December, 2016

The Protective State

A Grave Threat to Liberty
  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Find the paper at SSRN.

James Buchanan’s protective state emerges at the constitutional level and protects the core rights of citizens via internal security, contract enforcement, and defense against external threats. This paper focuses on the potential for the protective state to produce anti-liberty outcomes. I identify five specific channels through which the activities of the protective state may yield anti-liberty results. They include: (1) interpretation in an open-ended system, (2) institutional changes within constraints, (3) the centralization of state power, (4) the emergence of coercion-enabling human capital, and (5) the emergence of coercion-enabling physical capital. These channels are endogenous to the legitimate operations of the protective state and do not require any nefarious motivations by those involved.