Anarchy and Invention

2004-11-29

Perry Metzger pointed me to a fascinating study (published by the World Bank, of all things) documenting the provision of so-called public goods in Somalia. The introduction reads:

Somalia has lacked a recognized government since 1991 -- an unusually long time. In extremely difficult conditions the private sector has demonstrated its much-vaunted capability to make do. To cope with the absence of the rule of law, private enterprises have been using foreign jurisdictions or institutions to help with some tasks, operating within networks of trust to strengthen property rights, and simplifying transactions until they require neither. Somalia's private sector experience suggests that it may be easier than is commonly thought for basic systems of finance and some infrastructure services to function where government is extremely weak or absent.

Not even the most die-hard anarcho-capitalist would claim that Somalia is paradise on earth. But it's impressive how far the Somalis have come in the last 13 years, especially considering the plunder perpetrated by the former government of Siad Barre, the damage done during the civil war over who would succeed him, and the meddling of the United States and other outside powers.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal