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  • Religions of the Chaos Lords

    Posted by Zenpundit on May 30th, 2010 (All posts by )

    Pamela L. Bunker and Dr. Robert J. Bunker at SWJ Blog

    The Spiritual Significance of ¿Plata O Plomo?

    Conventional wisdom holds that narco gang and drug cartel violence in Mexico is primarily secular in nature. This viewpoint has been recently challenged by the activities of the La Familia cartel and some Los Zetas, Gulfo, and other cartel adherents of the cult of Santa Muerte (Saint Death) by means of religious tenets of ‘divine justice’ and instances of tortured victims and ritual human sacrifice offered up to a dark deity, respectively. Severed heads thrown onto a disco floor in Michoacan in 2005 and burnt skull imprints in a clearing in a ranch in the Yucatán Peninsula in 2008 only serve to highlight the number of such incidents which have now taken place. Whereas the infamous ‘black cauldron’ incident in Matamoros in 1989, where American college student Mark Kilroy’s brain was found in a ritual nganga belonging to a local narco gang, was the rare exception, such spiritual-like activities have now become far more frequent.

    These activities only serve to further elaborate concerns amongst scholars, including Sullivan, Elkus, Brands, Manwaring, and the authors, over societal warfare breaking out across the Americas. This warfare- manifesting itself in ‘criminal insurgencies’ derived from groups of gang, cartel, and mercenary networks- promotes new forms of state organization drawn from criminally based social and political norms and behaviors. These include a value system derived from illicit narcotics use, killing for sport and pleasure, human trafficking and slavery, dysfunctional perspectives on women and family life, and a habitual orientation to violence and total disregard for modern civil society and democratic freedoms. This harkens back to Peter’s thoughts concerning the emergence of a ‘new warrior class’ and, before that, van Creveld’s ‘non-trinitarian warfare’ projections.

    Cultural evolution in action, accelerated by extreme violence. More on the cult of Santa Muerte here ( hat tip to HistoryGuy99)

    Cross-posted at


    9 Responses to “Religions of the Chaos Lords”

    1. Lexington Green Says:

      The ongoing terrifying disintegration of Mexico makes the threat from Islamic terrorism look like a remote and minor challenge.

      The war on drugs is feeding a cancer that is going to kill us.

      If anything presents a mortal threat to the USA is is lodged not in the Middle East but right next door.

    2. Zenpundit Says:

      Hi Lex,


      The mystical cult manifestations though, are a recurring pattern when a whole way of life is collapsing – the Boxer Rebellion, the Ghost Dancers, the mystery cults of the late Roman Empire, the heretical sects of early Christianity and during the Black Death, the Kharijites and Mahdists. There are myriad historical examples of what is going on in Mexico today.

    3. Tatyana Says:

      but criminal gangs always liked to present themselves as something more meaningful than mere criminals; thieves and killers forever were tattooing skulls and crosses on their knuckles (in Russia) and crying Virgins on their shoulders (in Italian mafia); Bloods or Latin Kings (or whatever crappy names they call themselves, from Queens to Florida) had been known to sport huge blown-gold crucifixes on their necks, interspersed with gang beads necklaces, and skeletons on their bandannas. That has been going on for centuries, in every country with dominant Christian religion; the local variety and degree of temperature, so to speak, lends its influence onto criminal world, too – as it is a part of social fabric.
      Teary quasi-religious stories and songs, along with “honor” structure are all part of prison folklore – what else can they justify their miserable state? It’s an pathetic attempt to find dignity and self-respect; some of them with a bit more developed critical sense developed more logical system: if the gang positioned itself as an alternative to wider society, as a parallel world – then their religion, too, should be the opposite to what the “right” society believes – hence the cult of Death,Satanism, human sacrifices and other theatricals.
      What’s so new or especially alarming about that?

    4. David Fleck Says:

      “…a value system derived from illicit narcotics use, killing for sport and pleasure, human trafficking and slavery, dysfunctional perspectives on women and family life, and a habitual orientation to violence and total disregard for modern civil society and democratic freedoms”

      Oh noes! Dysfunctional perspectives!!

    5. zenpundit Says:

      Hi Tatyana

      You are certainly correct that as a marginal cultural phenomena, these behaviors are always present, your reference to the Old Russian Thieves Law or the Italiam mafia are good examples. Or Chinese Triads, 19th century European secret societies and so on.

      What has changed in Mexico is the social environment, which because of the Narco-war, allowed the cults to spead beyond their immediate criminal networks to a broader section of the population. The conditions are ripe for a sustained outbreak is what is different.

    6. Robert Schwartz Says:

      You would think that the Obama administration would be concerned about this problem.

    7. Michael Kennedy Says:

      You would think that the Obama administration would be concerned about this problem.

      If I were Jan Brewer, I would be thinking about the Arizona National Guard and their readiness situation. She and Arizona should expect no help from Obama. They are pretty much on their own but that may, in fact, be to their advantage in some ways.

    8. Tatyana Says:

      Zen – I guess at a certain point the process becomes uncontrollable.

    9. zenpundit Says:

      Yes! Just like the pathology of a disease – the environment can constrain or ramp up the “infection rate” to pandemic levels

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