This bibliographical essay is David Hart’s introduction to A Tadpole Constitution. Part I. How Confederacy Could Turn into a Federal Superstate, by Anthony de Jasay.

In this article, the first of two on this topic, Jasay offers a critique of the school of “constitutional economics”, represented by Gordon Tullock and James Buchanan, who argue that the careful writing of a constitution by economically-informed statesmen could avoid the evolution of a limited state into a modern welfare super-state. Taking the example of the soon to be approved 360 page new European Constitution, Jasay argues that the supporters of a stronger centralised European state (“the federalists”) may appear to have suffered a setback at the hands of the “confederates” with the omission of any central taxing power. But Jasay will argue that the European Union, while not yet a fully grown, centralised, federal super-state (a “frog”) looks more and more like a “tadpole”.


P.T. Bauer, The Development Frontier: Essays in Applied Economics, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991).

P.T. Bauer, Dissent on Development (Lodnon: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972).

Lord Peter Thomas Bauer. (Liberty Fund: The Intellectual Portrait Series). A VHS tape available from Liberty Fund’s online catalogue—

The Revolution in Development Economics, ed. James A. Dorn, James A. Dom, Steve H. Handke, Alan A. Walters (Washington, D.C., 1998). Essays in honour of P.T. Bauer.

James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (1962), vol. 3 of The Collected Works.

James M. Buchanan, The Logical Foundations of Constitutional Liberty, vol. 1 of The Collected Works.

The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan (Liberty Fund, 1991), 20 vols. Available for purchase from Liberty Fund’s online book catalogue——or many titles online at the Library of Economics and Liberty.


*David M. Hart is Director of the Online Library of Liberty Project.

For more articles by David M. Hart, see the Archive.