25 March 2015

Troubles in the borderlands

Who could possibly, possibly have guessed that plutocrats running their own private armies for personal gain could have gone so wrong? After all, in the libertopia, wasn’t the Hans Hermann-Hoppe model along these lines supposed to bring an end to coercion and maximum possible freedom for everybody? But I guess things just don’t really work out that way in real life. From the Christian Science Monitor:
Some experts have warned that enabling economic oligarchs to effectively transform themselves into warlords was storing up trouble for the future. Kolomoisky, a banking and media mogul, cracked down hard on rebel sympathizers in Dnipropetrovsk, and funded several private militias who’ve played an important role in the war. Rumors suggest that he controls as many as 10,000 armed men.

President Petro Poroshenko has ordered all such private battalions to be integrated with the official armed forces. But in a strong indication that may not have happened, he found it necessary to repeat himself in a meeting with military commanders Monday. “Territorial defense will be subordinated to the strict military vertical. Our governors will not have their own armed forces!” he said.

“Kolomoisky isn’t a separatist; this is a very different kind of challenge from what we face in Donbass,” says Yury Yakimenko, an expert with the independent Razumkov Center in Kiev. “This is basically about division of influence and assets, but Kolomoisky should understand that he's a political figure and not just a businessman. It is to be hoped that the parties to this conflict will realize the stakes, and come to some agreement. This is about the survival of the state.”
(Ihor Kolomoiskyi, if you will recall, gentle readers, is the same member of the Tymoshenko clique who finances the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and the Aidar Battalion, which has been accused by Amnesty International and OSCE of widescale human rights abuses. Of course he isn’t a separatist, but of course it doesn’t follow that he isn’t out for his own interests. The Maidan protests were never truly about securing the interests of the Ukrainian people, after all, but rather about enriching the few well-connected wealthy Ukrainian businessmen and financiers, like Kolomoiskyi, with strong ties to the EU.)

But even on principle, the real-life example of a breakdown in government competency in the Ukraine leading to a secessionist movement (though this secessionist movement actually is concerned with restoring certain powers of state), and its replacement by people like Kolomoiskyi whose private interests are seen to conflict in certain elemental ways with the public good, rather puts the lie to the utopian libertarian idea of handing government-like powers of security over to private actors and insurance agencies. Historically, also, this would seem to be the indication - as fellow China expat and Orthodox convert William D. noted on my FB page, private armies don’t seem to have worked out too well for Pompey either.

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