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Somalia

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
It is often suggested that Somalia is a "libertarian" paradise with regard to it statelessness and an example of what would result absent a strong state and central government.

The questions of Somalia should be examined further if we are to learn anything from what's happened in this country in the past 20 years.

While Somalia definitely suffers from problems of warring warlords, there's more to the entire story than this. It's also important to be careful about assuming the cause of this infighting.

But let's look a little deeper at Somalia. Let's begin with a summary from the CIA Factbook on the economy:

Quote:
Despite the lack of effective national governance, Somalia has maintained a healthy informal economy, largely based on livestock, remittance/money transfer companies, and telecommunications. Agriculture is the most important sector with livestock normally accounting for about 40% of GDP and more than 50% of export earnings. Nomads and semi-pastoralists, who are dependent upon livestock for their livelihood, make up a large portion of the population. Livestock, hides, fish, charcoal, and bananas are Somalia's principal exports, while sugar, sorghum, corn, qat, and machined goods are the principal imports. Somalia's small industrial sector, based on the processing of agricultural products, has largely been looted and the machinery sold as scrap metal. Somalia's service sector also has grown. Telecommunication firms provide wireless services in most major cities and offer the lowest international call rates on the continent. In the absence of a formal banking sector, money transfer/remittance services have sprouted throughout the country, handling up to $1.6 billion in remittances annually. Mogadishu's main market offers a variety of goods from food to the newest electronic gadgets. Hotels continue to operate and are supported with private-security militias. Due to armed attacks on and threats to humanitarian aid workers, the World Food Programme partially suspended its operations in southern Somalia in early January 2010 pending improvement in the security situation. Somalia's arrears to the IMF have continued to grow.

So, while it has it's problems and it's not all a bed of roses, things are entirely without promise and improvement from the stone ages that the previous government and dictator plunged this country and its people into. In fact they appear to be slowly climbing out of the pit created by this previous situation.

But there's more:

Quote:
Once the U.N. withdrew, a relative peace developed in Somalia. Crime and violence persisted, but not at the levels seen during the civil war. Various clan elders, warlords, and Islamic courts had power, but none were strong enough to impose themselves as the new government, and most of the fighting stopped.

Once this relative peace was achieved, the Somalis began to order their affairs and adapt institutions to provide governance, even though they lacked a government. Most of the order was provided by Somalia’s customary legal code, the Xeer, which was interpreted by clan elders and informally enforced, mainly through ostracism. Islamic courts existed, but most had little influence. Islamic law was reserved mostly for matters of divorce and inheritance, while the common law covered everything else.


Although Somalia is still poor, the ordered anarchy that has existed since the mid–1990s has actually translated into improved living standards. In conducting research for a new study comparing Somalia’s economy relative to 42 other African countries, my coauthors and I examined 13 different measures, including life expectancy, immunization and disease rates, access to various telecommunications, and access to water/sanitation.



In 2005, Somalia ranked in the top 50 percent in six of our 13 measures, and ranked near the bottom in only three: infant mortality, immunization rates, and access to improved water sources. This compares favorably with circumstances in 1990, when Somalia last had a government and was ranked in the bottom 50 percent for all seven of the measures for which we had that year’s data: death rate, infant mortality, life expectancy, main telephone lines, tuberculosis, and immunization for measles and DTP. Furthermore, we have found that during the last years of Somalia’s government, 1985 to 1990, their performance was deteriorating compared to other African nations as their relative ranking fell in five of these measures. Since their government’s collapse, Somalia has seen its relative ranking improve in four of these measures and deteriorate in only one: infant mortality.


Perhaps most impressive is Somalia’s change in life expectancy. During the last five years of government rule, life expectancy fell by two years but since state collapse, it actually has increased by five years.

Here's a more detailed paper on Somalia.

The BBC has written a reasonably balanced article on this recently: "Somalia: 20 years of anarchy"

And there's some interesting data showing that life expectancy is increasing, infant mortality is decreasing, death rates are decreasing, adult literacy is increasing.


