Skip

REGULATION VACATION CELEBRATION!
May 7, 2009 10:09 PM   Subscribe

Sick of all that socialism? Come to Somalia! Who needs health care, the rule of law or a central government? It seems to be a pretty minimal state, some Libertarians are eying it with interest and others think it's doing very well for itself. (via Fipi Lele)
posted by bshort (98 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sick of all that socialism? Come to Somalia! Who needs health care, the rule of law or a central government? It seems to be a pretty minimal state, some Libertarians are eying it with interest and others think it's doing very well for itself.

Ron Paul could go out there and tell them their warlord tributes are too high.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


To be fair, those articles from the Cato Institute and von Mises are 2 and three years old, respectively. You can't expect the Randians to be farsighted.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:16 PM on May 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Since you mention Pete Leeson, I recommend you also listen to this lecture by him. I believe it's the right one (I actually went to the said seminar in person) and he addresses this argument "If you think anarchism is so great, why don't you move to Somalia?"

From what I recall (it's been almost a year since I first heard this lecture), Leeson has this way of describing nations in terms of "nth best." Somalia may be anarchism but it's not a best case scenario anarchism and it'd be a "15th best anarchism." I suppose if you really wanted an analogous of socialism, you could compare socialism in Cuba and socialism in Sweden, where Sweden might be the "1st best" socialism while Cuba would be like a "15th best" socialism. Sadly the Foundation for Economic Education (the people who put on the seminar) don't have video of this seminar so you can't see the slide show which explains this idea.

Point is that Somalia isn't an anarcho-capitalist paradise as some libertarians wished it would be, but it's not too bad considering it could do a lot worse like the rest of Africa.
posted by champthom at 10:21 PM on May 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


some Libertarians are eying it with interest

Shouldn't that be Liberians? Perhaps they're nostalgic for the good ol' days?
posted by grounded at 10:29 PM on May 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


some Libertarians are eying it with interest

Bon Voyage, douchebags.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:46 PM on May 7, 2009 [19 favorites]


(it seems every link past the first YouTube link is just padding and can be summarily ignored)
posted by Burhanistan at 10:47 PM on May 7, 2009


Is there some sort of charity I can donate to, to help pay airfare to get all the libertarians to Somalia?
posted by Flunkie at 10:50 PM on May 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


The BBC's country profile of Somalia sums up this view as widely publicized by the mainstream media: "Somalia has been without an effective central government since President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. Fighting between rival warlords and an inability to deal with famine and disease led to the deaths of up to one million people."

The first sentence is indeed true: when the president was driven out by opposing clans in 1991, the government disintegrated. The second sentence, however, depicts Somalia as a lawless country in disorder. As for disorder, Van Notten quotes authorities to the effect that Somalia's telecommunications are the best in Africa, its herding economy is stronger than that of either of its neighbors, Kenya or Ethiopia, and that since the demise of the central government, the Somali shilling has become far more stable in world currency markets, while exports have quintupled.


They conveniently neglect to mention the million(s) dead in the second paragraph.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:51 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoops, for a second there, I though we were supposed to read the links.
posted by daniel_charms at 11:01 PM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there some sort of charity I can donate to, to help pay airfare to get all the libertarians to Somalia?
posted by Flunkie at 10:50 PM on May 7 [+] [!]

"Wow. That is an awesome idea. You should totally go to Somalia."
"Right, and wi- [stops] Wait a minute. You never think my ideas are good, Kyle."
"No, I'm being totally serious. That is the best idea you've ever had. You should run away to Mogadishu. You should go there right away. I'll even help pay for your ticket."
posted by Ndwright at 11:08 PM on May 7, 2009 [14 favorites]


Man, there is some really tortured logic in these pieces:

Most of the world, for most of its history, has existed without effective governments. As noted economic historian Joel Mokyr points out, “In England,” for example, “there was not even a professional police force to protect private property” until the 19th century.

Yes, and we know that England pre-19th century was a model of liberty and equality for all people.

Just because the world has existed "without effective governments" doesn't mean that's a good thing. Most of the world has existed without a lot of things for most of its history: vaccines, sterilization, indoor heating and cooling, plumbing...
I guess we should just eliminate all that?
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:10 PM on May 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


This is a total misrepresentation of libertarianism. As the crank who runs the used bookstore explained it to me, it would be like Somalia without the bad stuff.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:12 PM on May 7, 2009 [22 favorites]


A guy I know will not stop going on about Somalia and how it's a model of a truly free state. He keeps talking about how there are totally, like, a dozen cell phone providers in the country now -- you don't see that just springing up in the rest of Africa! Etc etc.
posted by verb at 11:36 PM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I only got through the pirate example of Leeson's before giving up. He describes how pirate ships, little communities of pirates outside the sphere of effective government, created electable offices, a division of power, and a constitution. Little liberal democracies, essentially.

This is an argument for anarchism how? When 100 guys bother to draw up a constitution so they won't kill each other, it's not a shining example of a lack of government.
posted by fatbird at 11:42 PM on May 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


For that matter, how is Somalia an example of anarchy in action? Lacking a central government, it has a bunch of warlords maintaining sufficient order for them to get enough food to eat. It's a collection of dictatorships, not a libertarian enclave.
posted by fatbird at 11:46 PM on May 7, 2009 [15 favorites]


it could do a lot worse like the rest of Africa.

