I’m not sure in what context this remark was made, but I think it’s worth pointing out that this critique is no different than a conservative or right-wing libertarian responding to a criticism of modern state capitalism by snorting, “oh yeah, and how did the Soviet Union turn out, ya Marxist?” It’s intellectually dishonest. It’s lame. It’s — perhaps most damningly — just plain unoriginal, returning “About 210,000 results” on Google. And it’s a damn weak attempt to hang around the necks of those who would dare imagine a world where people are free to organize and live in communities not subject to the coercive interference of an outside, centralized power, a failed state — Somalia — that has been torn apart by decades of Western state intervention, as noted by libertarian socialist Noam Chomsky and none other than Jeremy Scahill.
From a U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion and brutal military occupation that left more than 16,000 civilians dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, destroying the first semblance of normalcy the country had experienced in nearly two decades, to an ongoing U.S. war involving CIA torture chambers and drone strikes, Somalia has been ravaged by powerful nation-states, not anarchy.
But hey, let’s put that all aside and just concede for a moment that Somalia is in fact some anarchist’s wet dream, “a libertarian’s paradise.” Let’s just ignore the fact Somalia was ruled by a military dictator for decades and not make the cheap point that the period preceding its current “anarchist” stage therefore indicts anyone who believes in the justness and necessity of centralized power.
We can say this for the little ‘ol anarcho-paradise that is Somalia: At least it hasn’t, like some other countries in the region, murdered tens of thousands of its neighbors. At least, like another government I know whose legitimacy has never been questioned by any respectable liberal writers, dropped nukes on any Japanese cities or killed upwards of one million Iraqis or put one out of every 100 of its own citizens in steel cages.
Up next: Is North Korea, with its socialized health care and strict regulation of business, a “liberal paradise”?
Update: Scahill says the comment “was a joke.” Okay. But what’s the punchline?