Front Page Titles (by Subject) Consensus vs. Politics - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
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Consensus vs. Politics - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Consensus vs. Politics
“The Limits of Consensual Decision.” American Political Science Review 64 (December 1975): 1270–1298.
Presently, in the social sciences, the concept of unanimity provides our only method of determining the “best” state of affairs other than subjectively declaring that we know what's best for other people.
The idea that government decisions should reflect some approximate consensus—unanimous agreement as a condition to action—has deep intuitive and analytic roots in liberal thought. Unanimity or consensus appears in the myth of the social contract, in the doctrine of consent, in the structure of markets, and in the utilitarian ethic of the greatest good for the greatest number (which survives economic theory under the title of efficiency).
It is everywhere understood that consensus has serious practical limits, but these hardly disqualify it from service as a normative criterion to be approximated in experience. Yet we should not say merely that consensus cannot be duplicated in practice, we should say that it should not be approximated in practice.
Consensual decision displays structural defects. For any society requiring politics, these defects spoil its normative promise. Within the context of a political society neither consensual decision nor any other device can conceivably grant an unconditional right of consent to persons. Thus, some outcome to any political decision must portend a violation of consent. The new political economy—Knut Wicksell or James Buchanan, and Gordon Tullock in The Calculus of Consent, 1962—is wrong in claiming that consensual decision leads toward social efficiency. They would be right only for a society requiring no politics.
Thus we reach a key, but disturbing, conclusion: “Consensual decision will cash its guarantee—assure utilitarian efficiency—precisely where politics itself seems unnecessary—i.e., in a perfect private sector. This last, however improbable, would make politics a risky luxury: If no harm can befall me under static policy, yet losses can be inflicted by governmental action, why should I not choose to end political history?”