Episode 12

Rebecca and the Mob

Rebecca is in New York against the advice of Chief Scalia, Hendersen, Cassidy, and everyone who knows she’s going. She’s here to meet the man who ordered two teams of people to kill her. Her goal is to get him to stop that sort of thing.

   Rebecca walks into the office alone and finds Michael Mancuso alone. She had asked for a private meeting. He ushers her to the sofa, then sits in a large chair with a coffee table between them. Once settled, their eyes meet and lock. As she chants her mantra and her breathing slows close to normal, she realizes that she’s looking at an animal. This man is not so much evil as primitive. His consciousness is similar to that of a lion, a hyena or great ape. He is a predator. He kills to eat. Killing is in his nature. He is evil only to the extent that human society is trying to rise above this level of consciousness. Like a lion, he has to be controlled or caged because the only law he accepts is raw power. He will kill her without a thought if he believes her death to be in his interest. To escape his talons, she will have to frighten him, offer him food or both. 

   “This could take some time,” she begins. “I need to start at the beginning.”

   “I’m all ears.”

   “You gangsters have made a serious mistake. I’m trying to recover the balance. If you help me, we can keep this planet livable. If you keep doing what you’re doing, human life will be extinct in 30 years. If human life goes extinct, that means you and your whole family. All mob families are in danger, as much as the rest of us. So please open your mind and listen as carefully as you can.” The poker face doesn’t twitch.

   “For much of the past, the underworld and the government have kept their distance. In Italy, for example, you had your territory, the government had its territory, and both kept pretty much to themselves. Mussolini came in and, acting like a gangster himself, he expanded government territory and squeezed you out of yours. After the war, the Americans let you take your territory back again, but that’s because in the US, you and the government had started working together. Lucky Luciano was a big help to the Navy, first in New York, then when the US was invading Sicily. Ever since, certain elements of the US government have asked you for favors. You have obliged and have been rewarded in various ways, including money and get-out-of-jail cards.

   This cooperation escalated until, in the sixties, you killed JFK, Malcom X, RFK, MLK, and others. You did these favors to get closer to the Bush family, the neocons and certain elements of the CIA and NSA. You figured these folks would control the government, and that would give you enough control of the political process to let you run your businesses unimpeded and even get into some new areas formerly controlled by the government. 

   What you did not see coming was the rise of the banksters. They pushed the Bush family out and are dipping into your territory. So now it’s the world of finance versus the world of weapons, with you on the side of the weapons. The problem is, you gangsters have brought high levels of deceit, violence and lawlessness into supposedly lawful government. By doing that, you’ve made it impossible to solve some serious global problems. Are you with me so far?”

   “I’m still listening.”

   “My mission is to work within the realm of lawful government to address a set of problems that threaten human life on this planet. The biggest problem is a general increase in public stress. This stress is due to human population, climate change, the gap between rich and poor, the Internet, and the natural evolution of human consciousness toward decentralization. Regardless of the causes, this stress is generating intense fear and anger in the general public. The anger and fear are expressed as racism, religious conflict, xenophobia, class conflict, hyper-nationalism, and insanity. These social phenomena are stimulating violent conflict while making it impossible to eliminate nuclear weapons and nuclear power. They are also making it impossible to cooperate sufficiently to control our overproduction of CO2 and other toxins. If we stay on our current path, the human race will be extinct before 2050. 

   Because you focus on short-term power competition, you haven’t bothered to study these effects, but I assure you they’re real. They are serious, and they will take us all off this planet if we don’t make some radical changes quickly. So my first request is, have some of your people study these problems. If they find I’m wrong, go ahead and kill me. But if they find I’m right or may be right about these problems, I have a couple other requests. 

   First, I want you stop trying to kill me. In fact, I want you to help me become president in the 2024 elections. If you agree to help, we can talk later about how. 

   Second, I want you to stop cooperating with the Bush family, the neocons and anyone using you to control dissent and manipulate legitimate, peaceful, lawful politics. I want you to stop turning peaceful protests violent. I want you to stop killing or threatening politicians. And I want you to stop killing journalists, union leaders, socialists, and other political actors who have nothing to do with your world and are no threat to you. The main request is to stop allowing people posing as legit politicians and businessmen to use you in any way at all. Divorce yourself from the legit world. Retreat to the underworld, and keep that world as separate from my world as you possibly can.

   If you do these things, I’ll do my best to respect the borders between your world and mine. You can carry out your gambling, prostitution, drug running, and, within the underworld, your extortion rackets, with no interference from me. We’ll go back to the two-world system. You in yours. Me in mine. I can’t grant you legitimacy, but I can grant you your own territory. Of course the main thing you’ll gain is continued survival for you and your family on into the future. Is this acceptable?”

