Property as a Guarantor of Liberty,
by James M. Buchanan (1993)
Defences for regimes of private property ownership are normally based on arguments of economic efficiency. In Property as a Guarantor of Liberty a different approach is taken, one that grounds the defence of private property ownership on the protection it affords to individual liberty. Several interesting implications emerge from the analysis, including an explanation of the desire by individuals for ownership of consumer durable goods. It follows from this analysis that constitutional limits must be in place, prior to any exercise of democratic government, to constrain overt political interference with the rights of property. The confusion that has corrupted Western attitudes, and that threatens to close off the opportunities now presented to emerging post-socialist societies, involves a failure to recognize that 'constitutional' must be placed in front of the word 'democracy' if the political equity of individuals is to contain any meaningful measure of freedom and autonomy.
David N. Laband, Auburn University. Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. XXXIII, 835-836 (June 1995)
"With customary lucidity and depth of analysis ... Professor Buchanan ... argues that private property underpins our freedom to enter into, and critically, exit from voluntary exchange relationships."
David Schap, College of Holy Cross, Public Choice, 82: 193-196 (March 1995)
"Buchanan of course recognizes - even emphasizes - that the institution of private property can promote both liberty and efficiency at once. He chooses ... to conceptualize liberty as inversely related to the degree that one's welfare depends on the behavior of others. In such a frame-work private property allows one the opportunity to choose to withdraw from market interactions when such withdrawal is valued"