One recurring theme we see is that much of the warring is a result of outsiders (like the US and UN) directly and indirectly (e.g., US-sponsored Ethiopian invasion) trying to impose control on the country.

But here are some snippets of interest:

Quote:
The north has been relatively peaceful, especially the former British-run territory, Somaliland. Although its independence is not internationally recognised, it runs democratic elections and last year saw a peaceful transfer of power - still a rarity for Africa.

Quote:
Remarkably for a country which has suffered two decades of conflict, living standards have slowly improved.

Somalia remains poor in relation to most African countries, but its economy and its people have found ways to get by without a government.


Somalia's GDP has risen steadily throughout the last two decades, as has its life expectancy. And while neighbouring countries have been hit hard by the HIV/Aids epidemic, Somalia has largely escaped.


Although health facilities remain poor in most regions, the chances of a newborn child surviving to its first birthday have actually increased slightly since 1991.

Is it a paradise? No. Is it improving absent a central government? It seems so? Is the infighting simply due to a lack of a government? Harder to say. Arguments both ways but what's clear is that outside governments (who seem to know no other language than force) are a key instigator here. Perhaps most importantly one must consider the starting point and the previous conditions when doing analysis vs. some mythical absolute standard. This is especially important when the implication is that the US would devolve into what Somalia is today absent the ginormous government apparatus we currently live under. And given the fact is that we are warned of totally anarchy in the US when federal spending "cuts" (i.e., cuts in the rate of increase) are approaching 5-10%, we ought to cast a skeptical eye toward Somalian comparisons of that kind.


Anyway...thought this would be an interesting topic for discussion.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #2 of 43
Sounds like a great place! I'm sure when you compare Somalia to say... Europe... instead of comparing Somalia to Somalia, it must look like an attractive place to live.
post #3 of 43
Thread Starter 
nevermind

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

nevermind

A valiant effort. I enjoyed your post.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #5 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Sounds like a great place! I'm sure when you compare Somalia to say... Europe... instead of comparing Somalia to Somalia, it must look like an attractive place to live.

Would you care to address his post instead of your sidetrack? He was not comparing it to Europe.
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoahJ View Post

Would you care to address his post instead of your sidetrack? He was not comparing it to Europe.

Yes, exactly. He wasn't comparing it to Europe, or to anywhere else, for that matter. That's exactly the reason his point fails to show that lack of government is better than government.

It's just like saying that because Canada is more conservative than it was before, and is more successful than it was before, being more conservative is better. The fact is that Canada is successful because it's still way more socialist than the US. Somalia is a mess because of lawlessness, even though it may be lass of a mess without UN involvement.

Answer this, you three... Why were the UN there in the first place? Had Somalia had effective governance in the first place, it wouldn't have been necessary, or even possible, to have an outside party to intervene. Lack of rule of law was the principal cause of the mess, not a solution to it.
post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Yes, exactly. He wasn't comparing it to Europe, or to anywhere else, for that matter. That's exactly the reason his point fails to show that lack of government is better than government.

It's just like saying that because Canada is more conservative than it was before, and is more successful than it was before, being more conservative is better. The fact is that Canada is successful because it's still way more socialist than the US. Somalia is a mess because of lawlessness, even though it may be lass of a mess without UN involvement.

Answer this, you three... Why were the UN there in the first place? Had Somalia had effective governance in the first place, it wouldn't have been necessary, or even possible, to have an outside party to intervene. Lack of rule of law was the principal cause of the mess, not a solution to it.

Don't really care actually. Not my fight. Was just commenting on the total lack of thought you put into the response to his well written starting point. Rather than debate you picked up from another thread and crapped on him. Your deal.
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #8 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoahJ View Post

Don't really care actually. Not my fight. Was just commenting on the total lack of thought you put into the response to his well written starting point. Rather than debate you picked up from another thread and crapped on him. Your deal.

I made my point with my initial response, and I believe it was understood.

But... Maybe if the US were more like Somalia, I could buy me a boat and some guns and go pirate me some spoils, without worrying about reprisals from my own government. Which ship is hauling the Apple gear?
post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

I made my point with my initial response, and I believe it was understood.