   “You’re asking a lot. We’ve achieved tremendous control over the legit world, and through that control, we’re making more money than ever in the history of the Mafia. In fact, we’re taking in so much cash through drugs and weapons our biggest problem is where to put it. We need to invest in legit businesses, which we do, so it wouldn’t be easy to separate.”

   “I don’t care what you make through drugs and weapons. I don’t care where you invest. But in order to save humanity as a whole, I need you to stop killing people like me. I need you to stop interfering in legit politics.  There’s a minimum balance we have to maintain between your world of raw power and my world of law. Because you’re lawlessly helping lawless elements take over the world of law, the poor and weak are suffering too much. At a certain point, they’ll explode. You’re also destroying the environment, which can’t defend itself. You’re making it possible for people whose morals and consciousness are even lower than yours to control the wealth, the resources, and decision-making on this planet. If you keep helping them, they’ll destroy the ecosystem we all, including you, depend on for survival. 

   I’m attempting to change the way the legit world makes decisions, but your efforts to do me in are making my job too difficult. Besides, if you keep trying, you’ll get me eventually, so I’m asking you, on behalf of the entire human family, to back off. Let me succeed. Let my party succeed. Let me change the legit world. In the long run, even you will find my world safer, more comfortable, and more sustainable. I’m not asking for mercy or charity. I’m asking you to think carefully about your own long-term interests.”

   Mancuso fixes Rebecca with a penetrating stare. Rebecca’s eyes burn deep into his. After several minutes of silence, Mancuso responds. “I believe you’re right. I’ve felt uncomfortable for some time about the way things are going. Everyone knows we’re stampeding toward a cliff. The banksters you mentioned pushed the Bushes out with a giant financial collapse, but we’re invested in that market, and we see the whole economic system going down any minute. I’m not worried about an economic collapse, of course. We do quite well in tough times. But for some reason, I feel you’re right about the long-term existential threat. I have no idea who you are, why you think you can come in here and talk to me like this, why you think you are going to be president of the US, or why I should believe you, but I can feel your power. I can see now how you turned even the Duke. As you know, I respect power, so I will give you a chance to see what you can do. 

   I can’t promise for the other families, but I can promise that our family will not harm you. I can also promise that I’ll do my best to persuade others, all around the world. In fact, I’ll do my best to protect you. I assure you, no harm will come to you if I can help it. And if I can help you be president, I will.”

   “Thank you. I’m relieved, I’m grateful, and I assure you, you will never regret this decision. I’ll get back to you about the presidency when the time comes. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to catch the next train back to Anytown.”

   “My driver will take you to the station.”

   “Thank you, again.”

 

The next morning, Max picks Rebecca up to take her to work. He’s smiling. Rebecca asks, “What are you smiling about?”

   “I’m not sure. I just have a feeling the world is cleaner today. The colors are brighter. The sounds are sharper, more distinct.”

   Rebecca returns his smile. “You’re a true sensitive. I’ll tell you all about it when we get to work.” When they arrive, she says, “Park the car and come to my office with the Duke, Ray, and Jeremy.” When she gets to her office, she calls Chief Scalia, “Hi there. I made it home, and I have something to report. Please bring Hendersen, Cassidy and everyone who knows about the attacks on me. I’ll see you in my office as soon as you can get here.”

 When the team guarding Rebecca gathers, she starts her report. “I met with Michael Mancuso. I’m not going to give you the details of our conversation, and I didn’t tape it. In fact, I need that meeting to remain an exception to our rule of transparency. Though I hate secrets, what I’m telling you now is secret and probably should remain so for the foreseeable future. 

   As most of you know, nearly every large, complex society has had an underworld, a world of gangsters operating in the shadows. Here in Anytown, it’s the guys who hang around at the race track, the pool hall, the bars and brothels. They sell drugs, and they compete with each other to control territory and wealth.

   At the same time, we have the world of law, that is, law-abiding citizens who work in companies, go to church, join the PTA, cheer the baseball team, serve as volunteers, and take part in what most people call politics. They run for office, they work for companies, or they’re activists working for various causes. So we have these two worlds. Well, Mancuso and I agreed to keep these two worlds separate. We’re going to let the gangsters operate, sell drugs, and even kill each other in their own underworld, as long as they keep their activities out of our world. 

