Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anarchy in Somalia

Do you want to know why capitalism struggles in certain places? Well, there's some great information in this article:

First off, you have to draw some parallels between what's going on over there and the founding of the United States. No, I'm serious, at least with regards to how the frontier was settled.

In our U.S. history books, we were taught several things about the settling of the frontier. The first thing was that the frontiersman liked to live on the edge, liked to kill Indians, and were the OG's of the motto "Live Free or Die". What else did we learn? That our government was very instrumental in helping people settle this land, right?

Well, guess what? Our government really didn't have much of a choice. Like any group of politicians, they saw the frontier as a money-making opportunity. And like the rugged individualists the settlers were, the people who were out living on the land said "oh yeah? Try to take it from me."

Of course, the U.S. had no resources or support to force these people to pay for land. And I'm kind of rambling here, but yes, there were many title disputes, laws passed, etc. But the point is that you must make laws that can be integrated to the existing culture and way of life. If you don't, you have no authority. People will naturally resist "change from above".

In Somalia, no citizen is going to listen to a government which is going to "reclaim" land after individuals have made improvements upon the land. They're also not going to pay taxes to a government that does not protect them - they already pay "taxes" to the warlords in their regions, which provide security.

You have to look at what people think of the government. I mean, it's their 14th in 16 years!! Don't you think that people have found a way to exist without it?

Bottom line: if you want a new government to work, it has to accommodate existing infrastructure. This rule should be applied to any failed state where a centralized government does not function. If not, then you can call Somalia's current condition a "libertarian utopia". No government, no property records and titles, no official dispute resolution, no all means that Somalia is a long way off from connecting to the global economy, which is the people's best chance at prosperity. The warlords are the obvious losers in this equation, and they will be difficult to uproot.

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