Last year Nikolai Wenzel, Colleen Haight and I wrote a commemorative article on Buchanan and Tullock's Calculus of Consent.
From the introduction:
In 1964 Buchanan wrote the article “What Should Economists Do?” In that article he reflects on Adam Smith‟s idea that human beings have a natural tendency to trade. For Buchanan, the main task of economists should be precisely the study of trade and exchange in different contexts, and The Calculus of Consent does exactly that: it looks at the political sphere and pays attention to how trade occurs. For this reason, Buchanan and Tullock‟s analysis is often called “the study of politics as exchange.” In 1986, the Nobel Prize was awarded to James Buchanan “for his development of the contractual and constitutional bases for the theory of economic and political decision-making.” One wonders why Tullock was left out.
From the conclusion:James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock have been exemplary to many econo- mists, both because of their innovating contributions, and also because of their passion and love for what they studied. Our article presents the main arguments in the book, part by part, and then briefly presents some reflections on how the arguments in the book relate to political economy, constitutional economics, insti- tutional economics, and development economics.
We feel very privileged to have benefited so enormously from the influences of both James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock while pursuing our graduate studies at George Mason University. Their revolutionary insights irrevocably changed the scholarly conversations of public choice, institutional economics, economic development, and political philosophy.You can read it all here. I posted previously on his "An economic theory of clubs."
Now it is a good time to read again his classic "What should economists do?