Saturday, May 5, 2012

Somalia is not an anarchist utopia

"Somalia is an anarchist-utopia."  I have heard this stated several time recently, and I would like to respond to those claiming that, "Somalia is an quintessential example of state-less society."  The argument seems to be that: because Somalia has no central State controlling the country, then therefore, Somalia is in a state of anarchy and therefore, it is an exemplar of an anarchist-utopia.  This is a mis-construction (straw-man) of the argument made by anarchists.  Anarchists do not argue that flags, uniforms and the like are unethical, but that the social institutionalization of the initiation of aggression in the form of physical force (violence), threats of force (coercion) and theft (to include extortion and fraud) are unethical.  Therefore, the fact that "Somalia" designates a geographic region within which there are several groups of persons who have joined together to form a social institutions of violence & aggression in the form of "gangs" or "militias", is no different in principle than if there were just one gang and it called itself, "the State".  If the anatomy of the State, as Rothbard would put it, is the institutionalization of aggression over a given geographical location, then Somalia is not a "state-less" society at all, but rather a society where there are several competing States, all interested in becoming the dominate gang with monopoly on the institutionalization of aggression.

Augustine makes this point rather markedly:

"Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, 'What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled emperor.' "

1 comment:

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