January, 2018

Political entrepreneurship, emergent dynamics, and constitutional politics

  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Alexander William Salter

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Constitutional political economy mostly distinguishes between rules and actions, with rules selected prior to actions within those rules. While we accept the coherence of this distinction, we pursue it within an open rather than closed scheme of analysis. Doing this entails recognition that societies rarely exhibit universal agreement about constitutional provisions. Recognizing the incomplete character of constitutional agreement points to the existence of margins of contestation. Along those margins, political entrepreneurship will be active in promoting support for alternative constitutional interpretations. Within open systems of creative and entrepreneurial action, constitutional reinterpretation is continually injected into society. Acquiescence in the presence of power does not imply agreement about its use. Rather, acquiescence means the constitutional contestation becomes an element of ordinary politics and not an activity that is prior to ordinary politics. It also means that emergent dynamics supplements comparative statics as a method of analysis.