Table of contents

Justified III

A story about organized crime

This time around, Boyd has to create a criminal organization, having failed to take up his father’s & also in creating a fascist mob. One is pleasantly surprised to see how little he learned from his mistakes & how much courage & cleverness he pours into building his fortune. Set aside the distinction between the legal & the illegal, & he is an endearing entrepreneur dedicated to acquisition. Liberalism is all about setting that distinction aside.

Two problems quickly emerge. One of them is competition, the other trust. Mafiosi types come to Harlan to take over the crime business. Organizing crime is a business, so it depends on a model & a ruthless executive. Maybe order means simply making people believe order is in their interest. This interestingly involves threatening them with horrifying chaos. But it is not at all clear that the protagonists of these fights care about the good so much.

The question of trust is threefold. To begin with, how can underlings trust their criminal boss? His beautiful speeches persuade them, but his deeds fail to satisfy their desires. They do not learn that they are idealists & maybe yearn for law, but only to betray their boss. On the other hand, what are the rewards of keeping faith with the boss?

Then there is Raylan, who has the best seat in the house at the morality play, the destruction of his life’s purpose. His harsh, contemptuous humor serves him well now. First, the job does not help him rid Harlan of injustice, & can hardly protect him from the great dangers attending on love of justice. Secondly, this great distinction between the good & the just causes his wife to abandon him for more prosperous, less violent pastures. Thirdly, his defiance of authority is as likely to get him killed as to save his life by protecting him from moralistic love of order.

Finally, there is the question of the fight between these daring men, all seeking to rule Harlan. The older & the newer show by their fighting that not one among them can rise & destroy the others. At the same time, their bellicose turn of mind prevents them from coming up with a peaceful agreement about tyrannizing Harlan. We see therefore lowly criminals turn from loyal to treacherous & back, their understanding of their own interest confused by the great motions underway in Harlan.

Surprisingly, the principal actors think little of assassination; underlings die instead. Maybe they do not understand necessity; maybe they think that once they start down that path, too many things are left to chance. The unthinkable is not just unjust. Raylan’s rulers also rein him in for that reason.