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Somalia: what went wrong?



June 04, 2010 – Comments (12)

I thought I might ask this question to the libertarian-leaning Fools. Somalia should have been a Libertarian dream: government is either absent altogether as some people would claim, or, according to others, makes sporadic appearances in the capital city every other year and goes back into hibernation. Under these favorable conditions, one might expect rivers of milk and honey, and yet every time Somalia makes the headlines, it's due to its pirates. I don't know the Libertarian take on Somalia but as I see it, here are all the possible ways that a Libertarian could explain this paradox:

1. The plutocratic media is biased as usual, in reality Somalia is much richer than you think.

2. They had to start from a very low base. They are making excellent progress now, just give them a little more time.

3. They are failing through no fault of their own. The West is sabotaging their economy: destroys pirate ships, wouldn't allow pirates to have an IPO, etc. 

4. It's a very slow process. It looks ugly in the short run, but the future generation of Somalians will live under Libertarianism.  

5. They just don't know how to start. They've never read Mises. 

6. Antarctica - Libertarianism succeeded, North Pole -  Libertarianism succeeded, Mariana trench -Libertarianism succeeded, Somalia - experimental error, Moon - Libertarianism succeeded...

12 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 04, 2010 at 9:07 PM, DarkToast (32.20) wrote:

It's the Ethiopians keeping them down.

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#2) On June 04, 2010 at 9:24 PM, TMFAleph1 (91.88) wrote:


You are presenting a straw man argument that is easy to refute. I don't know what species of libertarian you associate with, but I have never met one that thinks of Somalia as a good testing ground for their political philosophy. Libertarians accept the need for government to fulfill a limited number of roles, one of which is enforcing the rule of law. Where there is no rule of law -- as in Somalia -- it is a fundamental obstacle to development.

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#3) On June 04, 2010 at 9:26 PM, TMFAleph1 (91.88) wrote:

Perhaps you are confusing libertarianism with anarchism?

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#4) On June 04, 2010 at 10:18 PM, ChrisGraley (28.63) wrote:

This one is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Here's a video of what zloj is suggesting as well as most Liberals.

1) Despite the lack of a formal government, there is total Islamic control of the area. 

2) Libertarianism is based on individual rights. Rights that aren't supported by any structure in Somalia.

3) Property rights are part of the fundamental structure of Libertarianism. I don't think that the land of pirates thinks about property rights too much.

I'm sure that you want to paint a picture of Libertarians to an extreme, so you picked Anarchy, but I assure you that if Somalia truly had a Libertarian government, I would be replying to this post from there and not from the US and I don't totally agree with the Libertarians. They are just a lot less screwed up than Conservatives or Liberals.

I had it up to my eyeballs with all the helpful changes that both sides want to beat me over the head with. Stop telling what to do if I'm not hurting anyone, keep your hands out of my pockets, and and stop selling me BS as a government and making out to be cotton candy and we'll both do OK. Otherwise, expect me to be as non-cooperative as possible without getting arrested.

I know that's a big jump for a government to make, so if you could just own up to the problems that you created, it would be a start at least.

If you can't tell, I read the Liberal drivel as much as the Conservative drivel, so the whole Somalia = Libertarian thing was on my radar a few months ago.




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#5) On June 04, 2010 at 10:28 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


seriously zloj,

you can't at the very least, look up something on Wikipedia before you write this tripe?

Somalia (pronounced /soʊˈmɑːliə/ soh-MAH-lee-ə; Somali: Soomaaliya; Arabic: الصومال‎ aṣ-Ṣūmāl), officially the Republic of Somalia (Somali: Jamhuuriyadda Soomaaliya, Arabic: جمهورية الصومال‎ Jumhūriyyat aṣ-Ṣūmāl) and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under communist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Djibouti to the northwest, Kenya to the southwest, the Gulf of Aden with Yemen to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Ethiopia to the west.

Before communist rule, they were under the Brits and Italians.  Before that, they were ruled by various Islamic dynasties.

I don't think their problem is "not enough government."  There is a reason they are called a "Failed State" and not a "Failed Market."

