A brief follow-up on my too brief post about the great economist, Elinor Ostrom. In the wake of her writings smart, informed Libertarians have moved away from advocating strict property rights and have started to embrace an appreciation of of non-market, non-state solutions. If wise anarchists can join forces with wise Libertarians, it may be possible to develop ideological alternatives to rent-seeking bureaucrats and capitalists and their Conservative allies. For example, Sandy Ikeda writes,
"In those instances the nonstate, nonmarket institutions she studied were, when successful, conventions that the users of common-pool resources agreed to and used sometimes for centuries. They were made voluntarily and evolved over time, but they were not market outcomes, at least in the narrow sense, because no one “owned” the resource in question and it was not bought and sold. Ostrom added:
"The central question of this study is how a group of principals who are in an independent situation can organize and govern themselves to obtain continuing joint benefits when all face temptations to free-ride, shirk, or otherwise act opportunistically.""--Governing the Commons,
"Her research covered the harvesting of forests in thirteenth-century Switzerland and sixteenth-century Japan and irrigation institutions in various regions of fifteenth-century Spain. Although not every community Ostrom studied was successful in establishing such conventions, it is instructive how highly complex agreements, enforced by both local norms and effective monitoring, were able to overcome the free-rider problems that standard economic theory–and perhaps vulgar libertarianism–would predict are insurmountable without property rights.
Dealing with air pollution is of course a more difficult problem since it typically entails a much larger population and more diffuse sources and consequences. But it’s important to realize that a “libertarian solution” to air pollution may not necessarily be a “market solution.”