AHC: American Mafia State

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Chapman, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Chapman Loyal Supporter of President Hoffa

    Mar 18, 2017
    North Country NY
    According to Wikipedia,

    So with this pretty simple definition in mind, your challenge is to turn the United States into such a polity up to the present day with a POD/PODs anytime after 1900. It's not necessary for it to be just one organized criminal outfit controlling the country, in fact it'd probably be more interesting and more plausible if there was some sort of tenuous power sharing arrangement between multiple groups.

    And while I recognize that many people feel our current political system is already deeply criminal (a feeling I don't disagree with), it's hard to argue that the United States of 2019 is controlled by a group like the Cosa Nostra, the Sinaloa Cartel of Mexico, or the Russian Bratva. I'm looking for a widespread, overt kind of cooperation between the United States government and criminal elements, to the extent that said elements play power broker in important elections, functions of government, and even military decisions.

    Some likely candidates for consideration:

    • The Italian American Mafia, otherwise known as the mob or La Cosa Nostra (Italian for "This thing of ours"), which rose to prominence during prohibition after establishing a virtual monopoly on the bootlegging of alcohol in many areas. While prone to counterproductive violence, the mob nonetheless became a powerful entity within the United States in the mid-to-late 20th century through their control of labor unions. They remained somewhat of an urban legend, and a danger largely ignored by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, until their activities came under close scrutiny following the Apalachin Meeting of 1957, and the McClellan Hearings in 1963. Since the 1970s, the mob has largely fallen from power after being dealt a serious blow by the RICO Act, developed to curb the power of criminal organizations.
    • The Jewish Mafia, similar to their Italian counterparts in terms of origin and activities, largely focusing on racketeering, bootlegging, and narcotics. Never quite as romanticized as Cosa Nostra, but no less includes important figures such as Arnold Rothstein who shaped the nature of organized crime in the United States. Again, quoting from Wikipedia: "According to crime writer Leo Katcher, Rothstein 'transformed organized crime from a thuggish activity by hoodlums into a big business, run like a corporation, with himself at the top.' According to Rich Cohen, Rothstein was the person to see during prohibition (1920–1933) if one had an idea for a tremendous business opportunity, legal or not. Rothstein "understood the truths of early 20th century capitalism (hypocrisy, exclusion, greed) and came to dominate them". According to Cohen, Rothstein was the 'Moses of Jewish gangsters', a rich man's son, who showed the young and uneducated hoodlums of the Bowery how to have style. Lucky Luciano, who would become a prominent boss within the Italian-American Mafia and organize New York's Five Families, once claimed that Arnold Rothstein "taught me how to dress". The stereotypical attire of the American mobster portrayed in movies can partially trace its roots directly to Rothstein." Rothstein was noted for his involvement in fixing the 1919 World Series in his favor, and being among the first to realize the huge economic potential in prohibition.
    • The Irish Mob, active in the United States since the 19th century but declined in relative significance following numerous internal wars as well as confrontations with their Italian rivals. Active in many of the same areas of crime, bootlegging, narcotics, intimidation, etc.
    • The Hells Angels, the notorious motorcycle gang founded in 1948 and closely detailed in Hunter S. Thompson's first novel, Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. Their activities are fairly standard for any criminal outfit, including drug dealing, arms smuggling, extortion, and prostitution among others.
    • The Aryan Brotherhood, the white prison gang and organized crime syndicate founded in 1964. Drug trafficking, extortion, murder-for-hire and inmate prostitution are among their many choice activities.
    • The Crips and Bloods, founded in 1969 and 1972 respectively, the predominantly African American street gangs that have long been bitter rivals in their fight for control over the Californian criminal underworld. Particularly violent in their nature, both gangs frequently experience inter-organizational violence which continues to undercut their ability to operate effectively.
    • The Black Mafia Family, founded in the late 1980s by the Flenory brothers of Detroit, Michigan. Primarily involved in drug trafficking and money laundering, the BMF established cocaine distribution networks throughout the country by utilizing Los Angeles-based connections to various Mexican drug cartels. In an attempt to legitimize themselves, leadership of the BMF established an entertainment company that sought to promote various hip hop groups. Although this group in particular, I think, is unlikely to amass the kind of power necessary to outright control the US, it'd make sense to see a powerful, black dominated organization form nonetheless.
    Although the organizations I've listed are all predominantly American, it's acceptable for foreign (or multinational) gangs to have a considerable degree of power in this scenario.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  2. Napoleon53 Order of Monocled Sirs ಠ_ರೃ

