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Somalia: Society vs. the State?


Tags Free MarketsPhilosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory


The NYTimes has a fascinating article about the obstacles confronting those who seek to establish a new government in Somalia. There have been several debates on this blog about the nature of anarchy as it currently exists in Somalia, and whether the country would be much better off than it is now if some sort of state governed it. The establishment of said state, though, is much easier said than done.

The current efforts to create a government have run up against the much older system of clan relations that govern Somalian civil society. If Somalia truly is better off with a state, that state will somehow have to be imposed over an already existing societal structure that is already deeply suspicious of the current efforts to form a government. Whether anarchy is good or absolutely terrible, Somalian civil society already has a definite structure provided by the clan system.

There seem to be some very difficult questions here about how to impose a state that people supposedly need desperately onto individuals who don't trust it and fear it will disrupt an already existing way of life. Whatever one thinks of the current anarchy, it seems that the formation of a government is not going to instantly bring peace and stability to Somalia, and that the state may end up in constant conflict with the very society it seeks to stabilize.

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