agreea OP t1_iuemip2 wrote

Yeah I’ve heard of waste management as a common industry for mafias to control. I think it’s because it’s so territorial and there’s really only room for one vendor in a given area (who goes shopping for their trash guy?), so being able to use force to crowd out competition determines whether you’ll capture market share.

I’ve also seen firsthand some of these dynamics in informal settlements in Kenya where the government can’t provide waste management due to lack of infrastructure. Though in that case it’s usually more “youth groups/gangs” fighting over garbage collection turf than organized criminal enterprises.


agreea OP t1_iub93eu wrote

Very good point, the comparison isn’t 1:1. As I understand it (not at all a mobster myself just a voracious consumer of mob content), today A would say to B “I’m with Z’s family/crew” if they were from the same area, and might specify the location if they weren’t from the same area. But generally they wouldn’t talk Cosa Nostra stuff if they were strangers, even if they were both in the mob. There would need to be an intro made between them.

In 1875, B would likely have introduced themselves to C using the same ritual above, but perhaps with A hinting to C to kick it off by… complaining about a toothache to B lmao.


agreea OP t1_iub2sx6 wrote

Early mafia history is so weird and surprising relative to what we understand of the modern mafia.

For example, here's how mobsters in Sicily in 1875 introduced themselves to each other as "made" men (aka formally inducted to the mafia):

A: God's blood! My tooth hurts! (pointing to one of the upper canines)

B: Mine too

A: When did yours hurt?

B: On the day of our Lady of the Annunciation.

A: Where were you?

B: Passo di Ragano

A: And who was there?

B: Nice people.

A: Who were they?

B: Antonino Giammona, number 1. Alfonso Spatola, number 2, etc.

A: How did they do the bad deed?

B: They drew lots and Alfonso Spatola won. He took a saint, colored it with my blood, put in the palm of my hand, and burned it. He threw the ashes in the air.

A: Who did they tell you to adore.

B: The sun and the moon.

A: And who is your god?

B: An 'Air'.

A: What kingdom do you belong to?

B: The index finger.


Compare that to mafiosos in the US today:

A: "[B] is a friend of ours"


Edit: Source: John Dickie, Cosa Nostra, p. 46-47


agreea OP t1_iuagkzq wrote

From the abstract: "We argue that the mafia arose as a response to an exogenous shock in the demand for oranges and lemons, following Lind’s discovery in the late eighteenth century that citrus fruits cured scurvy."


When we discovered that citrus cures scurvy, the only place that grew lemons at an industrial scale was Sicily. Sicily didn't have a strong enough state to protect lemon farmers and enforce contracts between them and the rest of the supply chain. So the mafia formed around the opportunity extort / protect farmers and enforce contracts (e.g. futures) between various players in the lemon supply chain.

I've seen this theory elsewhere, including John Dickey's Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia.

You can probably extrapolate this more generally, that organized criminal groups form around certain industries that the state cannot or will not protect.