French and Italian Mafia compared

Almost there, but not quite, long time columnist in Afrikaans newspapers Leopold Scholtz this week related French politics to the Italian Mafia.

“While president Nicolas Sarkozy of France, together with British Prime Minister, David Cameron, was received like a hero in Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya, this week, a storm was brewing back home as French politicians were accused of corruption. At times it sounded more as if it was the Italian Mafia than the French leader class under discussion.”

At issue is whether ex president Jacques Chirac, while still mayor of Paris, helped some political friends to favourable posts and whether African heads of state financed some of his re-election campaigns, as well as possibly that of Sarkozy later on, to the tune of at least 60 million Euros.

Scholtz ends it off:

“If all of these rumours were to be true, France would certainly be one of the most corrupt countries in the world.”

Now, as long time readers of Human Action already know, there is really no other sensible way to analyse governments. They are at their core no different in mechanics to the Mafia. While the Mafia is somewhat more explicit about its goals of self-preservation, and much more limited in its scope, the structure of government and mafia is highly similar: it is a coercive organisation, obtaining a necessary part of its sustinence by force, employing a generally agreed-upon mechanism of succession (not that breaking succession rules aren’t common), and violently discouraging competition in its dominion.

This is not to express a value judgment on whether the Mafia is good, bad or better or worse than governments. It is simply to suggest that the two organisations share a similar structure and rational.

So when a government – like the French one – and the Mafia are compared, I always think: “Great, some sanity – I wish they’d do it more often.”

Comments are closed.