Gangs of New York Again?

By: FireTag
June 25, 2011

New York is a city composed of five Boroughs that include dozens of neighborhoods with histories often unrecognized by their modern residents. As the city grew from its origins on the southern tip of Manhattan Island over several centuries, it enveloped and altered what had been separate communities and erased the reasons for their original names.

For example, when I was first married, I lived in Morningside Heights, an innocent community name for the site of Columbia University and several related academic institutions; Union Theological Seminary, the National Council of Churches headquarters, Riverside Church, and two more major cathedrals; and — incongruously — the tomb of Civil War general and President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant.

What was incongruous about Grant’s Tomb was that Morningside Heights was not involved in the Civil War, but was, however, an actual battlefield in a different war when Morningside Heights had a different name. During the American Revolution, the Battle of Harlem Heights took place there, and Washington’s victory in that battle allowed the Colonial Army to escape across the Hudson from its failed defense of New York against the British. Entrapment there probably would have ended the Revolution almost before it started.

Harlem Heights was changed to Morningside Heights, I suspect, because the racial public relations connections of the earlier name of Harlem Heights were problematic even at the start of the Twentieth Century when the so-called “academic acropolis” of the city was taking shape there.

The name change certainly fooled me, and my only excuse is that it’s hard to see the obvious importance of terrain when you mostly travel through it underground in a subway. Still, in the months before my marriage I lived in an apartment building whose rooftop garden looked out over the edge of the plateau a block east of the Columbia campus. It was the plateau that made the Heights a defensible place for Washington to make his stand, but I never related my home to the battle maps I’d seen.

Even more obliviously, I walked through the Barnard College campus from the 116th Street #1 subway stop to our apartment for almost three years after our marriage, and I never realized the campus was once the wheat field sloping down toward the Hudson that had been the scene of the heaviest fighting of the battle. That’s how quickly history gets forgotten.

Several weeks ago I was introduced to another forgotten part of New York:  the Five Points neighborhood of the city.  The local cable movie network was showing the 2002 Martin Scorsese film that was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Gangs of New York. Since memories of New York were still too painful for me in 2002, I’d avoided the movie in its theatrical release, but I decided to watch it now when it appeared on the channel guide. I wasn’t sure until near the end of the movie whether Five Points was a real place, since some of the actual historical characters appearing in the movie seemed almost caricatures. And if Five Points was real, I was pretty sure it must have been somewhere on the East River or near the harbor where Manhattan is closest to other complex shorelines that might be considered “points”.

Again, I had been fooled by the city’s changing geography. There hadn’t been water involved with Five Points for a couple of hundred years. When the city had been established, there had been some fairly high hills in the central portion of the southern end of the island, north of the new settlement. In a low area between the hills, a fresh water “collect pond” existed — although its size and depth would have led anyone who grew up in Michigan as I did to call it a “lake” instead — that became a major source of drinking water for the city during colonial times.

The “collect pond” also became the fresh water source for the industry of the era (which was mostly agricultural-processing related), and the place where the industrial waste from the processing was dumped. Not a good idea!

Unsurprisingly, the pollution gradually overwhelmed the lake’s outlets to the East River and the Hudson and turned the area into a health hazard. By the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, the collect pond had to go, and so the hills around it were leveled and used to fill in the lake. Just like some modern middle class residential home development, the collect pond became the equivalent of a Nineteenth Century New York suburb, even if it was still in Lower Manhattan. However, because the lake boundary had originally served as a termination point for roads running from both southern and northwestern lake shores,  one simply couldn’t impose a single, consistent rectangular grid of streets throughout Lower Manhattan. An extra road running into the central intersection of the area became the “fifth point”.

By 1811, the project was completed, and hardworking, upwardly mobile American families profiting from the city’s wealth moved into the area. It seemed like a success story, until the old lake bed began to reassert itself. Although not appreciated at the time of the fill, if you bury acres of agricultural wastes under dirt in a moist environment, those wastes are going to rot. You’re going to get methane production and release, and those hardworking American families are going to find their homes subsiding, cracking, and shifting underneath them. Quite literally, there goes the neighborhood.