I question your knowledge of Africa, if you think Somalia is the best place in Africa to live.
posted by rodgerd at 12:15 AM on May 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


some Libertarians are eying it with interest

That is hilarious. For well over a decade now, the stock response to libertarian yahoos has been "if you think libertarianism is so awesome, try living in Somalia", followed perhaps by a crack about Ayn Rand. Now reality imitates the joke.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:38 AM on May 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Between this and the Dijon mustard thing, I think the right has embraced the tactic of pre-emptive parody.

"We parody ourselves over here so they can't parody us over there."
posted by dirigibleman at 1:39 AM on May 8, 2009 [13 favorites]


Actually fatbird, it is a libertarian enclave, as long as you are the local warlord at the top. If you're not, then not so much.
posted by barc0001 at 1:51 AM on May 8, 2009


I picture a balding, middle-aged white guy in khakis and a polo shirt, with a slight paunch, stepping off a Hercules from the Ethiopian Air Force at Mogadishu airport, taking a deep breath of free, anarcho-capitalist air, then being forced into an immediate transfer of wealth at the end of a motivation implement that takes 7.62 calibre rounds.

Idiots.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:56 AM on May 8, 2009 [10 favorites]


"Drive me to the city limits: God is war and love.
Your lucky star fell out the sky,
And the mother ships above

Captain Martyr Mahmoud says
It's a 24 hour flight
When the fireworks hit you, Mogadishu,
On a beautiful Saturday night
Yeah, alright"

posted by ford and the prefects at 2:16 AM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's a collection of dictatorships, not a libertarian enclave.

I'm going to step out on a limb here and say that this might be a distinction without a difference.
posted by Avenger at 2:41 AM on May 8, 2009 [33 favorites]


The arguement that Somalia-style anarchy (which is a lot more complicated and a lot less theoretical than anarcho-[x]) is better than tyrannical kleptocracy is not very persuasive. All it really shows is that no government may be better than a criminally insane government. Though interesting, it isn't something to base an ideology on.
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:24 AM on May 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


In seriousness, if people want to go to Somalia expecting it to be a shining example of a free market Libertarian Utopia, by all means, let them go.

Provided they make it home in one piece, they will not be Libertarians any more.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:28 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually fatbird, it is a libertarian enclave, as long as you are the local warlord at the top. If you're not, then not so much.

Which, of course, is the criticism of any kind of purist strain of libertarianism anyone with half a brain comes up with.

(Faux libertarians who want the police and courts and laws that are convenient for them, but not anyone else are, as a great man said, just whiny tax-dodgers).

All it really shows is that no government may be better than a criminally insane government.

You have to get pretty criminally insane. I mean, I wouldn't want to live in China as a rule, but I'd take China over Somalia any day of the week.
posted by rodgerd at 3:56 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


One of the defining characteristics of a libertarian is the unspoken belief that if the experiment went wrong and things got a bit hairy, they would have enough cash to buy themselves some security.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:10 AM on May 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


some Libertarians are eying it with interest

Shouldn't that be Liberians? Perhaps they're nostalgic for the good ol' days?


Maybe it should be Librarians. Just think of the ways they could arrange the books unfettered from the likes of Brinkler, Cutter, and Dewey!
posted by Pollomacho at 4:31 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somalia isn't libertarian. Libertarian is when everything is exactly like it is now in the US, except I personally don't have to pay taxes or take showers. Plus I can hit women on the head and drag them back to my house by their hair.
posted by DU at 4:34 AM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Plus I can hit women on the head and drag them back to my house by their hair.

Hey, my best friend is a libertarian, and he'd take great offense at that. He's gay.
Jared buddy i love ya
posted by luftmensch at 4:52 AM on May 8, 2009


Libertarianism isn't about what your best friend can do. It's about what I can do. And I like wimmin.
posted by DU at 5:05 AM on May 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


I only got through the pirate example of Leeson's before giving up. He describes how pirate ships, little communities of pirates outside the sphere of effective government, created electable offices, a division of power, and a constitution. Little liberal democracies, essentially.


Yeah, little liberal democracies founded on the principle of stealing your shit and keeping it for ourselves. Sounds pretty libertarian to me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:14 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


A useful argument for future military interventions: "Yeah, we reduced your country to a state of anarchy. Aren't you grateful? You could be the new Somalia."
posted by Phanx at 5:19 AM on May 8, 2009


LOL "South Park Republicans"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:24 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


verb: "A guy I know will not stop going on about Somalia and how it's a model of a truly free state. He keeps talking about how there are totally, like, a dozen cell phone providers in the country now -- you don't see that just springing up in the rest of Africa! Etc etc."