    Jul 18, 2011
    Republican Union Space Force High Command
    I _sort of_ did this in my WMIT Redux TL. I had the different captains of industry form "economic clans" that functioned as mafia families for different types of businesses, like an Armaments Clan and Distillery Clan. The heads of two of the major businesses even get whacked at a meeting on "neutral turf." I could see something similar happening in a more realistic TL, where companies and families hold a much tighter grip on the country.

    I would say an interesting TL would be a President either being straightup a member of a mafia familiy or under complete control of one, before the RICO Act. Maybe instead of JFK, we get an absolute mafia tool against Nixon in 60. That could be very interesting indeed.
  3. Chapman Loyal Supporter of President Hoffa

    Mar 18, 2017
    North Country NY
    I'd be interested to read that TL of yours, would you mind linking me to it? It could provide some good inspiration for something i'm working on, actually the thing that inspired this thread to try and farm some ideas. It involves a much more "professionalized", white-collar Italian-American mafia that covers its tracks and avoids the pitfalls of OTL's mob. They go on to establish a far reaching conspiracy, with members of the family working in every level of government and industry, and a legitimate corporate face involved in a little bit of everything, from drug smuggling to mercenaries (which they refer to as "private security companies") to regular corporate research and development. Among their most prized political allies is Jimmy Hoffa, a Senator from Michigan thanks to their patronage, who becomes VP (and eventually President) following an alt-Kennedy assassination, that the mob totally had nothing to do with...

    If you're interested in details, or anyone else is, feel free to PM me. But mostly i'm interested to read other people's thoughts on how this could be achieved.
  4. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

    Jul 5, 2012
    I do not think it's possible. The problem with a crime state is they benefit more from playing the system, then actually running one. Criminals cannot provide essential services outside of what their capital allows them to, if the U.S is in that bad a shape I doubt criminal organizations can step in.

    The problem with better backgrounds is that it reduces the need for criminal organizations in the first place, as most criminals came from less than favorable backgrounds and ethnic groups. These well immigrants will not take to crime unless things are worse, especially if this is before criminal culture becomes glorified. For example both Suge Knight and Tupac were basically well off young men who became more involved with gangs, namely the Bloods. While in contrast Snoop Dogg and Easy E were Crips who when they got rich left that relationship or the criminal elements of it behind.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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  5. Grand Archduke of Austria Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2016
    Heaven (land of peace)
    :closedeyesmile: This one is going to be a cracker.

    The best method of creating an American mafia state is too start off small and grow within.

    Bugsy Siegel and his creation of the Las Vagas Strip is the best example of this. The American mafia then owned Las Vagas for 50 years, if anything Las Vagas was a mafia city-state.

    The next step is for the mafia to acquire a large piece of land or an island. I think an island is best because it would be away from the US mainland and quiet.

    I quote this from another user's post from a couple of days ago:
    • "The Canarreos Archipelago is a Cuban island Chain just south of the Cuban Mainland. In total it is 940 sq miles (about 2438 sq km) and has 100,000 people. The biggest island, Isla de la Juventad (previously Isle of Pines) has 87,000 people on it and is 934 sq miles (2,419 sq km). It was a somewhat open question as to whether legal references to the Island of Cuba in the US Platt Amendment and in treaties between Spain and the US referred to all of the colony of Cuba or just the island of Cuba itself. The US didn't accept the island as being Cuban until 1925. At that time, 95% of the land on the island belonged to American individuals and companies. Before the handoff there was something of an American housing boom, with many Americans building homes and moving there in a similar way to how that was happening and would continue to occur in Florida."
    So if Bugsy cannot get killed and the Canarreos Archipelago remains in private company hands, with the amount of money he will earn within a couple of years he could buy the Archipelago.

