ohlin, Erik Lindahl, Erik Lundberg, Eli Hecksher and Myrdal – ‘was a little ahead of our Anglo-Saxon colleagues in presenting the new theory and working out the guidelines for policy’ thanks to ‘the existence of Wicksell’s theory’ (Myrdal, 1975: 5). As a Swede, Myrdal was familiar with substantially more of Wicksell’s writings than Buchanan. Of particular importance for the Swedish reformers were Wicksell’s public and social policy writings, which appeared in Ekonomisk Tidskrift.

15

Wicksell (1967 [1896]: 72) classified his approach as ‘nothing more than the benefit principle’ extended and expanded; he was ‘apply[ing] the modern concept of marginal utility and subjective value to public services and to individuals’ contributions for these services’. This approach was superior to those that relied on an ‘outdated political philosophy of absolutism’ or even a ‘philosophy of enlightened and benevolent despotism’ (Wicksell, 1967 [1896]: 84).

16
For example, see Buchanan’s (1987: 243) Nobel address:

On this of all occasions I should be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the influence of that great Swede, Knut Wicksell, on my own work, an influence without which I should not be making this presentation. Many of my contributions, and especially those in political economy and fiscal theory, might be described as varied reiterations, elaborations, and extensions of Wicksellian themes.

17

A good example can be found in Buchanan’s treatment of Wicksell on the role of economists. A narrow reading of Wicksell’s Finanztheoretische Untersuchungen led Buchanan to name Wicksell as someone who understood ‘social responsibility … [and] what economists had to do’ (Marciano, 2020b: 1620). Wicksell had gotten it right ‘almost alone among the earlier neo-classical liberal economists [who] recognized the necessity of relating economic policy to the political framework’ (Marciano, 2020b: 1620). Yet, while Wicksell recognised that policies were not implemented by ‘benevolent despots’, he had few qualms about recommending specific economic and political reforms – including the confiscation of inheritances, schemes for the mass redistribution of property, universal franchise, trade restrictions and exchange rate reforms (Johnson, 2011). In his later years, Wicksell served as an adviser for the Swedish government for the financing of the First World War and for post-war tax reform.

18

The ‘correct’ interpretation of Wicksell has been canvassed by several associated with the public choice research programme, though generally resulting in more heat than light (see, for example, Brooks, 2018). Buchanan read Wicksell’s public finance treatise and perhaps his Lectures on Political Economy. Myrdal was steeped in the Wicksellian neoclassical tradition as defined by the Stockholm School and well familiar with Wicksell’s Swedish social policy writings in addition to his economics. It was inevitable that they would reach different conclusions about what was important in Wicksell’s writings – what Levy and Peart (2020: xv) mean by ‘interpretation as a point of view’.

19

Marciano (2020b) provides a detailed history of the origin of these writings and their context. My reading of Buchanan on practical policy diverges from that of Marciano (2020b) in some significant ways (see Johnson, 2020). The difference is likely rooted in Buchanan’s own wrestling with the concept of practical economic policy.

20

Boettke and Candela (2018: 4) make much the same point: ‘one’s understanding of economic science … is never irrelevant to the economist’s role in public policy. Economic science has public policy implications.’

21

As Buchanan (1979: 36) wrote: ‘I am simply proposing … that economists concentrate attention on the institutions, the relationships, among individuals as they participate in voluntarily organized activity, in trade or exchange’ (see also Boettke and Marciano, 2020: 29).

22

Buchanan frequently bemoaned the ‘putative scientific status of economics as a discipline’ and the ‘scientific thrust’ of economics, and he disliked an economics that relied on falsifiable hypotheses and empirical testing (Buchanan, 1979: 35). Buchanan (2020d) takes up this theme in relation to the ‘New Chicago School’.

23

As Buchanan (2007: 155) wrote: ‘I resist, and resist strongly, any and all efforts to pull me toward positions of advising on this or that policy or cause.’  Paraphrasing Buchanan’s position, Boettke and Marciano (2020: 27) state that ‘economics cannot be a “predictive science.” It should be viewed as moral philosophy.’

Funding

No funding was granted for this project.

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.

