The idea of the butterfly effect means with just the flap of its wings it could spiral a series of tragic events all caused by one simple action. Yet this idea is not so far fetched when presented to real world occurrences that humans create with the decisions that we make. Although some of the decisions that we make are meant for the better, it can come at a certain cost even as far as creating monsters itself. This is exactly what happened during the prohibition era leading to a series of causes and effects that would last a lifetime and bloom one of the most notorious Mob kingpins; Al capone. The question is now how did we unintentionally create a monster and how exactly does this time in history affect us now in the 21st century. We are going to take a look at the causes that led to creation of the real life Scarface and the tragic imprint he and his organized crime operation left in our world for us to be affected by.
Before we can ask how american society allows this to happen we have to retrace our steps back in history to understand Capone’s early life and the surrounding matters that were occuring at the time. Capone’s early life was not filled with crime, rather just living a life that new immigrant settlers would face such as becoming established in american society. History.com says that “A poor family that came to America seeking a better life, the Capones and their eight children lived a typical immigrant lifestyle in a New York tenement. Capone’s father was a barber, and his mother was a seamstress.” (History.com Editors 2009). Although family life had little to no play the prohibition era was just around the coroner offering new opportunities for monetary wealth to capitalize on. However better opportunities arrived for the capone family and once established was able to move the family into a better part of town. However we start to see Capone fail in school which he then starts working and soon after gets married. Just as any man would capone wanted to support is new wife and started working up the ladder with street gangs and then meet his future mentor Jimmy Torrio.
This is a crucial point in his life due to the surrounding factors that were occuring at this time in America and the rise of organized crime. From University Michigan says “Other markets that organized criminals were involved with before the start of Prohibition include robbery, hijacking, and contract killing.”( Hales & Nikolas Kazmers). Capone’s mentor was involved in gambling which opened the doors to him eventually becoming a bartender in which he got his name scarface from a bar fight from a customer. During this time, Capone’s father passed and he would take his new family to Chicago to meet with a relocated Jimmy Torrio who was beginning to embark on a new adventure called bootlegging. After the passing of the 18th amendment which made the sale of liquor illegal we began to see an emergency in organized crime during the prohibition era. Although it can be argued one source says ‘Prohibition contributed not only to the myth surrounding organized crime but its legacy also included the original structure of organized crime.’(Demleitner 1994). Now once very low level organized crime groups are now at the gate of a new business which only caused more harm than good and we now see the start of our monsters journey. Unlike his partner Capone was known to to be outlandish and disregard the advice of his partner to remain at a low profile.
Yet this was no smooth sailing as he would have a run in the law for the first time of his life for hitting a cab driver while drunk. Yet this didn’t stop the terror that was coming in the near future just merily pausing as corruption was in his favor. Furthermore with his deep connection to the mob corruption in the police force and mayors were able to set him free. Corruption at this time was at a very high level since money could be used as bribery and mayors could be used to let certain things go unseen. It is that” For example, in the 1920’s during alcohol prohibition in the United States, mob activities were so profitable that organized crime could afford to keep in its payroll government officials atvarious levels, including elected politi- cians and law enforcers, to influence the legal system in its favor.”(Kugler, Verdier , & Zenou 2003). This leading factor is what causes criminals like Capone to stay in regine for so long and answer the question of how did we keep a monster like this on the streets. Therefore we can see how by one passing of a law led down a chain of the following events to pursue forward and bring about terror in the 1920’s.
With those factors in play we can use the monster theories to further develop a better understanding of capones monstrous actions. One theory seems to align perfectly with capones doings in which we can use Thesis V. The Monster Polices the Borders of the Possible and it states “The Monster represents consequences of curiosity, desire, or rebellion”. (Cohen 1997). As does anything that becomes illegal people found a way to rebel against the system and the result was bootlegging. Bootlegging was the term used for the people who were making the alcohol or creating underground bars salesing the alcohol . People felt outraged and criminals followed supply and demand as you can see why Capone took advantage of this young booming business. Now that we see what drove our monster to do the actions that he did, what effects were left in the trail of his actions .
The first of these is the many deaths that result in the organized crime business as Capone had many rivals as well as making a name for himself. The most famous of these series of deaths happened at the peak of the gang’s violence and in 1929 the Valentine’s Day massacre would occur killing seven members of the rival gang. It is said that “On February 14, seven members of Moran’s operation were gunned down while standing lined up, facing the wall of the garage.” (History.com Editors 2009). To this day we can see gangs still fighting for territory yet over a new business marijuanan that is now becoming illegal in many states similar to the prohibition. They say history repeats itself and we can see that with other known drug kingpins like El Chapo Guzman and Pablo Escabar. All are to be considered Robin Hoods from their time taking some of the profits and sharing it in areas of low income. The actions that were made and the ones that we make today can reflect back to the butterfly effect but at a much realistic level. Also his established infamy has spread through the entertainment business as well with movies inspired by him including scarface. Although this was years ago the results of the prohibition and the corruption of the justice system, Capone has ingrained his mark in today’s time. We can now better understand where the flap of the butterfly wings started for his ruthless journey of terror in the 1920’s.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Demleitner, Nora v. “Organized Crime and Prohibition: What Difference Does Legalization Make?” Hein Online, Washington and Lee University School of Law, 1994.
Hales, Taylor, and Nikolas Nikolas Kazmers. Organized Crime – The Status before Prohibition, umich.edu/~eng217/student_projects/nkazmers/organizedcrime1.html.
History.com Editors. “Al Capone.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 14 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/crime/al-capone.
History.com Editors. “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/crime/saint-valentines-day-massacre.
Kugler, Maurice, et al. “Organized Crime, Corruption and Punishment.” Science Dirct, Econ Stor, 2003.