The Gangster Government

Er, another one.

This is an interesting piece, one relevant to the argument against social contract theory as a source of political legitimacy. It has to do with a prison gang in southern California.
The Mexican Mafia is a fairly small prison gang (perhaps 150-300 made members) and it has significant operational control only within prisons in Southern California yet the Mexican Mafia is extremely powerful. In fact, the MM taxes hundreds of often larger Southern California street gangs at rates of 10-30% of revenues. 
How does that work?  It's essentially a protection racket, at first, but has reached the point that it is regulating drive-by shootings outside of the prison (whose numbers have declined since the MM asserted its control) and providing services to gangsters. 

They certainly appear to enjoy the consent of the governed -- that is, the drug-dealing community -- more than has the de facto government of California!  So the question becomes, is this a legitimate government of a sort? Don't answer too quickly:  if we decided that it were the movement becomes an insurrection rather than simple crime, and the decks are cleared for a robust response by our own system.  

That might be healthier than the bleed-over of paramilitary tactics into our police forces:  we could employ peace officers where there is peace, and treat insurrections as insurrections.  There's something to be said for keeping your mental categories accurate to the reality of the world you face.


Joseph W. said...

In the past, I've been known to link to this ten-year-old article, another illustration of the idea -- a "community within the state" using force to enforce its own laws, in violation of the actual government's laws. With the acquiescence, at least, of the "governed." (It's about Pakistani immigrants to England enforcing arranged marriages within their "community," and going as far as kidnappings and "honor killings" when need be, while the police turn a semi-blind eye.) I'm not going to write a conclusion tonight.

Joseph W. said...

Did I say 10? 16.