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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Somalia, a libertarian paradise? No, I'm not kidding, they really think so

So, this is the direction our friends on the right are ultimately taking us.

Anarchy in Somalia:

Earlier in the year, the BBC featured a series of articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the state in Somalia. Although the articles expressed the typical revulsion at "anarchy," the series was surprisingly balanced for such a mainstream outlet. Somalia is undeniably experiencing progress according to several criteria, despite (or, some would say, because of) its lack of a strong central government.
Economists familiar with the Rothbardian tradition have taken the analysis even further, persuasively arguing that Somalia is much better without a state than it was with one. The standard statist put-down — "If you Rothbardians like anarchy so much, why don't you move to Somalia?" — misses the point. The Rothbardian doesn't claim that the absence of a state is a sufficient condition for bliss. Rather, the Rothbardian says that however prosperous and law-abiding a society is, adding an institution of organized violence and theft will only make things worse.

The BBC Reflects on 20 Years of Anarchy

As I said initially, the BBC's treatment is remarkably balanced. One article begins,
Common sense dictates that security and stability are the necessary preconditions to economic development.
Since 26 January 1991, most of Somalia has had neither, yet the economy has not only been resilient, some sectors have shown remarkable growth.
In particular, the telecommunications industry has boomed:
Somali telecoms expert Ahmed Farah says the first mobile telephone mast went up in Somalia in 1994, and now someone can make a mobile call from anywhere in the country.
There are nine networks to choose from and they offer services from texting to mobile internet access.
It's not just the telecom industry that has improved. A different article outlines the change in some major indices over the last 20 years of (relative) statelessness:
Somalia: How Has Life Changed?
Index19912011 (or latest)
Life expectancy46 years50 years
Birth rate4644
Death rate1916
GDP per capita$210$600
Infant mortality116 deaths <1yr, per 1,000 births109 deaths <1yr, per 1,000 births
Access to safe water35%29%
Adult literacy24%38%
With the exception of the drop in birth rates (which is ambiguous) and the drop in access to safe water (which is clearly a bad thing), the above chart shows incredible progress on numerous fronts. I daresay that if a UN or World Bank intervention into a state-controlled African country had yielded such results, it would be trumpeted from the hilltops. (To avoid confusion: international aid groups are currently working in Somalia, and they could be partially responsible for the improvements illustrated in the chart.)

This video was a satire when it came out...

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