But... Maybe if the US were more like Somalia, I could buy me a boat and some guns and go pirate me some spoils, without worrying about reprisals from my own government. Which ship is hauling the Apple gear?

This part of his post was interesting.

Is it a paradise? No. Is it improving absent a central government? It seems so? Is the infighting simply due to a lack of a government? Harder to say. Arguments both ways but what's clear is that outside governments (who seem to know no other language than force) are a key instigator here. Perhaps most importantly one must consider the starting point and the previous conditions when doing analysis vs. some mythical absolute standard. This is especially important when the implication is that the US would devolve into what Somalia is today absent the ginormous government apparatus we currently live under. And given the fact is that we are warned of totally anarchy in the US when federal spending "cuts" (i.e., cuts in the rate of increase) are approaching 5-10%, we ought to cast a skeptical eye toward Somalian comparisons of that kind.

Care to comment?
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoahJ View Post

This part of his post was interesting.

Is it a paradise? No. Is it improving absent a central government? It seems so? Is the infighting simply due to a lack of a government? Harder to say. Arguments both ways but what's clear is that outside governments (who seem to know no other language than force) are a key instigator here. Perhaps most importantly one must consider the starting point and the previous conditions when doing analysis vs. some mythical absolute standard. This is especially important when the implication is that the US would devolve into what Somalia is today absent the ginormous government apparatus we currently live under. And given the fact is that we are warned of totally anarchy in the US when federal spending "cuts" (i.e., cuts in the rate of increase) are approaching 5-10%, we ought to cast a skeptical eye toward Somalian comparisons of that kind.

Care to comment?

When the starting point is a complete craphole, there's nowhere to go but up.

Outside governments wouldn't have been an instigator here if not for the lack of inside government. Care to comment?
post #11 of 43
This is a riot. MJ is so entrenched in his ridiculous ideology that he's actually trying to put Somalia up on a pedestal. That's rich.

 

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
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“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
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post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Sounds like a great place! I'm sure when you compare Somalia to say... Europe... instead of comparing Somalia to Somalia, it must look like an attractive place to live.

A great place for famine and people dying constantly from starvation especially the children.
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

A great place for famine and people dying constantly from starvation especially the children.

Yes, but fewer children are dying now compared to when the UN was intervening.
post #14 of 43
If you ask me, living in Somalia sucks, and have been so for a long time.

From the above BBC link:
Quote:
The north has been relatively peaceful, especially the former British-run territory, Somaliland. Although its independence is not internationally recognised, it runs democratic elections and last year saw a peaceful transfer of power - still a rarity for Africa

(Not that its posted on the BBC so it must be true, but perhaps they have one or two things right)

It seems Somaliland is actually a state of some form, a republic having experienced democratic elections and peaceful transfer of power no less.
So unless I missed something, it does have a functioning if unrecognised government.

Heres a map from the linked article:


It shows the country divided between various ruling factions: notably Ahlu Sunna, Al Shabab, the transisional government, etc., and these factions actually govern parts of Somalia so I just call them governments.
Some of said governments are competing against each other, a form of competition which is neither sportsmanlike nor peaceful.

The map also mentions 1,213,000 internally displaced people, I venture to say it has something to do with said competition.

The part of the article titled Living Standards includes this comparison between 1991, that is the fall of the dictator Moahmmed Siad Barre, and 2011, that is today.

Quote:
Somalia - how has life changed?
Index\t 1991\t 2011 (or latest)

Life expectancy
46 years - 1991
50 years - 2011

Birth rate
46 (?) - 1991
44 (?) - 2011

Death rate
19 (?) - 1991
16 (?) - 2011

GDP per capita
$210 - 1991
$600 - 2011

Infant mortality
116 deaths <1yr, per thousand births - 1991
109 deaths <1yr, per thousand births - 2011

Access to safe water
35% - 1991
29% - 2011

Adult literacy
24% - 1991
38% - 2011
Sources: CIA/UN/UNICEF

These figures dont distinguish between the parts of the country where relative law and order prevail (Somaliland, Puntland), and those ruled by the warrying factions, or militias, or warlords, whatever term seems more appropriate to you.
These figures do indicate however that theres some improvement from Siad Barres government to the current various governments. That doesnt surprise me at all, Siad Barres tyranny was particularly ruthless and caused much suffering, so most alternatives are actually better.

