I Hate to Say “I Told You So”
Posted by PintofStout on September 20, 2007
Way back in December of last year I had pontificated about the real source of government (and the violence that occurs when government isn’t dominant). The post, Anarchy Is In Your Head, was making a case for why violence in Somalia wasn’t due to anarchy or the absence of a stable (read: dominant) government. Now, as if I had planted a seed, the same idea is birthed about nine months later by Spencer Heath MacCallum from the Ludwig von Mises Institute (better than a week ago, thanks Mr. Ender!). MacCallum gives a progress report to see how beneficial a government was compared to (…gasp…) chaos (bugga! bugga!). He then proceeds to review the attempts at forming a democracy – because we all know that democracy is the only civil way to have a society – and the violent failures of each. There is also this:
Hence the most violent years in Somalia were the years following 1991 when the United Nations was physically present, attempting to impose a central government. When the United Nations withdrew in 1995, the expectation of a future central government began to recede, and things began to stabilize. But the United Nations continued it efforts to re-establish a government through a series of some sixteen failed “peace conferences.” In 2000 it set up a straw government, the Transitional National Government (TNG). However, not only did the northern Somali clans not recognize the TNG, it was unable to control its intended capital city of Mogadishu. Today a combined “peace-keeping mission” of United States–backed troops from Ethiopia, Somalia’s traditional enemy, and Uganda under the aegis of the African Union is in Mogadishu attempting to prop up the TNG and secure its control over the rest of Somalia. Violence soars.
The situation is curiously like an event in Greek mythology. The gods on Mt. Olympus were enjoying a festive party, to which, understandably, they had not invited Eris, the goddess of discord. Eris, just as understandably, took the matter personally. She had the blacksmith Hephaestus fashion a golden apple, on which was written καλλιστι — “To the fairest.” Then she opened the door a crack and rolled the golden apple into the festive hall. In no time at all, the gods were fighting over who should have the apple. The golden apple in Somalia is the expectation that there will soon be a central government. As long as there is that expectation, the clans must fight over who will control it.
It always feels good to be validated by a more respectable, presumably smarter figure. *sigh*
The rest of this fine article elaborates on the savage method these uncivilized people used to live in respect to laws before the enlightened white folk arrived. Their rule of law is such that it is in danger of become some sort of –archy. Of course, not many anarchists will concede that such a state of affairs is actually chaotic or completely without structure. Instead, the voluntary nature of whatever structure there is would be tantamount. When anarchists theorize, perhaps ironically, about how an anarchic society would organize or function it tends to look and sound similar to how the Somalis were organized. The same general structures and law structures are common to places like ancient Ireland and Iceland and probably others. These law systems are mostly based on property and compensation, rather than being punitive and paying homage and damages to a state or authority figure. I hope to elaborate on this in another post – hopefully soon. In the mean time, NeeNer NeeNer NeeNer! I told you so!