Government as organised crime

DPS meeting
Government as organised crime
Wednesday 31 August from 5-6pm in ib3.307

This week from 5-6pm in ib3.307 the Deakin Philosophical Society will discuss the idea that government is akin to organised crime. The discussion will focus on Charles Tilly's (1985) article ‘War making and state making as organised crime’. Find a PDF copy of at

Tilly looks at the development of the modern states, drawing comparison between the activities of successful states and the activities of organised criminal gangs.

I know, I know; it's another lengthy reading. Apologies. Pressed for time? Read from p. 181.

Our discussion of Tilly's article this week will lead into next week's meeting. Next week we'll look at recent research indicating that violence, measured as the percentage of the population dying at the hands of another human being, has declined significantly since the development of modern states. This research will ring a bell for those of you present when we discussed Steven Pinker's TED lecture ‘The myth of violence’.

So, here's the dilemma that will guide the next two weeks' discussion:

  1. Modern states are like organised criminal gangs (this week)
  2. Homicidal violence has declined since the advent of modern states (next week)

So, if modern states are akin to organised criminal gangs but they protect us from violent death at the hands of our neighbours, are they good?

This week our meeting will finish at 6pm to give people a chance to get to Philosophy Café.

Kind regards,

Dylan Nickelson,
President, Deakin Philosophical Society.

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