The article also states:
Quote:
The figures in the table above do not tell the full story. The relative stability in living standards may in part be because of the work of international aid agencies.

Which you may take as true, or not.

Then the article goes on to mention the instances of food and health assistance, too. Other news also indicate that theres famine in the country going on, though some dispute it.

The Washington Post | UN: Famine a boon for Somali militants, Ethiopia opens 4th camp for fleeing Somalis
Excerpts:
Quote:
GENEVA Islamic militants in Somalia who deny theres famine and block most aid are enjoying a boon in recruitment by giving people money at a time of rising food prices, United Nations officials said Friday.

(I know, its The Washington Post and the UN who say that, so lets not give them any more credit than the BBC)

So, I notice that in the last twenty years, on the one hand several living standards have improved while on the other hand theres violent internal warfare between competing governments, and a rather large number of displaced people (lets call them refugees for short) and famine too, which seem somewhat related to said warfare; Id go as far as to say said warfare caused it, but some might disagree.
Notice that Somaliland is less afflicted by warfare, famine, etc.

One could make the case of keeping the country divided as it is, rather than reunifying it by force, and a pertinent case itd be. Although one could add that the violent strife should stop, and something should be done about that famine thing, although that isnt going to happen anytime soon, Im afraid.

If one wishes to take the government vs no government issue about Somalia, and seeks a time and place without actual government for a comparison, then one should take the period which immediately followed the fall of Mohammed Siad Barre: in 1991-1992.

Back then it was a complete lack of government indeed, and I remember there was lots of violence involving serious firepower over there.
It didnt last long, as we saw the emergence of various armed factions which took control of various areas, IE: governing them.

So, we see that lack government, if left to itself (and after a short-lasting US/UN intervention, it was), is filled by new forms of power, or governments, which are likely to fight among themselves for a while as happened; nature abhorring a void and all that.

After twenty years some places became stable, even peaceful (Somaliland), and some didnt.
But they all ended up with some form of government.

So we see Somalia is actually governed, but instead of having one government (as was the case until 1991) it actually has several of those.
So a more relevant comparison should be between those various governments.

Making that comparison, I observe that while in most cases the régime of Siad Barre was the worst case of government, life is better in the unrecognised republic of Somaliland than elsewhere in the country. I go as far as suggesting that Somalia in its entirety would be better off with such a régime in place than the existing alternatives.
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« Jparle pas aux cons, ça les instruit. »

From Les Tontons Flingueurs


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post #15 of 43
And that, as they say, is that.
post #16 of 43
Thread Starter 
Immanuel Goldstein, thanks for your thoughtful reply.

I agree that unraveling what has and is happening in Somalia is complicated by a number of factors that are weaved together. This is generally true when trying to do an analysis of most social, cultural and political situations. We have no clean room laboratories to conduct experiments. We have a couple of examples through time that are close (e.g., Germany, Korea) and they don't argue well for stronger a stronger, more controlling state. We also have examples where areas under extremely strong state control have backed off of that and prospered.

You are also correct that the articles covering this cannot always distinguish where the improvements have happened and always determine the cause and effects.

I created this thread in response to a common claim by some that reducing or even eliminating the state in one place (e.g., the US) would automatically lead to that place devolving into Somalia-like conditions. This is simplistic in the extreme, and that was the point of the thread.

The basic premise behind that claim is that absent the state (an entity with the authority to use force against its citizens) the country would automatically devolve. The implication is that no other social institutions exist to enable and encourage people to conduct themselves peacefully and in a civilized manner. And Somalia is given as the example.

But maybe it isn't such an example.

Indeed in the immediate aftermath of fall of the previous dictator, violence erupted for a period. But even in this one must be careful in analysis. There are multiple factors at play here including and especially the involvement of outsiders to install a new central government and internal factions battling to become the chosen puppet regime. That combined with a country that had not know much else except dictatorship for quite some time...the immediate infighting is not unexpected at all.

