I was once on a flight where other passengers included a mafia kingpin and two of his lieutenants. The three acted like noisy uncontrollable brats, as if they were a disorderly gang of juvenile delinquents in school, disrupting classrooms and intimidating teachers. They were clearly challenging the flight attendants to reprimand them. But the cabin crew knew that doing that might be unwise – for the same reason I won’t give the mafioso’s name here. The passengers also left them to be their obnoxious selves without objecting. Everyone on board had seen the guy’s picture in the papers, so… discretion and valor and all that...

You might ask yourself why such rich and powerful people would travel on a commercial airline instead of their own private jet. I suspect it’s because they’re not all that rich. Mafiosos pursue money to the extent that it gains them something else; and are otherwise not all that interested in money.

That something else of course is power. Being able to intimidate all the passengers and crew on an airplane is gratifying to a power addict. That is what they’re after.

The god called power, like other gods – fame, lust, and, yes, wealth – uses addiction to own its follower.

At first sampling, power tastes good, as Charlie learns in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EqSXDwTq6UFortunately it appears that as Charlie has grown he, like most of us, is too interested in living life to developan addictive personality.

For those who do have an addictive personality, each subsequent sample of power tastes and feels better than the previous one, until they find their life consumed by the quest for more of what they’re addicted to.

Power addiction can manifest itself politically – probably no need for a detailed explanation there.

Or the addiction can be at the level of individual bullying. An example is the queen bee or bully in school who gets off victimizing others. Graduation is a letdown for them, as their victims are suddenly dispersed to college and elsewhere.

Often the graduating bullies discover the ultimate source of individual power: the gun.

Why do American gun enthusiasts blithely act as though they’ve never heard the words “well-regulated militia” in the Second Amendment, or deny having heard of the appalling numbers of children injured and killed in gun accidents, or decline to consider the number of times otherwise stable gun owners suddenly facing a personal crisis reach for the quick solution just because it’s right at hand?

The reason of course is that they have become addicted to the gun’s power. The more addictive personalities among them want more guns, amassing arsenals. Then once they have the arsenal they have to tell themselves and their spouse that there’s a reason for the arsenal. Any angry cause will do. Some rumor that a political party is practicing pedophilia in a pizza shop gives one a perfect justification for putting that weapon to use. The rumor simply serves as an excuse to turn the potential power represented by the arsenal into the kinetic power the addict knows it was meant to be.

Power addiction explains mafias. In the rare instances when “made men” in the Sicilian mafia have written or talked about what drew them to that life, it seems that “respect from people around me” is the common denominator.

Russia has been run by a mafia for the last hundred years, with the possible exception of the Gorbachev / Yeltsin era.

One of the principal ways in which mafias manage to operate in defiance of governments and law enforcement is often overlooked by a culture that’s all about documented accountability. Very simply, mafias do not document what they do. Records are kept safely inaccessible in brain cells. The capo de tutti capis is not only smart and ruthless, he tends to have an exceptional memory. (Although the Italian authorities did learn that Don Corleone kept track of obligations using wads of paper notes in his pocket.)

For that reason, looking for documentation supporting Donald Trump’s connection to Russia, i.e. the Russian mafia, is an exercise in futility. We do know that his son publicly attributed the Trump organization’s “turnaround” (ie multi-billion dollar bailout) around 2002 to Russian sources of capital. When one accepts a loan from a mafia, one hands over title to oneself to them. Donald Trump is owned by the Russian mafia. People in Boston’s North End in the sixties would know how that works.

Among the many who have been calling Russia a mafia is the Medium writer Umair Haque. Haque’s writing has always struck me as akin to the thoughts of a kid in their mid-teens discovering that the world and the people who run it are a lot more screwed up than they were taught in civics class. I don’t know whether he’s naϊve or is simply writing for an audience he assumes is naϊve.

Umair Haque’s latest article, Putin is Devastating Ukraine to Send the World a Message https://eand.co/why-putin-is-unleashing-slaughter-in-ukraine-7b1430ef1b90 was different. It opened my eyes to the real implications of the fact that Russia is run by a mafia.

Putin and his mafia aren’t deluded about the impossibility of governing a captured Ukraine. They simply don’t care. The important thing for them is getting the word out that they will destroy any nation that defies them.

It’s a perfect analog to the shop owner who refuses to pay the extortion fee to keep her place open. No extended effort to collect follows. No belligerent “pay up!” There’s only the gun and the torch. It’s the message, not the money, that counts. Power.

People tend not to talk about what happens when the shop owner doesn’t pay. It’s unsaid because it hits so close to home. We all get the message, no words necessary.

Russia has been using guns and torches.

Putin knows that we know that he has other weapons.

We all get the message, no words necessary.

What are we gonna do about this?