Families retaining the financial means to do so sold out and moved elsewhere. Those left behind saw their upward mobility blocked by events for which they could not be blamed and probably didn’t understand. Then, in addition to local geography turning against them, great social movements both in the United States and in Europe conspired to magnify their pain. With property values collapsed, the Five Points became a magnet for both the honest poor and for those who saw opportunity to prey upon them. As slavery was ended in New York by1827, newly liberated African-Americans flocked there. They were joined by a growing number of Irish emigrants in a wave that reached its peak in the 1840′s during the Great Potato Famine that killed a million Irish and led a million more to flee Ireland.

Even by 1832, population density, poverty, and lack of sanitation had made the Five Points a source of a cholera epidemic. Not understanding the disease’s connection to sanitation, cholera was attributed in the popular mind largely to vice. And the vice certainly became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Violence within the “community” became unimaginably savage as it splintered into anti-Catholic “nativist”, Irish immigrant, and African-American factions of competing agendas and shifting alliances. Gangs formed around strongmen who could offer some protection because of their capacity to organize violence or deliver voting blocs to political machines such as that of Boss Tweed. The machines, in turn, were seeking control of the larger city and even drew power from the state and the national agendas.

In 1834, anti-abolitionist riots began in resentment by those in the burgeoning slum who felt they were paying the price — and the only ones in the North paying the price — for the causes being advocated by well-intentioned Protestant civic leaders. (As early as 1831, there had been calls to raze the Five Points, but with precious little thought to the question of “then, what?”; people had already forgotten the lesson of filling in the collect pond!) The rioters targeted specific well-to-do reformers, but the demands expressed were for the deportation of former slaves back to Africa, and their fury ended up being directed in burning African American churches. The riots ended after four days only with a show of force by armed militia.

But worse was to come. In 1857, rampant corruption under Mayor Wood led to charges that appointment to head the city’s police force had been purchased through a huge bribe (it being taken for granted that corruption within the police force offered such opportunity for wealth as to make even a huge bribe worth the price). The state government passed laws replacing the old police force with a new one, and the two police forces promptly began rioting against each other.

With the “city’s finest” otherwise engaged, competing gangs in the Five Points took the opportunity to settle scores with each other. That lit the spark for a more general spree of looting in the area as the Five Point gangs were joined by independent criminals from many areas of the city.  The looting again could only be stopped when military forces were brought in.

By 1861, of course, the country had plenty of employment for individuals with a capacity for violence. People coming into New York from Ireland could bypass places like the Five Points and go directly into the Army. However, that was very much a case of the proverbial “out of the frying pan and into the fire”.

The Civil War was a situation where defensive military technology trumped offensive military technology. Rail and telegraph permitted the Confederacy with interior lines to move reserve troops strategically much faster than battlefield breakthroughs could be seriously exploited by Union soldiers marching by foot. Increasingly accurate rifle and artillery fire at long range, and the lack of armor to shield advancing troops turned even low stone walls and small rivers into formidable defensive positions. That kind of warfare chews up soldiers, and tends to inhibit volunteering from among those with neither ideological nor personal stake in the war’s outcome.

As the War’s economic and human costs mounted, and it turned into ever more of a grinding war of attrition (and then into a total war of economic destruction), people in the Five Points became more and more resentful of the attention going into preserving a Union in which they did not benefit, or in freeing more slaves whom they saw only as more future competitors for the Union’s crumbs.

The old abolitionists found a voice in the brand new Republican Party, leaving the city’s Democratic machine and the nativists scrambling to jettison those parts of their former constituencies they could no longer afford to support without having their former national power base. The machine leaders were on the wrong side of history — but they weren’t going to be the ones to pay if they could help it.

In 1863, in connection with the Emancipation Proclamation, a mandatory draft law was passed that directly affected even those in the Five Points whose political connections had previously protected them. Only the rich (and African Americans, who were still not citizens) could avoid the draft, but it was relatively easy for those groups to do so.

