Aside from the word terrorism, there is another term that is associated with a group of people involved in criminal activities and threat to the society. This group of people is called Mafia. Like terrorist groups, mafia also employs violence and threat in public in order to achieve their goal. In addition, mafia is organized to gain wealth and power through force and other illegal means. More importantly, mafia has plagued states that impeded the development of the state. Ironically, despite the status of the mafia, some citizens have paid them respect because of the function they originally played.
Mafia has been given several definitions. Generally, mafia is defined as the “private use of violence in public domains” (Epstein, 1979, p. 7). Specifically, mafia refers to “particular criminal organization called Cosa Nostra, based mostly in Western Sicily and known as the Mafia since the late 1940’s” (Arnot and Usborne, 1999, p. 258). From the definition, mafia can be interchanged with Cosa Nostra and clearly illustrates is origin which is Sicily, Italy. History and Activities of Sicilian Mafia The Sicilian mafia was founded during the early 1940’s when the Sicily, Italy was under Diaspora.
The society was also predominantly agrarian and so the existence of landowners. Due to the massive theft of large cattle and Diaspora, the absentee landowners entrusted the management of their properties to ruthless Italian ethnic who have earned reputation for violence but are respected in the society (Epstein, 1979). The rise of mafia was formed through the formation of coalitions called “coshe” or families bestowed with power to control the village or town they occupy (Eipstein, 1979). The family of mafia is widely known as La Cosa Nostra (Capeci, 2001). The coshe eventually became the backbone of mafia.
In a territory, there is the so-called mafios or usually known as the middleman or powerbroker who controls almost everything which includes, market, service, and election, among others (Epstein, 1979). The mafios also appropriated the land entrusted to them for their own interest. However, the task of the mafios in filling in communication gap between landowners and peasants, electorates and politicians, and other group in the society was marked by violence. This practice has continued to plague the country. As a result the development and integration of the government and the locale was intercepted and further delayed.
Structure of the Sicilian Mafia Basically, mafia is formed within family members. In a Cosa Nostra, there is hierarchy that has existed and maintained for almost a hundred years. The highest ranking official is called the boss and below him is the underboss. In between the two, there is a consigliere, which the boss consults for advice (Capeci, 2001). Under the underboss are capos. Then below capos are soldiers, and below soldiers are associates. The boss is responsible for settling disputes within the Cosa Nostra. Being the highest, he can enrich himself because he shares in the incomes of the capos and some of his underlings.
However, the position is very open to envy. Hence, loyalty of the capos should be ensured. Notably, some bosses, like Carmine Galante, were executed out of envy (Capeci, 2001). The underboss, on the other hand, is the second in command who is chosen personally by the boss. The underboss also succeeds the position of the boss when the latter dies or elevated to lower position. As the underboss, he shares in the cut or financial profit of the boss. The underdogs of mafia are the capos, soldiers, and associates. Capos and soldiers are tasked to make money whether from legal or illegal means.
The associate, on the other hand, carries out the illegal activities of a mafia. Conclusion The mafia first originated in Sicily, Italy. At first, they were entrusted to oversee the lands of the absentee landowners while the Diaspora and social problem was still prevalent. However, they have abused their authority and employed violence leading to several illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, prostitution, fraud, and money laundering, among others. These activities, however, needs a group organized for such purpose for its success. Hence, out of family, mafia came to grew.
One of the most prominent is the Sicilian Mafia, which was very powerful because of violence and wealth they had illegally earned. However, through time, the members of mafia were eliminated and the peace and relationship of the government of Italy with the locale was eventually built up. References Arnot, M. L. , and Usborne, C. (1999). Gender and Crime in Modern Europe. Taylor and Francis Publishing Capeci, J. (2001). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Mafia. New Jersey: Alpha Books. Epstein, R. L. (1979). Degrees of Unsolvability: Structure and Theory. Berlin: Springer.