Somalia: A Libertarian Paradise?

Pointing to Somalia is popular when criticizing libertarianism. Somalia is a perfect example of the failures of libertarianism, right?

The problem with this criticism is that it is comparing relatively good governments with a bad example of statelessness. Contrasting a chaotic anarchist society with a relatively peaceful statist society is not a fair comparison.

To illustrate: Anarchist society X is more peaceful than statist society China under Mao, or modern day Burma, Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia under Stalin, Cambodia under Pol Pot, North Korea, etc. Therefore, anarchy is obviously more desirable than statism.

This is the logic people are using when they contrast poor and war-torn anarchist countries (which are in that condition almost always as a result of government), with relatively peaceful statist societies. The comparison does not make sense.

Comparing the most successful governments (U.S.A) to the least successful stateless societies (Somalia, etc.) isn’t useful in contrasting the different systems. Government is bad, look at North Korea!

If you compare anarchist Somalia with the U.S.A, the U.S.A is a more peaceful place to live. But it does not follow from this that government is more peaceful than anarchism. What needs to be compared is anarchist America with statist America. Given the amount of capital accumulation, culture, social and moral norms, a stateless America would be far more prosperous and peaceful than it currently is.

Even though Somalia is a bad place to live when compared with American standards of living, when compared to its own standards, stateless Somalia is more peaceful and prosperous than Somalia with government.

See:

Anarchy in Somalia | Robert P. Murphy: http://mises.org/daily/5418/Anarchy-in-Somalia

Somalia: Failed State, Economic Success? | Benjamin Powell: http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/somalia-failed-state-economic-success/#axzz2LqyEu0aW

But Wouldn’t Warlords Take Over? | Robert P. Murphy: http://mises.org/daily/1855

Somali “Anarchy” Is More Orderly than Somali Government | Benjamin Powell: http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1880

Anarchism and Its Application to Somalia | Peter Leeson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNroxDWDP8w&feature=player_embedded

Anarchy and Somalia Explained | Peter Leeson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g5OtzAbZ0M

 

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