The Five Points erupted again in July, and again the violence quickly was turned toward African Americans who were considered the cause of the war and toward Republican institutions among the city’s well-off that opposed slavery. African Americans caught by the rioters were beaten, lynched, and burned.

Inequality in paying the costs of obtaining equality trumped the idealism of equality itself and brought forth violence as the rioting spread to more and more areas of the city over four days. Again, military units were called in, but these were hardened troops just back from Gettysburg. They were in no mood for a mere show of force, and far too disciplined to retreat under any attacks by a mob opposed to what they’s just been through hell on earth to fight for. Not only rifles, but Gattling guns and artillery were used against the rioters in the city to put down the largest insurrection in US history save the American Revolution and the Civil War itself. It is certain that the number of civilian wounded were in the thousands; civilian deaths were certainly in excess of one hundred, with Herbert Asbury, who wrote the book Gangs of New York from researching newspaper reports from the time, suggesting the death toll itself was about 2000.

Eventually, after the War, African Americans in the city separated themselves from the Irish and began to concentrate on the Upper West Side and on the north end of Manhattan Island — for example, in a place that was known as Harlem. And that brings us back, full circle, to the explanation of why I used to live in a place called Morningside Heights instead of Harlem Heights, and maybe even why the Civil War’s most famous Union commander is buried closer to Harlem than to the heart of the city.


The night after seeing the movie, which culminates in the Draft Riots, my wife and I met a couple from Texas for a dinner related to my wife’s music studio. The conversation turned to immigration because the Texan wife had once been an armed Border Patrol employee who had some opinions on illegal immigration I had not expected. When it also turned out that the husband had watched Gangs of New York at the same time I had, the movie became the framework for some interesting discussion of the similarities with current problems on both America’s southern border and in the Mid East.

In both cases great geopolitical events have sent populations fleeing into lands peopled by other, very different cultures unprepared to absorb them into existing social and economic structures. There is a justice to the demands of the refugees, and an injustice in the cultures from which they are fleeing, that appeals to the better ideals of those in power over the lands of refuge.

But addressing this particular injustice is only one of the interests of powerful people. There are always other ideals, and often other very non-idealistic motives competing for their attention. The rot in the lake bed of the collect pond begins to reassert itself, and economic resources move away from the problems of integrating the refugees. The problems snowball, while many of the idealists move to save someone else, and the malignant see opportunity to exploit the situation for personal gain. Both refugees and existing inhabitants find themselves in competition, and then in conflict, as they are left to pay so much of the cost of the integration, while the most malignant do everything possible to maintain the antagonism that keeps them in power.

Do you see the similarities of roles between Nineteenth Century New York and the world of the Twenty First Century? Do you see ways to turn the situation on the US Southern border into a “win-win” before it becomes a “win-lose” or, worse, a “lose-lose” scenario? What about the evolution of the Arab spring, a situation that is already drawing in the agendas of many more parties than in Mexico? Are we fated to see the Gangs of New York coming to life again and again, or can we be far-sighted enough to avoid the remake?

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55 Responses to Gangs of New York Again?

  1. Dan on June 25, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Do you see ways to turn the situation on the US Southern border into a “win-win” before it becomes a “win-lose” or, worse, a “lose-lose” scenario?

    yeah, open up the borders. Let people in. Our economy improves with more people here. Let them come.

    What about the evolution of the Arab spring, a situation that is already drawing in the agendas of many more parties than in Mexico?

    Not sure how this relates to the Five Points, but you already know my views on the Arab Spring.

    Are we fated to see the Gangs of New York coming to life again and again, or can we be far-sighted enough to avoid the remake?

    Not sure why anyone thinks we can see into the future of any event well enough to prepare for it. Humanity is quite complex. We’re not really that smart. Particularly when we try to analyze a region and a people with preconceived notions.

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  2. Mike S on June 25, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Fascinating post. I love reading how the history of a place influences what that place is today. I recently read a history of London that went through the same type of process. Cool.

    As far as repeating what happened there: As the old adage says: Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Unfortunately, I don’t think people generally care about history. People understandably tend to be short-sighted and focused on the here-and-now. But by doing so, they repeat the historical cycles.

