At NBC News’s World Blog, Petra Cahill says that the situation in the Ivory Coast is the “brewing civil war no one is talking about.” Well, we’ve talked about it a good deal over here at the Center for a Stateless Society, with the nuances of political developments in Ivory Coast implicating market anarchism in important ways. And while there is ostensibly a lot on the line for the people of Ivory Coast, market anarchists point out that, so long as elites remain ensconced in positions of power within any government, no election or civil war can possibly usher in peace or justice.
The recent violence in the country, long singled out for praise as a “model of stability in the region,” turns on the results of a contested November election pitting Laurent Gbagbo against Alassane Ouattara. The corporate media has painted Ouattara as a “soft-spoken economist,” Western in education and orientation and “keen on transparency and good governance.”
Ouattara’s apparently the one we’re supposed to root for, the candidate with United Nations support, an effective cheerleader for Africa’s participation in globalization during his career as an International Monetary Fund executive. With France planning to shuffle hundreds of millions toward Ouattara’s government, and President Obama fawning over the former IMF minion, it’s fairly clear that the state capitalists of the West have big plans for Ivory Coast.
There are, however, no good guys here. Last month Human Rights Watch brought to the fore the widespread crimes against civilians — including rape and murder — attributed to Ouattara loyalists. Those atrocities haven’t visibly inhibited the enthusiasm of the United Nations and France for raining helicopter gunfire down on Gbagbo’s “renegade” forces in order to “protect” the Ouattara team.
On the other hand, Gbagbo and Company are culpable for a wide range of atrocities in the civil war of a few years ago. And in spite of the fact that the Ivory Coast Constitutional Commission, the country’s court of last resort, adjudged Gbagbo the winner in November, Ivoirians continue to debate the integrity of the elections themselves.
Regardless of who’s keeping score on either the atrocity count or the ballot count, the math clearly shows that both Gbagbo and Ouattara are criminals, an illation that ought to come as no surprise since the state is a criminal organization. Rather than the interests of the Ivory Coast’s people, the political class is motivated by the prospect of pillaging a region rich in natural resources like cocoa.
The goal is — as it always is for parasites grasping at the levers of political power — to get rich on the backs of working people, extorting them for labor hours and roping off the country’s riches. Call that process what you want, but it’s not a free market of voluntary exchanges among self-ruling people.
Now more than ever, the people of Ivory Coast ought to be able to recognize what their “leaders” are showing them, that the state and the political system are not designed to preserve justice, protect individual rights or provide necessary services. Rather, the state is an agency for the powerful, one conceived out of the desire to loot and enslave.
“The government,” wrote George H. Smith, “is a thug and a thief; be on your guard, watch it with caution, for it is powerful. But do not be awed by it. Do not grant it respect or moral sanction. Treat it as you would any villain.”