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The Mafia As A Corporation Essay

2006 words - 8 pages

The Mafia As A Corporation

Violence, blackmail and corruption as business terms, one would doubtfully consider them commonplace, but in the Mafia, nothing is. Looking at the history surrounding the Mafia, and the motivations apparent for its unconventional practices will lead one to realize that it is much more a union aimed at entrepreneurial success than the more common notion that it is simply a malicious group of amoral villains, anxious to wreak havoc. For decades the Italian-American Mafia has employed violent to achieve success in a capitalistic sense. “The Mafia has changed a great deal since the days of the peasant uprisings in sun-baked Sicily. It has found a place within its ranks for business-school graduates, and it has adopted modern banking methods and invested in legitimate corporate ventures.” The Mafia, also known as La Cosa Nostra, is generally composed of Italians or Italian-Americans that work together as entrepreneurial criminals. La Cosa Nostra literally means “The thing ours” but is loosely translated as “our thing.” The Mafia traces its roots back to Sicily, Italy in the 9th century AD when its purpose was to guard the feudal estates of wealthy landlords. When members of the Sicilian Mafia immigrated to the United States they initially excelled in extortion, but soon adopted gambling and prostitution as business ventures. In order to understand the role the Mafia has played in the United States, it is first necessary to study the formation and role of the Mafia in Italy.

The Sicilian Mafia is said to have formed around the ninth century when Arabic tribes invaded Sicily. Native Italians were forced into hiding, taking to the hills and mountains in order to stay safe. The Sicilian Mafia formed to protect Italians from the invaders, and eventually rid the region of its unwelcome foreign foes. At this point, Mafiosi (individual members of the Mafia) essentially became middlemen for business transactions in their particular city or town. In his book The Sicilian Mafia, Diego Gambetta describes the process “When the butcher comes to me to buy an animal, he knows that I want to cheat him. But I know that he wants to cheat me. Thus we need, say, Peppe [that is, a third party] to make us agree. And we both pay Peppe a percentage of the deal.” This method has many implications. “Peppe” is trusted by both the consumer and producer and his position as a Mafiosi entitles him to demand fairness and respect. In business terms, a Mafiosi is an entrepreneur, and the service he provides is protection. He protects both players in the transaction he oversees. Gambetta touches upon this by saying: “An entrepreneur who trades in secondhand horses or smuggled cigarettes may purchase the protection of a Mafiosi. Alternatively, the Mafiosi may deal in drugs or used cars, but this is not what makes him a Mafioso. What does make him a Mafioso is the fact that he is capable of protecting himself as well as others...

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