    The Book of Mormon is replete with these cycles. History books show the cycles. They occur on short and long time scales. They are predictable.

    But we don’t change.

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  3. MH on June 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    You said the opinion of the border patrol agent surprised you. What was the opinion?

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  4. FireTag on June 25, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Let me take them in order.


    One of the major points I trying to call attention to is this:

    “Inequality in paying the costs of obtaining equality trumped the idealism of equality itself…” Of course ending slavery was a great good — unless you were the people in the Five Points who paid the costs when they weren’t the ones who’d been the economic beneficiaries of the slavery, and their relatives were the ones on the battlefields paying the price to end it. Of course providing a refuge from famine was a great good — unless you were the ones whose upward mobility was being choked off by the lower wages the Irish would take. I’d have thought a good Democrat would have immediately seen the analogy of the need to redistribute the pain to the well off and not exploit the pain for partisan gain. :D

    I can certainly see the Mideast as an analogy to what happened in the Five Points. A great evil that kills millions sends survivors fleeing to a new land for refuge. The population living there seeks to drive the refugees out because their leadership has long exploited them and then abandons the two disparate peoples to pay the costs of integrating. The powerful find the people more useful as continued sources of political power than as human beings. Can’t imagine why that turns ugly.

    “Not sure why anyone thinks we can see into the future of any event well enough to prepare for it. Humanity is quite complex. We’re not really that smart.” Have I now convinced you of the limits of centralized economic/social planning? :D

    Mike S.:

    I really personally believe that, whether we regard the Book of Mormon as primarily historical or primarily metaphorical, an important purpose of its inspiration was to call us to awareness of how those cycles can play out in modern times. We may continue to play in the path of the tornado, but no one who was raised in Mormonism can say the siren wasn’t sounded.


    Her greatest ire was saved for the coyotes, which didn’t surprise me. Her second highest ire was against certain local officials who were heartless toward the illegals. She generally agreed with Dan that the borders should be opened, but then I discovered a few minutes later that she and her husband now owned hundreds of acres of land with producing mineral rights for natural gas, so was that being well intentioned, but insulated from paying the costs that the less well off had to pay?

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  5. Dan on June 25, 2011 at 7:02 PM


    Have I now convinced you of the limits of centralized economic/social planning?

    hmmm, I can’t seem to recall where I advocated for “centralized economic/social planning.” Perhaps you could show me where I advocated for that. I realize you guys on the right have a certain caricature, a certain straw man, of what liberals believe in.

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  6. Dan on June 25, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    Now THIS is advocating centralized economic planning… ;)

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  7. FireTag on June 25, 2011 at 11:56 PM


    I’ll be happy to go with your words “We’re really not that smart” and let people draw their own policy conclusions. Call it central planning, comprehensive solutions, fundamental transformation, or gambler’s ruin; I don’t care. We could only justify adding managerial types to the bureaucracy and giving them more money on the assumption that elites are smart enough to manage complex human systems, and altruistic enough not to put themselves first. As bad an assumption as ignoring the methane from the lake bed under The Five Points, IMO.

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  8. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 26, 2011 at 4:37 AM

    Firetag, I agree that the Book of Mormon is a message for our times.

    The story of city gangs, Chicago and New York especially, is significant.

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  9. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 26, 2011 at 4:38 AM

    Dan, Firetag, you both need to take a look at Libertarian Communism.

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  10. Dan on June 26, 2011 at 10:52 AM


    I was only meaning that your implying something about me that isn’t there. What did you mean by “Have I now convinced you of the limits of centralized economic/social planning?”

