R.I.P. Elinor Ostrom

While she was no libertarian (and as keynote speaker at the 2011 APEE, took the opportunity to lecture the assembled libertarians on the importance of the state), her work on the ways in which coordination mechanisms and decentralised institutions can enable the poor to better their lot while bypassing the state is a vital contribution to libertarian thought. In many ways she was a left-wing Hayek.

Elinor Ostrom


12 Responses to R.I.P. Elinor Ostrom

  1. Todd S. June 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Given that description, I’d say she’s similar to Chomsky.

    • Roderick June 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

      I don’t see that much similarity.

    • Rad Geek June 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

      Chomsky is a theoretical Anarchist who in actual practice functions as a partisan Social Democrat, because when you come down from the ideal society he’d like to see in the sweet by-and-by, or up from his radical critique of currently existing conditions, it turns out that he hasn’t really got much of anything to offer in terms of practical mechanisms other than a bunch of thoroughly conventional efforts at achieving social change by means of social control, social control by means of political power, and political power by means of electorating and politicking.

      If anything Lin Ostrom was exactly the reverse — while in theory she was a fairly conventional liberal statist, in practice her contributions to the literature have been an immensely insightful set of radical alternatives to conventional understandings of politics and social life, and gives us some really critical insights into how immediate social problems might be solved without participating in or depending on conventional political mechanisms of social control. And thus, whether she intended to or not, has made a really important contribution to Anarchist understanding and practice.

      • Roderick June 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

        If only we could combine them. (But we’d have to be careful to combine the right aspects.)

        • Mabuse June 13, 2012 at 7:01 am #

          We’d have to combine them, then separate out the statist and anarchist sides Jeckyll and Hyde style.

        • MBH June 15, 2012 at 2:23 am #

          If only we could combine them […]

          À la the great Charles Koch, politicking and electorating, delivering us to radical alternatives to the state…

  2. Lorenzo from Oz June 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    A nice memoir of Elinor Ostrom and her warm and open-minded seriousness as a social scientist is at the Monkey Cage political science blog. (Posting this without links since I think WordPress is continuing to punish me for temporarily using an Italian ISP while travelling.)

  3. Gene Callahan June 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    “and as keynote speaker at the 2011 APEE, took the opportunity to lecture the assembled libertarians on the importance of the state”

    Someone needs to talk sense into you.

  4. Anon73 June 15, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    I never realized Mitt Romney was a closet anarcho-capitalist!

    But we should be clear that the rhetoric of the Rothbard also lies at the heart of Mitt Romney’s campaign for President.

    • MBH June 18, 2012 at 1:24 am #

      I never realized Mitt Romney was a closet anarcho-capitalist!

      He’s not. He’s a puppet. And the question is not whether Charles Koch, an anarcho-capitalist, is holding some of the strings. No. The question is how many strings.

    • MBH June 18, 2012 at 2:17 am #

      Haven’t you heard?

  5. Roderick June 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    More on Ostrom.

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