Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pirates, terrorists, and systems of governance

Professor Bainbridge, via Instapundit, posts on piracy and how pirates developed their own codes of conduct and informal rules systems. Here.

In addition to the articles Professor Bainbridge cites, there is a very interesting piece available on SSRN, here, by the always interesting Eugene Kontorovich on piracy as a violation of international law subject to universal jurisdiction. Professor Kontorovich discusses piracy in relation to the requirements of the Supreme Court's decision on the use of ATS cases in Sosa.

Second, of course, there is a long literature on how various enterprises - the informal economy in many places in the world, criminal enterprises, etc. - develop their own rules, rules internal to an enterprise and rules as between them.

Even Al Qaeda developed an internal manual of rules for dealing with things like pensions, benefits, etc. Stanford Law School's Mariano-Florentino Cuellar has a new article out in the Minnesota Law Review suggesting, among other things, that our understanding of Al Qaeda is aided by demystifying its internal governance structures, so as to understand that, along with its premodern ideology, it also has significant modernist structures of bureaucracy, administrative form, etc.

I agree with Professor Cuellar that a clear understanding of these kinds of institutional structures is critically important in understanding Al Qaeda. It is also critical for understanding how to fight it. The interplay of premodern ideology, postmodern ideology, and modernist, indeed Weberian, structures of administration in at least some of its development is very important to understanding and combating organizations such as Al Qaeda.

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