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  11. Dan on June 26, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    hey here’s another example of centralized social planning…

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  12. Wyoming on June 26, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    We were discussing the immigration issue at dinner today with an Arizona school teacher. As an organizational consultant, I often look at behavioral dynamics from a incentive/rewards standpoint. I am fascinated at the behaviorial impact of the threatened enforcement of the AZ law (10,000′s left for states that don’t enforce immigration law and provide rewards such as healthcare, social services to the immigrant population). Here is my amateur stab at policies that use incentives to address the situation:

    1. Either refuse certain services or require the Mexican government to pay for services provided for their citizens (the Mexican government’s abdication of their responsibility for their citizens is apalling on many levels).
    2. Provide a time frame (2 yrs?) for illegal immigrants to get their affairs in order and leave the country. Incent legal immigration by providing the resources/infrastructure to monitor legal workers to come here temporarily (win-win?) “The line starts south of the border” and those who violate will be subject to law enforcement.
    3. Children born to illegal immigrants on US soil are citizens of their parent country. Don’t incent child-bearing in the US then blame the heartless US for refusing to care from cradle to grave for foreign citizens.
    4. Enforce current immigration laws with employers – dis-incent the use of illegal immigration labor. Incent legal immigration labor.

    A organizational theorist stated that “every organization is perfectly aligned to get the results it gets”. In other words, with these global dynamics and policy flaws we are perfectly aligned to get this challenging results.

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  13. Will on June 26, 2011 at 9:28 PM


    It is amazing to me how quickly you run from your socialist views when you see what a dismal failure it has been. Trying to call things that are not socalist, socialist isn’t going undo the faliures of socialism.

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  14. FireTag on June 26, 2011 at 10:09 PM

    I must note, Dan, that you’ve given two examples of policies you don’t like (#6 and #11) and called them central planning. By definition the imposition of any unique state law must be LESS centralized than the uniform imposition of Federal law over all states. The mere fact that you disagree with the law does not have anything to do with its centralization — as you would readily acknowledge if Roe v. Wade should be overturned through, e. g., a new Supreme Court ruling or Constitutional Amendment.

    If you wish to argue that, left or right, the political class behaves the same, well that is at least on-topic. But part of the post was also about how the unwillingness to acknowledge that the “other side” may have some valid grievances of their own can really give us the worst of both worlds.

    If you don’t believe I’m stating your position correctly, then state it in your own words. The post is not an invitation for an essay on “I hate candidate X because…” You have your own blog and facebook page for that.

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  15. FireTag on June 26, 2011 at 10:22 PM


    1 and 3 probably require changes at the level of Supreme Court interpretation or above, although I agree that the Mexican government has become so deficient in caring for its own citizens that the combat level is approaching that of some failed states.

    2 and 4 are potentially doable through legislation or enforcement policy, but the political hurdles are immense even if you and I end up agreeing that they are good ideas. Some state laws are actually attempting to do 4.

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  16. Wyoming on June 26, 2011 at 11:54 PM


    There is another organizational theory that states something like, those who benefit from a policy, will fight and policy change to maintain their advantage (current example, the BCS). I like the church’s position of showing compassion. When I was a part of the FranklinCovey merger, their position on layoffs was quite compassionate. If your job was eliminated, you would have ~45 days to use the company’s resources to find another job. They organized the internal resources to that end. I wish we would say as a country, “We love you (speaking of illegal immigrants), we will increase both the legal employment and legal immigrations paths, but after two years, you will be penalized for seeking to go around the system we, as a sovereign nations, establish.

    The other, harsher method, would be to adopt Mexican immigration laws that they use to thwart South American immigrants.

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  17. Dan on June 27, 2011 at 6:51 AM

    hey look, more centralized social planning!

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  18. Dan on June 27, 2011 at 6:59 AM


    By definition the imposition of any unique state law must be LESS centralized than the uniform imposition of Federal law over all states.

    Whether imposed on a state that has a similar size as a country (California for instance is larger than most countries, as are many of the states within the United States) or at the federal level, when one party uses the state (state or federal level) to plan out either the economy or the social planning for the state, it is what it is no matter if you dislike it or like it. Michelle Bachman asking for more subsidies for her state, states restricting abortion, these are examples of the very thing you accuse liberals of. It really matters not if liberals want something done at the state or national level. They are the same. Using the state to apply policy. Mitt Romney’s health care plan is, on your definition, centralized economic planning. You may not like it being called that, but that’s how it is. Perhaps we can stop talking about such silly, stupid things. What do you say, Firetag? You’re the one that brought up “centralized economic/social planning” as if that describes some evil specter of dastardly statism. And we can’t have none of that! I’m just pointing out that those on the right freely use the same statism to their own desires. And you would too. So can we get away from such labels, Firetag?

