From Coercion to Politics to Law: the Evolution of Property Rights Protection
Abstract: This paper explores the inherent links between different forms of property rights protection including coercive force, political power, and law from a historical or evolutional perspective. It finds that it is not possible to have a strong rule of law with a corrupt political system, or to have a democratic political system when the distribution of coercive force is too skewed. In other words, there seems to exist a clear sequence of different forms: only when individuals are relatively equal in using coercion to protect their own property would a just political system be adopted and sustained as the predominant form of property right protection, and only when a stable and just political system is operational would the rule of law gain support as the routine form of protection. The predictions of the model are consistent with general historical patterns in Western Europe.