Pirates are getting a bad rep. Every month we hear more news of the Somali pirates' depredations, most recently involving an attack on an American crew. To be sure, these pirates deserve our condemnation. They're thugs and the world would be better without them. But we shouldn't let our condemnation of modern pirates spill over, unchecked, onto their more colorful, and socially contributory, early 18th-century forefathers.Professor Leeson illuminates the structural characteristics of 18th century pirate regimes and the fascinating principles of self-governance embodied in their political philosophies, such as the "constitutions [they] established . . . [to govern] their roguish commonwealths," their embrace of "racial tolerance well before their legitimate counterparts," and their development of an early system of "social insurance . . . [enabling crews to compensate] maimed pirate[s]."
In these and many other ways, "[p]irates . . . implemented" essential tenants of liberty within system of self-governance "more than half a century before [James] Madison put pen to paper."
On a personal note, I strongly urge everyone to check out this page along with Professor Leeson's other work. He taught my capstone economics course when I was an undergrad, and his insights and views on economics and law were very thoughtful. I hope that you will find them interesting.
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