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  19. Jon on June 27, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    Call a spade a spade.

    Nice post Firetag, interesting.

    As for Mexico, the border is becoming more and more closed, it is becoming more and more difficult for US citizen’s to leave the country. Something is very wrong. Why? My guess is ever encroaching government, our government, is to blame, the unconstitutional drug war, not truly free trade, etc. It wasn’t too long ago that you could cross the border with very little difficulty, now you need a passport, not be a the “list”, be paid up on your extortion, etc. A free nation would let you leave and come back relatively easily, these problems are symptoms of policies that have been going very wrong for a long time.

    The problem is internal and we need but look at ourselves for the problems and solutions. Will it be fixed before turning into a lose situation? I don’t have hope with how easily it is for people to point fingers at other groups and say they are the problem rather than looking at the core problems.

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  20. FireTag on June 27, 2011 at 5:19 PM


    Isn’t there also a BofM scripture about how hard it is to get rid of bad kings for the reason you outline? It’s part of the reason the people were advised to avoid creating even good kings in the first place.


    I think I’ve been pretty consistent in trying to point out that seeing Western political culture in terms of “ups” and “downs” instead of “left” or “right”, and in emphasizing the questionable things both left and right do to stay among the “ups” rather than slip into the “downs”.


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  21. Dan on June 27, 2011 at 8:50 PM


    There are no ups and downs. You will use the state for your own purposes just like anybody else, at the expense of those who dislike your way. In any case, we’re off topic.

    Gangs of New York. Great movie. Fascinating story. I don’t think there is a comparison to modern international politics. I think modern international politics is far more complex than the Five Points incidents during the Civil War. I think, in terms of the Middle East, it is well past time for America to get the hell out of there and leave those people alone. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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  22. FireTag on June 27, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    “You will use the state for your own purposes just like anybody else, at the expense of those who dislike your way.”

    Thanks for the “just like anybody else”. I think that’s a very good argument for looking for people who are not “just like anybody else” to do what government must, by consensus, do, and for being very careful about how high and how stable consensus must be before we hand over power that is not easily recovered.

    And by executive fiat as the original poster, I hereby declare your comment is NOT off topic. :D

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  23. john f. on June 28, 2011 at 5:25 AM

    Loved the historical material and narrative in this post! Thanks for that. I’m going to read “Gangs of New York” now even though the movie was trite.

    I don’t think you need this framework for discussing complex issues of immigration and gang violence. The problems are current and difficult enough that we don’t need to go through so much effort to analogize it to this particular situation of gang warfare. We can look at ethnic and tribal divisions and violence in more recent situations for a way to interpret immigration in the US and ethnic violence in developing countries.

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  24. Dan on June 28, 2011 at 8:57 AM


    Here’s an example where “centralized economic planning” works. :)

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  25. Jon on June 28, 2011 at 9:08 AM


    Before you were denouncing central planning and saying you didn’t believe in it, now you say you do (of course, we all know you have always believed in highly centralized planning, hence your support for the federal reserve – which seems contradictory since the federal reserve is the epitomy of fascism, that is, the merging of the state and corporations, I would think you would be a Brownian instead). It’s ludicrous to believe that a few men/women can know what millions of people need to do and act and that they should all do the same thing. It’s illogical to its core and anti-civil liberties to its core, something that liberals say they stand for but when you look at the most liberal states they are markedly the least believing in civil liberties.

    Anyways, there’s obviously no reasoning with you, you have been diagnosed with Fourier Complex.

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  26. Dan on June 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM


    In your break from commenting here, clearly you did not increase your brain cells. You’re still just as dumb as before.

    To this point in this thread I have not “denounced” or “endorsed” any type of economic system. I have given examples of “centralized economic/social planning.” Stating that the Swedish model works is merely reflective of actual reality. Whatever they did in Sweden fixed their economy, whether they used centralized planning or not.

