Thursday, January 21, 2010


Steve Sailer discusses economist Tyler Cowen's thoughts on "how well Haiti can do as an anarchistic society" — Haiti & Anarchism: One Cheer for Voodoo! "Haiti is one [an anarchistic society] right now and arguably many parts of the Haitian countryside have been quasi-anarchistic for a long time, ruled by either custom or gangs," writes the economist. "It's evidence that the Haitian social fabric is a lot stronger than many people thought."

Mr. Sailer "suspect[s] a belief in voodoo lessens criminal predation in situations without effective policing" and relates an anecdote about how "modernity ruins morals in tribal villages in Africa" and their "stable culture underpinned by fear of retribution by black magic." He notes, however, that "voodoo has its disadvantages: it has no ethical content."

To what extent does the island nation's other official religion, Catholicism, provide the "ethical content" that allows Haitian anarchism to work? Does the role of either religion compare to that played in that other example of anarchism in practice, the one Yumi Kim describes — Stateless in Somalia, and Loving It?

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Strong culture makes weaker government possible. A weak culture almost mandates strong government to keep society operating.

There's a very good book on this phenomenon operating in the South during the American Civil War, Look Away, by historian William C. Davis. He documents that the Southern attempt at self-rule almost immediately descended into centralized planning and big-government endeavors (even when discounting necessary war measures undertaken by the Confederates). Southern culture simply wasn't strong enough to uphold the states' rights and limited government ideology of the secessionists.

5:50 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Ouch! As a Yankee-born Southern-sympathizer, that hurts!

That said, as a cultural Quaker (following Albion's Seedlings' thesis), I can see the point.

7:38 PM  

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.