Organized Crime: According to Havelock Vetinari

Roel M. Hogervorst


Categories: blog Tags: 100DaysToOffload crime DiscWorld

One of the Patrician’s greatest contributions to the reliable operation of Ankh-Morpork had been, very early in his administration, the legalizing of the ancient Guild of Thieves. Crime was always with us, he reasoned, and therefore, if you were going to have crime, it at least should be organized crime. And so the Guild had been encouraged to come out of the shadows and build a big Guildhouse, take their place at civic banquets, and set up their training college with day-release courses and City and Guilds certificates and everything. In exchange for the winding down of the Watch, they agreed, while trying to keep their faces straight, to keep crime levels to a level to be determined annually. That way, everyone could plan ahead, said Lord Vetinari, and part of the uncertainty had been removed from the chaos that is life. – p43 Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett

The Watch hadn’t liked it, but the plain fact was that the thieves were far better at controlling crime than the Watch had ever been. After all, the Watch had to work twice as hard to cut crime just a little, whereas all the Guild had to do was to work less. And so the city prospered, while the Watch had dwindled away, like a useless appendix, into a handful of unemployables who no one in their right mind could ever take seriously. The last thing anyone wanted them to do was get it into their heads to fight crime. But seeing the head thief discommoded was always worth the trouble, the Patrician felt. –p44 Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett

This only works because Vetinari has a strangle hold on all the leaders in the city, and is extremely good in not doing anything when not needed.

You need a special kind of mind to rule a city like Ankh-Morpork, and Lord Vetinari had it. But then, he was a special kind of person. He baffled and infuriated the lesser merchant princes, to the extent that they had long ago given up trying to assassinate him and now merely jockeyed for position among themselves. Anyway, any assassin who tried to attack the Patrician would be hard put to it to find enough flesh to insert the dagger. While other lords dined on larks stuffed with peacocks’ tongues, Lord Vetinari considered that a glass of boiled water and half a slice of dry bread was an elegant sufficiency. It was exasperating. He appeared to have no vice that anyone could discover. You’d have thought, with that pale, equine face, that he’d incline toward stuff with whips, needles, and young women in dungeons. The other lords could have accepted that. Nothing wrong with whips and needles, in moderation. But the Patrician apparently spent his evenings studying reports and, on special occasions, if he could stand the excitement, playing chess. But he was popular, in a way. Under his hand, for the first time in a thousand years, Ankh-Morpork operated. It might not be fair or just or particularly democratic, but it worked. He tended it as one tends a topiary bush, encouraging a growth here, pruning an errant twig there. It was said that he would tolerate absolutely anything apart from anything that threatened the city –p79

The Patrician disliked the word “dictator.” It affronted him. He never told anyone what to do. He didn’t have to, that was the wonderful part. A large part of his life consisted of arranging matters so that this state of affairs continued. Of course, there were various groups seeking his overthrow, and this was right and proper and the sign of a vigorous and healthy society. No one could call him unreasonable about the matter. Why, hadn’t he founded most of them himself? And what was so beautiful was the way in which they spent nearly all their time bickering with one another.– p88

I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting, post - 22/100

Find other posts tagged #100DaysToOffload here