Furthermore, while "governments" in a manner of speaking (in the small "g" sense of the word) have emerged in various parts of Somalia, I'd argue these institutions appear to differ from typical Governments/States in that they are based less on specifically granted power and violence and more on cultural traditions and common law traditions of the tribes in Somalia. In other words other civil institutions have emerged that maintain peaceful and civil existence. These are not governments in the sense that most people think of them. They aren't institutions with the authority of force. Again, perfect? By no means. But evolving toward peaceful and civil existence? Sure. And if the US would quit fucking around in their, these people might be able to build a society on their own.

Again, thanks for your thoughtful reply.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #17 of 43
I don't see what the mystery is with Somolia - it went just like you would expect.

1. Collapse of government
2. High violence anarchy
3. Rise of warlords
4. New states form, things get better

For another example, 1950s Afghanistan looked like this, now it looks like crap.

http://www.mediamugint.com/amazing-t...60s-pakistani/

MJ - I think you are falling victim to the myth of the noble savage when you say "and more on cultural traditions and common law traditions of the tribes in Somalia". How exactly do they maintain order without the threat of force? How do they keep the million or so "displaced people" from rioting and looting?
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post #18 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

I don't see what the mystery is with Somolia - it went just like you would expect.

1. Collapse of government
2. High violence anarchy
3. Rise of warlords
4. New states form, things get better

The problem is the claim in #4. It's not clear at all that new states have formed at all.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #19 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

MJ - I think you are falling victim to the myth of the noble savage when you say "and more on cultural traditions and common law traditions of the tribes in Somalia". How exactly do they maintain order without the threat of force? How do they keep the million or so "displaced people" from rioting and looting?

I guess I'm having trouble with your assumption of the common, widespread savagery of people absent the state and, even with the state that the state wouldn't be co-opted by savages. Not to mention the inability to defend themselves and to form voluntary associations to operate a society (including voluntarily providing defense services.)

I guess the question is this: If people are basically violent savages, why on earth would we ever want to create an institution (the State) that gives some of those people some (usually a lot of) "legitimate" power and a monopoly in the use of force and violence?!

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

I guess I'm having trouble with your assumption of the common, widespread savagery of people absent the state and, even with the state that the state wouldn't be co-opted by savages. Not to mention the inability to defend themselves and to form voluntary associations to operate a society (including voluntarily providing defense services.)

I guess the question is this: If people are basically violent savages, why on earth would we ever want to create an institution (the State) that gives some of those people some (usually a lot of) "legitimate" power and a monopoly in the use of force and violence?!

IMHO it is because you are a Christian, and the "fall from Eden" story is so ingrained, which is why it seems so unnatural that things get better over time as society gets more organized. Things are better now than they ever have been, human misery has been on a downtrend for the last few hundred years.

Read "A people's history of the United States", things were crap 100 years ago for the vast majority of the people.

Why would we need states? They formed for a purpose, way back when. Even before we developed agriculture, the human population got high enough so that family groups were not enough organization - read "Guns, Germs and Steel", religion played a key role in helping us organize larger groups like tribes and city states. Now we have seven billion people, the world is an intricate dance that would not work without careful planning by states. We would devolve into genocidal savages without a society, and the population would drop until we got to the level that could survive with the new lower level of social structure.

Even though the individuals that run the state are savages just like we are, the rules and structures set down by society give us freedom to live with very little violence. Again, you need to read "Guns, Germs and Steel" - our society is much less violent than a primitive one, much less violent than 1950s America in fact.
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post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

I guess I'm having trouble with your assumption of the common, widespread savagery of people absent the state and, even with the state that the state wouldn't be co-opted by savages. Not to mention the inability to defend themselves and to form voluntary associations to operate a society (including voluntarily providing defense services.)

I guess the question is this: If people are basically violent savages, why on earth would we ever want to create an institution (the State) that gives some of those people some (usually a lot of) "legitimate" power and a monopoly in the use of force and violence?!

Exactly.

