Front Page Titles (by Subject) II.: Society with a History - The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy)
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II.: Society with a History - Geoffrey Brennan, The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy) 
The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy) Foreword by Robert D. Tollison (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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Foreword and coauthor note © 2000 Liberty Fund, Inc. © 1985 by Cambridge University Press.
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Society with a History
Let us now consider the position of an individual who, at t0, is one among many members of a given society, a community, that has its own history, as a political-collective entity, quite apart from the various collected histories of its individual members. That is to say, the collectivity, as an organized polity, has “acted” over a sequence of past periods. It has gone to war or it has maintained peace; it has imposed onerous taxes on its citizens or it has not; it has allowed citizens to enjoy liberty over wide ranges of possible action or it has not. The “it” that has “acted” to create such a history must, of course, have assumed the form of specific persons who have assumed, captured, or been placed in roles of agents. But these persons as agents will have acted in the name of the collective unit rather than explicitly as identifiable individuals.
The history of the collective unit, described by “choices” taken in all past periods, will constrain the set of available choice options in t0, those that may be confronted both by the collectivity as such and by the individuals within that collectivity, in a manner fully analogous to the interdependencies discussed in the earlier analysis of private choice. The historically determined constraints may be descriptively summarized in the laws, institutions, customs, and traditions of the community, including the rules or institutions that define the means of making collective “choices.” Again, as in the earlier analysis, the “choices” made by the collective unit as such in t0 will modify the options that will emerge in t1 and beyond, through influences on the constraints or preferences or both.
Our concern in Part 2 is with the choice behavior of the person who participates in some group decision process as one member (one voter) among many and who expects that his expressed preferences (“choices”) will be counted and amalgamated with those of others through the operation of a known rule (for example, majority or plurality voting) that will generate a single decisive collective outcome that once reached, will be effective for all members, that is, will be “public” in the formal, analytic sense of this term.