One of our local malls has a dozen cell phone providers and that's just on the first floor.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:39 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Libertarians always conveniently forget infrastructure. Water, roads, sewer, power. That's a pretty good argument for government right there.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:49 AM on May 8, 2009


Somalia may be anarchism but it's not a best case scenario anarchism and it'd be a "15th best anarchism." I suppose if you really wanted an analogous of socialism, you could compare socialism in Cuba and socialism in Sweden, where Sweden might be the "1st best" socialism while Cuba would be like a "15th best" socialism.

The Somalia:China analogy would be a little more convincing if the libertarian equivalent of Sweden existed anywhere in the world.
posted by naoko at 6:00 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oops, Cuba, not China.
posted by naoko at 6:00 AM on May 8, 2009


Ironically, the state that attracts the most Somali immigrants is Minnesota, which is probably the closest the United States comes to approximating Scandinavian socialism.
posted by jonp72 at 6:02 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did anyone catch the user generated tags to the article in the last link? They include:

reprehensible lolbertarianism, logical fallacy, ludwig von penises, blowin on that endo,
posted by SugarFreeGum at 6:05 AM on May 8, 2009


If you add the word 'So' to Obama's older daughter's name, she IS Somalia. Arrr, the pirates have a plant in the White House now! Call Cheney, and ask him to bring his shotgun!
posted by jamstigator at 6:09 AM on May 8, 2009


While millions of Somalis receive food aid,[59][60] according to a study by the UNDP and the European Commission, it is estimated that as much as $1 billion USD is annually remitted to Somalia by Somalis in the diaspora via money transfer companies—far more than the amount of development funding flowing into the country.[61]
...
Conflict broke out again in early 2006 between an alliance of Mogadishu warlords known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (or "ARPCT") and a militia loyal to the Islamic Courts Union (or "I.C.U."), seeking to institute Sharia law in Somalia. Social law changes, such as the forbidding of chewing khat,[30] were part of moves by the ICU to change behaviours and impose strict social morals. It was widely reported that soccer playing was being banned, as well as viewing of broadcasts of soccer games,[31] but there were also reports of the ICU itself denying any such bans.[32] The Islamic Courts Union was led by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. When asked if the ICU plans to extend its control to the rest of Somalia, Sheikh Ahmed responded in an interview: "Land is not our priority. Our priority is the people's peace, dignity and that they could live in liberty, that they could decide their own fate. That is our priority. Our priority is not land; the people are important to us."[33]
...
Toronto, where a sizable Somali community exists, replaced Mogadishu (because of the instability) as the centre of the Somali music industry, which is also present in London, Minneapolis, and Columbus. One popular musician from the Somali diaspora is K'naan, a young rapper from Toronto, whose songs talk about the struggles of life in Somalia during the outbreak of the civil war.

posted by Brian B. at 6:15 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


> For that matter, how is Somalia an example of anarchy in action? Lacking a central government, it has a bunch of warlords maintaining sufficient order for them to get enough food to eat. It's a collection of dictatorships, not a libertarian enclave.

You answered your own question.
posted by Decimask at 6:23 AM on May 8, 2009


Though interesting, it isn't something to base an ideology on.

How does it compare with strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords?
posted by Reverend John at 6:45 AM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Peter Leeson was really digging there: "Everyone from Thomas Hobbes to Adam Smith repeats the claim that societies need government to protect property and produce widespread cooperation." Hobbes (1588-1679) and Smith (1723-1790) are indeed the scope of western thought. I really hope the next OCon is in Somalia. Maybe The Atlasphere can charter a singles cruise to international waters to check out current-day pirates.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:48 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I, like a lot of you, have a lot of beliefs in common with libertarians. I also, like a lot of you, find libertarians insufferable. I hate it when people play a game I call "right but best too" it is one thing to think that economic liberty is so important that it trumps concerns of fairness. It is another thing to think that economic liberty leads to optimal outcomes in a utilitarian sense. Often times libertarians will have these amorphous arguments where blah blah blah a man is entitled to the fruits of his own labor therefore all economic problems are the result of market interventions and poorly established property rights on the part of the state. The free market is a great tool for having good utilitarian outcomes but it is not in anyone perfect. There is no cosmic principle that declares state intervention necessarily causes more problems than it solves.
posted by I Foody at 6:49 AM on May 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


K'naan is good, e.g. What's hardcore?
posted by MetaMonkey at 6:56 AM on May 8, 2009


The free market is a great tool for having good utilitarian outcomes but it is not in anyone perfect. There is no cosmic principle that declares state intervention necessarily causes more problems than it solves.

The common mistake for most libertarians to make is to believe that the common utilities, common education and common defense came after common prosperity and progress, rather than before.
posted by Brian B. at 6:58 AM on May 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


ludwig von penises

I think we found the quintessential libertarian porn name.
posted by jonp72 at 7:03 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Van Notten quotes authorities to the effect that Somalia's telecommunications are the best in Africa, its herding economy is stronger than that of either of its neighbors, Kenya or Ethiopia, and that since the demise of the central government, the Somali shilling has become far more stable in world currency markets, while exports have quintupled.

