Wednesday, October 12, 2016

James Cockayne's "Hidden Power"

James Cockayne is an Australian strategist, writer and international lawyer who works at the United Nations.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized Crime, and reported the following:
A hundred years ago, New York was what we would today call a ‘fragile city’. It stank, in more ways than one. The sewerage and sanitation systems were patchy, and refrigeration next to non-existent. The police were corrupt and easily bought. Banks were tied to political cliques. Tens of thousands of immigrants from Ireland, Italy and beyond were crammed into the tenements of the Lower East Side. And elections were rigged.

Using first hand mafia accounts, government records and subsequent research, page 99 of Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized Crime explains how the Italian-American mafia emerged as a governing force in this chaotic environment. ‘Their power’, it argues, ‘stemmed particularly from their ability to govern’ illicit markets and transactions, drawing on the ‘shared operational culture and system of governmentality’ imported from the southern Italian mafias – the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Camorra and the ‘Ndrangheta.

Breaking with tradition in existing criminological and political science literature, Hidden Power argues that the mafias are not just business organizations – but often also political ones. In New York, early mafia entrepreneurs used their governmental power in Manhattan’s underworld to conquer and harness the upperworld political networks earlier pioneered by Tammany Hall, the Democratic political organization that controlled New York politics from the mid-nineteenth century. Page 99 helps to explain the sources of this governmental power.

Nor did the mafia stop at the water’s edge. Subsequent chapters, drawing on detailed archival research, show how the mafia strategically developed governmental power through collaboration with the US Navy during World War Two, cooperation with the CIA in Cuba, and joint ventures with governing elites in Cuba, The Bahamas and southern Italy.

Along the way, we see criminal groups deliberately influencing elections, changing constitutions, fomenting terrorism, waging war, negotiating peace deals and working behind the scenes in pivotal historical moments such as the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Through these episodes, Hidden Power identifies a range of criminal strategies that armed groups and political organizations use to this day – in venues as diverse as Afghanistan, Mexico, Myanmar and the Sahel. Forcing us to rethink our distinctions between politics, conflict and crime, Hidden Power reveals a world in which states and mafias compete — and collaborate — in a ‘market for government’, and not only states, but also some criminal groups, make war.
Visit James Cockayne's website.

--Marshal Zeringue