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Pirates of the Caribbean Seastead

April 12, 2009

Malicious Somali pirates are all over the news nowadays, but Peter Leeson playfully warns in an NPR op-ed that we ought not to overlook the innovations in governance the original pirates of the Caribbean created for themselves. Unburdened by the dead hand of Europe’s past, and motivated by contracts based on cooperation to mutual advantage, the pirates overcame the stale political conventions of their era.  Leeson writes: 

Historical pirates were harbingers of some of contemporary civilization’s most cherished values, such as liberty, democracy and social safety. At a time when the legitimate world’s favored system of government was unconstrained monarchy, Caribbean pirates were practicing constitutional democracy. Before setting sail each would-be pirate crew drew up and agreed to a set of written rules that governed them. These rules regulated gambling, smoking, drinking, the adjudication of conflicts and, in some cases, even prohibited harassing members of the fairer sex.

Leeson’s new book, The Invisible Hook: the Hidden Economics of Pirates, is due out on April 21st.

One Comment
  1. Paula Zipkis permalink
    April 15, 2009 8:16 pm

    ARRRR! Kill them all! 🙂

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