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What's the deal with Somalia?

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thetabularasa posted on Sun, Jul 15 2012 10:15 PM

Forgive my lack of knowledge concerning this matter, but why do many AnCap videos show others mockingly saying, "...then move to Somalia..."? Is there really anarchy in Somalia? I know it's filled with drugs, guns, gangs and so forth, but I'm just curious to get the full context. Can anyone explain?

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The Texas Trigger:
 So, while the existence of a state is widely regarded among AnCaps to be highly counterproductive to a good standard of living, it is not the only factor. Almost anybody, including most AnCaps, will tell you that the U.S. far surpasses Somalia in the area of standard of living, which is, at the end of the day, the only standard that really matters. It is either out of ignorance of the AnCap philosophy or through sheer disingenuousness and intellectually dishonesty that one would charge that we should move to Somalia if we don't believe in the existence of the state. For one, Somalia is not an anarchy, at least not in the AnCap sense of the word. But even if it was, as of right now, things are better here in the U.S. in spite, and not because of, a government.

But isn't your quality of life severely negatively effected by living in a society with a social structure that is patently and unendingly immoral to you?

That righteous moral indignation that you must feel everytime you get a jury summons, a tax bill or a police ticket or get "molested" by the TSA every time you travel and God only knows what else must really eat at the very fiber of your being as they say.

How do you tolerate it?

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In 1991, the collapse Mohamed Siad Barre’s Democratic Republic of Somalia, and subsequent descent into chaos, saw the emergence of a new commodity currency, a currency worth its paper, ink, and transport costs.

Prior to the collapse of the state, the national currency of Somalia was the Somali shilling (SoSh). The value of the SoSh had been diminished by a reckless monetary policy pursued by the central bank in an attempt to gain seigniorage for the government. Just how reckless this policy was is made clear by the fact that the total quantity of currency in circulation in 1985 was 3.8 billion SoSh, but had increased to more than 155.7 billion SoSh by 1990.

Nevertheless, the collapse of the state saw the collapse of all governmental institutions – including the central bank. Since the collapse of the Somali central bank in 1991, four currencies have gone into circulation in Somalia: the Na’ Shilling, the Somaliland Shilling, the Balweyn I, and the Balweyn II.

The Na’ Shilling was introduced in northern Mogadishu in 1992 and again reissued in 2001. It is a distinct note that does not resemble the pre-1991 note. It has, however, failed to gain widespread acceptance, and instead circulates mainly within a single clan.

The semi-autonomous region of Somaliland has established its own central bank, and issues its own currency, the Somaliland shilling, intended to be circulated exclusively, and act as legal tender within the territory.

In 1997, a south Mogadishu leader issued the Balweyn I note, which is a forgery of the pre -1991 central bank notes. Similarly, a Puntland administration has issued the Balweyn II, another forgery of the pre-1991 SoSh. Both notes are widely accepted forgeries of the pre-1991 SoSh.

The Somali public have, despite the collapse of and, until recently, continued absence of a Somali central bank, not changed their expectation of the currency’s exchange value.

Although the Balweyn notes can be distinguished from each other and the pre-1991 currency, the Somali public have treated them all as the same currency. This has led to the peculiar situation where, rather than competition limiting the amount of inflation and seigniorage in each currency, there has been competition for seigniorage in the same currency. Nevertheless, rather than leading to unbounded inflation, Somalis have limited inflation by refusing to accept anything larger than the pre-1991 denominations. This has placed an upper limit on inflation, and has actually allowed for a relatively stable monetary system to emerge.

It has been estimated that it cost $0.03 to print and import new bank notes into Somalia. When the first Balweyn notes began to circulate in Somalia in 1997, they traded for about $0.12. By late 2001, competition for seigniorage had pushed the value of a 1000 SoSh down to approximately $0.04. This has transformed the SoSh into ‘’commodity money,’’ worth its paper, ink and transport costs. This has meant further printing of the money is no more profitable than any other investment. So after an initial bout of inflation, prices have stabilised, and the currency has, in fact, appreciated slightly, as imports of new reprints has slowed.

