An Exploration of a Four Point Hypothesis Regarding Organized and Organic militia Groups in Kenya
Culled from TCH
The Study Hypothesis and Assumptions
Literature on militia offers four explanations regarding their proliferation and sustenance. The first is related to space. And its central thesis is that re-organised spaces (like slums) create opportunities that naturally attract crime. In the new spaces, there is a crisis of rule imposition and control. Combined with opportunity, this ‘state-of-flux’ produces a flora of criminal gangs. But re-organised spaces also result in some form of decay. The further the new spaces are from the centre, the greater their distance decay in terms of control and interaction.
The concept of distance decay borrows from The First Principle in Geography that states: “…everything is related to everything else; but near things are more related than distant things” (Tobler, W 1970). That is, although everything is related, things that are proximate are more related than those that are distant. This is why non-administered spaces in which the state is virtually absent, are breeding ground for private violence. But distance decay is not only a function of geography. It refers to decay in relationships; to economic inclusion/exclusion and the ‘distance between the poor and the law’. For instance, the bandit economy is a function of economic decay. In fact, organic crime is rationalised by economic exclusion as we shall demonstrate. Of equal note, regulatory ‘decay’ has produced a regime of ‘bandit law’ to regulate the predatory sphere. But direct insecurity is bred by governance decay. Our hypothesis here was therefore that both organic and organised militia are a function of distance decay.
The Gap Hypothesis: State Absence or Abstinence?
The second explanation to militia proliferation focuses on the governance of geographical spaces. Its central thrust is that new ‘spaces’ tend to skew the space to force ratio. They result in far too many spaces being policed by a ‘too small’ a force. Because of this imbalance, the distant spaces ‘close’ themselves out, limiting the influence of the centre on their activities. This phenomenon of ‘closed spaces’ invites militia to police them and increases their de facto legitimacy in community. In fact, a symbiosis between the ‘supply’ of criminal activities and its ‘demand’ by community begins to emerge. The further away the state is from the closed spaces, the higher the legitimacy of gangs as the ‘alternative state’. And this is how organic militia and gangs emerge. They are organic because community demands for them and legitimises their activities.
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