Morte Alla Francia, Italia Anela!

Ilya Somin offers a libertarian analysis of The Godfather. An excerpt:

One of the recurring themes of the novel is that people turn to the Mafia for help because of the corrupt and self-serving nature of many political and legal institutions that systematically allowed elites to plunder the politically weak. Puzo recognized, as sociologist Diego Gambetta explained more systematically, that the Sicilian Mafia flourished because it provided better "protection" against crime and violations of property and contract rights than did the official authorities, who generally protected only the politically powerful elite. To a lesser extent, a similar dynamic enabled the America Mafia to emerge in Italian immigrant communities in the early 1900s, as Puzo vividly portrayed in his chapter on the rise of Don Corleone.

I'm surprised there isn't more libertarian scholarship about the mafia. In different times and places it offers case studies both in private alternatives to the state and the formation of an unpleasant new state, or proto-state. And of course, as Somin notes, the mob offers plenty of evidence that "Prohibition, laws banning gambling, the War on Drugs, and other legislation that creates black markets stimulates criminal violence."

Somin links to Diego Gambetta's book The Sicilian Mafia: The Business of Private Protection. I haven't read that one, but I have read, and recommend, Gambetta's paper "Mafia: The Price of Distrust" [pdf]. And if you can get past his Leninist biases, Eric Hobsbawm has an interesting historical discussion of the Sicilian and other mafias in Primitive Rebels.

Update: Hit & Run regular "highnumber" calls my attention to a paper [pdf] by Oriana Bandiera called "Competing for Protection: Land Fragmentation and the Rise of the Sicilian Mafia." Looks interesting.

Another reader, with the more plausible name David Gross, takes the idea of the mob as a proto-state and runs with it, pointing me to a newspaper story about, as he puts it, "tax resistance against the Italian Mafia."

Finally, some readers have mistaken this post for an endorsement of the mafia. Do I really have to spell out that I don't approve of breaking people's thumbs? The fact that the mafia has sometimes acted as a private alternative to the state doesn't change the fact that at other times it acts like a particularly nasty state itself, claiming a monopoly over a specific territory and enforcing its authority with brutal violence. The scholarship I'm calling for would look at both of those aspects of the issue. It could also examine the interpenetration of the mafia and the state, as mobsters carry out covert tasks for the government and as officials are corrupted by various mobs. I'm sure there are other libertarian angles as well.

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  • ||

    Perhaps organized murder isn't a libertarian rallying point? I know the mafia was way more complex than that, but it would seem that the only "libertarian mafia scholarship" would come from those criticizing libertarians. In the post-Swift Boat age, real facts don't matter, only quick and damaging soundbites.

  • ||

    Yeah, I've heard organized crime referred to as "hyper capitalism". But that's just bullshit. Capitalism (and libertarianism) are predicated on rule of law. The mob routinely violates contractual obligations because there is no court , and especially no army, to enforce them. It is useful to note how greater lack of libertarianism in the government leads to greater flourishing of organized crime. However, the mobs activities include so much theft and violence, that they can in no meaningful way be said to be libertarians.

  • ||

    Uh, you do realize that when the Mafia offers you "protection", they're extorting you, right?

    Right?

  • ||

    "the Sicilian Mafia flourished because it provided better "protection" against crime and violations of property and contract rights than did the official authorities, who generally protected only the politically powerful elite. To a lesser extent, a similar dynamic enabled the America Mafia to emerge in Italian immigrant communities in the early 1900s"

    Romanticizing bull crap. The mafia flourished by terrorizing ordinary people into going along with their depravity, and coopting and bribing the powerful elite.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Perhaps organized murder isn't a libertarian rallying point?

    Unless you're a libertarian hawk, that is...

    No seriously, who said anything about a rallying point? I'm talking about serious, nuanced academic scholarship, not silly pro-mafia op-eds. That would cover both the Mafia terrorism that Joe's talking about and the actual popular support for the Mafia that Somin refers to. Both existed historically, sometimes at the same time.

  • ||

    Well, to be fair, just like Pablo Escobar, the mafia used to have a populist PR strategy. Small town folks (i.e., people who didn't have enough money to be extorted) were protected.

  • ||

    I guess Jesse is correct in the sense that the mob works best in a libertarian environment, without such pesky big-government initiatives as RICO being employed to destroy it.

