An EconTalk Podcast Listening Guide

Leeson on Pirates and the Invisible Hook

Listen to the EconTalk podcast Leeson on Pirates and the Invisible Hook and consider these questions.

1. What are the elements of the “early constitutional democracy” that Leeson argues characterized pirate life?

2. What were the two most prevalent types of contractual arrangements among pirates, according to Leeson?

3. What mechanisms did pirates use to maintain order on board in the absence of legal institutions?

4. How did the roles of the Captain and the Quartermaster compare, and how did this contribute to the promotion of internal social order?

5. In what ways does Leeson suggest that merchant ships were much more tyrannical than pirate ships?

6. In discussing how “illegality leads to more order,” Leeson suggests that criminality was an important part of piratical order. Why does he believe this was the case?

7. What was the real purpose of flying the “Jolly Roger,” according to Leeson?

8. How did the pirates Leeson studies differ from pirate today?

9. At the end of the episode, Leeson asserts, “We should be unabashedly pro-pirate.” What does he mean by this, and to what extent do you agree?