Hitler was a better dancer than Churchill, he was a better dresser than Churchill, he told funnier jokes...
posted by PlusDistance at 7:09 AM on May 8, 2009


survivor somalia! now THAT'S a reality tv show I've been waiting to see. starring 'ron paul' as the maniac host who doesn't understand why everyone else isn't loving it.
posted by krautland at 7:10 AM on May 8, 2009


I think we found the quintessential libertarian porn name.

Actually let's generalize it into a game we can all play, a la NPR name or regular porn name.

So, what's your libertarian porn name? It's the first name of your favorite libertarian, and then 'von', and then a cool body part.

I'll start: Paul von TaTa
posted by kingbenny at 7:17 AM on May 8, 2009


Life expectancy at birth
United State: 78.06
Cuba: 75.08
Somalia: 48.84

Ummm... Not a close call. Besides both of those nations are in highly artificial states. Cuba is a tiny island that has been under U.S. embargo for decades, and Somalia is split between factions created after a U.S-backed Ethiopian invasion established a failed puppet-state.

I don't think Somalia therefore can be fairly described as an anarchy, it doesn't have the history, culture, or government that anarchists want (my understanding is that anarchists want minimalist local government, not regional absolutist warlords). Anarchism isn't necessarily the opposite of socialism, they can coexist.
posted by Humanzee at 7:24 AM on May 8, 2009


I fail to see how Libertarians could idolize Somalia. In Somalia you actually have to pick up a weapon instead of simply bragging about your ability to have one.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:27 AM on May 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Yesterday, I saw a "no socialism" bumper sticker. On a car (SUV, actually). On public roads.
posted by Eideteker at 7:29 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yesterday, I saw a "no socialism" bumper sticker. On a car (SUV, actually). On public roads.

If it was a GM car, you hit the trifecta.
posted by goethean at 7:33 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, what's your libertarian porn name? It's the first name of your favorite libertarian, and then 'von', and then a cool body part.

Google von Coll(arbone)
posted by DU at 7:50 AM on May 8, 2009


Okay, lots of good snark, but I was actually asking serious questions: in theoretical terms that Leeson or Mr. von Penises would articulate, how is a pirate ship or Somalia a (positive) example of anarchy in action? On a per-pirate basis, they would seem to have an excess of government, with a written constitution, elected offices, and a division of power for 100 guys. And all the second essay describes is how Somalia, lacking an effective central government, has reverted to a lot of "customary law" and power structures based on clans. In neither case does an individual have total or even a whole lot of freedom.

I'm left wondering if they understand libertarianism.
posted by fatbird at 8:05 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


The common mistake for most libertarians to make is to believe that the common utilities, common education and common defense came after common prosperity and progress, rather than before.

If this is an expression that says (most/establishment) libertarians have there priorities mixed up then I agree. But not all libertarians are biased towards the same priorities. For example: I would like to get rid of welfare, but I know that simply doing away with it right now would be idiotic and cause suffering for untold amounts of people. In fact, It's not so much that I want to get rid of welfare as I want to make it unnecesary. If we can create a society in which welfare is unnecesary, then isn't that a good goal to work towards?

Which brings up liberals/progressives own priority problems: They can't see an end to welfare. They can't see an end to subsidies. They can't see an end to coercive law enforcement. They can't see an end to the state. They've copped out by accepting these as necessary evils and bought into the ambiguous notion of progress and by extension the ambiguous notion of "prehistory" which conveniently hides or belittles any human (or going wider: biological) achievements made before the coming of civilization by characterizing them as primitive, stupid, obvious, inevitable, or otherwise not noteworthy. Is it any surprise that progressive liberals rode the economic liberals coattails in the destruction of the indigenous world? Not really. Maybe some cried about it, but in the end they decided that the cost of progress was worth it. Regardless, they were dragged along for the ride by greedy people pandering to that strongly held belief in progress. A ride they seem to defend to this day. And that's the progressives mistake, and it's a hell of a lot more bloody.

(my understanding is that anarchists want minimalist local government, not regional absolutist warlords)

We want neither. We (ultimately, and this is important) want a stateless society. No government. The abolition of power. That's what defines an anarchist, plain and simple.

The means we use to achieve that from our present shitty position might involve. I'm a pragmatist, not a puritan, and so I can see how government is absolutely necessary in our current shitty situation in which an unsustainable population is about to currently squaring off with resource depletion, the effects of environmental degredation resulting from the continued use of those rapidly disappearing resources, and the psychological and cultural prisons that we've built that stand in our way of doing what is necessary. I like how this blog post puts it:

Is government a necessary evil?

Today, on this specific hour, it is. Tomorrow, less so. Four months from now, even less. A century, a millennium from now? Surely not at all.

Of course if today should become tomorrow and yet the state of the world remain precisely the same, then government would, at that moment, be precisely as necessary an evil as it is today. If we should somehow drift into the future without doing a single thing to make it a better one. If we should somehow proceed without taking a single step towards making government unnecessary. ...If four centuries should pass and yet somehow the conditions of our world remain precisely the same, then on that day government will be just as necessary an evil.

But the future is unwritten.