  • ||

    Well, as I've mentioned before, I'm playing the Godfather game on my Xbox 360. As a libertarian, I find it refreshing that cops can be bought off to the point that they will help me attack other families. Ah, the free market. I've also negotiated with most of the businesses in New York to pay a voluntary user fee to the Corelones. After all, we are not communists.

  • ||

    One of the recurring themes of the novel is that people turn to the Mafia for help because of the corrupt and self-serving nature of many political and legal institutions that systematically allowed elites to plunder the politically weak.

    Another point - if you simply start calling the Mafia the government, does it cease to be a libertarian theme? I would think that any powerful entity that collects taxes, resolves conflicts, enforces contracts, and decides on the rules is pretty much a government.

    In fact, isn't the enevitability of mob rule one of the main arguments against small government?

  • ||

    Exactly backwards Dan T. The mob works best in unlibertarian environments, where people must turn to it for their vices and protection.

    RICO has done nothing to diminish the mob. Having mobsters sent to prison is just a way for other mobsters to move up in the organization without having to kill somebody.

  • thoreau||

    My grandfather grew up in an Italian neighborhood during Prohibition. He has told some stories about the mafia, but none of them involved the statement "Thank God those mafiosi were there to help us because the cops were corrupt!" He has made mention of the fact that the mafia guys had cops on their payroll.

    Still, my grandfather also says that the mafia guys were good at PR: During church festivals the local boss would always make a very ostentatious donation, generally placing a large sum of cash before a statue of a saint. This way everybody knew who the boss was.

    Of course, my grandfather's anecdotes hardly constitute a comprehensive data set. I wouldn't be surprised if there have been instances where the Mafia has done a good job of "keeping things in line" and thereby won some support in their locale.

    I guess it would be an interesting scholarly question: How often have they "kept things in line" for PR purposes? Have there been sustained efforts that actually yielded some real (albeit not permanent) good for a locale, or has it always been a short bit of PR immediately followed by a return to the bad old ways?

    Of course, in the big picture they've been a net negative, so even if there have been some cases where they did a good job of "keeping things in line" those instances don't really constitute good examples of working private security models. Mostly because, in the big picture, they have been the exception rather than the norm.

  • ||

    The Triad (Chinese version of the Mafia) control of Kowloon Walled City is another good example of mafia as government, indeed as the only form of government. The residents of KWC had very little trouble with the Triads and due to Triad "patrols" the den of iniquity that was KWC actually had a very low incidence of violent crime, even when compared to Hong Kong proper. I can't find my original source(may have been in dead tree format), but this site has some nifty info on the history of KWC.

  • ||

    Of course to build on what Warren said, the KWC only really existed as it was because a disproportionate percentage of the residents participated in activities that were illegal (drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.) in either British controlled Hong Kong or on mainland China.

  • ||

    Another point - if you simply start calling the Mafia the government, does it cease to be a libertarian theme? I would think that any powerful entity that collects taxes, resolves conflicts, enforces contracts, and decides on the rules is pretty much a government.

    Yes, excellent. Well put. The Mafia may do some libertarian things, and even some laudable things. But that doesn't change the fact that it's still an organization of thugs. And no one living under its heal could mistake it for the protector of individual rights, property, and freedom.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    thoreau,

    On what do you base your claim that the Mafia has been "in the big picture .. a net negative"? Surely the negative externalities that result from the Mafia conducting illegal business exist, but if one believes that drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc. should not be illegal in the first place, then it seems to me that whatever the largely negative effect has been is the result of the law, not those who have met demand with supply despite the law.

  • highnumber||

    ohmygodohmygodohmygod!

    Coolest post ever.

    I wrote a paper my freshman year in college about how the gov't crackdowns on the well organized mobs, like the Mafia in New York, led to increased violence as other, less organized, gangs fought over the newly open turf. In my research I learned a lot about the legitimate functions the Mafia did once serve. Sicily has gone through some tough times. The Mafia, at times, were the preservers of order. Interesting stuff.

  • ||

    It is possible to terrorize the populace to the extent that they do not commit crimes against one another. In other words, crime becomes a government monopoly.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Thoreau: Note that Somin's comments about the mafia acting as protector of the people refers mostly to Sicily, not America (and especially not to America during Prohibition). That said, when you're talking about the nineteenth-century Italian mafia it's hard to distinguish fact from legend.

