Several years ago I took an international relations course at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, it was an intro course taught (I think) by Alan Lamborn, which changed the face of my political understanding. It was in this course that I first began to understand politics and it’s impact on our lives. He upended much of my naive understandings and created a fascination in me for the reality of international relations. It was here that I learned of something that has returned again and again of late.
In America we have an almost mystical love for organized crime in drama. Characters such as Al Capone/Scarface, John Gotti, Pablo Escobar as well as the numerous gangs and organizations they are know for riddle our cinematic and fictional ethos. Yet ironically, for all of our love of these organized criminals and the fascination of these illegal organizations, the motivations behind the global existence of organized criminals is distinctly lacking.
Take for example the Somali pirates which have been gracing the international section of news magazines over the year and more. Perhaps one of the more thrilling highlights are the US Navy Seals who killed pirates. What is far more useful is to understand not the event, but the context of the events, which includes it’s history and the current political existence. Before we demonize the Somali’s for being moralless thugs out for a free ticket, let’s back up and realize that they are a failed state. In failed states instability and insecurity reigns, infrastructure is likely poor if it exist, despotism and corruption are generally common, governmental control weak, and the economy is in the tank. It’s a painful existence, one consumed by the here and now. There are good reasons that the Pirates who succeed in ransoms from corporate shipping return to a heros welcome.
It’s not a positive existance, not one that provides for civility, prosperity, and a chance for improvement as we in the west think of our own lives, but it is not one to which most have any capacity to change, except for the worse, or by taking those drastic “immoral” measures.
What’s worth understanding about this is that organize crime is generally understood to be a fact of life. The corporations involved in shipping are adding ransom insurance and payouts as a cost of their business, as that route is still the fastest way to go and therefore worth the one in some number of ships delayed/lost.
The pirates in Somalia are only a taste of this global organized criminal market, which has a huge impact on our daily lives in ways that we don’t currently understand. To this end, I have created a new area on my blog call the Citizen Continuing Education which I will occasionally post at least a triplet of sources that will give you a brief overview of thoughts about a topic which we all need to begin to display some proficiency. I’ve started with Organized Crime, which shouldn’t take you more then a few hours between the interviews and videos, plus a bit more for the optional information. By the end of it I hope you’ll come away with far more information then you had, and a useful understanding of the subject. I’m also looking to make these interesting and engaging, unlike the dry lectures that you sometimes get out of the lecture hall.
I have another on American History which involves audio books, but I’ll let you know when that’s finished. Should you have a useful mini-course suggestion, please feel free to contact me, or post a comment!
As I like to quote “We live in an exponential growth of technology,” which will give us dilemma we can’t imagine facing–such as the oldest living and youngest living becoming more and more separated by a gulf of age never seen. Being faced with so much information and so much change, especially in an era where we “rational” decision are easily manipulated, makes being an informed citizen hard to actually achieve. What’s more it’s sometimes impossible to retain a global perspective, but it’s absolutely necessary that we balance the local with the global and realize that we are all interdependent in this web of life. I do hope you enjoy your Citizen’s Continuing Education.