The myth of Robin Hood has not only created a long lasting fairy tale for our youth it has also created the definition of what Eric Hobsbawm calls a social bandit: one who gives to the poor by taking from the rich. Hobsbawm uses the myth of Robin Hood to identify bandits who have reached a certain plateau in their regional societies to be declared social bandits. These social bandits were supposed to have been pre-political demonstrators on behalf of the peasant population against those who had power in society. Alongside the definition of what a social bandit was supposed to emulate Hobsbawm gives criteria for who a social bandit was: mostly comprised of peasants in dire economic straits. However both the image of so-called social bandits and who a social bandit was in Hobsbawm's view and also the view of peasant's themselves were mere psychological creations; the reality of who their celebrated bandits does not qualify them for Hobsbawm's definition of social bandits specifically in the Chinese region.
[...] In certain regions such as the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders the elements for banditry are still in place: agrarian villages who are sympathetic to modern bandits (or in more modern language terrorist groups) such as Al-Qaeda and Taliban[xvii]. Both Pakistan and US intelligence agencies point to the specific region of one village in particular: South Waziristan. The problem for both governments is that the area is half-autonomous and also is sympathetic to the Al-Qaeda / Taliban cause. Apart from support from local villagers the geographic location of the area also makes it perfect to hide in[xviii]. [...]
[...] The acts of bandits and terrorists are essentially the same only the definition of good and bad have changed. The social bandit defined by Eric Hobsbawm is a noble idea, but it is one that is constructed in the mind and not in the physical world. Numerous so-called bandits that folk songs glorify are subjective in what facts they remember about the specific bandits. Hobsbawm's assertion of who made up the bandit population also runs into contradictions when dealing with a society like China. [...]
[...] According to Anton Blok bandits depend on other people for protection in order to survive, and the peasant is the weakest of those who would be able to protect them, hence why they are peasants[vii] and why most bandits who survive for extended periods of time turn to elites in society. Many bandits also used coercion on the local population in order to extract fees to not harm them, while others were known and liked in local peasant communities and feared in outside communities[viii]. [...]
[...] so called bandits of specific areas in Latin America and also China reveal that these hero bandits seemed to be more concerned with self-preservation and identified with the power holders of society more so than the peasants themselves. Research in the Latin American region on bandits has lead critics to assert that close ties between peasants and bandits were tied together more for economic gain rather than reasons of pre-political protest when other means for economic advancement were available peasants chose that route rather than supporting bandits[ii]. [...]
[...] It is more like the truth about those who are bandits is being revealed and the psychological creation of social bandits in the minds of the people is being disregarded. Deplorable acts by the old social bandits could remain hidden and support of the peasants kept, where modern technology limits that ability unless the people believe in the bandits cause regardless of the acts committed. Modern technology has also made it tougher for bandits to escape into hideouts away from authority making it tougher for true bandits to arise and stay out of jail. [...]
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