Somali Pirates as a Fledgling Government

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Hypothesis: The Somali pirates represent the birth pangs of a new
Somali government.

Evidence: Their actions are in no way different from those of governments.
They have claimed maritime territory and assumed the right to guard

The proposition that, as a whole, they are vicious, lawless robbers
seeking profit at the expense of others is both true and unfair.
Allow me to elaborate.

They are, of course, operating outside of any recognized legal
system, and they seek profit at the expense of others – but
so do governments which we consider legitimate, so that argument
fails on its face.

They are, in fact, structured and not entirely without their own

They have never killed a hostage. They will not hijack the same
ship twice. Many of them actually see themselves as guards of Somali
territory, bringing in money to provide for the reconstruction of
their devastated nation – Robin Hoods stealing from the prosperous
to provide for the impoverished.

I will not defend that idea. I am simply establishing the premise
that they are as justified as existing governments; and for the
same reasons.

This is a remarkable thing.

Based on this hypothesis, we can predict several things:

  • The pirates will not go away; even if they are attacked, they
    fill an economic void that will need to be filled.
  • They will organize and systems will develop.
  • They will become more sophisticated – technologically,
    systematically, and culturally.
  • They will become bolder and, in time, may even establish rudimentary
    armies and police forces.

I see great opportunity in this, too. Imagine what the right incentives
employed in the right way could do – this government is at
its most malleable stage.

Finance and education, applied properly, could persuade the people
of Somalia to adopt never-before-tried approaches to government.
Aided by Western investment, order and prosperity could be brought
to this desert wasteland like never before and entire new vistas
opened for people the world over.

If you have ever said, "This idea is great but there’s no
way it would ever be accepted," I propose you think again.
We have been given a tremendous opportunity: a new frontier to try
new ideas. You owe it to yourself; if you think you have an economically
and socially viable idea that can bring prosperity and liberty to
Somalia, find the people who can make it happen. Find the financiers,
the contractors, whatever it takes. My humble suggestion is that
protective services for both Somalis and ships traveling through
Somali waters will be essential and quite profitable.

It may be that nothing comes of it, but as they say: "Nothing
ventured, nothing gained."

These opportunities are rare, coming only a few times in human

Consider the possibilities.

22, 2009

John Higgins
[send him mail] is a libertarian
theorist primarily concerned with issues of practical liberty in
the present time. His writings may be periodically seen at

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