References

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    • Search Google Scholar
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    • Search Google Scholar
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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Desmarais-Tremblay, M. (forthcoming) Review: the soul of classical political economy. James M. Buchanan from the archives, History of Political Economy, 54.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ellerman, D. (2015) Does classical liberalism imply democracy?, Ethics and Global Politics, 8(1): 121. doi: 10.3402/egp.v8.29310

  • Farrant, A. and Paganelli, M.P. (2005) Are two knaves better than one? Hume, Buchanan, and Musgrave on economics and government, History of Political Economy, 37(S): 7190. doi: 10.1215/00182702-37-Suppl_1-71

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  • Jensen, J. (2021) The soul of classical political economy: James M. Buchanan from the archives, European Journal for the History of Economic Thought, 28(6): 10578. doi: 10.1080/09672567.2021.1997435

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnson, M. (2005) Wicksell’s unanimity rule: Buchanan’s dominance considered, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 64(4): 104971. doi: 10.1111/j.1536-7150.2005.00425.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnson, M. (2011) Wicksell and the Scandinavian and public choice traditions, International Journal of Social Economics, 38(7): 58494. doi: 10.1108/03068291111139221

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnson, M. (2014) James M. Buchanan, Chicago, and post war public finance, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 36(4): 47997. doi: 10.1017/S1053837214000571

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnson, M. (2020) Where economics went wrong: a review essay, Journal of Economic Literature, 58(3): 74976. doi: 10.1257/jel.20191583

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kuehn, D. (forthcoming) James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and the ‘radically irresponsible’ one person, one vote decisions, Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Levy, D. and Peart, S.J. (2020) Toward an Economics of Natural Equals. A Documentary History of the Early Virginia School, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lindahl, E. (1952) Knut Wicksell 1851–1926, in J. Schumpeter (ed) Stora Nationalekonomer, Stockholm: Natur Och Kultur, pp 267309.

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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marciano, A. (2020b) Buchanan, popular myths, and the social responsibility of economists, Southern Economic Journal, 86(4): 161329. doi: 10.1002/soej.12429

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marciano, A. (2020c) How Buchanan’s concern for the South shaped his first academic works, Public Choice, 183: 24771. doi: 10.1007/s11127-020-00800-x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meadowcroft, J. (forthcoming) The soul of classical political economy: James M. Buchanan from the archives, in P.J. Boettke and A. Marciano (eds) Public Choice. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Medema, S.G. (2005) Marginalizing government: from la Scienza delle Finanze to Wicksell, History of Political Economy, 37(1): 125.

  • Medema, S.G. (2011) Public choice and the notion of creative communities, History of Political Economy, 43(1): 22546. doi: 10.1215/00182702-2010-049

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Myrdal, A. and Myrdal, G. (1935) Kris I Befolkningsfrågan [Crisis in the Population Question], Stockholm: Bonniers.

  • Myrdal, G. (1955 [1929]) The Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

  • Myrdal, G. (1975) Against the Stream: Critical Essays on Economics, New York, NY: Vintage Books.

  • Myrdal, G. (2005) The Essential Gunnar Myrdal, New York, NY: The New Press.

  • Rosenblatt, H. (2018) The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simons, H.C. (1938) Personal Income Taxation: The Definition of Income as a Problem of Fiscal Policy, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wagner, R. (2004) Public choice as an academic enterprise: Charlottesville, Blacksburg, and Fairfax retrospectively viewed, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 63: 5574. doi: 10.1111/j.1536-7150.2004.00274.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wagner, R. (2017) James M. Buchanan and Liberal Political Economy: A Rational Reconstruction, New York, NY: Lexington Books.

  • Wicksell, K. (1896) Finanztheoretische Untersuchungen, Jena: Gustav Fisher.

  • Wicksell, K. (1967 [1896]) A new principle of just taxation, in R. Musgrave and A. Peacock (eds) Classics in the Theory of Public Finance, New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, pp 72118.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Backhaus, J. and Wagner, R. (2005) From continental public finance to public choice: mapping continuity, History of Political Economy, 37(S): 31432. doi: 10.1215/00182702-37-Suppl_1-314

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barber, W. (2008) Gunnar Myrdal. An Intellectual Biography, New York, NY: Macmillan.