    Dan: Given that one of the subjects I mentioned in my post was looking at mafia power as "the formation of an unpleasant new state, or proto-state," I'd say yes, it continues to be a libertarian theme.

    Warren: Who said anything about the mob being libertarians? If I had called for more libertarian scholarship on the Russian Revolution, would you assume I was trying to claim the Bolsheviks as antistatist heroes?

  • thoreau||

    Jesse-

    Makes sense. I also know nothing about the situation in Sicily.

    On the subject of scholarship and organized crime, I do vaguely recall hearing something about comparisons between protection fees charged by the Russian mob and taxes in industrialized countries. But I don't recall any specifics.


    DAR-

    The existence and profitability of the Mafia is certainly a response to factors external to the Mafia. But that doesn't mean that their existence (due to whatever cause) hasn't been a net negative in America.

  • ||

    Anela. The right splelling is anela. From the verb anelare, to yearn for something. Thanks,

  • Jim Lippard||

    Kwix: "Of course to build on what Warren said, the KWC only really existed as it was because a disproportionate percentage of the residents participated in activities that were illegal (drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.) in either British controlled Hong Kong or on mainland China."

    I disagree. I think KWC existed because it fell into the cracks between British and Chinese rule--both claimed it, but were unwilling to get into a dispute over it. Many, if not most, of the residents weren't engaged in illegal activities for a living, as you can see in the fascinating book _City of Darkness_. They were poor Chinese who came to KWC for its proximity to Hong Kong and started businesses.

    In the process, they developed their own processes for water and electricity distribution (ultimately stolen) and registration of property rights and contracts.

  • Jim Lippard||

    Gambetta's book is excellent, and doesn't romanticize the Mafia.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Thanks, Leonardo. Fixed.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Well, far be it for me to take on the role of Mob mouthpiece, but if the illegal markets that themselves gave rise to organized crime are not per se negative then we are left with the method by which organized crime facilitated these markets, which is negative almost entirely because they are illegal. Admittedly, many organized crime activities are negative, e.g., the protection racket. Legalize the other markets, however, and such crimes reduce to street gang type behavior that could never result in the wealth, power and corruption of organized crime as it first arose under Prohibition and has continued to exist because of similar illegal markets.

    Moreover, I'm not so sure that the social positives of there being a supply in response to the demand for prostitution, drugs, gambling, etc. doesn't adequately compensate for the negatives. It at least isn't as clear to me as it apparently is to you that they don't.

  • ||

    The similar claimed history of the Japanese yakuza might be relevant to such scholarship. Personally, I suspect organized crime's main difference from government tends to be its more covert nature.

  • highnumber||

    Here [PDF] is a paper on the rise of the Sicilian mafia and its connection to land fragmentation.

    Jesse, maybe you could give ol' highnumber his 2nd kudos for the day and stick the link in your post, eh?

  • ||

    I will say this, growing up in Bensonhurst, when it was still mostly an italian neighberhood...It was rather safe. And everything moved rather smoothly.

    I was reading this essay from Murray Rothbard http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard114.html

    Which in a way, presents the "libertarian leanings of the Mob". Interesting take to say he least.

    Discloser: I am italian, and still have family there.

  • ||

    The best explanation of the Mafia is from the book Wiseguy, which was later the basis for Goodfellas. The subject of the book explains that all the crime family ever was "was a police department for people who can't go to the cops". If I am a criminal and somebody rips me off, I can't call the cops. But I can go to the local organized crime boss and in return for a price, he will protect me. The downside is that the organized crime boss got there by being a sociopathic killer and derrives all of his power from the fact that is a killer, but considering cases like the Katherine Johnson case, perhaps that is not much different than going to the cops these days.

  • ||

    As far as I'm concerned, whenever organized crime claims a monopoly on providing "protection" and enforcement services within a given geographic territory or turf (not allowing competition), then it is acting as a government.

    And vice versa.

    Of course, some governments suck more than others.

  • ||

    Now, for counterpoint, here is a sympathetic anecdote about the "Japanese Mafia" or Yakuza:

    Here.

