Essays Italian Mafia

Essays Italian Mafia-80
The easiest way to define a mafia is as a freemasonry of criminals – it’s the freemasons for murderers – and that’s what the Cosa Nostra and ’Ndrangheta are.The Camorra is different in that it’s a catch-all term for a much less centrally coordinated archipelago of gangs that range from city drug dealers to clans that look much more like the Sicilian mafia, like the Casalesi – who threatened to kill the journalist Roberto Saviano.

The easiest way to define a mafia is as a freemasonry of criminals – it’s the freemasons for murderers – and that’s what the Cosa Nostra and ’Ndrangheta are.The Camorra is different in that it’s a catch-all term for a much less centrally coordinated archipelago of gangs that range from city drug dealers to clans that look much more like the Sicilian mafia, like the Casalesi – who threatened to kill the journalist Roberto Saviano.It’s remarkably far-sighted, and one of the things that differentiates mafias from mere gangsters. Not only is it very badly written, but it also gets the mafia wrong in one crucial respect – it thinks it is about family and not about organisation.

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When a war is about to be fought, alliances are made by marrying off your daughter to the son of another family.

Or if a war has just ended, you seal the peace with a marriage. This is a very specific mafia form of behaviour to do with the politics of the organisations and with finding ways to project their power and wealth down through the generations.

The Cosa Nostra and the ’Ndrangheta have a dynastic politics that resemble the royal families of medieval Europe.

In other words, they keep their women at home and they use them as pawns in the diplomatic game.

Revolutions need an armed wing, and the idealistic patriots who were conspiring to overthrow the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies – as Southern Italy and Sicily were called – and unite it with the rest of Italy, formed an alliance with violent criminals whom they used as revolutionary muscle.

Our best guess at why the mafias are organised like freemasons – with admission rituals, hierarchies, internal courts and codes of behaviour – is that they learnt that way of organising themselves from these patriots, many of whom were freemasons or involved in Masonic-style secret societies. Firstly, the ’Ndrangheta arrived slightly later – in the 1880s.The three biggest Italian mafias remain a powerful presence, with tentacles reaching deep inside Italian business and politics.The historian, author and academic John Dickie busts the myth that it’s all in the family.This gives you some idea of the level of infiltration in the 1980s. The streets are not filled with bodies to nearly the same extent as they were 20 or 30 years ago.Italy – largely because of the sacrifice of heroic policemen and women, magistrates and carabinieri – has far better organised and professional law enforcement than it’s ever had.The Cosa Nostra was controlling the wholesale heroin market in the United States and making rivers of dollars.It had the organisation, wealth and firepower to confront the Italian state directly – quite literally to kill anyone who stood in its way.Last year alone, more than 140 journalists were threatened by them and there are still very high-level politicians being investigated for mafia links. Your books talk about myths and misconceptions of the mafia in Italy. There are so many, and they are often so contradictory.One of the biggest is the widely held view outside Italy that the criminal organisations of Italy are not really organisations, but are an expression of the family and culture of southern Italy. Historically the mafias have developed very specific forms to suit their business activities.The book makes uncomfortable reading because it uses sex and sexuality as a metaphor for all of this.Sonny is basically a walking male member – the novel talks an awful lot about the dimensions of his virilia.

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