  • Bell, D. (2014) What is liberalism?, Political Theory, 42(6): 682715. doi: 10.1177/0090591714535103

  • Boettke, P.J. (2014) What should classical liberal political economists do?, Constitutional Political Economy, 25: 11024. doi: 10.1007/s10602-014-9155-1

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boettke, P.J. and Candela, R. (2018) James Buchanan and the properly trained economist, in R.E. Wagner (ed) James M. Buchanan: A Theorist of Political Economy and Social Philosophy, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 6583.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boettke, P.J. and Marciano, A. (2020) The Soul of Classical Political Economy: James M. Buchanan from the Archives, Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center, George Mason University.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brooks, M. (2018) Buchanan’s account of the serendipitous discovery of Wicksell, The Independent Review, 22(4): 55168.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (1948) Fiscal Equity in A Federal State Dissertation, USA: University of Chicago.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (1952) Wicksell on fiscal reform: comment, American Economic Review, 42(4): 599602.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (1967) Public Finance in Democratic Process, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (1968) The Demand and Supply of Public Goods, Chicago, IL: Rand McNally.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (1971) Equality as a fact and norm, Ethics, 81(3): 22840. doi: 10.1086/291812

  • Buchanan, J.M. (1979) What Should Economists Do?, Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (1987) The constitution of economic policy, American Economic Review, 77(3): 24350.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (1991) Economics in the Post-socialist century, Economic Journal, 101(404): 1521. doi: 10.2307/2233831

  • Buchanan, J.M. (2000) The soul of classical liberalism, The Independent Review, 5(1): 11119.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (2005) Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative: A Normative Vision of Classical Liberalism, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (2007) Economics from the Outside, College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.

  • Buchanan, J.M. (2020a) A note on the pure theory of public expenditure, in P.J. Boettke and A. Marciano (eds) The Soul of Classical Political Economy: James M. Buchanan from the Archives, Fairfax, VA: The Mercatus Center, George Mason University, pp 1722.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buchanan, J.M. (2020b) The London theory of opportunity cost, in P.J. Boettke and A. Marciano (eds) The Soul of Classical Political Economy: James M. Buchanan from the Archives, Fairfax, VA: The Mercatus Center, George Mason University, pp 3344.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buchanan, J.M. (2020c) Democracy: limited or unlimited, in P.J. Boettke and A. Marciano (eds) The Soul of Classical Political Economy: James M. Buchanan from the Archives, Fairfax, VA: The Mercatus Center, George Mason University, pp 40516.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buchanan, J.M. (2020d) Chicago School thinking: old and new, in P.J. Boettke and A. Marciano (eds) The Soul of Classical Political Economy: James M. Buchanan from the Archives, Fairfax, VA: The Mercatus Center, George Mason University, pp 43948.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buchanan, J.M. (2020e) Ideology or error: economists and the Great Recession, in P.J. Boettke and A. Marciano (eds) The Soul of Classical Political Economy: James M. Buchanan from the Archives, Fairfax, VA: The Mercatus Center, George Mason University, pp 44956.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buchanan, J.M. and Musgrave, R.A. (1999) Public Finance and Public Choice: Two Contrasting Visions of the State, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buchanan, J.M. and Samuels, W.J. (1975) On some fundamental issues in political economy: an exchange of correspondence, Journal of Economic Issues, 9(1): 1538. doi: 10.1080/00213624.1975.11503251

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Buchanan, J.M., Wakatabe, M. and Yoon, Y.J. (2006) Adam Smith, James Buchanan, and classical liberalism: an interview with James M. Buchanan, Japanese Society for the History of Economic Thought, 48(1): 12438.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burgin, A. (2012) The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Great Depression, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Colander, D. and Freedman, C. (2018) Where Economics Went Wrong: Chicago’s Abandonment of Classical Liberalism, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dekker, E. (2022) James Buchanan and the soul of classical political economy, episode 25, Ceteris Paribus Podcast, 15 March, https://ceterisneverparibus.net/james-buchanan-and-the-soul-of-classical-political-economy/. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Desmarais-Tremblay, M. (2014) Normative and positive theories of public finance: contrasting Musgrave and Buchanan, Journal of Economic Methodology, 21(3): 27389. doi: 10.1080/1350178X.2014.939690

