Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Video: Attack on Libertarianism

This is the first time I have ever seen a video attack on libertarianism. It's not clear who is behind the video.

The theme of the video is that Somalia is a pit---a non-government pit. I have seen occasional references to Somalia as a libertarian heaven, so the attack ad is really striking at those who are promoting Somalia as an example of libertarianism. The fact of the matter is that libertarianism is about respect for private property. Somehow I suspect there is very little of that in Somalia. If Somalia were in fact a bastion of respect for private property, with little taxes and regulations, corporations and individuals would be flocking to the country.

The video is building a strawman in relation to what libertarianism is all about. And libertarians who promote Somalia as an example of libertarianism just got slapped in the face by some unknown group.

The attack on libertarianism means the growing popularity of libertarianism is bothering someone. But, the attack that implies that Somalia is libertarian and therefore libertarianism is a failure is a highly deceptive attack. It is fed, in part, by  libertarians who have no clue about Somalia, but promote it as libertarian heaven. Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco and the Cayman Islands are much more libertarian than Somalia. Follow where money goes and you will know where significant freedom and respect for property rights exists. It's not Somalia.



  1. Robert,

    Somalia shouldn't be discarded by libertarians out of hand. Libertarian society doesn't claim to transform into utopia overnight, but it does claim to do the best with what it's given. Studies by Benjamin Powell (http://www.independent.org/pdf/working_papers/64_somalia.pdf) and Peter T. Leeson (http://www.peterleeson.com/better_off_stateless.pdf) indicate that Somalia is actually better off now (and improving) than it was under State rule.

    A Mises.org article summarizing: http://mises.org/daily/2701

    Clearly, comparisons between Somalia and the US or any other first world country compares apples to oranges. However, comparing Somalia to similar socio-economic countries shows some empirical hope for libertarianism.

  2. Mankiw is a year behind the curve. I responded to that Somalia video here.

  3. Funny as much as it is ignorant. I guess North Korea, Cuba, the former USSR and pre-capitalist China represent their idea of government. After all if we are going to go to extremes. Or we could go back to a form of government that our founding fathers had in mind. Of course, that would be to radical for most on the left and right today.

  4. Holy mother of God that's bad. Bad bad bad. But it was funny.

  5. @The Mick-

    The Mises.org article is excellent. I plan on exploring the Xeer (the private legal system in Somalia) more thoroughly. It falls perfectly in line with my own understanding of the question of the law in an anarchic society, although the size and density of western states might make implementation difficult. The most daunting obstacle is the sacred reverence most westerners hold for "democracy" and the state.

    My most sincere thanks for directing me to that article!

  6. They seem to ignore the fact that Somalia is really no worse off then many African countries that have a government presence. I mean would they rather go to Zimbabwe? This is from the Wikipedia article on Zimbabwe:

    "Taxes and tariffs are high for private enterprises, while state enterprises are strongly subsidized. State regulation is costly to companies; starting or closing a business is slow and costly.[122] Government spending was predicted to reach 67% of GDP in 2007.[123] It used to be partly financed by printing money, which led to hyperinflation. The labor market is highly regulated; hiring a worker is cumbersome, firing a worker is difficult, and unemployment has risen to 80% (2005)"

    Sounds like a socialist paradise...

  7. The folks who made this video:

    THE PUBLIC SERVICE ADMINISTRATION, LA-based comics and actors on politics. Featuring veterans of MTV, ABC, NBC, The Daily Show, Second City Chicago, MAD TV, Reno 911, Current TV, and Showbiz Show With David Spade.

    Their pieces have been presented on CNN's "The Situation Room" Headline News, NPR, MSNBC, Nightline, and written up in Newsweek.

    Their work has been featured on sites from New York Times.com to Perez Hilton to Michelle Malkin, though privately they think Michelle Malkin is bats**t insane. They are:

    Andy Cobb
    Josh Funk
    Nyima Funk
    Marc Evan Jackson
    Mark Kienlen
    David Pompeii
    Marc Warzecha