Why concentrate the power in a single entity just so it can be controlled by people who would use violence and coercion to to force everyone else to do what they want?

The State is violence under the guise of "legitimacy". You cannot murder your neighbor. That is wrong and immoral. But if agents of the State do it, that makes it somehow "legitimate".

I think the question you ask is a valid one: considering where Somalia started, why should we assume that the U.S. or another so-called "developed" nation would "devolve" to where Somalia is now in the absence of a violent and coercive State?

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

Exactly.

Why concentrate the power in a single entity

You mean, like, a deity?

 

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
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“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” 
-Sagan
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post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post

Even though the individuals that run the state are savages just like we are, the rules and structures set down by society give us freedom to live with very little violence.

What good are rules "set down by society" if the State is not compelled to follow them and there is no effective means of holding it accountable?

And what is "society", anyway, but a group of individuals? Rothbard had some interesting thoughts:

Quote:
...what, it may be asked, of the "rights of society"? Don't they supersede the rights of the mere individual? The libertarian, however, is an individualist; he believes that one of the prime errors in social theory is to treat "society" as if it were an actually existing entity. "Society" is sometimes treated as a superior or quasi-divine figure with overriding "rights" of its own; at other times as an existing evil which can be blamed for all the ills of the world. The individualist holds that only individuals exist, think, feel, choose, and act; and that "society" is not a living entity but simply a label for a set of interacting individuals. Treating society as a thing that chooses and acts, then, serves to obscure the real forces at work.

And I love this analogy:

Quote:
If, in a small community, ten people band together to rob and expropriate three others, then this is clearly and evidently a case of a group of individuals acting in concert against another group. In this situation, if the ten people presumed to refer to themselves as "society" acting in "its" interest, the rationale would be laughed out of court; even the ten robbers would probably be too shamefaced to use this sort of argument. But let their size increase, and this kind of obfuscation becomes rife and succeeds in duping the public.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #24 of 43
Thank you for your message MJ1970.

You wrote:
Quote:
I created this thread in response to a common claim by some that reducing or even eliminating the state in one place (e.g., the US) would automatically lead to that place devolving into Somalia-like conditions. This is simplistic in the extreme, and that was the point of the thread.

What we saw in Somalia was the collapse of the Siad Barres dictatorial republic in 1991, followed by a short chaotic violent interregnum, itself followed by warrying armed factions, of which the transisional government is recognised by the UN and most countries as the only legitimate one.
The northern region of Somaliland organised itself as a form of representative democratic republic.

I dont claim to predict what would happen in case the of collapse of the US, but what little I know of history is that after a while a void tends to be filled by some form/s of government.

Quote:
The basic premise behind that claim is that absent the state (an entity with the authority to use force against its citizens) the country would automatically devolve. The implication is that no other social institutions exist to enable and encourage people to conduct themselves peacefully and in a civilized manner. And Somalia is given as the example.

Before the first states appeared at about the same time as the first cities, there were various forms of tribal chefferies, even these involved an authority which was kept by force.
To the best of my knowledge, all forms of government in present-day Somalia also involve authority kept by force, otherwise known as states. The most peaceful and the least authoritarian of them seems to be, again, Somaliland (although it seems to be more authoritarian than developed First World countries).

Quote:
Indeed in the immediate aftermath of fall of the previous dictator, violence erupted for a period. But even in this one must be careful in analysis. There are multiple factors at play here including and especially the involvement of outsiders to install a new central government and internal factions battling to become the chosen puppet regime. That combined with a country that had not know much else except dictatorship for quite some time...the immediate infighting is not unexpected at all.

From what I recall of the news at the time, there was a UN resolution in 1992 sending a US-led intervention force to stabilise the country. It failed miserably to reign in the various warlords, and by 1994 all US military were out. All UN personnel was out in 1995, basically leaving Somalia to its own devices.
By 2000 most armed factions stabilsed in various areas, and while warfare decreased, there still remained some between many factions.
By 2006 the recognised transisional government was losing ground to other factions, some of which were of the Islamist theocratic ones. The then US government, which was quite afraid of all kinds of Islamist militias, feared the fall of the transisional government; so the US encouraged Ethiopia to intervene, which saved the transisional government, although it couldnt help it take over the country. By 2008, several factions came together and forced Ethiopia out of Somalia.
Since then theres some small underpowered force of AU peacekeepers, which is rather useless since theres no peace to keep. So between 1994 and 2006 there was no outside intervention, and again since 2008.
So whatever one might think of the foreign involvements, most of what happened in Somalia since 1991 was of their own making.

