April 30, 2013 by Liberty
Most people think that this is a rather simple comparison. They take all that they’ve learned through life and have made a clear distinction of good versus evil. (For all you anarchists out their, government is supposed to be the good one.) It’s generally agreed that government is a legitimate form of using force while mafia is an illegitimate form. Government is supposed to help the people of the area while mafia is intended to exploit the area. These lines aren’t quite so black in white when you look at the facts though. There is a surprising similarity between mafia and government that normally doesn’t get considered by mainstream sources.
What Exactly Is The Mafia?
The mafia is a syndicate built to profit through the use of force. This can be done in any number of different ways. Generally, it only exists in businesses that are restricted by the government (alcohol during prohibition, drugs, violence.) These syndicates are known for taking over an area of land and referring to it as their territory.
They can gain revenue from a number of different methods but they gain a portion of their money from the extortion of people in that territory. They often extort this money under the guise of protection. They do provide “protection” in some sense (other mafias can’t extort them again without violence taking place.) It’s generally not a voluntary association but sometimes is.
What Exactly is Government?
The government is a group of individuals that work together to control the activity of a land mass. That government can be used to profit. They work through a number of different ways as well. Government will typically grow into every possible business that it can. Governments are known for controlling the borders and activity of a certain territory.
Governments only gain their revenue through extortion. Some people pay the government because they appreciate the services provides (just like the mafia) but most people pay because of the threat of kidnapping (jail). Government uses a number of different guises to gather more money for their business like protection, education, and prohibitions.
Notice the Similarities
Both mafia and government use force to get what they want. The amount of force is very comparable when the organizations are scaled to the same size. Government uses violence against a lot of people. Mafia also uses violence against a lot of people. They both also provide a small layer of legitimacy in the services that they provide.
Government does provide the service of protecting from foreign invaders. It does provide a kidnapping service against “criminals” and people that society doesn’t like to have running around.
Mafia does provide protection for the extortion of another mafia (or foreign invaders.) The mafia does make a number of stones in shoes go away when it interrupts their business. That can generally include anyone they don’t like or other criminals in the neighborhood.
These two organizations both have more similarities than differences.
The first difference between these businesses is the air of legitimacy. If the Vietnamese government suddenly sent you a letter saying that they imposed a tax on you then you’d probably laugh and throw it out. When the IRS sends it, people will usually listen. Mafias typically grew in short periods of time. That meant that everyone knew a time before the Mafia had it’s hands in their pockets. People knew the mafia was just a gang of criminals.
The government does provide some apparent services but just like the mafia, all services have a number of pockets the money goes into first. The services use only a fraction of the money of the extortion. The mafia also did something the government didn’t do though. The mafia exchanged voluntary free-market transactions. They would transport and distribute drugs and alcohol to buyers that wanted the product.
What Does This All Mean?
We can all come up with our conclusions on this one. The similarities are obvious. Does that mean that they’re both completely illegitimate? I personally don’t think so but the argument could be made. Mafia and government are both organizations that use violence to get what they need. It could even be said that government is just a generationally entrenched mafia.