  • ||

    What is-a dis libertarianismo, eh? Sounds-a like is for fagotto, no? Fuhgeddaboudit!

    /flicks chin, eats canolli

  • ||

    John,

    That's a good book. My favorite part is when they came to Tampa and threatened a guy at Lowry Park Zoo. We go there with the kids all of the time. Zoos and the mob are not things that you usually associate in your mind.

  • highnumber||

    Woo-hoo!!!!

    ProGlib,
    Maybe if I'd blogged it, Jesse would have linked to us. Hmm. I have much to learn from this David Gross (if that is his real name).

  • ||

    "if you can get past [Hobsbawn's] Leninist biases . . ."

    If you overlook his dedication to the Communist agenda of revolution and mass murder, he has a valuable contribution to make to libertarian scholarship!

    This is along the same lines as "other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"

  • ||

    Yeah Pro, I love the line about how they must have really fed people to the lions down in Florida because as soon as we threatened him wiht that he came up with the money right then.

  • Jesse Walker||

    He's a legitimately significant historian, Max, even if his politics suck.

  • ||

    highnumber,

    Oriana Bandiera. That name is familiar to me, somehow.

    I fear that such a paper might be a bit serious for Urkobold, which, all told, is about mockery.

  • ||

    In the book "The Serpent and the Rainbow", the author says much the same thing about the Tonton Macoute. They are the only reliable arbiters of justice and they can be relied on somewhat to make an attempt at determining who really is at fault and not to cave to the highest bidder. That and they can turn your ass into a zombie and then your family will disown you.

  • ||

    Jessee,

    Is Bruce Cummings a legit historian then? I wouldn't say so. Martin Finkelstein? Again, I would say no. When you deny and obviscate about the deaths of millions of people, you cannot be considered a legitimate historian. Take out of the context of communism and put it into the context of one of your sacred cows. If there was a historian of 20th Century American law enforcement who denied even the existance of any excesses associated with the drug war and refused to admit that Prohibition was a failure, I seriously doubt you would consider him a legitimate historian whose politics happened to suck. Hobswan is no different.

  • Guy Montag||

    Are you guys nuts!?

    That M-thing you are writing about never existed and it is very bad to use that word in certain circles.

    I am gettin outta here quick, before the trouble starts.

  • ||

    Romanticizing bull crap.

    Whoa! Two "Weekly Agreement With joe"s on consecutive days. I guess I get next week off.

  • dhex||

    according to every guido i ever met growing up, all of their uncles own body shops in bayonne...and you know what that means!

  • ||

    Joe got this one right, Romanticizing Bull Crap. The mafia are nothing but murderous leaches terrorizing ordinary people. The fact that they happen to be able to do their thing more often when the government fails or under prohibition, doesn't make them any better.

  • ||

    Well, there's the libertarian research question. Are violent quasi-governmental groups like the mob the inevitable result of a government collapse or partial failure? If so, does that mean that the extreme-anarchist wing of libertarianism has a fatal flaw, or is it the prior existence and failure of governmental institutions that are to blame?

  • Urkobold®||

    DO YOU PEOPLE READ THE ARTICLES?
    Urkobold ASKS BECAUSE IF YOU DID READ THE ARTICLES, THEN YOU ARE DUNDERHEADS WHO EASILY MISS THE POINT.

    PUNISHMENT FOR THE DUNDERHEADS:
    WATCH ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, THE EDITED VERSION. TRY TO DISCUSS THE MOVIE WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS SEEN THE FULL LENGTH VERSION.

    (Urkobold is aware that this is not a Mafia movie. It is about Jewish gangsters.)

  • ||

    Shorter Once Upon A Time In America: Bugsy Malone

  • ||

    Sorry, highnumber, but they have lots of words and tables and stuff.

    Can you summarize? In small words, with lots of paragraphs please. And pictures.

  • Jesse Walker||

    John: Maybe I'm just not enough of a blinkered P.C. ideologue for your taste, but I don't insist a historian pass an ideological litmus test before I learn from his research and analysis.

