On July 17, Professor Michael Munger of Duke University hosted a forum at the Cato Institute about his new book, Choosing in Groups: Analytical Politics Revisited.
By distinguishing an individual and his/her role in a society or group, the book provides an analysis of the sociology and psychology behind the foundations of our political institutions.
“Politics really comes naturally to groups of human beings,” asserted Munger, referencing his studies on (James) Buchanan. “We are natural rule followers and cooperators,” he added. However, “politics means a group of people who discuss, argue, follow the rules, and then make a decision which we are bound to accept the outcome of because we agreed with the rule (by living in the state and/or country).”
The economics professor brought up the question and the thesis established by the Swiss philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, “How can a man be both free and yet bound by wills not his own?” This raises questions about the doctrine of “real federalism” and diminishing the decision making power, not just of the states, but of the local government.
“We need ACTUAL consent whenever we can get it,” the researcher commented, “We need a strong enforcement of economic rights such as property, protection from regulatory takings, etc. The use of ‘Choosing in Groups’ is essential, but it should be humble and restricted to situations where individual choice is ineffective.”