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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Gangster Politics: Organised Crime as the Continuation of Politics by Other Means

Foreign Policy
International Relations
Organised Crime
Political Theory
Transitional States
Panos Kostakos
University of Oulu
Panos Kostakos
University of Oulu

The dominant economic paradigm has been the chief intellectual source in shaping public perception and policy on organized crime (OC). Committed to the principles of analytical parsimony and intuitiveness, economic models have found widespread acceptance across audiences and settings. When examined through the prism of economic realism, organized crime exhibits the qualitative characteristics of a non-ideological and profit-driven enterprise, that does business in the illicit side of the economic spectrum, using corruption and violence to maximize its returns. In quantitative terms, the rapid expansion of organized crime across territorial boarders, is attributed to the dark side of globalization and the economic forces unleashed by the end of the Cold War. Consequently, it has now become the norm to think and talk about organized crime as a serious threat to national interests. However, there is a plethora of evidence to the contrary. A mounting body of critical research suggests that the boundaries between organized crime, the state and national interest are blurring. Mainstream perceptions on OC fail to take into account that the spectrum of political realism extends into a vast field of illegality and shadowy dealing. The paper will explore the analytical utility of “gangster politics” through a critical appraisal of the mainstream assumptions on organized crime. Case studies showing that political realism necessitates the recruitment of organized crime to serve and protect national interests will be discussed.
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