David in Qatar

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#6) On June 04, 2010 at 10:31 PM, starbucks4ever (92.12) wrote:

#2, 4

I would be interested to hear what David in Quatar has to say about it. He used to talk about a confederation of communities, competing in better enforcement of property rights, competing courts, man being fundamentally good, all evil comes from bureaucracy, etc. But I have a question for you. If anarchy doesn't seem to work in politics, what makes you think it would work in economics?

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#7) On June 04, 2010 at 10:52 PM, ChrisGraley (28.63) wrote:

look up

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#8) On June 04, 2010 at 11:26 PM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


let me also say that i know some libertarians (even at mises) have claimed that somalia is now anarchist and perhaps even anarcho-capitalist, but a closer look shows this is obviously not true.  Sadly, following libertarianism is not a cure for idiocy. We have fools in our ranks too.

David in Qatar

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#9) On June 04, 2010 at 11:58 PM, ralphmachio (< 20) wrote:

That's some racket these guys got! They screw em, and screw em, and the poor fools are pretty sure they need em around for some reason, and as their argument compare us to Somalia? Try again. There is no way to prove what you are trying to prove, but it is proof that man is inherently fearful that you attempt to. 

There are two extremes, fear and love, and our economic system doesn't allow for brotherly love, but competition. Who sponsors that? Right. The government game is simple divide and conquer, and they know the simple psychological cues to get people riled up in whatever direction they want.

A screwed up economy and social disaster is the only possible outcome.

David is right, in that if you don't have to look a man in the face, you should not be allowed to make his laws. Right now there is no way to change the course of our democracy, BECAUSE it is supposedly ruled by the majority. The majority can't read the fine print of the tricksters in office. When you have to deal with the man in charge later as a peer, as in a small community, only then will you get any sort of respect as a human.  

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#10) On June 05, 2010 at 1:18 AM, starbucks4ever (92.12) wrote:


Well, there you go. At least SOME Libertarians happen to think that Somalia still has too much government.


Apparently, Somalia has as little government as is humanly possible. Maybe some of them would like to have even less of it, but there are too many new gangster governments that spring up like mushrooms in every village and fill the power vacuum faster than one could possibly remove the old ones. So I think they have reduced government presence to the absolute theoretical minimum and can't reduce it any further. By the way, since you claim that people are ready to follow those anarcho-capitalist rules you propose, could you explain why so many Somalian warlords are willing to defy the non-aggression principle? Didn't they rise from the ranks of "the people" or, perhaps, they were parachuted from Mars?


If America (or any country for that matter) were in fact run by the majority, as the Party line would have you believe, I'd pack my things and leave for Somalia, thank you. The majority is always wrong.

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#11) On June 05, 2010 at 1:31 AM, ChrisGraley (28.63) wrote:

I happen to be #4 and I kind of agree with David. They still do have too much government. The little bit of government that they do have, cares nothing about individual freedom.

When you find a government that cares about individual freedom more than uncontrolled chaos, let me know. 


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#12) On June 05, 2010 at 1:32 AM, whereaminow (< 20) wrote:


By the way, since you claim that people are ready to follow those anarcho-capitalist rules you propose, could you explain why so many Somalian warlords are willing to defy the non-aggression principle?  

Whoa, big fella. I don't know if more than a handful of Americans have even heard of anarcho-capitalism, and even fewer are well-read on the subject.  So I highly doubt that anybody outside of that small community is giong to follow those "rules" per se. (Which is a misnomer in itself, calling them rules, but we'll put that aside.)

I don't think the words "warlord" and "non-aggression" can be in the same sentence without setting off the my b.s detector.  It's more likely that these people have just regressed on Franz Oppenheimer's scale of State control and oppression, from feudal to nation-state and now back again.

The sad thing is that a few of those warlords were trained by Americans in America!  Do you remember Black Hawk Down?  That warlord they are going after spent time in Camp Pendleton, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, studying Marine Corps tactics.  F*cked up, isn't it?

David in Qatar 

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