Best econ paper title ever

In one of Tim Harford's columns I learned about the paper An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization:

This paper investigates the internal governance institutions of violent criminal enterprise by examining the law, economics, and organization of pirates. To sectively organize their banditry, pirates required mechanisms to prevent internal predation, minimize crew conflict, and maximize piratical profit. I argue that pirates devised two institutions for this purpose. First, I analyze the system of piratical checks and balances that crews used to constrain captain predation. Second, I examine how pirates used democratic constitutions to minimize contact and create piratical law and order. Remarkably, pirates adopted both of these institutions before the United States or England. Pirate governance created sufficient order and cooperation to make pirates one of the most sophisticated and successful criminal organizations in history.

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I can imagine a few Hakim

I can imagine a few Hakim Bey enthusiasts might shuckle at the title. But the text itself does what they can't: describe the pirate society, its model of Right and Justice, its social cooperation and spontaneous order, in detail - instead of circumphrasing it.

The paper itself is a fantastic read. Apparently the pirates went through their own marxist phase by sometimes opposing a captain's authority on ideological ground (considering anything the captain had in excess of the others was systematically "stolen" from the crew somehow) and instituting a form of socialism with collective ownership of ships following the isntitution of democratically-elected captains, and then later switched to a written chart of universal rights in order to avoir the pitfalls of socialism and vote-buying. In the end they had their own Common Law, established through purely decentralised means. how's that for private(er) law-making ?

I truly wonder what would have happened if the pirates had switched to other forms of "production" than plunder. Imagine, for once, if the navies of the rest of the world, facing unsuppressible piracy, had all progressively started to abandon any form of protectionnism and sailed their own ships under the Jolly Rogers in order to avoid being pirated ? They could even have started commercing with the pirate society and a free society might have emerged well before the US independance occured.

it's a series of three papers on pirate economics...

Part two's abstract:
This paper uses rational choice theory to analyze the behavior of pirates. It pierces the myth and mystique of pirate behavior and in doing so provides an economics of piratical practice. I consider three infamous pirate practices: the notorious pirate flag, the "Jolly Roger," piratical torture, and pirate conscription. I argue that these seemingly eccentric pirate practices were in fact rationally-chosen responses to the unique circumstances pirates confronted in their pursuit of profit. Further, each practice effectively promoted pirates' goal. My analysis identifies what might be called 'pirational choice.' The distinction between rational and pirational choice lies not in the irrationality of pirates, as traditional pop-culture depictions of pirates suggest, but rather in the unusual circumstances of pirate decision making. These circumstances are responsible for both the extraordinary features that make pirates perfect fodder for entertainment and the distinctive practices that pirates employed.