The early 1800s were tough times throughout Europe -the rich folks had taken over freemasonry and were conspiring against the kings, the poor folks were taking over the factories, the kings were trying to keep their power in every way from giving the people parliaments to executing the ones who really got out of line. In the midst of the rise of nationalism, several clans of lawless individuals who were living in Italy began to form more organization between them, resulting in the establishment of what we now know of as the Mafia. Eventually, organized crime rings would takeover black market operations throughout the world, but the significance of this development is often overlooked.
Mafioso: “Man of honor”
People generally see organized crime as conflicting with mainstream life -criminality is often frowned upon (thus, the laws against such behavior), but the mafia provided a balance of power among black market operators who were often providing much needed services for those who could not afford them from the regular market. The term “mafioso” actually means “man of honor” -these men brought a level of honor and justice to a world of thieves and killers who were, for the most part, outside of the reach of the law. The mafia organizations became the police in this world where you couldn’t go to the regular police, often coming from irregular private security… in Italy, most of these mafia cartels came from rural areas where the police just weren’t available, in the first place.
As this power structure grew, it presented a direct threat to the governmental authority of Italy, and Mussolini eventually led a campaign against this organization. He called this movement “Fascism”. Fascism became very popular in several places, including the United States -it was a revival of the ancient symbol of state authority, represented by the fascis -a two-handed axe wrapped with a bundle of sticks. The fascis symbolized the power of the state over life and death, and Mussolini was looking for a singular solution for the conflict that was arising between nationalist mercantilism and communism/socialism -a way of ruling the market “fairly”, but with an iron fist. Fascism gave Mussolini the political platform he was looking for to end the mafia’s control of not only the black market, but eventually establish his own control of the rest of the market, as well… or so he thought.
Mussolini’s version of fascism revolved around a business syndicate -a collection of key people from various industries who would help deliberate and organize the state’s efforts in the market, and attempt to block any unwanted interaction with mafia groups. This was a little different than fascism in Nazi-Germany, revolving around a shared power rather than the dictatorial rule of one man -less totalitarian and more like the Anarcho-syndicalism of the Spanish Revolution, but backed by a strong centralized military authority. After World War II, the mafia began to move into the urban areas of their respective regions and work their way into positions of political power.
Even though the mafia were working directly against the state’s regulation, they grew inside of the regulated market and eventually became the unofficial regulators of the anti-state. At this point, they were direct competition for the state. They have a direct interest in either undermining the state… or joining it, and using that to their advantage. Fascism in the US would be a blurring of the line between Mussolini’s focus on control of the market, and Hitler’s focus on monopoly of authority and force. This dichotomy of power would play-out as a seemingly free election between two supposedly opposing parties -the Republicans and the Democrats: Republicans working with the CIA and fascist overlords, and the Democrats working with FBI and underworld mafia. Though they were apparently at odds with each other, both were working for the common goal of full empowerment of the state.