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Friday, November 10, 2017

Capitalism No Get Enemy

Area Boys

While watching Anthony Bourdain's show on Lagos, Nigeria, I noticed three interesting things:
(1) there is a great deal of commercial activity in Lagos,
(2) there are gangs called "Area Boys".
(3) there is a lot of good food,

The commercial activity, frenetic in that large city, was characterized as being some sort of primeval capitalism, free and unfettered by government and regulations.

Yet there was extensive poverty, even so.

Wikipedia describes Area Boys:
Area boys (also known as Agberos) are loosely organized gangs of street children and teenagers, composed mostly of males, who roam the streets of Lagos, Lagos State in Nigeria. They extort money from passers-by, sell illegal drugs, act as informal security guards, and perform other "odd jobs" in return for compensation.
 In Online Nigeria:
... a commercial bus driver otherwise known as Danfo, who gave his names as Abiodun Lekan, said that the regular practice is for the army officers on duty to order the bus to stop, while the Alaye, or Area Boy, collects the N20 token from the bus conductor.
"Oga, you must pay the levy, otherwise, you close work for the day, - they will say. If you are unlucky your side mirror may be impounded or your windscreen shattered for refusing to pay the said illegal N20 levy," he said.

I am not sure there was intent in the juxtaposition of anarchic capitalism and anarchic local para-governmental gangs which control certain sectors of public life.
However, it was obvious that a frenzy of freedom is sometimes indistinguishable from anarchy. And this wild capitalism does not seem to necessarily lead to the accumulation of social wealth, although it does for given individuals.

We have gotten in a slothful habit of capitalism=freedom, and freedom=good, therefore not-capitalism=not-freedom=not-good, which is a pretty much simplistic rendition of a complex conceptual schema which we have trivialized anyway.

And there was some focus of Fela Kuti, which was quite nice and did not seem to have any odd notions about freedom; it was just "freedom".


I would think that the control exerted by gangs is actually a type of government and not anarchy at all.
The lack of governmental control creates a void that gangs fill; a void of control, of regulation, if you will.

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