Nevertheless, although the currency provides some stability, it is not without its problems. To make purchases of any significant size, large bundles of money are needed. For this reason, it is used alongside US dollars. The Somali people’s use of the currency in absence of a state monopoly, however, is testament to its relative success; as is the fact that it circulates with easy convertibility 50 km within the Ethiopian border; whereas the Ethiopian Birr has little circulation in Somalia.

'' The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.'' Stephen Hawking

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Torsten replied on Sun, Jul 29 2012 10:42 AM

The "anarchy" in Somalia is, to my knowledge, hardly comparable to the type envisioned by Rothbard of Friedman.  It has no ruling government, although there is one technically in existence which is backed by the UN, and I believe that various tribes and tribal courts prevail as the de facto authority in the "country".  Interestingly enough, though, on certain social welfare indicators it is appraised more highly than surrounding countries in Africa.

That sounds a bit like that the Socialism practiced by Stalin wasn't exactly what was envisioned by Marx and Engels. 

To put it bluntly Somalia gives us a good idea on how a country in the Afro-Arabic region would look like in the absence of a modern state type of setting. So it's pretty much an outcome of anarchy for those specific kind of people. So please no evasion from taking responsibility for the baby. 

What I really wonder about is, how many self-proclaimed market-anarchist have already moved there? 

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FWIW, my rambling thoughts:


Here is a country that has been invaded by (probably (at least in some limited role)):





-the U.N.

-the U.S.




-The African Union


They have a de facto trade embargo (most countries I know of probably would have problems in Customs with ships that came from Somalia).

Did I mention that they're essentially under attack from at least ten international presences?  Including the almighty U.S. government after the ICU and its splinter groups have been labeled as terrorist organizations?

Yet, despite this, they have the highest GDP per capita in the region (CIA factbook estimates they're at $600 per capita, whereas Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia are somewhere around $300 last I checked), and continue to post economic growth. (other people in this thread have noted similar claims to this)


Also, I think the time has come to not talk of "Somalia".


Somaliland, Puntland, and southern Somalia are different enough to justify this.  As far as I have heard, Somaliland already has a functioning government now.  Whereas southern Somalia--and Mogadishu in particular--is where the bulwark of the foreign influence and multi-million (billion? (I just checked, about half a billion dollars)) dollar foreign aid manipulations.  And Puntland...I'll be honest, I have no idea wtf is going on there.


In my interpretation, Somalia has been an amazing success.  They've endured constant invasion, drought, and trade embargos; and they shrug it off and continue to post economic growth and a higher standard of living than every other one of their neighbours.


What I want to know is, what does anyone know about the ICU?  I know they had a major offensive back a few year ago, and since then have remained but decentralized quite a bit.  From just the sound of its title it sounds like a kritarchy (kritocracy?) (which, given the polycentric legal system (or was that only in xeer thing only in rural Somaliland?), sounds pretty damn close to ancap).


Rather than play the "No True Scotsman" game, I think it'd be better to just point out that it's being invaded by some of the most powerful governments in the world.  Speaking metaphorically, it doesn't matter if ancaps are comparable to the strength of titanium--put it in a nuclear blast and it gets obliterated just like a piece of slate would.

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Here is a country that has been invaded by (probably (at least in some limited role)):


And that won't happen to a Rothbardian Anarchy?

Look at this in another way. Most African kleptocracies, no matter what they've put on paper, are to some extent anarchies. The official government is just a large network of predators. To some extent this of course applies to Western Democracies as well. Just that there you can trust legal procedures to some extent and they generally respect your property rights. And this regime-certainty makes larger investments possible and propable, which ultimately generates more wealth and distributes it more evenly then is the case for African Banana Republics. This on the other hand is the reason why even American Armchair Anarchists prefer the present regime of the USA over places that are more anarchic. 

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excel replied on Tue, Nov 27 2012 7:25 AM

To some extent this of course applies to Western Democracies as well.

I would say this is ENTIRELY applicable to western democracies as well. And in fact, I would trust a somali legal procedure to uphold my interests as much as I trust any western legal procedure to uphold the same. 


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Assuming that you are familiar with Western legal procedures, what is your knowledge of and experience with Somali legal procedures?

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