Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Somalia: Hope Without a State

East African country Somalia has gone without a central government since 2000 and appears to be doing just fine. I found this article on the Ludwig Von Mises Institute's web site: The Rule of Law without the State By Spencer Heath MacCallum.

The first part of the article talks about how Somalia succeeded in running itself without a central authority. This was accomplished in spite of efforts by the United Nations to establish a democratic form of government. It goes on to share statistics that indicate improving trends in the quality of life for Somalis. For example:

Life expectancy increased from 46 to 48.5 years. This is a poor expectancy as compared with developed countries. But in any measurement of welfare, what is important to observe is not where a population stands at a given time, but what is the trend. Is the trend positive, or is it the reverse?

Infant mortality per 1,000 births fell from 152 to 114.9.

Maternal mortality per 100,000 births fell from 1,600 to 1,100.

Percent of population with access to sanitation rose from 18 to 26.

Percent of population with access to at least one health facility rose from 28 to 54.8.

Percent of population in extreme poverty (i.e., less than $1 per day) fell from 60 to 43.2.

Fatalities due to measles fell from 8,000 to 5,600.

Another even more comprehensive study published last year by Benjamin Powell of the Independent Institute, concludes: "We find that Somalia's living standards have improved generally … not just in absolute terms, but also relative to other African countries since the collapse of the Somali central government."

Could it be that people living in what we in the developed nations call 'anarchy' are better off without a central government? The article explains that the key to Somalia's growing prosperity lies in an understanding of the Rule of Law, which they call 'Xeer." Without anyone telling them what to do, the Somalis reverted to family and clan traditions they practiced long before colonial rule.

Living in a country where the rule of law is continually under attack and subverted by its leaders, I find this to be a refreshing and enviable example of how freedom can work in a practical sense. It would certainly be next to impossible for the United States to emulate Somalia. Still, it sends a message to the elitists, hedgemons, tyrants and Hegelian despots that they are indeed dispensable.

Read the whole thing.

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