  • highnumber||

    You talking to me ProGLib?
    I don't understand your context. ;)

  • ||

    So you are telling me Jessee that you actually read people like Finkelstein and Cummings and take them seriously? To quote John McEnroe, "You can't be serious!!" I don't beleive it Jessee. I don't beleive for a moment you read those two clowns. It is not about an ideological test. It is about not living in denial of reality. If a historian refuses to recognize basic realities, like the existence of the holocoust or the fact that Kim Jong Il started the Korean War, they are not serious historians and nothing else they say is of any value.

  • ||

    Are you guys nuts!?

    That M-thing you are writing about never existed and it is very bad to use that word in certain circles.

    I am gettin outta here quick, before the trouble starts.


    HIYA, BOYS. NICE LITTLE BLOG YOU HAVE HERE.

    BE A SHAME IF SOMETHIN' WAS TO TO HAPPEN TO IT.

  • ||

    highnumber,

    You know, there are lots of people out there, particularly from the leftmost side of the political spectrum, who think that the Mafia is the goal to which we libertarians strive. Which is ridiculously wrong, of course.

    I readdress my earlier remarks to the Urkobold, newly named Czar of Trolling.

  • ||

    HMM. YOUR LITTLE BLOG SEEMS TO HAVE TRUNCATED MY HANDLE, WHICH IS "VITO 'ALLCAPS' TUTTONETTI.' LOOKS LIKE YOUR POSTING SOFTWARE CAN'T HANDLE DOUBLE-QUOTES IN THE "NAME" BOX.

    I FIND THIS DISTURBING. I'M RATHER PROUD OF MY NICKNAME. I WORKED HARD TO EARN IT.

    VERY DISTURBING.

    HOW ARE WE GOING TO TAKE CARE OF THIS? HUH, BOYS?

  • ||

    DAT'S BETTER.

    I'M NOT SO HARD TO GET ALONG WITH, AM I, BOYS? YOU SCRATCH MY BACK, I SCRATCH YOURS, EH? WE JUST GOTTA PLAY BALL.

    NOW, ABOUT THIS BLOG ... THIS CAN BE KIND OF A ROUGH NEIGHBORHOOD TO HAVE A BLOG IN, CAPPICE? CAN'T HURT TO HAVE SOME FRIENDS IN THE RIGHT PLACES, KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

    ARE WE GONNA BE FRIENDS? HAH?

  • highnumber||

    "Jessee" is the new "Weigal"!

  • thoreau||

    If a historian refuses to recognize basic realities, like...the fact that Kim Jong Il started the Korean War

    I don't know much about the events during the start of that war, who was running which faction, or who was pulling whose strings, but I somehow doubt that Kim Il Sung was taking orders from his young son Kim Jong Il.

    Then again, maybe the Dear Leader had fantastic powers of persuasion even at a young age...

  • ||

    Are violent quasi-governmental groups like the mob the inevitable result of a government collapse or partial failure? If so, does that mean that the extreme-anarchist wing of libertarianism has a fatal flaw...?

    No. Nonviolent quasi-governmental groups unlike the mob are illegal and, to the extent they try to openly compete with the mob, will be squashed by government.

    The absence of government will bring no lack of more virtuous protection agencies willing to serve the mob's "customers". And, since the absence of government means that the victimless crime ventures of the mob no longer yield any premium, the mob will have a tough time competing unless they too renounce actual crime.

  • thoreau||

    If you want to tell somebody which historians to ignore, try not to include blindingly obvious historical errors in your post.

  • Urkobold®||

    Urkobold would help you all out, but Mr TUTTONETTI takes care of Urkobold, if you know what Urkobold means.

  • ||

    "Are violent quasi-governmental groups like the mob the inevitable result of a government collapse or partial failure? If so, does that mean that the extreme-anarchist wing of libertarianism has a fatal flaw, or is it the prior existence and failure of governmental institutions that are to blame?"

    They are the inevitable result of government's failure to protect people's basic rights and safety. They are just a more organized form of vigilanteism. If the police are too incompetant or corrupt to protect my life and property, I will take matters into my own hands or band together with other people to take matters into my own hands. The same thing goes if I am prevented from getting police protection because what I am doing is illegal. If the government can't step in to protect the weak, the weak will do something to fill the void.

