Rachel Maddow, a popular liberal commentator on MSNBC, recently iterated — for the umpteenth time — the standard (...) talking point of Somalia as a supposedly unanswerable argument against anarchy.
But this is dirty pool for several reasons. First, no intelligent anarchist argues that the sudden and catastrophic implosion of the state will result in a peaceful, self-regulating society.
We’ve lived through centuries of the process which Pyotr Kropotkin described in “Mutual Aid” and “The State,” by which centralized territorial states suppressed bottom-up, self-organized alternatives, and caused civil society to atrophy. Under such circumstances, when the state suddenly disappears, the result is likely to be a power vacuum with nothing ready to take its place, and the proliferation of all sorts of social pathologies.
Second, “Somalia” does not equal “Mogadishu.” Most of the horrific, Mad Max scenes captured in Somalia are in Mogadishu, where the central state was most powerful before the collapse and the institutions of civil society were accordingly most atrophied. As Roderick Long, director of C4SS’s parent body the Molinari Society, put it, “the farther one gets away from Mogadishu, the more one gets into relatively peaceful areas that have always been anarchic or close to it, barring occasional intrusions from the statebuilders in the city.
Third, the proper comparison to Somalia is not the United States and similar societies in the West, but to the actual state that existed in Somalia before the collapse of central power. Given that comparison, things in Somalia aren’t that bad at all. For example: a study by Benjamin Powell, Ryan Ford and Alex Nowrasteh took “a comparative institutional approach to examine Somalia’s performance relative to other African countries both when Somalia had a government and during its extended period of anarchy.” And it found that Somalia, when subjected to an honest comparison — “between Somalia when it had a functioning government, and Somalia now” — is less poor, has higher life expectancy, and has experienced a drastic increase in telephone lines.
I’d also add, parenthetically, that while Somalia is often celebrated by anarcho-capitalist types, in reality it hardly fits the anarcho-capitalist stereotype (especially in those areas away from Mogadishu). For example, there’s widespread communal ownership of land by extended families and clans, with only possessory or usufructory rights by individuals.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 00:47