There is no guarantee that by tomorrow, the people of the world will not have shrugged off the disease that is our pursuit of power. Unlikely, to be sure. But for now, at least, we still have a measure of agency to make ourselves better people. The ability to build alternatives, inspire hope and expose the inherent weaknesses of those would-be warlords and social-democrats. And the capacity to eventually take such a small and fledgling step as abolishing government. Uncertainty exists.

And surely, extended out as much as four centuries from now, that uncertainty is more than sufficient to completely eclipse the world as it is today. So from our standpoint, while it may be necessary today, there is no reason why government should be considered a necessary evil for our grandchildren.

Even so, at the end of the day, perhaps government will remain just as necessary an evil as it was in the morning.

But it will be by no fault of my own.

Can you say the same?

posted by symbollocks at 8:09 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm left wondering if they understand libertarianism.

Nobody understand libertarianism. If you press a libtard on any given issue, it always comes down to either:

1) The Free Market Will Solve This *moment of silence*

or

2) No One Disputes We Would Need Regulation In This Case

Here's the problem in a nutshell: On a planet with more than one being, those beings cannot have "total freedom". They will have to form an agreement on how to act in disputes, disagreements or when attempting to cooperate. That is government.

This government will exist whether you design one or let it evolve, this is a mathematical fact. The (implicit) "true" libertarian solution is "might makes right". If you disagree that this is a good solution, libertarianism is not for you.
posted by DU at 8:12 AM on May 8, 2009 [10 favorites]


The (implicit) "true" libertarian solution is "might makes right".

That would be the state's solution. How does the state enforce it's laws? Through threat of force (and let's not forget: actual force).
posted by symbollocks at 8:21 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Point is that Somalia isn't an anarcho-capitalist paradise as some libertarians wished it would be, but it's not too bad considering it could do a lot worse like the rest of Africa.

Huh?! My father visited Somalia just before the collapse of the Siad Barré regime, when it was just another egregious kleptocracy (literally: when he went to the National Bank, they had no Somali money left because the Minister of Finance had just personally ransacked it) and although he didn't have much good to say about the place when he came back, at least he made it back in one piece, which would be quite unlikely these days.

Also, about the same time he also visited Liberia, which was then in a similar state of disarray as Somalia is now (yes, his job pretty much sucked back then). The differences? Well, they were quite substantial: having to rely on continuous protection courtesy of the US Marine Corps, and seeing human skeletons on the roadside.

What neither capitalist- nor socialist-libertarians realise, is that, as human nature is, we can never escape authority: it will always ultimately be in the hands of those carrying the largest stick. We can only tinker with the ways in which the sticks are handed out...
posted by Skeptic at 8:23 AM on May 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Two really quick clarifications --

1. Somalia: Feudal.
2. Arguing with Libertarians: Futile.
posted by rusty at 8:24 AM on May 8, 2009 [19 favorites]


Ron Von Schlong.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:32 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


That would be the state's solution. How does the state enforce it's laws? Through threat of force (and let's not forget: actual force).

I'm not talking about enforcement. I'm talking about the ability to make the laws in the first place, i.e. the formation of government. In LiberLand, that's also "might makes right". There's no election or consensus. There's just the guy with the biggest gun gets to "resolve" all disputes.

Once a consensus is reached, yes, there's threat of force for compliance (if compliance is necessary).
posted by DU at 8:32 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


we can never escape authority

Your lack of imagination is killing me. What are you arguing against?
posted by symbollocks at 8:33 AM on May 8, 2009


symbollocks: They can't see an end to welfare. They can't see an end to subsidies. They can't see an end to coercive law enforcement. They can't see an end to the state. They've copped out by accepting these as necessary evils...

It's not a cop out. It's an imperfect solution. A phrase which borders on the redundant because there is no such thing as a perfect solution. Some people aren't going to be able to take care of themselves. Or people who can take care of themselves sometimes might go through periods where they can't take care of themselves. I'm fine with that. End stop. So you help these people to live ok lives. This might create a disincentive for people who can take care of themselves to not bother and let the state do it and that's bad. So you play with the incentives to try and do what's best. Some people will try and hurt people so you try and stop them. I really have no idea what you think is an alternative unless it's some post singularity robo genetically engineered utopia. How does anything resembling libertarianism get you from point A to point B?
posted by I Foody at 8:36 AM on May 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


In LiberLand

*ahem* The correct term is "Libertopia".
posted by fatbird at 8:38 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


We (ultimately, and this is important) want a stateless society. No government. The abolition of power. That's what defines an anarchist, plain and simple.

Well, to be fair, there is no king of anarchists who decrees who is and isn't one. I'm no expert, but when I've tried to look up anarchism, I found there to be (unsurprisingly) many types. That said, I think your definition is a bit overly simplistic. Let's say you have some simple agrarian society with no roads or fighter planes or anything else that requires central government. Furthermore, let's suppose that everyone is nice, so they don't get conquered by the dictatorship next door. There will still be communal resources. Rivers, lakes, probably communal pastures. And there will have to be agreements between locals who utilize those resources, as to what constitutes fair usage. No dumping shit in the lake. No diverting the whole river to irrigate your crops. You can use this part of the pasture on Monday, I'll use the other part on Tuesday, etc. Local agreements, arrived at through open discussion, enforced largely through peer-pressure. That's what I meant by minimalist local government, and I'm sure that many self-identifying anarchists would recognize this as their end state. I don't think it's fair to describe it as "no government", and as Skeptic pointed out, it's hopelessly idealistic for the foreseeable future. You yourself indicated a willingness to compromise for the time being, and so I think it's perfectly reasonable to talk about the type of government that anarchists would prefer.
posted by Humanzee at 8:40 AM on May 8, 2009


They can't see an end to welfare. They can't see an end to subsidies. They can't see an end to coercive law enforcement. They can't see an end to the state.