    When I put a comment here like “here’s an example of “centralized economic planning” that’s not to say I endorse what I put in that comment. Particularly since I reject the label. The label, whether you name it “centralized economic planning” or “socialism” or “communism” is flawed and not descriptive of reality. I’m playing around with the label because it is so ridiculous. It is stupid, but since you guys want to wallow in stupidity, I’ll humor you.

    I noted that even the hardest core of hardcore American conservatives—Michele Bachman—pushes for economic subsidies for her constituents because she knows that will keep them voting for her. So in other words, you guys on the right are full of bullcrap when it comes to saying you’re for “small government.” Small government my ass. You’re for whatever progresses your ideology along.

    Except you, Jon. Somalia is your paradise. This one’s for you.

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  27. Jon on June 28, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    Fourier Complex.

    You take everything and twist it to something else. It doesn’t matter if you have endorsed or not endorsed anything, we know what you believe already, you want a king. You said as much. That’s the height of centralized planning. The label is correct. It is centralized planning whether its done by dems or repubs it still is the manipulation of the populace for a select few to benefit.

    You know that I am for no state or, if we must compromise, small government libertarianism where most laws, which would be few in number, would be at the city level.

    You know that Somalia is not my paradise, I’ve already said such. Maybe you should do some research on Iceland where they lived in, for the most part, anarchy, and thrived.

    You also know that Somalia is manipulated and destroyed by the very states you espouse, like the US, you know the CIA and other government entities are in there causing havoc to the poor there. It’s the state that causes death and destruction. If it weren’t for these outside influences you would see a markedly higher improvement in the well being of Somalians.

    Fourier Complex indeed, there is nothing we can do for you. You will stay ignorant in your desires for kings. You are the epitomy of what is wrong and what the BoM warned about.

    Dan, I urge to seek out Christ and drop this support for violence and use of force to make people do what you believe to be right when the person hasn’t even done anything wrong. I urge you to expunge the hate that you espouse.

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  28. FireTag on June 28, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    John F:

    Probably right that I didn’t NEED the framework, but it happened to be how it came to me because of the personal connections. Stories are sometimes more effective in getting points across than are arguments.

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  29. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Here you go Dan, here’s a list for you of economic free country comparison’s. Interesting how New Zealand is ranked higher than the US. Great place to travel BTW, yes, I have traveled outside the US Dan, believe it or not.

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  30. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    hehe, paid for by the Charles Koch Foundation…so much for freedom.

    And based on that ‘Freedom index” the most free economic countries are in “socialist” countries such as Denmark (the happiest people on the planet), Sweden, Norway and even New Zealand (which is highly socialist by American conservative standards). Frankly I am surprised you highlight New Zealand as an example of your anarchist chaotic mumbo jumbo. It’s not even close to the kind of bullcrap you espouse. In fact the local libertarian party sucks at elections:

    The Libertarianz party contested the 2008 New Zealand General Election, which was held on November 8. It fielded candidates in 16 electorates.[6] Altogether, it received 1176 votes (0.05% of the total proportion of votes cast).

    The center-right party won in 2008, taking over from the Labour party. There is a strong Green party in New Zealand (not the kind you like). But thanks for highlighting that “socialist” states like New Zealand do fantastically well at quality of life and economic freedom.

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  31. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 1:53 PM
  32. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    I just showed what matters is economic freedom. I’ve said before the US is not a bastion of freedom that it should be and we can see that by more socialist nations beating us out on the economic freedom index. I just proved my points from the past. I also just showed you that economic freedom matters the most and some countries that espouse socialism to a certain extent also allow for some economic freedom. It’s not all or nothing here, the ideal is anarchy but with people wanted to micromanage others lives we cannot achieve true freedom.

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  33. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    Hey Man, I’ll take what I can get, even if it is very little, I’ll hope for more and recognize when freedom isn’t there, but unfortunately people want to exercise unrighteous dominion over others and keep others enslaved. Soft slavery is still slavery.

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  34. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    that’s about the dumbest paragraph I have ever read, and I have read some really dumb paragraphs.

