Saturday, April 25, 2009


There have been quite a few stories in the news lately about pirates. What is interesting is how these groups of pirates came to exist as they do today. Somalia has the longest coastline in African and very rich fishing grounds. The Somalian government collapsed in 1991 due to a civil war. Without a government in place to protect the fishing grounds, fishing fleets from far away countries started to come and fish as much as they pleased. The citizens of somalia are very dependent on the fishing not only as a major food source for themselves but as the income for many people. The fishermen who lacked the large boats and technologies of the foreign fishing fleets got bullied and pushed off of their fishing grounds. It was during this time that pirate gangs began to form to protect the fishing grounds and the coastline of Somalia. It was quite easy for pirate gangs to seize ships and hold people for ransom. Many companies did not want the media attention for violating maritime laws and were willing to pay quietly. Because of this their networks were able to grow. However, the pirates today are not fishermen protecting their resource. It has become what some people say is a criminal network of people trying to make fortunes through pirating.,8599,1892376,00.html,9171,1891763,00.html
photo of Somali pirate from


  1. Is something like this really the fault of the Somalian people? How do people expect them to react? The fisihing industry in this area is a source of life for them, they eat it, they sell it and they harvest it. Then, what to them are foreigners, come in and begin to take over everything that they have known and slowly begin to destroy the system that the Somalian people have established over the years. Was piracy a last resort for the Somalians?........

  2. It is sad when illegal actions are acceptable when there is gain for the elite. Clearly there are other illegal activities going on besides piracy but it seems appropriate to turn the head to the rest. Perhaps this form of piracy is truly and evolution of its original form, that being, protecting its fishing industry and the survival of its people. Sometimes when pushed, forces devise other means of survival that seem reasonable, especially in a place that is practically lawless. It seems that the minorities are capitalizing on the illegal activities of the majority thus surviving illegally.

    Taken directly from the site: Phillips is not the sort of person Americans are content to see bound, mocked and threatened in the most lawless corner of the planet. Should Americans not be concerned if it was someone less notable-bound, mocked and threatened?

    In 1990s the U.S. deployed troops to Somalia for a humanitarian mission. Later the true reasons were identified as the U.S. giving support base on our contribution to their famine and our affiliation with oil in that province. I am curious as to the relevance of this rescue in connection to the U.S. imperialistic ideas. What are the ulterior motives?

  3. Interesting topic - the idea that the Somalians have evolved into using piracy as a method for making a living. To be oppressed so much that they had to change their entire lifestyle and adapt to something that would oppress others. Hmm... that couldn't be Critical Power Conflict Theory in any way....
    Who are we to complain about these issues, though, when we're just shy of having similar problems? How often do we take fish from those who subsist on them here in Alaska?

  4. I agree with drama mama's comment that it is ironic and shameful that illegal actions are only unacceptable when they are committed against the elite, when they themselves are committing illegal actions against an oppressed group.

    Somalians, like many other Africans, were subjected to colonialism from European countries, and after the imperialist country was done exploiting the natural resources of these resource rich countries, they left without leaving a cohesive or substantial infrastructure. Because of this many countries did not know how to function in the way that modern politics requires, so they are metaphorically up a river without a paddle, in a canoe with no bottom. ( I don't know either...) My point is, it is because of the exploitation by the elite group formerly in power, that, as eternal student pointed out, this group of people was forced to turn to piracy.

    A question that popped into my mind as I read this blog was who, in fact, are the pirates here? This story is an example of labeling at its very finest. The American media has labeled this group of Somalians as pirates, when they are defending their homeland and traditional fishing grounds from those that THEY have labeled as pirates - and rightfully so, I think. It just shows the power of ethnocentrism and the media.

    I also had a thought when reading Eternal Student's response that it is astounding to imagine the oppression one must suffer in order "to change to an entire lifestyle and adapt to to something in order to oppress others." I often use this argument when discussing suicide terrorists - not to get too off topic. But I often wonder, how much horror and oppression must one experience to decide that strapping a bomb to your chest will be the most effective, and sometimes only, way to change things?

  5. The major powers at work in Somalia now are no longer focused on change. When armed groups of Somalians began taking control of the country's waters away from foreign powers, they were altering the social order and hierarchy of power. Social change was the hot issue, though it was addressed in a rather violent way. I think that those armed groups also did not represent the population, and now they have a new social order that favors themselves at the expense of much of the populace. This new "pirate network" system may not last long, if they are attacked by a foreign power (like the U.S.) or experience another revolution.

    With the country right now going through so much change in such short periods of time, it's hard to say when they'll settle on some stable form of government. And even then, there will still be plenty of Somalians working too hard for too little.


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