Haiti’s Stateless Utopia

On the news everyone keeps saying the problem with Haiti’s economy – and thus with its post-earthquake recovery – is that Haiti doesn’t have enough of a government.

Really? On this see Tom Knapp and Maggie Koerth-Baker.

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9 Responses to Haiti’s Stateless Utopia

  1. Anon73 January 17, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    One of the lessons of Somalia is that you have to distinguish anarchy from a free-for-all of wannabe-states fighting it out to be the top dog. In the latter situation it’s statists, not anarchists, that are the cause of needless violence.

  2. Taylor January 17, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    How do they calculate?

    As an aside, something I always challenge advocates of the state to do as a mental exercise is 1.) explain to me when the state would be too big for their tastes (how would it have to grow in size/scope for them to question it’s utility) and 2.) commit to opposing the state if/when it reaches that size/scope.

  3. Gray Woodland January 18, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    Three years, a quick knee-trembler behind the Ministry of Efficiency, and a new pony before anyone can get a business licence? Jeez, no wonder nobody much does any business they can talk about!

    I don’t see that the absolute collapse of government anywhere is normally going to lead to anything very pretty. The problem is a lack of civil society: the fact that most of it is previous governments’ fault is not going to change the fact that, when the big dirty creeper has strangled the tree half to death, the tree may well come crashing down when the creeper dies. No surprise if all we get is candidate governments most times, or we’d have had working civil anarchy ever so long ago. The trick would be for a civil society to grow faster than the government and eventually shrug it off as an irrelevance. But governments are good at guns, and tend to grow peevish at any hint of such insolence.

    Haiti’s poor record at holding its governments in check bodes ill for its ability to do without one.

    Why, yes, there does seem to be something in my eye! Darn.

    • P.M.Lawrence January 18, 2010 at 3:39 am #

      “The problem is a lack of civil society: the fact that most of it is previous governments’ fault is not going to change the fact that, when the big dirty creeper has strangled the tree half to death, the tree may well come crashing down when the creeper dies”.

      That’s a far better metaphor than the poison pill one I tried to use to get the same general point across to Kevin Carson here (although that was in the specific context of artificial supports for big business).

      • Roderick January 18, 2010 at 4:56 am #

        A good example is the Roman Empire: by the time it collapsed it had absorbed and centralised so much of the economic and cultural infrastructure into itself that when it fell it took almost everything with it. (Granted, the “Dark Ages” weren’t quite as dark as historians used to think, but they were still pretty crappy.)

        • P.M.Lawrence January 18, 2010 at 9:03 am #

          “by the time [the Roman Empire] collapsed it had absorbed and centralised so much of the economic and cultural infrastructure into itself that when it fell it took almost everything with it”.

          Well, no – because the barbarian kingdoms that came in took over rather than destroying the governmental apparatus (including a largely directed economy), which accordingly was not destroyed in or by the fall itself (thus the careers of Boethius et al). The apparatus itself was destroyed in subsequent wars, possibly directly by the wars and/or possibly by the breakdown in communications occasioned by different territories being controlled by mutually hostile powers (e.g. the Domain of Soissons was ultimately doomed once it had been cut off – but it was not stillborn). These wars began as early as the Byzantine efforts at reconquest (the very earliest of which – against the Vandals in North Africa – happened before the fall of the empire in the west and with its support, so the time line overlaps) and continued as late as the rise of Islam; Pirenne makes a persuasive case that it was the latter that caused the final breakdown by cutting western Christendom off from reliable access to mediterranean bulk trade.

          But, granted, there was no remaining basis for home grown revival while driving off new rulers coming in from outside, in that the only basis in place was one that could only function under a ruler – and there were no systems for home growing those, since the central structure had done its best to eliminate such systems as they bred usurpers aiming at central power. The Arthurian mythos and related archaeology and historical fragments hint at some ultimately non-viable efforts along those lines, in the western fringes on either side of the English Channel where not everything had been fully digested by the Roman system (curiously, that digestion was incomplete even in Italy itself as late as the end of the 2nd century AD).

        • Roderick January 18, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

          I didn’t mean that the barbarians destroyed the governmental apparatus — but as I understand it, the apparatus they took over had already largely imploded from within, surviving more in name than in genuine structure. That’s why Rome succumbed to “invasions” that wouldn’t have troubled it in earlier years.

        • Anon73 January 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

          Anybody know good anarchist histories from a non-statist (not necessarily anarchist) perspective?

      • Anon73 January 18, 2010 at 5:14 am #

        Yes, I agree, that analogy should be dignified with a name. “For every thousand trees strangled by a vine, there is one whose roots break free” or something to that effect.

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