A conversation with Beatriz Magaloni, Kristof Gosztonyi, and Sarah Thomson where they will share about their recent publication.
The monopoly of violence in the hands of the state is associated with the creation of political order. This influential vision about the emergence of order misses the important problem that parts of the state and its law enforcement apparatus often become extensions of criminality rather than solutions to it. We argue that one solution to this dilemma is to "opt out from the state." Using a multi-method strategy combining qualitative research, quasi-experimental statistical analysis, and survey data, the paper demonstrates that indigenous communities in Mexico are better able to escape predatory criminal rule and to live more secure where they are legally allowed to carve a space of autonomy from the state through the institution of usos y costumbres. We trace this outcome to the presence of strong direct participatory democratic practices , the presence of a community police run by local townsmen, and a parallel system of justice independent from the state, making communities more immune to cartel infiltration.