I have to admit that I had always assumed that pirate crews were pretty much anarchic organizations. Those PotC movies reinforce that stereotype with the running joke that the much invoked Pirate Code is "more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules, matey."
But then I came across this recent (apparently serious) academic paper entitled An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization by Peter T. Leeson of the Department of Economics at George Mason University. In the paper Leeson, citing numerous historical texts and using game theory, argues that...
- Pirate crews developed a system of checks and balances to constrain abuse of the crews by their captains.
- Pirates used democratic constitutions to minimize conflict and create piratical law and order.
- Pirate governance created sufficient order and cooperation to make pirates one of the most sophisticated and successful criminal organizations in history.