Daily Archives: 22/01/2011

( A collaborative project – building a comprehensive reference source of deep political structures and events, together with the people and organisations connected to them. Knowledgeable involvement with the site is invited. The purpose of WikiSpooks is to build a repository of documents about deep political structures and events, together with development of the information they contain through user contributed articles, additions, edits and discussion. Emphasis is on the period from about 150 years ago to the present, although analysis of events in earlier times, by way of illustration and understanding of how deep politics operates, is encouraged – a classic example would be the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in England. Read more…

“Sintel” is an independently produced short film, initiated by the Blender Foundation as a means to further improve and validate the free/open source 3D creation suite Blender. With initial funding provided by 1000s of donations via the internet community, it has again proven to be a viable development model for both open 3D technology as for independent animation film.
This 15 minute film has been realized in the studio of the Amsterdam Blender Institute, by an international team of artists and developers. In addition to that, several crucial technical and creative targets have been realized online, by developers and artists and teams all over the world.

( Protests against government corruption in Albania have left 3 people dead and 55 injured, according to an AP report.

Tensions that have been building for months between the government and opposition Socialists came to a head after a top minister was forced to resign this week amid an alleged corruption scandal.

More than 20,000 people hit the streets Friday to demand that Prime Minister Sali Berisha call early elections after the country’s deputy prime minister, Ilir Meta, resigned. Opposition supporters battled riot police outside Berisha’s office in Tirana, and health officials said three people were shot dead and 30 civilians and 24 policemen and National Guard were injured.

Clashes broke out Friday when several hundred protesters broke away from the main group and started attacking a riot police cordon. Chanting “Get out, Get out!” some protesters overturned and torched cars, smashed paving stones and hurled them at riot police and reached the steps of the government building.

Police used tear gas and water cannons to beat them back. As the night fell, hundreds of riot policemen and national guard officers swept through the center of the capital, beating protesters with batons and detaining dozens of youths. There was no immediate word on arrests.


( The troubles of Somalia are in the news again, as Erik Prince of Blackwater fame is reportedly backing a private military company’s bid to work for the embattled Somali government.

With the varied meanings of the word “anarchy,” it’s easy to write off Somalia’s issues as merely the fruit of “anarchy.” But the problems in Somalia were created by rulers and aspiring rulers, not by any anarchists advocating no rulers. Somalia does not have anarchy and does not provide evidence that anarchism is unlikely to work.

Since the brutal dictatorship of Mohammed Siad Barre fell in 1991, Somalia has faced varying intensities of civil war between aspiring governments, not an overall defeat of government.

Many foreign observers do not understand the social foundations of Somalia on which a state is attempting to impose itself. The overwhelming majority of violence in the country is suffered in national government centers in the south. In these struggles as well as in piracy, foreign states exacerbate conflict.

The basis of Somali society is generally clan allegiance. Somali customary law, called Xeer, allows judgments to be rendered in ad hoc courts by anyone able to muster sufficient respect for his relevant abilities. This system of traditional authority, which has a tendency to devalue women and exhibit suspicion towards or take advantage of people outside the clan, should not be idealized. However, where traditional law operates without state interference it has generally caused less conflict than the state, and Xeer could provide a useful framework for social progress.

Within the borders internationally regarded as Somalia, there exist several states whose claims of independence or autonomy are not recognized by the “international community.” Apparently it is in the best interest of international elites to promote the existence of one Somalia under centralized rule instead of a confederation or several smaller states. But a cynic might wonder if the conflict which hinders the development of civil society and creates a power vacuum that can be taken advantage of, is strategically advantageous for international powers to perpetuate.

Violence is done in trying to force a centralized government on a county with decentralized power, and in forcing a modern state onto conflicting customary law. But proponents of central government are unable to accept that forcing everyone to obey whoever has government power might not be the best way to promote harmony among different interests and allegiances.

International activity in Somalia, whether to plant the flag, recover debt from defaulted loans, or rub out blowback from other empire-building projects, has persisted well beyond the famine relief missions of the early 1990s. Erik Prince’s new venture is only the latest in foreign intervention in the violent struggle to establish and maintain a central government. Forces of the United Nations, United States, and Ethiopia have attempted to influence the situation using military force. It might be impolite to look for parallels between these interventions and the establishment of colonies and protectorates in Africa during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The hand of foreign exploitation is seen clearly in the piracy issue once the observer looks beyond the superficial explanation that boils down to “more force needs to be deployed to keep poor black people from committing crimes.” The long coastline of Somalia had traditionally been fished by locals operating small boats (who should thereby have a usufruct claim). But foreign ships either over-fished the waters or dumped toxic waste from wealthier nations. Somalis turned to piracy either to defend their shores or to make money in one of the few lucrative options left to them. When some “volunteer coast guard” operators engage in extortion against people who are not responsible for harming the Somali coast, they are only imitating government by levying taxes or demanding bribes.

But does the Somali case of authoritarians exploiting a fallen state mean that an anarchic area would necessarily be helpless against invaders? No. One must take note of the impoverishment of Somalia versus the prosperity of neo-colonial powers. Little was left in the hands of the Somali people when the looting state collapsed in 1991. They started with little yet were able to get somewhere.

A 2007 paper by Peter T. Leeson, “Better Off Stateless: Somalia Before and After Government Collapse,” shows that life for Somalis has on average improved relative to life under the Barre regime. Leeson examined a series of developmental indicators, including life expectancy, access to medical care, and access to communication technology. With more progress toward anarchy – by dissolving the authority of central government, regional government, and traditional inequality – more improvement could be made.

Anarchy didn’t establish dictatorships, make International Monetary Fund agreements, or deploy foreign militaries to Mogadishu. The problems in Somalia have been, and continue to be, caused by authoritarians and looters in government, business, and banking.