Nota bene that all this time Somaliland was mostly peaceful, and was doing quite well. Not bad for a country mostly used to tyranny, and quite good relatively to Africa.

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Furthermore, while "governments" in a manner of speaking (in the small "g" sense of the word) have emerged in various parts of Somalia, I'd argue these institutions appear to differ from typical Governments/States in that they are based less on specifically granted power and violence and more on cultural traditions and common law traditions of the tribes in Somalia

Unless I missed a spot, all said governments/states have armed forces, and all are based on violent force. Actually, I dont know of any form of human group without an authority kept by violent force, even roving bands of hunters-gatherers have it.
Of course, all current Somalian governments I know of include, in varying degrees, traditional Somali tribal customs (called Xeer I think), as well Islamic law commonly called Shariah. I dont think its a good thing, probably my modern secular proclivities speaking.

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And if the US would quit fucking around in their, these people might be able to build a society on their own.

Most probably. As it happened elsewhere, Somalis might arrive to constituting a relatively enlightened society. As said before, I think Somaliland is quite advanced on the way there.

Personally, I have long held that humans are bloody arseholes, although recently Ive come to believe that were not condemned to be arseholes, and that we even have potential to become quite awesome creatures, given time. But Im very far from Rousseau and his belief in man is naturally good and only corrupted by society, and Im not likely to get any closer.

From what little I learnt, left to our own devices, we tend to go violently chaotic until the most powerful entreprising ruffian (and a violent ruthless one) or an assocation of them, become the next government, or several of them competing for power as shown in Somalia and elsewhere; most of mediaeval Europe was mainly armed competition between ruffians.

This is why I think were bound to have some kind of government anyway, and it will use force to maintain itself and to prevent any challenge against it. So I think we might as well as aspire and work to having some say in the constitution of our state and its government, spread authority as much as we can, prevent arbitrary as much as possible, and achieve protection of individual civil rights as best as we can concieve them. And itd better be possible to transform that government over time to improve it.

From what I know, since the XVIIIth century, representative democracy with separation of authorities and protection of civil rights (usually called democracy for short) achieved much in that domain. The fact that its not absolute or set in stone, and involves disagreements and disputes, enables it to adapt to changing reality as well as to bettering itself. And contrary to some beliefs, such régime is in most cases better suited to keep the rule of law and is stronger than more authoritarian, more violent, forms of government. If anything such régime also tends to be more stable and to last longer than the alternatives, as shown since ~1800 to our time.

Its quite flawed nonetheless, I find its politics unsavoury, and under attack or under stress, it can devolve into something way scarier.

Also, back in the XVIIth century, any suggestion of something less authoritarian and involving more public consultation than what they had then would have (and was) thought of as leading to complete mayhem.
So I dont exclude the possibilty of an even more enlightened, more rational, less authoritarian form of government (Id rather welcome it), but I am certain itd still have to be strong enough to maintain itself to preserve the rule of law, to protect the rights of all citizens, and strong enough to prevent any form of challenging power. It would still mean the involvement of some form of (hopefully) accountable checked and controlled, but still a monopoly on organised violence.
That, and taxes too.
« Jparle pas aux cons, ça les instruit. »

From Les Tontons Flingueurs


חברים יש רק באגד
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« Jparle pas aux cons, ça les instruit. »

From Les Tontons Flingueurs


חברים יש רק באגד
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post #25 of 43
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Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Which ship is hauling the Apple gear?

The Chinese one. Go ahead and attack it, and let's see how that works out.
The evil that we fight is but the shadow of the evil that we do.
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The evil that we fight is but the shadow of the evil that we do.
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post #26 of 43
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Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post

The Chinese one. Go ahead and attack it, and let's see how that works out.

