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Anarchy in Somalia


Earlier in the year, the BBC featured a series of articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the state in Somalia. Although the articles expressed the typical revulsion at "anarchy," the series was surprisingly balanced for such a mainstream outlet. Somalia is undeniably experiencing progress according to several criteria, despite (or, some would say, because of) its lack of a strong central government.

Economists familiar with the Rothbardian tradition have taken the analysis even further, persuasively arguing that Somalia is much better without a state than it was with one. The standard statist put-down — "If you Rothbardians like anarchy so much, why don't you move to Somalia?" — misses the point. The Rothbardian doesn't claim that the absence of a state is a sufficient condition for bliss. Rather, the Rothbardian says that however prosperous and law-abiding a society is, adding an institution of organized violence and theft will only make things worse.

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