10A077 Somalia by Jim Davies, 11/18/2010

A reader of Tuesday's ZGBlog protested that pirates off the Horn of Africa can operate only because they have safe havens in Somalia, a country without a government, so if ours and others became countries without govenments, as advocated here, the world would be over-run with pirates.

This is one expression of a point often made, namely that while government may be awful it's better than the alternative; or that if it were zeroized, it would only be replaced by private criminals. It's an argument used by Thomas Paine in his Common Sense: "Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest..."

Let's demolish this nonsense.

Somalians are rural and primitive and by very long tradition live in large families or clans, each of which has its own customs and ways of settling quarrels. Nowhere is there government in the usual sense, with its absurd and destructive theories of retributive justice; the worst that can happen to a troublemaker is to be banished from the clan. There's trade between clans, and elders from each resolve disputes. There is some adherence to the Muslim religion, but it does not dominate, and there is a strong sense of family independence. It's not perfect, for that sense does not reach down to the individual, but it is a fine way for a peaceful society to operate and Somalians have repeatedly resisted attempts to impose upon them a central government. Such attempts continue, as do mobile gangs of thugs who try to impose their will upon villagers in the hope of running a bigger government later.

One result is that in the arid parts of the country where no clans can farm, malefactors can camp and train. This is where the pirates lurk - quite probably, in cahoots with those proto-government gangs. To cause the trouble they do, they need (a) a base like that, where they can live and plan and (b) access to financial institutions so that ransom money can be processed. Notice that in the present government-infested world, there is no shortage of either; government-chartered banks launder their money, and governments gladly provide training camp grounds provided there is some nexus of sympathy between host and parasite; Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Yemen come to mind as recent examples.

A zero government society evolved from one like ours would provide neither of those needed resources. All land would be privately owned (including deserts - great places for solar energy farms) so if bands of thieves wanted to rent campgrounds they would run up against the owner's wish to be known as an honest businessman with a reputation unscarred by association with known governors; for such a free society will be a transparent society in which the need for a good reputation is paramount.

The same factor would apply to the needed financial institutions. A bank known to be a harbor for stolen money would soon find its honest customers patronizing others, for there would be no cartel, protected by government laws, as applies today. It would not be called "crime" (for crime is the breaking of a law, and laws could not exist) but if it were, for the first time ever crime would not pay.

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