When the government is weak, people turn to the Mafia

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

Or the public turns to fascists such as Mussolini. Interesting:

References to a criminal group resembling the ’Ndrangheta first appear in the late 19th century. But it was not until 1955 that a derivative of the name appeared in print – and even then with a slightly different spelling – when the Calabrian writer Corrado Alvaro tried to explain the mindset of the inhabitants of his poverty-stricken birthplace. His fellow Calabrians, he wrote in Corriere della Sera, were helpless in the face of authority, so accustomed to the abuse of power and so confused as to what was legal and illegal, that they were not ill-disposed to the idea of accepting protection “from an ’Ndranghitista”. At the time, the ’Ndrangheta appeared to be no more than a loose federation of violent, provincial crooks. In the cities, its members were small-time racketeers; in the countryside and on the coast, they were rustlers and smugglers. Component factions were prone to savagely murderous feuds, or faide, that could last for generations.

…First, the Sicilian Mafia took a momentously wrong turn. Salvatore “Totò” Riina, its psychopathic capo di tutti capi (“boss of all bosses”), convinced himself he was powerful enough to attack the state itself. In 1992, he ordered the assassination of Italy’s top organised-crime prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, prompting unprecedented public outrage. The forceful response of the government was unlike anything the Mafia had experienced since the days of Mussolini. Riina was seized the following year, the first in a string of arrests of top bosses. By the end of the decade, the world’s most fabled mob was a shadow of its previous self.

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