Lion, Ox, cont’d
My original comments at Goulding’s highlight my skepticism about Xeer’s applicability to contemporary nation states and global, technologically-driven economies. In my last post, I attempted to mitigate my skepticism with a dose of generosity toward the concept, speaking in highly general terms about its embodied ideal, which, to me, is its emphasis on local consensus rather than on legislation obdurately codified by standing bodies far removed from the geographical locations which fall under those bodies’ jurisdiction.
However, as J.G. points out in the comments, “codification and permanent judicial institutions seem essential to developed economies,” so it appears I was mistaken to frame Xeer as the P2P system par excellence. It is, rather, an empirical case study of such a system, and in this case, history has show that it works better than the centralized system put in place by Western colonial powers.
I think Nick Steves recognizes the spirit of the last post. I find value in polycentric law as a corrective to centralized federal law, which always grows its power and never contracts. Steves writes:
Centralized law, and the power to enforce it, must exist at least sufficiently to keep separate subsidiarities from tearing each other apart . . . The trouble is that it is (apparently) impossible in the long run to keep centralized law from developing an increasingly large footprint . . . in which inevitably one subsidiarity manages to seize control and rip the others apart.
As described by Goulding, the Xeer system in Somalia does not have an “increasingly large footprint,” and, more importantly, it does not lend itself to special-interests spoils or power-grabs for resources because it’s there to solve conflicts as they arise locally, not to divy out spoils or resources en masse. For that reason, I find value in the system, which is not the same as saying that we should import it.
Xeer is just one case study. Before building up any kind of political theory based on P2P law, the studies need to be multiplied so we can discover what are the “best practices” for such a system. I’m not saying I’m convinced about all of this. And I’m still not convinced that neocameralism isn’t workable. But neoreactionaries need to stop being purely against things and start being for things; to that end, building alternative political and/or economic theories is a worthwhile pursuit, and P2P seems a particularly generative idea to explore.