Monday, November 27, 2006

The Russian Mafia - Shining Light of Eastern Capitalism

As surely as snow will fall on the minarets of Russia’s Red Square, the positive influence on the country’s mafia will be felt on the eastern superpower’s fledgling economy.

How can the mafia act as a positive force? Why would a group associated with organised crime work for the good of the Russian people, who have been victims of politician’s power struggles for so many years.

The answer lies in the mafia’s history as a strong force for capitalism in the former eastern block states. It has worked tirelessly and often with little thanks as the West’s PR man in offering a shinning example of the power of the dollar and the American dream within this communist ravaged nation.

Russia’s masses need look no further for examples of self made men, than the reclusive mafia bosses. No press call is needed for Donald Trump to proclaim his Midas touch on the streets of Moscow, for beneath the outward veneer of eastern communism a vibrant economy was always thriving.

Mafia activity has a long history in Russia, it preceeded the country’s dalliance with communism in the twentieth century and moved with the country as it took it’s fledgling steps into the West’s capitalist playground.

Through this change the Mafia has consistently worked to promote the ethos of free trade, choice and availability of goods to the repressed Russian people.

Under the communist regime of the 1970s and 1980s, the Mafia ran a thriving business line in supplying Russian citizens with black-market western goods. Who can blame the normal Russian man or woman - unfairly repressed by the shackles of communism – for wanting to enjoy a Coca Cola like every other free man in the democratic nations of the world. And who can blame the entrepreneurial mafia man for meeting this customer demand.

Without the mafia, who would have stood up to the communist powers in enlightening the common Russian man as to the delights of a free and democratic society? The tireless work of these organisations, often in the face of great personal risk, to supply western goods to the Russian people during this period cannot be overlooked. Indeed, it may well have sown the seed of change needed to spur the common Russian towards revolution.

After the fall of the communist regime, the mafia organisations, already strongly immersed in the strategies of western capitalism were ideally placed to foster the notion of free trade within the fledgling economy.

The mafia is also providing a day-to-day means of employment for many Russians. Western businesses now operating in Russia employ large security entourages to protect their executives. 25,000 Russian security firms have grown up to protect these Westerners and the organisations employ between 600,000-800,000 Russian workers. It is estimated that the mafia controls a sixth of this thriving sector, which provides a valuable service to western companies and keeps many Russian’s in jobs.

It is often argued that the Russian mafia is an unsavoury organisation because of its secrecy and un-flamboyant manner. But surely, the Russian mafia have done nothing more than mirror their western friends, more fully schooled in the arts of global capitalism.

Find a CEO of a European investment bank who does not consider secrecy in financial business to be a core skill and you will find an unsuccessful banker. You will also rarely find these bankers boasting of their flamboyant natures.

The other main argument used against the mafia is that they resort to crime and violence to achieve their business ends. And in this area, they may even be able to teach their new western comrades a thing or two about effective business strategy.

Be ruthless in attaining your goal and success will follow! Surely any businessman worth his Armani suit will tell you this. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. And if your enemies need to be silenced, surely it is more humane to quickly remove them with an effective poison than hold them for many years on remote Cuban islands. This all costs money after all, which is not good business sense at all.

As the world’s governments struggle to decide on Russia’s place within the new global world economy, they should perhaps look to the mafia as an old and shining example of capitalism within this eastern state. They may find that the thinking of the east and west are not so far apart after all.

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