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The Camorra in the form of an Honoured Society re-emerged in the 1970s, in Raffaele Cutolo’s remarkable Nuova Camorra Organizzata.Cutolo probably borrowed the ideas for his organisation – the most numerous in Italian mafia history – from the ’Ndrangheta, into which he was initiated, as well as from books about the old Neapolitan Honoured Society he borrowed from prison libraries.The Camorra also died out at one point, principally because of a huge trial in 1911 to 1912.
The three biggest Italian mafias remain a powerful presence, with tentacles reaching deep inside Italian business and politics.
The historian, author and academic John Dickie busts the myth that it’s all in the family.
Revolutions need an armed wing, and the idealistic patriots who were conspiring to overthrow the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies – as Southern Italy and Sicily were called – and unite it with the rest of Italy, formed an alliance with violent criminals whom they used as revolutionary muscle.
Our best guess at why the mafias are organised like freemasons – with admission rituals, hierarchies, internal courts and codes of behaviour – is that they learnt that way of organising themselves from these patriots, many of whom were freemasons or involved in Masonic-style secret societies. Firstly, the ’Ndrangheta arrived slightly later – in the 1880s.
Rather than referring to the Italian mafia, would it be more accurate to talk about Italian mafias, given that there are a number of criminal organisations operating in the country? There are three powerful mafias in Italy: the Cosa Nostra, or the Sicilian mafia as it is known today; the ’Ndrangheta of Calabria in the far south of the country, and the Camorra in the Naples and the Campania region.
The Cosa Nostra and the ’Ndrangheta are quite similar.
This gives you some idea of the level of infiltration in the 1980s. The streets are not filled with bodies to nearly the same extent as they were 20 or 30 years ago.
Italy – largely because of the sacrifice of heroic policemen and women, magistrates and carabinieri – has far better organised and professional law enforcement than it’s ever had.
The mafia is a criminal organisation and always has been.
Sonny is too macho and too violent, and Fredo is too wimpy.