critic, I see lots of films featuring one of the
odder bits of Hollywood hokum: the multiethnic criminal
know, the kind of mob that`s as diverse as the cover of
the University of Wisconsin recruiting brochure after
the admissions office gets done
There`s a white guy, a black guy, an Asian girl, a Sikh,
a Lubavitcher, an Amish farmer, a whatever.
When you see a multiracial gang, you can be sure the
overall movie is lame. Do you remember
Truth About Charlie",
"Don`t say a Word", "Atlantis",
"What`s the Worst that Could Happen?"
don`t? Well, neither did I until I looked them up. And,
heck, I reviewed all of them within the last two years.
(The exception that proves the rule: "Ocean`s
Eleven," which reveled in just how contrived is the
Eleven`s diversity. As Brad Pitt
tells George Clooney when they discuss whom to
recruit, "Off the top of my head, I`d say you`re
looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two
Jethros, and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest
Ella Fitzgerald ever.")
contrast, the gangster movies that penetrate deepest
into the human condition – like the first two "Godfathers”
– tend to emphasize the "family"
in "crime family."
"The Sopranos" takes this concept to the limit.
real life, too, ties of blood and marriage undergird
most organized crime operations. It`s also common for
the perpetrators of disorganized crimes to be
brothers or cousins—for example, the brothers
Jonathan and Reginald Carr committed the four
murders in 2000`s "Wichita
that`s why multiracial gangs are much rarer in real life
than in bogus movies: because, by
definition, racial groups are based on extended
do criminals prefer, where possible, to work with
close kin, or at least co-ethnics? The answer to this
question is presented in the new scholarly
book Risky Transactions: Trust, Kinship, and
Ethnicity, edited by
Frank K. Salter, an Australian political scientist
now with the Max Planck Institute in Andechs, Germany.
Salter is doing some of the most interesting work in the
human sciences right now – in fields as seemingly
why ethnically-homogenous nation-states like the
Scandinavian countries tend to give more welfare and
how the best nightclub bouncers intimidate drunks.
Incentives toward ethnocentrism exist even in legitimate
businesses, like the diamond trade, where lack of trust
would greatly increase transaction costs.
example, after I bought an engagement ring from a very
low cost dealer (don`t tell my wife), I had to pay an
additional $100 or so to have a third-party appraiser
spend twenty minutes peering at the diamond through a
microscope to confirm that the gem was indeed the VS
clarity – G color that the salesman had purported.
That`s why the international wholesale diamond business
is dominated by a small number of "endogamous"
(in-marrying) ethnic groups. They can do business within
the group on just a
you sell some diamonds with microscopic flaws to your
third cousin in Amsterdam but charge him for flawless
diamonds. When he eventually figures out you`ve been
cheating him, he doesn`t have to go through all the
bother of suing you or shooting you. He just tells your
mutual relatives, and soon nobody will do business with
you and your children can`t find spouses. So honesty is
the best policy – at least toward your co-ethnics.
ethnocentric incentive for business outside the law is
even greater. You are in danger both from the police and
your business associates. If you hand the buyer a duffel
bag full of uncut drugs and he vamooses without handing
you the promised suitcase full of cash, you can`t
threaten to take him to court.
the transaction costs of doing business with people who
have no reason to trust you mount rapidly. You need some
thick-necked gentlemen to stand around holding
submachine guns while you make the exchange; you need to
murder some cheats and informers to encourage the
others; and so forth.
contrast, crime families, while hardly immune to
betrayals, enjoy lower costs of doing business. A
chapter in Risky Transactions called "Mafia and
Blood Symbolism" by University of Amsterdam
anthropologist Anton Blok provides detailed family trees
showing the genealogical links uniting
Sicilian and American mob families like the Gambinos,
Spatolas, and di Maggios. He quotes another expert as
"These ties allowed greater flexibility and safety. In
the relationships between [Sicilian]
Mafioso organizers and the Italo-American gangs
receiving the merchandise [heroin], where there
is mutual trust over time, it is possible for one
courier to arrive from America with the money while the
merchandise itself is entrusted to another courier.
Since no such privileged bonds existed between Sicilians
and Middle Eastern suppliers, importing was a more
Salter points out an important concomitant to the risky
transaction theory: the dividing lines between ethnic
gangsters, and terrorists can be awfully blurry.
This has repeatedly tripped up American thinking
example, in 1999 we bombed Serbia flat to rescue the
Kosovo Liberation Army They then rewarded us by
reverting back to the ancient Albanian trades of
international smuggling, fencing, and pimping. Soon,
KLA gangsters were subverting our ally, the fragile
democracy of Macedonia.
National Post of Toronto
"`Kosovo Albanians make
the perfect mafia—even better than the Sicilians,` said
Marko Nicovic, vice-president of the New York-based
International Narcotics Enforcement Agency. `They are a
small ethnic group made up of clans or families that
have very close to family relations. The brotherhood, or
Fic, is impenetrable by outsiders. It is difficult to
find translators to work with police and impossible to
get an informer or agent inside the organizations.`"
intense kin ties that make for effective
rebels, mobsters, and
fanatics are most often found where government is
ineffective or illegitimate or both. These are places
where you need your extended family`s muscle to survive,
because the police are either predators or feckless.
course, there`s a chicken or egg issue here: strong and
just governments are also hard to establish and maintain
among populations whose extended family structures are
conducive to mafia activities.
This might be especially true where
inbreeding is common. And inbreeding is extremely
common from Morocco to parts of India. For example, half
the married people in Iraq are married to either a first
or second cousin (versus less than 1% in the U.S.). "Consanguineous"
marriage intensifies family loyalty. If you arrange for
your daughter to marry your brother`s son, your grandson
will also be your brother`s grandson and heir, so
there`s no need to fight over who inherits the family
land or herd.
the other hand, cousin marriage undermines loyalty to
the state and society, which is one reason why Middle
Eastern countries teeter between
anarchy and tyranny.
Thus, the world`s refugees tend to come from failed
states like Somalia and Yugoslavia that have been torn
apart by battling ethnic clans. These refugees tend to
gravitate toward homogenous northern regions like
Lewiston, Maine, where they can exploit the high
levels of welfare offered by compassionate citizenries
who didn`t anticipate the refugees` Hobbesian worldview.
Salter points out that ethnic mafias especially flourish
totalitarian regimes collapse, as in the Soviet
Union and Albania. Totalitarian regimes destroyed most
of the non-family associations of civil society (such as
corporations, labor unions, and political parties). The
form of organization that survives is the basic
biological one of kinship.
this suggests that we ought to be preparing for the some
unwanted side-effects of liberating Iraq.
instance, it`s likely that new and even more virulent
refugee mafias will emerge out of Iraq`s countless
ethnic groups. How about the Lucifer-worshipping
heard it here first.
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and