My approach to blogging is pretty simple.  When I have an idea I email it to myself.  My mail server deposits these in a special folder which I then dig through when I am ready to write something.  Some ideas don’t get written up and they start to attract dust.  I am going to clean the closet and write whatever I can think of about the ideas that piled up.  Here is one that Sandeep and I actually talked about some time ago, but I can’t now figure out where I wanted to go with it.

Shouldn’t gang wars end quickly?  All you have to do is kill the leader of the rival gang.  Instead, at least anectdotally, gang wars are more like wars of attrition.  You have the low-level thugs picking each other off and the leaders are relatively safe.  Why?

The leader embodies some valuable capital:  control of his organization.  Even if you could decapitate the rival gang by killing the leader it may be preferred to weaken him by taking out enough of his henchmen.  Then you can offer him a deal.  Maybe its a merger, maybe its a collusive agreement, but either way the point is that the coalition is more valuable with the opposing hierarchy intact than in disarray.  Knowing all of this, each gang leader feels perfectly safe even in the midst of an all-out war.

Under this theory, gang wars break out because a rival has become too powerful and it is no longer clear which is the dominant gang.  Its a necessary part of renegotiating the pre-existing power-sharing arrangement in light of a new balance of power.

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