Tuesday, 17 July 2012

We're doing Somalia the wrong way round

Ya gotta love Paul Collier and ya gotta love Foreign Policy.

Once the ruler had a tax system, he had an interest in growing the economy, which in turn called for basic economic infrastructure and the rule of law. At some point, provoked by this taxation, people came to demand political representation, and the state embarked on a long journey toward inclusivity. This is how modern Europe emerged, consolidating from thousands of proto-states into today's handful of modern states, all of which are more or less centralized and inclusive. 
In Somalia, the West is putting the cart before the horse. The first step is decidedly not to build imitations of representative government. Rather, it is to encourage the emergence of monopolies of organized violence at the local level. Even without international support, this is already happening. Somaliland and Puntland are proto-states in Somalia's north, while the transitional government, in reality if not aspiration, is a proto-state around Mogadishu. Conforming to the history of state-building, these three proto-states do not like each other, and they have demonstrated it in armed clashes. But such competition can be healthy. It provides the impetus for taxation, which eventually provides the incentive for development.

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