This is not a post about the novella I wrote, well novel really, but about the mob itself in our society or rather, all organized crime groups, because the dysfunctional niche they fit into blew my mind the other day.
In preparation for surgery on the 17th, I bought a physical book from a historical society. The title is Crazy Cults and Secret Societies. Yep, sounds like my kind of book. I was on chapter 6 when I was taken back for surgery. Since I was the one going under the scalpel, I decided against my tablet and took an actual book instead.
However, it was chapter 4 when I made the stunning and startling revelation. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following definition for a cult: A relatively small group of people having beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange. We almost always think of cults in terms of religious beliefs, but shared beliefs is really the thing, shared beliefs considered weird by mainstream society that causes people to bond together is all that is required.
The Italian Mafia, the Russian Mafia, and even drug cartels in Mexico are in fact cults. These groups have their own code of conduct and morality that it strictly enforces among those within the groups. And even though today, most organized crime syndicates are no longer made up of members from a single family, they are still referred to as families, by both outside influences and the members, as a technique to make members feel obligated to follow the rules of the group.
Even as non-religious cults, organized crime does utilize brain manipulation techniques… what we would consider brain washing, to ensure that members remain loyal to them. It is part of the reason I have always had some difficulty discussing and explaining the Russian mob in the Dysfunctional Chronicles. The Russian Mafia is even less likely to be made up of family members and is even more fractured than the Italian mafia, which is the mafia group Americans are most familiar with.
Thinking about them as a cult, makes them easier to understand, and explain. And to some degree, those that leave mob families do have to be deprogrammed, just like someone that leaves a religious cult. This also explains why people don’t betray mob bosses more often. It isn’t the fear of what might happen to them so much as an ingrained sense of loyalty created using the same brain washing techniques religious leaders use to keep their followers, following without question.
Next time you watch Goodfellas, keep this in mind and watch for the signs that they are indeed a cult.