Ripped from the Headlines

12 October 2009 at 12:13 pm 1 comment

| Dick Langlois |

In my European Economic History class this morning, I was talking about the medieval open-field system. As I always do, I made Ostrom’s point that the medieval open fields were not an example of the tragedy of the commons and were not over grazed. And, in talking about Carl Dahlman’s “hold-up” theory of scattering in the open fields, I got to work in Williamson. I told my students: I bet you didn’t expect that a lecture in medieval economic history would be ripped from the headlines.

So I add my congratulations to Olly and Elinor. I don’t know Olly as well as Peter does, but I have known him since the early 80s, when he participated in the conferences that led to my 1986 book, in which he has a chapter. I have met Elinor a couple of times, most recently at a small gathering at the Max Planck Institute in Jena.

Entry filed under: - Langlois -, New Institutional Economics, People.

It’s Williamson, at Last! Williamsoniana

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Kevin Carson  |  14 October 2009 at 10:56 pm

    I’ve been happy to learn of this woman. She seems to be challenging the unfortunate tendency to conflate the individual/common and private/state distinctions.

    In fact common land has been a perfectly legitimate and almost universal human institution since the rise of the neolithic village: not only the European open-field system, but the Russian mir, the jubilee system in Israel under the Judges, what Marx called the “Asiatic mode,” etc. Until a few centuries ago, the village commune persisted in most areas with a parasitic apparatus of state bureaucrats and feudal landlords superimposed on it. And historically most attempts to “privatize” the common land have in fact been expropriations by privileged landed classes (damn near all of Livy’s account of the Republic, the Enclosures, what the Brits did to communal village property in India, etc.).

    I’m too lazy to look it up, but libertarian writer Roderick Long wrote an excellent defense of public property as a legitimate institution in stateless free market societies.

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