Transnational Organised Crime: Perspectives on Global Security

By Adam Edwards; Peter Gill | Go to book overview
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Global law enforcement as a protection racket

Some sceptical notes on transnational organised crime as an object of global governance

James Sheptycki


Introduction: the threat of TOC

In the 1990s the concept of transnational organised crime (TOC) emerged as a relatively new one in academic criminology and popular discourse. Other chapters in this book reveal that TOC remains something of a contested term. As Adam Edwards and Pete Gill explain in the Introduction, the terminology of TOC emerged at a specific historical conjuncture where a confluence of salient factors, foremost among which was the end of the Cold War and its replacement by a seemingly more fragile and tentative 'new world order', gave rise to a new security discourse predicated on combating TOC. The insecurity that TOC describes has its roots in two phenomena, the global movement of peoples and of commodities, which are interrelated in complex ways. Those interrelationships can be related back to contradictions in the neo-liberal underpinnings of the new world order itself, for that order has established two realms of trade and movement. In brief, there is both illicit and licit trade in the globalising economy and, while both may engender human misery even while they offer up opportunities, only some illicit market practices attract concerted efforts at control via the attentions of law enforcement. It is the practices so targeted that define the real official parameters of TOC.

This chapter will not attempt to comprehend broad questions about transnational policing and TOC (see Sheptycki, 1998a, 2002). The aim of this chapter is more narrow. I want to explore an idea suggested by the American political scientist Charles Tilley; that state-making is analogous to a protection racket (1985), although I must caution at the outset that I have somewhat different ends in mind. In his contribution, Tilley aimed to cast light on the processes associated with state-building and war-making that attended the historical emergence of the state system in Europe and, latterly, more globally. Here I am concerned to look at the emergence of transnational crime control on the agenda for 'global governance' in the contemporary period. I reason that, just as the analogy between state-making and organised crime could be used to cast light on

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