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Desmarais-Tremblay, M. (forthcoming) Review: the soul of classical political economy. James M. Buchanan from the archives, History of Political Economy, 54.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ellerman, D. (2015) Does classical liberalism imply democracy?, Ethics and Global Politics, 8(1): 121. doi: 10.3402/egp.v8.29310

  • Farrant, A. and Paganelli, M.P. (2005) Are two knaves better than one? Hume, Buchanan, and Musgrave on economics and government, History of Political Economy, 37(S): 7190. doi: 10.1215/00182702-37-Suppl_1-71

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Innset, O. (2020) Reinventing Liberalism: The Politics, Philosophy and Economics of Early Neoliberalism (1920–1947), New York, NY: Springer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jensen, J. (2021) The soul of classical political economy: James M. Buchanan from the archives, European Journal for the History of Economic Thought, 28(6): 10578. doi: 10.1080/09672567.2021.1997435

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnson, M. (2005) Wicksell’s unanimity rule: Buchanan’s dominance considered, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 64(4): 104971. doi: 10.1111/j.1536-7150.2005.00425.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnson, M. (2011) Wicksell and the Scandinavian and public choice traditions, International Journal of Social Economics, 38(7): 58494. doi: 10.1108/03068291111139221

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnson, M. (2014) James M. Buchanan, Chicago, and post war public finance, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 36(4): 47997. doi: 10.1017/S1053837214000571

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Johnson, M. (2020) Where economics went wrong: a review essay, Journal of Economic Literature, 58(3): 74976. doi: 10.1257/jel.20191583

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kuehn, D. (forthcoming) James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and the ‘radically irresponsible’ one person, one vote decisions, Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Levy, D. and Peart, S.J. (2020) Toward an Economics of Natural Equals. A Documentary History of the Early Virginia School, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lindahl, E. (1952) Knut Wicksell 1851–1926, in J. Schumpeter (ed) Stora Nationalekonomer, Stockholm: Natur Och Kultur, pp 267309.

  • Marciano, A. (2020a) How Wicksell became important for Buchanan: a historical account of a (relatively) slow epiphany, Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, 25(2): 181203.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marciano, A. (2020b) Buchanan, popular myths, and the social responsibility of economists, Southern Economic Journal, 86(4): 161329. doi: 10.1002/soej.12429

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marciano, A. (2020c) How Buchanan’s concern for the South shaped his first academic works, Public Choice, 183: 24771. doi: 10.1007/s11127-020-00800-x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meadowcroft, J. (forthcoming) The soul of classical political economy: James M. Buchanan from the archives, in P.J. Boettke and A. Marciano (eds) Public Choice. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Medema, S.G. (2005) Marginalizing government: from la Scienza delle Finanze to Wicksell, History of Political Economy, 37(1): 125.

  • Medema, S.G. (2011) Public choice and the notion of creative communities, History of Political Economy, 43(1): 22546. doi: 10.1215/00182702-2010-049

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Myrdal, A. and Myrdal, G. (1935) Kris I Befolkningsfrågan [Crisis in the Population Question], Stockholm: Bonniers.

  • Myrdal, G. (1955 [1929]) The Political Element in the Development of Economic Theory, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

  • Myrdal, G. (1975) Against the Stream: Critical Essays on Economics, New York, NY: Vintage Books.

  • Myrdal, G. (2005) The Essential Gunnar Myrdal, New York, NY: The New Press.

  • Rosenblatt, H. (2018) The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simons, H.C. (1938) Personal Income Taxation: The Definition of Income as a Problem of Fiscal Policy, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wagner, R. (2004) Public choice as an academic enterprise: Charlottesville, Blacksburg, and Fairfax retrospectively viewed, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 63: 5574. doi: 10.1111/j.1536-7150.2004.00274.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wagner, R. (2017) James M. Buchanan and Liberal Political Economy: A Rational Reconstruction, New York, NY: Lexington Books.

  • Wicksell, K. (1896) Finanztheoretische Untersuchungen, Jena: Gustav Fisher.

  • Wicksell, K. (1967 [1896]) A new principle of just taxation, in R. Musgrave and A. Peacock (eds) Classics in the Theory of Public Finance, New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, pp 72118.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 1 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, , USA

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