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The Invisible Hook

In a discussion about a computer game, someone mentioned a book about 18th century piracy: The Invisible Hook by Peter T. Leeson. Click to look inside and the first words you will read are:

I’m not a historian. Nor am I a pirate. I’m an economist with a long-standing interest in privately created law and order who happened to wonder one day how pirates cooperated since they had no government.

Sold!

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13 comments to The Invisible Hook

  • Paul Marks

    Sounds good – but there is the “non aggression principle” thing, I do not think pirates would really support that.

  • It’s not that I am expecting pirates to be libertarian. It’s more that it is unusual to find a history book where the author understands markets and economics and will apply that thinking to his research.

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so Rob.

  • Runcie Balspune

    an economy based on stealing stuff from other people doesn’t sound very libertarian to me, nevertheless I like books in this theme, similar to freakonomics?

  • llamas

    I read it. It’s pretty good. Enough historical data to support his case, plenty of history, plenty of economics at a level I can grasp. Not dissimilar to Freakonomics, he does address some of the peculiarities of pirate economics in non-obvious ways.

    He does also go quite deeply into the reasons why the economics and organization of piratical endeavours are different from normal life, and why it is incorrect and dangerous to hold up ‘the pirate way’ as an analogy for libertarian principles.

    8 out of 10. Matey.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Tedd

    Steven Levitt has written and spoken quite a bit about the present-day drug trade and how many of its practices mirror practices in the legal economy. The use of force has a cost even among pirates and drug dealers, so I think there are useful things to be learned about economics and human nature by looking at how such people behave when they choose to avoid it.

  • llamas

    “I don’t like violence, Tom. I’m a businessman. Blood is a big expense.”

    llater,

    llamas

  • Paul Marks

    I am not a fan of “Freakonecomics” it is from the same stable as “Nudge” and “Thinking Fast and Slow” – the authors all boost each other.

    The message is (more openly with “Nudge” and “Thinking Fast and Slow”) “people are irational and stupid (apart from me and you – dear reader) therefore we, the noble educated elite, should use the state to control people – for their own good”.

  • Laird

    I agree with you, Paul, about “Freakonomics”; it’s vastly overrated as well as overhyped. (John R. Lott wrote a deconstruction of it called “Freedomnomics” which is pretty good.) But on the evidence I see around me I would have to concur that people are “irrational and stupid”.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Laird – Freedomnomics (which one will not find in British bookstores – but then one will not find any free market books in British bookstores) is vastly better than Freakonomics.

    People are often irrational and stupid – but if one wishes them to grow intellectually and morally one should not cripple them with statism (Paul spares you the Gladstone quotes at this point).

    And the people in charge of the state are “irrational and stupid” also (just vastly more powerful). When the authors of Freakonomics say “we are all Homer Simpson sometimes” that is actually true – but they do not mean it to apply to themselves (the rulers). They are really winking and saying “apart from you and me”.

    Scumbags – utter scumbags.

  • Laird

    Thank you for sparing me the Gladstone quotes!

  • Paul Marks

    If you are not good – I will give you a three hour speech by Gladstone.

    And lock the door so you can not escape.

  • I created a monster. Put the tea over there, Paul!