Do you truly ever believe there will be a time when there won't be members of society who are incapable of making their own living? (Cripples, old people, orphans, the mentally ill...?) Do you truly believe in a just society that simply allowed these people to die miserably?

Do you truly believe that there will be a time when coercive law enforcement will be unnecessary? Where people will willingly pay for their crimes without coercion?

Do you really believe that millions of people can live together in harmony for the rest of time without a central organizing body? Have you ever seen even, say, a dozen people do this for a few decades?

You live in a dream-world. In the real world, people are extremely diverse with needs and desires that appear irrational to each other.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:45 AM on May 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


Your lack of imagination is killing me. What are you arguing against?

I don't see you presenting viable alternatives to the current forms of government present on Earth, bucko.

I'd have a lot more time for anarchists and libertarians alike if they defined how their world would work rather than spending all of their time pissing on the nation-state system and expecting me to agree with them.

They can't see an end to welfare. They can't see an end to subsidies. They can't see an end to coercive law enforcement. They can't see an end to the state. They've copped out by accepting these as necessary evils...

What's your alternative? Just deriding people for lack of 'imagination' and not offering anything as an alternative is a waste of time.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:47 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bon Voyage douchebags was the name of my band in high school.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:59 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who needs health care, the rule of law or a central government?

Um...Somalians?
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:06 AM on May 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Maybe I missed it up-thread, but is everybody here now fully aware of the mind-boggling irony of the CATO essay comparing the mythical archetype of 17th century pirate societies with today's, you know, actual piratical society of coastal Somalia? The one where desperate people with nothing to feed themselves with except guns have taken to the seas and are currently robbing passerby as a means of survival? Or is it just me?
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:22 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Humanzee, you have to understand, there won't be a need for those local agreements, because in the anarchy envisioned by symbollocks, people won't actually shit or irrigate or use resources, or do any of that ugly stuff that requires government mediation. We will all be pure and just, sitting in the sunlight and going "Ohmmmmmmm....."

And at the end of the day, if you can't see how this is not only right and proper, but inevitable, well that's YOUR failure of imagination, not symbollocks'.
posted by happyroach at 9:35 AM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Stories like this have always struck me as a little bit juvenile. Somalia is declared to be "Libertarian", so that you can say, "ha ha, they tried it your way and everyone died! guess you're dumb!". Never mind that no Libertarian would agree that Somalia is anything but a poor and flawed implementation of Libertarianism, if they agree that it is Libertarian at all (which I doubt they do).

As far as I can tell, the point of the Cato article is not that anarchy is inherently superior to government, but that for Somalia, anarchy has worked better than the corrupt ineffective government that is its only other option. The point of the Mises article is that the traditional/customary governance system, which is decentralized and based on clans, works better for Somalians, and that attempts to impose a centralized government have lead to warfare and dictatorship as the clans jostle for power, since those with the favour of the government could suddenly exert power and influence at a much larger scale.

In other words, it's not about Libertarians; it's about traditional vs Western-imposed systems of governance. I think you could draw an interesting parallel with places like Iraq and Afghanistan where the centralized government set up by Western powers is less effective than meeting the needs of the people than the systems that came before it.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:55 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


PercussivePaul: "for Somalia, anarchy has worked better than the corrupt ineffective government that is its only other option....the traditional/customary governance system, which is decentralized and based on clans, works better for Somalians, and that attempts to impose a centralized government have lead to warfare and dictatorship"

How shall I put it...erm...bollocks. Utter and complete, nasty, shortsighted and rather patronising bollocks. As I said, I've heard first-person accounts of what the Siad Barré regime was like, and it was doubtlessly as nasty a dictatorship as there can be...but it was possibly worlds better than what the Somalis have had to put up with ever since, and I don't doubt for a minute that most Somalis old enough to remember the dictatorship (possibly not many, considering the current average life expectancy) miss it.

To call what Somalia must endure these days "traditional/customary government", as opposed to "Western centralised government", first of all overlooks the fact that Western nations also once had uncannily similar forms of "traditional/customary government", and that that period wasn't called the "Dark Ages" for nothing.

It also overlooks that periods of more or less centralised government as well as sheer anarchy can also be found in the history of many other human civilisations, from the Far East to Central America, completely independently of Western intervention.