    This is why anyone who claims to be an anarchist is a moron. You can't have freedom if you have no safety and no way beyond brute force to ensure your rights. If the government can't protect your safety and rights, people will form other organizations that will. Those organizations like failed governments inevitably degenerate into thugery and victimization of the people they are supposed to protect. There is not much real difference between an oppressive government like the Soviets or Mugabe and the mafia. In the end it all turns into gangsterism. The only defense against it is a legitimate government and some kind of rule of law.

  • ||

    Yes, Thoreau, it was Kim Il Sung not Kim Jung Il. You get the smiley face today for noticing that. Get back to me when you have some reason to read anything Bruce Cummings ever wrote. As it is give yourself a pat on the back for being so observant.

  • ||

    David D. Friedman argues that organized crime is in fact symbiotic with and dependent upon government. The fact that provision of law-enforcement and security is limited to a government monopoly (instead of competitive providers) makes it easier for the mob to deal with the cops through bribery, corruption and initimidation. If law enforcement were decentralized and competitive, it would be more difficult to subvert.

  • ||

    Change that one sentence:

    ... makes it easier for the mob to deal with the cops through bribery, corruption and initimidation, especially of certain key officials.

  • thoreau||

    John-

    I know nothing about Bruce Cummings except what you and "Jessee" wrote in this thread. So far Jesse seems to be more credible on matters of history.

  • ||

    Actually, I think John's general point is valid enough. Some historians have such strong prescriptions for their ideological glasses that the truth is totally invisible to them. That doesn't mean that you have to completely ignore them, but it would be foolhardy to rely on their conclusions. Naturally, the $25,000 question is which historians are overly distorting (they all do it to some extent) the truth?

    Stevo, I need to read Friedman. I bought one of his books at a Cato conference (and I met him, briefly, and saw his dad speak). From what I've heard, it seems that he's at least part way in the anarchist camp, so his views here would be of particular interest.

    It's a compelling issue--is government a crutch that prevents us from handling matters on our own? There's a similar argument that the welfare state has preempted much of what civil society could accomplish in the public aid arena. I tend to think the government is a necessary evil and that any system of cooperation will eventually evolve a government of some sort, but I can hardly prove that to be the case.

  • John||

    Yes Thoreau, because a typo misplacing Kim Il Sung for Kim Jong Il says everything doesn't it? It means I know absolutely nothing about North Korea or the history of the Korean war. No need to read any further or consider what I am saying. Nope, that settles it.

    Normally you are pretty reasonable, but I am sorry but you are just being abnoxous about this. The discussion was between Jesse and I not you. If you have something to contribute to it beyond playing gotcha with typos, please contribute to it. As it is, yes, I know the difference between Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. I also know that Bruce Cummings is a University of Chicago historian who has made his entire career claiming that it was the South and the U.S. that started the Korean war and blaming North Korean oppression and poverty on the U.S.. See The Origens of the Korean War.

    If you don't mind, hopefully Jessee will have something more to say. If you find another typo, feel to chime in if that is all you have to contribute. A good man knows his limitations I guess.

  • ||

    This is why anyone who claims to be an anarchist is a moron someone who has probably thought about the issues more than I have.

    Just fixing another typo...

  • Jesse Walker||

    I haven't read Cummings, John, so I don't have an opinion about him. I have read Hobsbawm, and if you click on the "Leninist biases" link you'll see what I have to say about separating the wheat from the chaff in his work.

    There are historians -- Michael Bellesiles, for example -- who have pretty much forfeited their right to have anyone believe what they say. Hobsbawm isn't in that category.

  • thoreau||

    From the disclaimer:
    Finally, some readers have mistaken this post for an endorsement of the mafia. Do I really have to spell out that I don't approve of breaking people's thumbs? The scholarship I'm calling for...

    Well there's your mistake. You're calling for scholarship. It would be much simpler if you just asked the most irritable posters what they think and then repeat that, without examining anything deeply.

  • Urkobold®||

    Urkobold IS UPSET BY thoreau's PERSONAL ATTACK.

    TOO UPSET TO DEVISE A PUNISHMENT. Urkobold HOPES YOU SLEEP WELL AT NIGHT.

  • ||

    Stevo, I need to read Friedman. I bought one of his books at a Cato conference (and I met him, briefly, and saw his dad speak). From what I've heard, it seems that he's at least part way in the anarchist camp, so his views here would be of particular interest.