    If anyone has not seen 'Bugsy' the film, this is the scene where he conceptualises his vision for the Flamingo Casino.

    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019 at 5:36 PM
  6. overoceans Well-Known Member

    Jul 5, 2012
    Have a particularly effed-up version of prison privatization, with Brotherhood aliumni in the outside world buying some jails, and letting their inmate underlings run them.
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  7. Kaze Well-Known Member

    Nov 12, 2017
    Organized Crime has been around longer than you think.
    The pick-pocket in ancient Sumeria was not working alone - 10% of what he stole want to someone more powerful and more scary than the Freemasons.
    The Temple prostitute did not become a nun overnight once Christianity came onto the scene, some of the "working girls" just went underground and payed into the coffers of the local guild (sic - Mafia).
    Why, if you were to look into the family trees of the famous Five Families that used to rule New York City - one of their direct ancestors was an assassin of Julius Caesar.
    Even in the legends of Robin Hood - his legend was based on real bandits that operated near Sherwood, some of them did not give to the poor but instead paid into their leader's treasury.
    Pirates in the Spanish Main and the Vikings acted as the mafia - it is where we get the term "pay through the nose" where in the privateer would take a knife to a man's nose and cut it off threatening to cut off more pieces unless they are paid off.
    This is all the mafia.


    So... you could go with an earlier POD.
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  8. Grand Archduke of Austria Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2016
    Heaven (land of peace)
    Despite this image looking absolutely fantastic. Siegal only got credit for building the Flamingo Hotel because William R. Wilkerson ran out of money near its completion and sold it to Siegal.

    Siegal's theory of death:
    • One theory posits that Siegel's death was the result of his excessive spending and possible theft of money from the mob. In 1946, a meeting was held with the "board of directors" of the syndicate in Havana, Cuba, so that Luciano, exiled in Sicily, could attend and participate. A contract on Siegel's life was the conclusion. According to Stacher, Lansky reluctantly agreed to the decision.
    • Another theory is that Siegel was shot to death preemptively by Mathew "Moose" Pandza, the lover of Sedway's wife Bee, who went to Pandza after learning that Siegel was threatening to kill her husband. Siegel apparently had grown increasingly resentful of the control Sedway, at mob behest, was exerting over Siegel's finances and planned to do away with him. Former Philadelphia crime family boss Ralph Natale has claimed that Carbo was responsible for murdering Siegel, at the behest of Lansky.
    In any case, Siegal has just got to stay alive by any means necessary, travel with a heavily armed guard and station bodyguards around your house.

    With the completion of the Flamingo Hotel, Clark Country population skyrocketed, this will increase his celebrity status, therefore he should naturally want to cuts all ties with the mob. At this point, he could create his own Jewish mafia separate to the National Crime Syndicate.

    Las Vegas Historical population:

    25 —
    1910 800 3,100.0%
    1920 2,304 188.0%
    1930 5,165 124.2%
    1940 8,422 63.1%
    1950 24,624 192.4%
    1960 64,405 161.6%
    1970 125,787 95.3%
    1980 164,674 30.9%
    1990 258,295 56.9%
    2000 478,434 85.2%
    2010 583,756 22.0%
    Est. 2017 648,224 11.0%

    With Las Vegas's rapid growth, instead of racketeering where the mobster asked the shop keeper to give him money for protection, Siegal can buy out all of the businesses that the growth attracts. Siegal will, in turn, own the businesses and employ whoever works there. With this methodology, Siegal will own every business in Las Vegas. He'll have shares and assets in every casino, hardware shop, clothes shop, grocery store, cafe, pharmacy, restaurant and hotel. He'll even own the bank which stores his money. Siegal now has a monopoly on Las Vegas’s GDP with all the money reverting directly to him. With this money he is making, he should expand his business interests to the rest of Nevada. Buying everyone out with ludicrous amounts of money would be the best method, before resorting to coercion and then violence. The type of businesses he'll buy is printing presses, industrial warehouses, mining, and cattle ranching facilities. The final stage to owning Nevada is Carson City, in 1950 it had a population of 3,000, so it is very venerable to Bugsy coming in buying everything.

