David Yau Yau

Kill enough people and become a governor

I found a new favorite blog. It is dedicated to popularizing North, Wallis, and Weingast’s (hereafter NWW) framework of violence and social orders. The argument is that the natural type of government is vicious and predatory. It is what we see in the third world today. Modern liberal governments only really emerged in the 18th century and are still largely restricted to Europe.

A main contribution of NWW is changing the frame of reference for government action. Good governance is not the norm, but the exception. In much of the world, local tyrants are rewarded with power, rather than punished. This post details David Yau Yau, who, having lost an election, decided the best way to keep his rents was to start low-scale warfare:

On again off again since 2010, he’s led one of the most vicious, mindlessly murderous little tribal guerrilla wars you’ve never heard of for control of his home region in Jonglei State’s Pibor County, just near Ethiopia.

For his troubles, he was appointed governor of the area he terrorized. While this offends basic notions of justice, it is probably better than the alternative. Theft by governments is far less socially damaging than raiding villages and murdering their inhabitants.