   I’m well aware that the two worlds intersect. Most people who buy drugs are not gangsters. Most people who bet on the races and play pool are not gangsters. Some gangsters run restaurants and invest in legit businesses. But for the most part, everyone involved knows to keep the worlds separate. And as long as the worlds are separate, society functions fairly well. To some extent, both worlds are necessary. Even gangsters have an important social function. 

   The biggest problem we face right now is the use of gangsters by people posing as law-abiding politicians or businessmen. People you know as legitimate politicians, oil men, bankers, and CEOs are paying gangsters to threaten or eliminate rival individuals, groups, ideas, and movements. Because certain people in our world of law are using gangsters to do their dirty work, virtuous, law-abiding men and women are unable to achieve sufficient influence.  As a result, society as a whole is increasingly dominated by leaders who pretend to be law-abiding but are actually gangsters, worse than gangsters. This mixing of the worlds is destroying our social fabric. It’s destroying democracy, even respect for democracy. It’s widening the gap between rich and poor and making it impossible for ordinary people to cooperate to protect themselves. When anyone tries to bring people together to improve society in some way, he or she is killed or neutralized in some way. The cooperative effort then dies with them. In fact, the very concept of cooperation is practically dead at the level of national politics. This inability to cooperate, in turn, is leading us toward economic, social, political and even environmental collapse. 

   Fortunately, Mr. Mancuso understands this danger. He and I agreed that he will do his best to keep the Mafia from helping anyone who pretends to be in our world. And I’ll make sure my efforts to promote a more transparent, cooperative and virtuous society will not intrude unecessarily into the underworld. Of course, we both understand that mistakes will happen. We have to criticize crime, and the police have to enforce the law. However, for the foreseeable future, I have to ask you to think of the underworld as a world apart. As long as they keep to themselves, we won’t go out of our way to identify, reveal and pursue the true gangsters. In return, we can be assured of physical safety.

   I know this is a bit difficult to grasp, which is why we can’t make it public. I just hope the people in this room understand and will help me keep my end of the bargain. Any questions?”

   “I’m not comfortable with this secrecy,” Cassidy says immediately. “You’re telling us something we’re not supposed to tell others. That makes all of us vulnerable in a way we weren’t before. You’ve built your administration and your whole approach to government on openness, honesty, transparency, and inclusion. Now you’re becoming like the government you’re trying to change.”

   “Thanks, Cassidy. You’re right, and I’m worried about the same thing. I console myself in two ways. First, the deal I just made is a tremendous step toward the change we want to see in the world. I’m hoping my agreement with a completely lawless murderer will make it possible for us to demonstrate the advantages of transparent, inclusive, consensual government by process even at the national level. If we succeed, the world of law will slowly but surely improve beyond anything we can imagine right now. If we’re free to operate without the threat from the underworld, we’ll make our legal world a relative paradise. When we do that, the underworld will shrink. More and more of its denizens will find it far safer, more enjoyable, and more comfortable to live in our world. So yes, I made a deal with the devil, but for now, I think it’s a necessary and even a good step. Without this deal, we can’t succeed. We’ll be killed. The fact that I made this deal will eventually be seen as proving the power of my approach.

    Another thought that comforts me is that even the most beautiful body has places we’re not supposed to show. Even the most beautiful mind has thoughts and feelings we’re not supposed to reveal. I firmly believe the Anytown Resolutionary Party is a beautiful movement that has made Anytown and nearly everyone in it more beautiful, but to preserve myself, preserve our party and preserve our movement, I’ve had to accept a shadow element, an element I don’t want to show. If I have to I’ll show it. I’m prepared to admit what I’ve done and do my best to explain it to the public. I think I might be able to win their understanding. I’m mostly worried about my lawful enemies. We do still have some political enemies, as you know, people who are legal and honest but honestly don’t understand or don’t like what we’re doing. I’m afraid they’ll spin my deal with Mancuso in ways that will damage me and our party, not to mention the deal that I believe will keep me alive. I don’t want to take that chance right now. Can you accept that?”

   “I trust you. I know you’re doing your best to make things better for all of us, but I’ll be looking forward to the day when we can talk openly about the two worlds and give people a conscious choice. For now, though, even I have certain parts of my body I don’t want to show.”

   When he’s done laughing and looking extravagantly at Cassidy’s body, Chief Scalia asks, “Does this mean we stop protecting you?”

   “Yes. But let’s phase it out slowly so we don’t attract attention. I’m no longer in danger, so as time goes by we gradually let the protection fade.”

   “Do you have a plan for the team that’s been protecting you?”

   “We’ve solved one problem. There are plenty more. You are my most trusted companions. You will have more than enough to do. Give me a few days and I’ll have a brand new plan of action for this city.”

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