The metaphor of the vicious circle is deeply embedded in analysis of protracted conflicts. Yet in at least some instances conflicts that appear to be self-reinforcing in the short term are in the longer run producing conditions out of which new political orders can emerge. These protracted conflicts are thus dynamic, not static, crises and require post-conflict assistance strategies that are informed by accurate trend analysis. The case of Somalia is used to illustrate the dramatic changes that occur over time in patterns of armed conflict, criminality, and governance in a collapsed state. These changes have produced a dense network of informal and formal systems of communication, cooperation, and governance in Somalia, helping local communities adapt to state collapse, manage risk, and provide for themselves a somewhat more predictable environment in which to pursue livelihoods. Crucial to this evolution of anarchy in Somalia has been the shifting interests of an emerging business community, for whom street crime and armed conflict are generally bad for business.