Discover more from The Palladium Letter
The Answer Is Better Gangs
As long as criminal enterprises offer the best gangs around, kids will continue to enter them. The question is where the better gangs could be.
Gangs crop up in the places you least expect them. They have formed the core of many political cliques, media empires, and military orders. These days, even Los Angeles police deputies are getting tattoos upon entry into infamous “deputy gangs” with names like the Banditos and the Executioners.
But some gangs are criminal organizations. They traffic drugs and people and waste the potential of young men looking for connection and purpose. Writing from the perspective of someone who watched childhood friends turn to gang life, Seth Largo points out that preparing someone for a purposeful life has to begin young:
National and regional politicians often misunderstand what drives young men and women into gang life in the first place because they underestimate how young it all starts. Military recruiters visiting elementary schools would scandalize many people, but by that age gangs are already getting to kids and offering them a vision of pride, loyalty, and excitement.
Gang dynamics will only expand in years to come as the mainstream institutions that once could check their spread lose their power to divert and assimilate kids. This will not just affect criminal enterprises, but also those fighting the cartels. In El Salvador, for example, Nayib Bukele took the chains off state power by mandating that anyone with obvious gang affiliation would be imprisoned—instead of obscuring the state’s friend-enemy distinction through the judicial process, the crime epidemic could be tackled head-on. Whether the United States is ready for this kind of response to its growing crime problem remains to be seen.
Anti-gang measures in the form of education can only go so far. As Seth points out, the root of gang life begins with the instincts of loyalty, aggression, and personal glory that play out in every normal group of kids:
El Salvador’s MS-13 gets its name from Mara Salvatrucha. A mara is a gang in the same double sense as the English term: either a violent organization or a group of young friends. Every boy in the world has been part of a mara in one form or another and understands those youthful loyalties. Only some are salvatrucha: street-smart and hungry in a way that middle-class friend groups will never understand.
How do you prevent kids from getting into groups like MS-13? The answer is that you need to create better gangs.
Speaking of better gangs, last week friends and supporters of Palladium gathered to celebrate the launch of PALLADIUM 10: Cultural Excellence. Here are a few of the photos. Thank you for the great time, everyone!
Here’s what’s been on the front page lately:
The Answer Is Better Gangs by Seth Largo. As long as criminal enterprises offer the best gangs around, kids will continue to enter them. The question is where the better gangs could be.
Why I Live in San Francisco by Chris Robotham. San Francisco is upstream of America, and its social crises are spilling across the country. It is also the best place to find a path out.
“At the Edge of Life” With Pietro Boselli. Pietro Boselli is a model, mechanical engineer, and adventurer. He discusses the value of many sources of experience, trusting your instincts, and death-defying solo trips into the unknown.
School Is Not Enough by Simon Sarris. Children need purposeful work to develop agency and self-possession. That education is unlikely to happen in school.
Complex Systems Won’t Survive the Competence Crisis by Harold Robertson. Complex systems like air traffic and energy operate on rigorous competency. With the managers of these systems prioritizing goals like diversity, these networks are now eroding.
That’s all for now.