Finally, it appears to assume that Somalis are somehow genetically predisposed to such "traditional/customary government" rather than more democratic and fair forms of governance, something that, if I was a Somali abroad, I'd find rather insulting, if not altogether sinister.
posted by Skeptic at 10:17 AM on May 8, 2009


I find this whole discussion amusing as it concerns outdated articles from think tanks who probably no longer support those particular viewpoints. The post was all about the goofy YouTube vid, and would've been just fine as a plain old SLYT.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:30 AM on May 8, 2009


"I think you could draw an interesting parallel with places like Iraq and Afghanistan where the centralized government set up by Western powers is less effective than meeting the needs of the people than the systems that came before it."

The issue isn't that centralized representative governments are less effective than warlordism... especially given that there are tons of examples where central governments are shown to be extremely effective on a number of different levels. It's basically that what the Somalis know works better than what they don't know.

That's no reason for their society not to gradually learn, however. What they need to do is make sure that the Somali people have a positive incentive to do so.
posted by markkraft at 10:31 AM on May 8, 2009


Skeptic, all that's great and I would love to have that debate. I have nothing to contribute though, I was only attempting to summarize the articles; my point was more that the issues are more complex (and in fact more interesting) than LOL LIBERTARIANS as it is often framed.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:35 AM on May 8, 2009


The issues are more complex and interesting. Unfortunately, like many ideologues, the Libertarians themselves make them simplistic and stupid in order to support their program.

But then again, I can't imagine everything running on unicorn jizz, so I may have a failure of imagination.
posted by klangklangston at 12:23 PM on May 8, 2009


Googǂ Ron Pau!
posted by Smedleyman at 12:47 PM on May 8, 2009


(yeah ok, not a lot of Khoesaan or Xhosa speakers in Somalia. Some Bantu tho...)
posted by Smedleyman at 12:47 PM on May 8, 2009


man, I missed all the LOLLIBERTARDS

I just wanted to come in here and name drop William Duranty and I.F. Stone.

Suck on that, you Me-Lefties
posted by FuManchu at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2009


or even Walter Duranty I'll just leave now
posted by FuManchu at 1:43 PM on May 8, 2009


I suppose if you really wanted an analogous of socialism, you could compare socialism in Cuba and socialism in Sweden, where Sweden might be the "1st best" socialism while Cuba would be like a "15th best" socialism.

OK, now just point out to me the 1st best example of libertarianism so we can have a point of reference. I'd like to see the best example of libertarianism anywhere on the planet, at any given time throughout history, and compare it to the "1st best" of other types of systems of governance. So, Sweden vs. who, then? I suppose Singapore can represent "Authoritarian Democracy," and maybe Laos as "Communism." Great Britain for "Parliamentary Democracy?" Doesn't matter... just show me the #1 example of each, and we'll compare by asking the simple question, "Which would you prefer?" Please note: if your #1 example hasn't actually happened yet (anywhere, any time) outside the realm of hypothetical and you're just talking make-believe, you don't get to include it.

The unfortunately fact is, mankind has simply done better with a slightly bigger stick (or better drug) to keep the animal side of us in line.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:47 PM on May 8, 2009


Ludwig von Penises is just cracking me up. I'm wondering, how do you pronounce the last word? Does the last syllable rhyme with "is" or "breeze"?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:00 PM on May 8, 2009


New Zealand and Hong Kong are usually considered the most laissez-faire economies, I think. They're not so bad socially, either (except, you know, that whole voting thing in HK).
posted by FuManchu at 4:30 PM on May 8, 2009


Which brings up liberals/progressives own priority problems: [...] They can't see an end to coercive law enforcement.

Well, I kind of rely on coercive law enforcement to encourage people not to kill me and take my stuff.

I mean, the world's resources are like a cake, cut up into slices. But everyone really likes cake; some people people like cake enough that they would kill someone just to get their hands on that person's slice of cake.

The way I see it the three main ways around this are: (1) Coercive enforcement of a "don't kill people and take their cake" law (i.e. stop people being able to resort to violence to get more cake); (2) Await a science-fiction post-scarcity society (i.e. stop people needing to resort to violence to get more cake); or (3) Bring about a change in society/human behaviour such that nobody wants more cake than they have (i.e. stop people wanting to resort to violence to get more cake).

Considering the feasibility of the three options, it would be pretty neat if option 2 or 3 ever became possible, but they're so science fiction it's kind of understandable that people might not forsee an end to the need for option 1.

If you know of some way other than those I have enumerated, I'd be interested to hear it.
posted by Mike1024 at 5:02 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mike, see Negative and positive rights for discussion of that. I think you may be confusing libertarianism with anarchism ... which isn't difficult to do with all of their flavors.
posted by FuManchu at 5:15 PM on May 8, 2009



New Zealand and Hong Kong are usually considered the most laissez-faire economies, I think. They're not so bad socially, either (except, you know, that whole voting thing in HK).


OK, so we're moving from "people who don't know shit about Africa" to "People who don't know shit about the Pacific Rim."

You could have read the Wikipedia or CIA Factbook entries for New Zealand, and then you wouldn't have to be so embarrased by your post if, at some point you manage to gain a smidgin of education and come back to it one day.
posted by rodgerd at 6:00 PM on May 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


wut?

Deregulation plus inflation targeting equals "Business/Economic Freedom" in line with neoliberal / Friedman / Chicago ideals.

