As a syllogism, the argument goes like this:
But there are two crippling problems with this argument. First, the facts simply don’t support the premise. They question we ought to ask is what are conditions in Somalia before and after the collapse of their government. If, under the Socialist Barre regime, Somalia was a nice place to live, and was plunged into chaos when Barre was ousted, then the argument would be a valid one. But Somalia was a hellhole before and after. What matters is the relative conditions before and after the Somali state.
Relative to Somalia under Barre, conditions have improved in virtually every measurable way, save literacy rates. (Under Barre, all of Somalia’s schools were run by the UN-this is no longer the case, which explains this anomaly).
Here is an essay that contains the relevant data.
Stateless Somalia has seen economic growth that outstripped neighboring Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Eritrea. The average Somali has greater living conditions than they did “pre-statelessness.” The recent drought and famine, as truly horrible as it is, would likely have been just as great a humanitarian disaster with a state as without. Further adding to the problem has been the insistence of foreign nations to re-establish a government, propping up “provisional governments,” supporting one warlord versus the others, and generally undermining the Somali clan system that could perhaps bring stability to the region, if left alone.
Second, the argument that stateless Somalia is an indictment of statelessness is not more valid than the argument that Haiti or Zimbabwe prove that states lead to poverty and ruin. (although, I would argue, relatively speaking, they do.)
Again, no one is ignorant enough to argue that Somalia is a wonderful example of an anarcho-capitalist wonderland; but it is intellectually and factually dishonest to contend that conditions in Somalia were not significantly improved since the state fell.