Normally, I can’t be motivated to read economics—no offense, economists, but I think the economics part of my brain got left behind on one of my many moves around the country, and it was locked in to one particular latitude and longitude anyway—but maybe adding a little swashbuckling and really bad puns in the title would help. Hilzoy has found some interesting examples, anyway. Here’s the abstract to one:
This paper investigates the internal governance institutions of violent criminal enterprise by examining the law, economics, and organization of pirates. To effectively
organize their banditry, pirates required mechanisms to prevent internal predation,
minimize crew conflict, and maximize piratical profit. I argue that pirates devised two
institutions for this purpose. First, I analyze the system of piratical checks and balances that crews used to constrain captain predation. Second, I examine how pirates
used democratic constitutions to minimize conflict and create piratical law and order.
Remarkably, pirates adopted both of these institutions before the United States or
England. Pirate governance created sufficient order and cooperation to make pirates
one of the most sophisticated and successful criminal organizations in history.
Maybe I should read that more carefully. If a group as anarchic as pirates could find a way to stably organize, maybe there are some hints for us atheists.
No, gang, boarding churches and looting them of their wealth probably isn’t a viable strategy to give us a unifying profit motive. We’re going to have to think about something more abstract. Although I do confess that a viking lifestyle does have some appeal…