Monday, April 21, 2008

Belligerents, terrorists, gangsters and insurgents

From Politics and Soccer:

Prof. (Vanda) Felbab-Brown argues that belligerents derive political benefits from controlling illicit economies. The local population that survives on the illicit economy owes their economic wellbeing to the belligerent group (a term that includes terrorists, insurgents, gangs, etc.). The government, whether its trying to eliminate poppies in Afghanistan, trying to shut down smuggling networks in the Sahara, or trying to eliminate coca in Colombia, is trying to shut down the economies that many ordinary people's lives depend on. Thus, a belligerent group's motivations for controlling an illicit economy is not just that they are greedy (although they may be), but the desire for control over illicit economies can be to gain political power.
A few years back, I read an article comparing terrorist culture with that of American street gangs. The similarities were striking, especially in the case of the Palestinians. I'm still trying to dig up this article. I'll post it when I do.

It's no surprise, really, if you think about it. Belligerent groups have been operating much the way they do today since Biblical times. We band together. We hold territory and control economies with various mechanisms. We repel invaders and invade to assume our neighbors' wealth. We're a bit more sophisticated about it these days, in many ways, but the essential elements are still in place whether it be on a national level or in the hood. (I live in the hood and have for many years. If you pay attention, you become aware of a vibrant micro-economy and social order with distinct and observed rules and conventions. Actions have predictable consequences. The system is regulated by "what goes around comes around" and threat of physical violence. In essence, it's the same as it ever was, in particular, it's nuanced.)

via Kotare

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