More on Somalian Anarchy


An addendum to Julian's post below about telecom in anarchic Somalia: this World Bank study has some qualified praise for various aspects of Somalian life:

To cope with the absence of the rule of law, private enterprises have been using foreign jurisdictions or institutions to help with some tasks, operating within networks of trust to strengthen property rights, and simplifying transactions until they require neither. Somalia's private
sector experience suggests that it may be easier than is commonly thought for basic systems of finance and some infrastructure services
to function where government is extremely weak or absent.

The short paper looks at not only telecom, but how Somali society deals with water, air travel, currency, and electricity. (In some cases, like using U.S. dollars, they could be seen as in effect free riding on government efforts elsewhere.) The paper does fault the lack of decent primary education and roads, but does not look on the stateless Somalis as a pure chaotic disaster.

NEXT: Greeks Say No To Greek Love: "Life Ran Very High In Those Days!" Sez Stone. But What Will the Saracens Say?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How many snowbirds from Lebanon come to Somalia?

    How vital to tourists is a flush terlit?

  2. I read the BBC article. It’s pretty funny to read about businesses that desperately want to pay taxes…

    That said, a deregulated telecom industry, especially in the day of wireless, is clearly a good thing.

  3. ah, the Libertarians look to Somalia as an exemplum, just another example of the godless sickness in our culture.

  4. Actually Somalia is the trump card for everyone that wants to argue against libertarianism, or anarchy. So it is only fitting to demonstrate that even in the false example of what would become of us without our nanny state, that is Somalia, apparently things are not all bad.

  5. Without the due process of law there is no presumption of innocence. I’m all for minimal regulation of business, but there are some things I won’t bend on (including reasonable environmental regulations, such as Milton Friedman’s effluant tax).

    The purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, and property.

  6. JonBuck,
    Then why does it spend so much time taking those things from us?

  7. A surprisingly clueful piece to come from the World Bank, IMO. Of course, I’m gratified that they make one of the same points I did yesterday:

    “Ideally, benevolent government would sort out both problems. But government that is merely stronger might not help. Where municipal governments along the Berbera-Hargeisa road have the power to collect tolls, they do not spend them on maintenance.”

    What I can’t quite get is their harping on “spillover effects” to the extent they do, giving roads and primary education as two examples and going so far as to say “fee-paying users are not the only ones who benefit from roads.” Yes, there are spillover effects, but I assure you that if I know how to read and you don’t, it benefits me a hell of a lot more than it benefits you. As for the roads, I suspect the Somalis are smart enough to figure out the concept of “passing the cost along to the consumer.”

    The example they give of a failure of the courts is troubling (the one in which a man from a minor clan got an unwarrantedly small settlement, which was then not enforced). But then, we here too spend a lot of time complaining about court failures, like asset forfeitures and eminent domain abuse.

  8. Jonbuck: “The purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, and property.”


    The contradiction in that line of argument is that government must violate my right to life, liberty, and property (through taxation, regulation, etc) in order to supposedly “protect” these rights.

    Constitutional government may be preferable to many other kinds of government, but I think the USA’s own history shows that government cannot be restricted to these few specific tasks.

  9. matt:

    I don’t see a contradiction. I pay taxes so a thief who breaks into my house and steals my computer is found and arrested. Am I infringing on the “freedom” of the thief to steal my computer? Or is it that you just don’t want to pay for protecting my computer, when you’re also protecting yours?

    To be honest, I don’t think we’re even on the same page here. As far as terms are concerned.

  10. jon:

    Finding and arresting the thief is the result of failing to protect property. Had your computer been protected it wouldn’t have been stolen. If you want protection get a home alarm system. They work. And you only pay for your own protection.

    You’re also neglecting the fact that taxes to pay for protecting your computer are depriving some people the funds to get their own computer.

    So you haven’t gotten the protection you paid for (your computer was stolen) and others don’t even get the computer!

  11. Jon: “To be honest, I don’t think we’re even on the same page here.”

    Well that’s probably true. I don’t know about you, but I pay taxes because it beats spending the rest of my life in prison.

    Your first question makes no sense. There is no such thing as “freedom to steal” (unless, of course, you’re the government).

    Regarding your second question, should I be forced to pay for securing your property? I say no, you say yes.

  12. JonBuck,

    Police “protection” (or enforcement of contracts), fire departments, and roads are probably the 3 government functions, that most anarchists could live with, if that was all government did.

    But do you know what percent of our taxes go towards those 3 areas? Minimal. IANAAccountant but I would guess less than 1% of all gubmint (all levels) revenue is spent in those areas.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.