"It [government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
Ten Differences Between the State and the Mafia
Column by Jakub Bozydar Wisniewski.
Exclusive to STR
1. The state is the largest apparatus of violence, aggression, and coercion within a given territory. The mafia is composed of all the smaller ones.
2. The state is the most well-organized apparatus of violence, aggression, and coercion within a given territory. The mafia's inferior organization makes them less influential and their reach more restricted.
3. The state is a monopolistic apparatus of violence, aggression, and coercion, that is, the culmination of the process of eliminative competition between groups of stationary bandits that run protection racket schemes. Mafias are the losers in this competition, formally outlawed by the winner and relegated to the black market.
4. The state possesses a powerful apparatus of self-aggrandizing propaganda. The mafia does not, hence its bad reputation.
5. The state is the apparatus of violence, aggression, and coercion that possesses the largest clientele within a given territory. The clientele of the mafia is quite small in comparison.
6. The state is usually an open-access apparatus of violence, aggression, and coercion. The mafia typically has a much more closed and rigid structure.
7. Mafias, due to their limited influence and reach, do not actively seek to turn all the inhabitants of a given territory into their clients. States do.
8. Mafias, due to their limited influence and reach, do not actively seek to control and regularly expropriate all the inhabitants of a given territory. States do.
9. Mafias are usually pragmatic in their orientation--they employ violence, aggression, and coercion to obtain tangible goods and services. States, on the other hand, are more often than not motivated by ideology--they employ violence, aggression, and coercion out of pure lust for power.
10. The mafia uses physical intimidation. The state uses physical, intellectual, and moral intimidation. The mafia injures its victims. The state injures and insults its victims. Paraphrasing Lysander Spooner, the mafia, unlike the state, does not, in addition to robbing its victims, attempt to make them either its dupes or its slaves.