That's the point. It wouldn't work out because of government, and the rule of law. That's why there are Somalian pirates, and not American ones.
post #27 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

That's the point. It wouldn't work out because of government, and the rule of law. That's why there are Somalian pirates, and not American ones.

No...there are American pirates...they just wear suits and ties...and often issue bumper stickers and campaign slogans.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #28 of 43
Indeed. Our pirates have the "legitimacy" of the State behind them.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #29 of 43
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Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

Indeed. Our pirates have the "legitimacy" of the State behind them.

So are you saying taxing the income of a shipping company is as bad as murdering the crew and stealing all of their goods? Is that what you're saying?
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

So are you saying taxing the income of a shipping company is as bad as murdering the crew and stealing all of their goods? Is that what you're saying?

Taxation is theft and is bad, but it's not murder.

If you want examples of murder, see the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #31 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzguru View Post

Taxation is theft and is bad, but it's not murder.

But isn't taxation really just theft under the threat of kidnapping, imprisonment and even murder?

The fact of the matter is, so-called "pirates" are simply more open, honest, transparent, impolite and time-compressed about their activities.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

But isn't taxation really just theft under the threat of kidnapping, imprisonment and even murder?

Indeed it is. But it's not murder in and of itself.

This, however, is an example of murder at the hands of the State.

Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.

(I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.)

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post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

But isn't taxation really just theft under the threat of kidnapping, imprisonment and even murder?

The fact of the matter is, so-called "pirates" are simply more open, honest, transparent, impolite and time-compressed about their activities.

Hooray for pirates. Obviously a better system, then.
post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Yes, but fewer children are dying now compared to when the UN was intervening.

This people need aid from all over the world and your country Hong Kong can also help.
post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by marvfox View Post

This people need aid from all over the world and your country Hong Kong can also help.

Privately, we do. On a per capita basis, far more than 'Christian' America. Publically, we also sent officials and money to Phuket, Indonesia, China after the earthquake and of course Japan.

I personally donated money for all these, though not to Somalia, I admit.

What ever happened to Sally Struthers, anyway?
post #36 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Privately, we do. On a per capita basis, far more than 'Christian' America.

That's great tonton. I'm pleased to hear about the kindness and generosity of the people of Hong Kong.

Just our of curiosity, what is the private per-capita foreign aid giving in Hong Kong?

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #37 of 43
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Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

That's great tonton. I'm pleased to hear about the kindness and generosity of the people of Hong Kong.

Just our of curiosity, what is the private per-capita foreign aid giving in Hong Kong?

In 2010 it was estimated by at least one source as about US$375 per person.

Perhaps not higher than the US (my mistake -- and I can't find recent per capita data from the US, but it appears to be much higher) but it's the highest in all of Asia.

That was before the Japan quake, obviously. This year it is clearly going to be higher than that.

Seriously -- where is the recent data for per capita giving in the US? Obviously it will be lower now than say, 2000.
post #38 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

In 2010 it was estimated by at least one source as about US$375 per person.

That was before the Japan quake, obviously. This year it is clearly going to be higher than that.

Wow. That's great!

According to this source the amount given to charities by US citizens in 2009 was about US$304B which amounts to about US$997 per-capita.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #39 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Seriously -- where is the recent data for per capita giving in the US? Obviously it will be lower now than say, 2000.

Why is that "obvious?" What I found was sources that showed 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 with a partial for 2010. While there were slight dips in the years you might expect 2008 to 2009, and then an uptick in 2010 (first half anyway)...things were remaining fairly steady with slight increases over time. In fact this source says total was around $212B in 2001 which is about $752 per-capita. Per-capita (and total) has actually risen from 2001 to 2009.

The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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The state is nothing more than a criminal gang writ large.

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post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ1970 View Post

Wow. That's great!

According to this source the amount given to charities by US citizens in 2009 was about US$304B which amounts to about US$997 per-capita.

And this source says that 70% of all the people in Hong Kong gave in 2010. only 60% of Americans gave.
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