    ProLib, he's definitely a full-blown anarcho-capitalist. Read his The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism if you can. It's what eventually pushed me into anarcho-capitalism.

    In the meantime, you can try poking around in his interesting and rambling, but, alas, poorly organized Web page. Or his blog.

  • thoreau||

    Urkobold dares to attack me? ME? I'll show him!

    Hope your pizza arrives in 29 minutes so you don't get it free, Urkobold.

    Hope you forget to add the fabric softener, Urkobold.

    Hope you get red lights at every intersection, Urkobold.

    Hope you get the 5th dentist who doesn't recommend the good toothbrush that the other 4 recommend.

  • ||

    No, that's the book I bought. After nearly ten years, maybe I'm ready to read it :)

    I think that was directed at the Urkobold, thoreau. I'd be careful when starting my car the next few days.

  • Urkobold®||

    LISTEN, WOJCIEHOWICZ...

    oops, Urkobold got confused for a moment there. Thought you were someone else.

  • thoreau||

    Urkobold, I hereby declare war on you!

    This war shall continue until you are backed into a corner and forced to consume corn syrup, for I am armed with a mouse that clicks when gently bumped!

    Or until I get tired of it and can't think of anything funny to post. Whatever.

  • ||

    Great show. Not enough Barney Miller references around here.

    Abe Vigoda is still alive.

  • ||

    Read his The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism if you can.

    Friedman addresses one aspect of the question "Are violent quasi-governmental groups like the mob the inevitable result..." in a chapter available on his website: "POLICE, COURTS, AND LAWS---ON THE MARKET".

  • ||

    Whoa, thoreau. You understand that the Urkobold is the Über Troll, the Prime Troller Untrolled, the Master of Disaster, who posts like a butterfly and stings like a bee, etc.?

    He also has his own blog dedicated to all things trollistic.

  • Urkobold®||

    Urkobold LIVES ON CORN SYRUP.
    Urkobold ORDERS PIZZA TO OTHER PEOPLE'S ADDRESSES, THEN ROBS THE PIZZA GUY.
    Urkobold PREFERS THAT HIS(?) CLOTHES ARE LOADED WITH STATIC CLING. Urkobold LIKES TO ZAP PEOPLE.
    Urkobold PLAYS CHINESE FIRE DRILL AT EVERY RED LIGHT. WHEN THERE'S NO ONE ELSE IN THE CAR.
    Urkobold WILL BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH THE DEFECTIVE TOOTHBRUSH WHILE YOU SLEEP.

    Urkobold HAS ALREADY WON THE WAR.

  • ||

    . . .Nobel Laureate, endorsed by Rowdy Roddy Piper, VM's mom (Elisabeth Shue), and the Association for Excellence in Trolling. . .personal friend to Abe Vigoda. . . .

  • thoreau||

    In Blogistan, Thoreau troll YOU!

    Be careful, Urkobold, I have plans!

  • highnumber||

    ProGLib,

    I think Urkobold confused Wojo from Barney Miller and this with thoreau's style of troll-baiting.

    Troll-baiting: NOT to be confused with troll batin', which Urkobold assures me is not to blame for his poor eyesight.

  • ||

    Ah, the Dave W.-Phil Flame War of 2006. Who could forget that classic?

    Let's face it, Dave W. has completely crushed thoreau on multiple occasions, stymieing him by pouncing on thoreau's betrayal of humanity in pursuing his "career" of choice. He's also been unable to refute Dave W.'s assertions about HFCS. Tsk, tsk.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    I couldn't figure out what was going on in this thread. Then I turned on the filter. Now I remember why I have it.

    ATTENTION DUMMIES IN MY FILTER:

    EVERY single one of you, and I mean EVERY single one, missed the point of the post. Congrats.

  • Jim Lippard||

    The latest Economist reminds me that, just as Kowloon Walled City was a squatter's slum where private organizations provided government services, the squatters' slums of Kibera (outside Nairobi, Kenya) and Dharavi (outside Mumbai, India) have similarly seen private provision of services in the face of government neglect. About half the population of Nairobi lives in Kibera.

    Robert Neuwirth's book _Shadow Cities_ is based on his time living in the slums adjacent to Nairobi, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, and Istanbul.

    The latest Economist (May 5-11, 2007) has a special feature on cities in the developing world.

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