What are you trying to school me on, with your audacious and haughty toungue-lashing, there?
posted by FuManchu at 6:27 PM on May 8, 2009


Yes, all my libertarian t-shirts are theme and variation on Deregulation plus inflation targeting equals "Businesss/Economic Freedom". You've really captured the essence of the world-historical movement. Oh, and they both have "socialized" health care that would make an American cry in his insulin.
posted by gum at 7:28 PM on May 8, 2009


Ah, I was just going with the closest modern country enacting policies that libertarians would prefer to the others. I had in mind comparing Marxists preferring Sweden.

In all of history, the best example I've heard is Mideval Iceland (from Mises.org, as well). Not sure if it was actually all that different from Somalia in terms of quality of life.
posted by FuManchu at 8:11 PM on May 8, 2009


OK, so we're moving from "people who don't know shit about Africa" to "People who don't know shit about the Pacific Rim."

You could have read the Wikipedia or CIA Factbook entries for New Zealand, and then you wouldn't have to be so embarrased by your post if, at some point you manage to gain a smidgin of education and come back to it one day.


I've definitely seen studies that put NZ as one of the three most free market economies in the world - can't remember the exact criteria though, whether it was lack of regulation, or lack of tariffs, or ease of starting a business, or what, but the top three countries were Singapore, HK and NZ. Clearly it didn't look at things like the education or health systems, or even tax (I can't see Cullen's 39% going down well with Libertarians). But on at least some criteria, NZ does have a very laissez-faire economy.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:18 AM on May 9, 2009


Which brings up liberals/progressives own priority problems: They can't see an end to welfare. They can't see an end to subsidies. They can't see an end to coercive law enforcement. They can't see an end to the state.

I disagree. Liberal pragmatics is loosely based on equal inputs within a free market framework, avoiding wasted talent and wasted childhood development, win-win and all that. Greedy critics use game theory propaganda to twist this notion to be equal outputs instead, or the interpretation that we simply give everyone the same amount of money to call it even, a win-lose injustice. As a practical matter, all welfare and subsidies are temporary, just try getting a job and honestly collecting welfare if you don't think so. As for coercive law enforcement, liberals got rid of debtors prisons, and are famously lenient compared to conservatives. End to the state? In all my years wondering what liberalism was, it never occurred to me that democratic organization should be ended. All other states? Sure, why not.

They've copped out by accepting these as necessary evils and bought into the ambiguous notion of progress and by extension the ambiguous notion of "prehistory" which conveniently hides or belittles any human (or going wider: biological) achievements made before the coming of civilization by characterizing them as primitive, stupid, obvious, inevitable, or otherwise not noteworthy.

Liberal is generally considered to be anti-colonial from a modern perspective.

Is it any surprise that progressive liberals rode the economic liberals coattails in the destruction of the indigenous world? Not really. Maybe some cried about it, but in the end they decided that the cost of progress was worth it. Regardless, they were dragged along for the ride by greedy people pandering to that strongly held belief in progress. A ride they seem to defend to this day. And that's the progressives mistake, and it's a hell of a lot more bloody.

I doubt it. If you are blaming social liberals for technological progress and expansion, then you have made the mistake in adopting the same ambiguity mentioned earlier by you. Social progress generally refers to ending traditional hierarchies and caste systems, and if you think the latter (including slavery and royal inbreeding) are all natural and romantic in the modern age itself, that's your prerogative, but then again, social liberals aren't guilty of anything by association just because they didn't go along with a romanticized false naturalism they don't need.
posted by Brian B. at 11:44 AM on May 9, 2009


The shift in meaning of "anarchist" from "libertarian socialist" to "libertarian capitalist" just kills me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:31 PM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


The shift in meaning of "anarchist" from "libertarian socialist" to "libertarian capitalist" just kills me.

Huh, after reading about it on Wikipedia, it looks like those two sides were having trouble separating it out for themselves until the 20th century. This quote pretty much sums up everyone's issues:
[Voltairine de Cleyre] commented that "Socialism and Communism both demand a degree of joint effort and administration which would beget more regulation than is wholly consistent with ideal Anarchism; Individualism and Mutualism, resting upon property, involve a development of the private policeman not at all compatible with my notion of freedom"
posted by FuManchu at 2:10 AM on May 10, 2009


Well, except that, as students of international relations know, we live in global anarchy, and that includes both global administrations and cooperations, as well as requiring military force in order to protect interests.

Anarchy only works in very large or very small systems—very large systems because subordinate organizations enstate and fill the gaps, very small systems because there is no real conflict of interest to be mitigated or those conflicts are small.

But frankly, there is no functioning state that is not a mixture of socialism and capitalism, and the "moral" claims that Libertarians and Randians make in order to justify shifting away from that are at best stupid and circular, at worst outright falsehoods spread in order to forward their personal agendas. Unfortunately, many well-meaning folks get caught up with both those philosophies, without realizing that in the real world, they're as discredited as mercantilism and state communism.
posted by klangklangston at 11:00 AM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older Spoiler: This time, Comic Sans does NOT save the...   |   20 Years Of Supercilious Gits Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post