chapter  6
16 Pages

The racket society

This chapter demonstrates that humanitarian agencies are more often at the mercy of refugee groups, forced to purchase access; otherwise they risk disruption to their programmes from the very groups who offer protection. The ability of refugees to profit through the dual dynamic of threatening violence and providing protection is essentially racketeering. The privatisation of camp territory can, therefore, be explained by reference to Horkheimer's theory of rackets. The chapter argues that the camp may be considered a model of the "society of rackets", in which domination both economically and politically is achieved through sheer violence. The racket society distinguishes two classes of people, those belonging to the rackets and those who are victims. The coalitions of rackets concept explains by reference to case study, a European Union-funded programme to rehabilitate the electricity grid in the camp. Racketeering had long been the established modus operandi of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) even before the war.