    At this point, he will be a celebrity in Nevada and will be a popular figure across the US. With this type of status, he has a few avenues of opportunity:
    • Represent Clark County in the lower house of the US House of Representatives.
    • After Representing Clark County run for the Governor of Nevada
    • Once he owns all businesses in Nevada he can put his fellow 'associates' on candidate tickets in all the other counties in Nevada (See map)
    • If he wants to run for a senator seat he can and let one of his 'associates' run for Governor
    Siegal does not have to buy the Canarreos Archipelago, it is correct that the US gave the Archipelago back to the Cubans in 1925. Nevertheless, the amount of criminal business that it would create in buying the Archipelago is enormous. One could imagine a large amount of South America's arms trafficking, heroin and cocaine would eventually travel through it, for it to get to the US. Then there is Cuba itself and how the Jewish mafia's criminal activities would interact with the state.

    However, if you want historical reality then the Zanzibar Archipelago is a real eye-opener to create an African "Singapore". Nowhere near the US and it was under the Sultanate of Zanzibar until 1964. Siegal could either overthrow the Sultan or buy it off him.

    In conclusion, you have a US Mafia state: 'Nevada' and then you have a privately owned Archipelago of Canarreos or Zanzibar or both even.

    What do you think?

  9. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
    Like an assassin employed by Caesar or one of the [entire crowd who took a slice out of him in broad daylight]?
  10. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

    Jun 9, 2014
    Maybe early 1900s anarchists hit the “sweet spot” between idealism and getting things done ? ?
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  11. Roosevelt 26th President

    Apr 6, 2019
    Charleston, South Carolina
    Make Trenton NJ the capital of the U.S.
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  12. kholieken Well-Known Member

    Mar 15, 2018
    this is obviously myth, even Europeans Royalty couldn't trace their ancestry that far.

  13. overoceans Well-Known Member

    Jul 5, 2012
    One folk-etymology about the origins of the word "mafia" is "Mazzini authorizes theft and arson".

    Not that Mazzini was an anarchist, but close enough to make the point that an earlier era did associate organized crime with political insurrection.
  14. Modern Imperialism Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2018
    The US from the 20s until the 70s had a large amount of organized crime involved in our politics. Especially the Italian and Irish mafia. Most average Americans didn’t even know the Mafia existed until the 60s. One of the reasons the government started breaking down on them was because they had become so involved in politics even at the federal level. You had Mafia people in the FBI and CIA working with criminal groups. Some even accused Kennedy dad of working with the Irish Mafia. The US also worked heavily with the mafia in Italy and drug lords in Latin America to fight communist. I would argue even now many of these groups still linger within our government but have transition more into white collar crimes while they pay lower gangs to do the grunt work. People in the US military in this generation have even been accused of drug trafficking(Afghanistan and Iraq produce a lot of drugs and Americans allies in the region have been accused of selling). The reason our military got so strict at customs is because soldiers use to steal shit from war zones a lot as trophies and sent drugs back home to either use or sell(Vietnam had a lot weed). Heroin has even been sent back to the US through body bags. Gang members have been known to join the military and have used what they learn and their connections within the military to benefit their gangs. You can look up pictures of US soldiers throwing up gang signs and see gang graffiti randomly in Iraq. Mafia and criminal groups have had a great amount of influence in the US over the last 100 years. The only difference really is the ones in America aren’t as blatant as they use to be once they hit it big. Italian mafia here isn’t doing car bombing, hits, or “dirty work” like the ones in Sicily. They are doing fraud, money laundry, bribery, blackmail, gambling, and tax evasion. If they want someone killed or trafficking drugs for them they pay someone like the crips, Hell Angels, or Latin Kings to do it. If they get caught they lose out on money but don’t get in any trouble because those guys will take the fall. Our country literally just had political assassination the other week and no one seem to care or notice. Two senators don’t just randomly get killed in their homes around the same time. These people are have power and influence. A random person isn’t just robbing their place and shooting them. I would argue we might be a border line mafia state but one that is subtle or clever about it
  15. Anarch King of Dipsodes Overlord of All Thirst

    Jan 17, 2015
    The heights of glory, the depths of despair.
    Umm, rubbish.

