Hey, everybody should read this.
seems to thrive when capitalism is advancing—when it has put enough wealth in motion to tempt criminals to kill for it but not yet enough for sailors to die in its defense—and perhaps, as in Somalia
, when government
is retreating. In several ways, Somalia’s contemporary pirates resemble those of three centuries ago. Violent and dangerous, they nonetheless are careful not to hurt coöperative hostages; they look to piracy
to take them from poverty to a life of leisure; they have been known to regulate their own behavior with written rules; and they believe that their cause is just. The timing of their end, too, will probably be similar, coming whenever a major power decides that a crackdown costs less than the nuisance.
Are pirates socialists or capitalists? Lately, it’s become hard to tell the categories apart. Toward the end of his book, Leeson suggests that pirate self-governance proves that companies can regulate themselves better than governments can, as if he sees the pirate ship as a prototype of the modern corporation, sailing through treacherously liberal waters. Such arguments haven’t aged well over the past year, but even in piracy’s golden age people were aware that an unregulated marketplace invites predators. During the South Sea Bubble of 1720, speculators claiming to be able to make wealth out of debt fleeced British investors and ruined many banks.
Pirates who spent that year killing and plundering, Nathaniel Mist grumpily wrote, could salve their guilty consciences, if they had any: “Whatever Robberies they had committed, they might be pretty sure they were not the greatest Villains then living in the World