Since the collapse of the Somali government in the 1990s Somalia has been effectively without a government. According to what I hear American libertarians saying, this should be the fulfilment of a dream.
But then Somali pirates attack shipping in the neighbourhood. Well, that’s a libertarian dream too — after all, they are only exercising their natural human right to bear arms, and what’s the point of bearing arms if you don’t use them for fun and profit?
What about the people who are robbed by the pirates? Well that’s easy enough — they have the right to bear arms too, so let them do so and fight it out. As one American libertarian blogger puts it: A conservative blog for peace:
A free-market solution to piracy. With the rest of the world I’m happy that Captain Phillips is free and salute the US Navy for their work. But like companies have private armies in Iraq, why not rent a private navy (seagoing security guards) for your company’s ships? (Because in a truly free society like that the state would lose power and we mustn’t have that, oh no.)
So what have we here?
It seems to me very like a hankering for the kind of society that prevailed in Western Europe after AD 476. The collapse of civil authority, the Pax Romana and rule by feudal warlords who gave themelves titles like Duke, Count, Baron etc., and of course gave themselves the right to bear arms. In fact something very similar to the state of Somalia today.
The proposal for armed security guards on ships, a private army, is, of course exactly the same solution as was adopted by the feudal warlords in Western Europe in the “Dark Ages”, and by those in Somalia in the 21st century.
And how did the Somali pirates get going?
Well, in a very similar way to the private security guards on ships — if they ever do get going. By exercising their right to bear arms, that’s how.
The Mahatma X Files: K’naan sez
Already by this time, local fishermen in the coastline of Somalia have been complaining of illegal vessels coming to Somali waters and stealing all the fish. And since there was no government to report it to, and since the severity of the violence clumsily overshadowed every other problem, the fishermen went completely unheard.
But it was around this same time that a more sinister, a more patronizing practice was being put in motion. A Swiss firm called Achair Parterns, and an Italian waste company called Achair Parterns, made a deal with Ali Mahdi, that they were to dump containers of waste material in Somali waters. These European companies were said to be paying Warlords about $3 a ton, whereas to properly dispose of waste in Europe costs about $1000 a ton.
In 2004, after a tsunami washed ashore several leaking containers, thousand of locals in the Puntland region of Somalia started to complain of severe and previously unreported ailments, such as abdominal bleeding, skin melting off and a lot of immediate cancer-like symptoms. Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations Environmental Program, says that the containers had many different kinds of waste, including “Uranium, radioactive waste, lead, Cadmium, Mercury and chemical waste.” But this wasn’t just a passing evil from one or two groups taking advantage of our unprotected waters. The UN envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, says that the practice still continues to this day. It was months after those initial reports that local fishermen mobilized themselves, along with street militias, to go into the waters and deter the Westerners from having a free pass at completely destroying Somalia’s aquatic life. Now years later, the deterring has become less noble, and the ex-fishermen with their militias have begun to develop a taste for ransom at sea. This form of piracy is now a major contributor to the Somali economy, especially in the very region that private toxic waste companies first began to [bury] our nation’s death trap.
So the Somali pirates are simply following the free market solution advocated by American libertarians.
Wicked evil governments should not exceed their powers by trying to restrict good honest capitalists from dumping toxic waste. Let the people who are poisoned by it act themselves to stop it, and exact compensation from any other passing vessels trespassing on their waters. An ideal libertarian solution.
But I think libertarians like A conservative blog for peace might just possibly be missing something, somewhere.
See also SAFCEI: Somali piracy and toxic waste