    How many Americans hadn't heard of Al Capone?

    Thomas Dewey achieved national fame in the 1930s by successful prosecutions of Mafia bosses. including Lucky Luciano. His work inspired the hit radio series Gang Busters.

    "Organized crime" was a staple of Hollywood film-making. By 1960, it was so familar that it could be used as a comedy background - for instance Some Like It Hot, where two witnesses to a gangland massacre flee (in drag) to Florida, only to find the hotel hosting the national meeting of "Friends of Italian Opera", presided over by "Little Bonaparte".
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019 at 6:13 PM
  16. Modern Imperialism Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2018
    Your suburban white Americans didn’t know truly about it until this hearing. The Italian and Irish communities knew very well of the nature of the mafia but they did not talk about it. The government had a vague idea about their existence but did not have actual proof on them until the late 50s and 60s. Also I’m talking about the large organized mafia families which are different from Al Capone
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  17. LuckyLuciano Well-Known Member

    May 15, 2018
    President Frank Sinatra?
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  18. Chapman Loyal Supporter of President Hoffa

    Mar 18, 2017
    North Country NY
    It's true that Americans were aware of the existence of criminal gangs, obviously Al Capone was a well known figure involved in organized crime. The concept wasn't entirely lost on them, but the point being made there is that virtually nobody knew how the mafia really worked; how it was structured, who was calling the shots, etc. In fact, in the intro to Peter Maas's "The Valachi Papers", there's a quote that says something along the lines of "Before Valachi, all we ever heard was that such and such was a syndicate man, but nothing beyond that. We had no idea how they worked, and little capacity to actually stop them." Unfortunately I don't have the book in front of me at the moment, but I'll be able to quote from it more directly later.
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  19. Mark E. Well-Known Member

    Nov 11, 2007
    Forgottonia, USA
    In the first half of the 20th century, most cities WERE a patchwork of mob-run territories. As it was said earlier, Nevada might have been as close as it came to a Mafia run state. Black markets thrive as long they can move commodities that are supported by reliable customers who honor and protect their sources. Liquor during prohibition fit the bill perfectly. When prohibition ended, the mob infrastructure still controlled markets. An often forgotten commodity is bookmaking. Bookies moved cash with no race tracks, no horses to feed and no taxes. The Depression brought abandoned and stolen goods, WW2 rationing brought shortages, all of which propped up black markets.

    But the prosperity of the late fifties and beyond would erode the black markets to the point that they moved more and more into illegal drugs and narcotics. Addicts weren’t as reliable a market base. You had supply issues: liquor could be produced from foodstuffs available anywhere, while drugs had to come from some cartel, out of local mob control. So the crackdown on the Mafia since the late sixties succeeded because they were losing markets.

    What could make a strong American Mafia? Look where the Mafia is very strong now: Russia. It is strong because some commodities are still in short supply. In 1950, America still had waiting lists to buy cars, homes, televisions, or to rent apartments. So, to keep a Mafia strong, you need to maintain shortages. That’s a tall order in an economy where high resolution televisions have fallen to prices that would have been pure fiction only a few decades ago.

    I can give you a really bad scenario. A break in a major ice shelf raises sea level ten feet or so in a torrential tidal wave fashion. Hopefully there will be enough warning so most people can move to higher ground. Port facilities are closed and our consumer economy goes into pandemonium. Only a nuclear war could be worse.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019 at 9:44 AM
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  20. Seandineen Member

    Oct 20, 2005
    Could efforts to fight mob control keep Howard Hughes and his Mormon muscle sane?
    Despite his ocd he took a large role in otl could a more alert, rational industrialist really get the job done?