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  35. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 2:00 PM


    Based on America’s conservatives’ definition of “socialism”, New Zealand is MORE SOCIALIST than America. And you think it is an example of “economic freedom?”

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  36. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 2:03 PM


    Economic freedom doesn’t imply absolute freedom.

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  37. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    so let me get this straight, the United States currently ranks 9th in the world for economic freedom according to Heritage, and that is an example to you of the lack of economic freedom found in the United States? Look at the countries ahead of the United States. All have strong central governments. The very thing you constantly criticize. You’re plain dumb dude.

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  38. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    News to Dan. We have a very strong central government too.

    Hong Kong didn’t have a strong central government (or at least one that lauds over them like they do the rest of the Chinese country) and is still left quite alone compared to the rest of the Chinese country comparatively.

    What this data shows is that when people are left to their own devices they will produce and become prosperous, but when there is no rule of law and government interferes with economic production with go down. Rule of law doesn’t imply police state, it implies a relatively righteous people and governance. When people respect each others property people will prosper more.

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  39. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Are you suggesting the people of Hong Kong are more righteous than we here in the United States?

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  40. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    I love you Dan.

    You read what I wrote. Wealth doesn’t imply righteousness but it doesn’t preclude it either. If the people respect one another and treat each other according to the Golden Rule, 2nd Great Commandment, or the non-aggression principle then I would say they are righteous.

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  41. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    You’re a crazy guy Jon. Your beliefs are all over the place. They’re based on keyword platitudes that have little meaning in real life. And don’t give me none of that love crap. You don’t love a guy you say has some idiotic “fourier complex.” You’ve got a lot to learn about love, about economics, about politics, about, well everything.

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  42. FireTag on June 29, 2011 at 4:33 PM


    I guess it’s time for another executive fiat, in the spirit of strong government.

    BY executive fiat, no one is entitled to call anyone stupid unless the caller can derive the convergence conditions for the standard Big Bang cosmology from the series solution of the Einstein equations.

    I know. It’s entirely arbitrary and has nothing to do with the subject matter. But it’s good to be king, and if simple appeals to civility don’t get across the message, this is as good a standard for allowing incivility as anything else.

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  43. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Actually, my beliefs are based on principles like this, respect of others properties. Once you learn this principle everything else can logically be deduced from there and is really just the Golden Rule, 2nd Great Commandment, or the non-aggression principle, whatever you would like to call it. Principles are eternal and true, you can find them without even being religious because they are universal truths that can be deduced by logic, like mathematics.

    You do get in the real world and things are a little messier than they should be, but that doesn’t mean you don’t try and achieve the ideal, it may take time, but as long as you understand the truths you can eventually find them.

    As with love, I too need to work on it, I recognize that, one must recognize ones faults before they can work on them. I recognize that I am but an imperfect being. But I also recognize that you have Fourier Complex, I don’t necessarily agree with the harsh language Mises used but it does appear to be correct, some people just don’t want to understand the truth and there is nothing you can do to convince them of it even if, logically, they are incorrect.

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  44. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 4:43 PM


    Does that include Fourier Complex?

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  45. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 4:59 PM


    BY executive fiat, no one is entitled to call anyone stupid unless the caller can derive the convergence conditions for the standard Big Bang cosmology from the series solution of the Einstein equations.

    The what, the what, and the what?

    No problem. It’s the beauty of being king. And just to help you out, the Fourier complex is this silly stup…oh wait, I can’t use that word…dum…oh ….er… you know what I am meaning, anyways, it is a phrase that Ludwig von Mises created through sheer hatred of liberalism to try and describe the liberal position as that of the Pharisees of Jesus time, whom Jesus berated by saying “woe unto you Pharisees for you shut the gate to the kingdom so none can go in, and you yourselves don’t go in.” Mises thinks liberals “shut the way” for themselves and everyone. It’s pretty stup…oh….er…in any case, I don’t care if Jon keeps using it as it in no way applies to me or to my political leanings. I get a kick out of it when he calls me by that because I know it gives him gratification without actually hurting me in any way.

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  46. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    Actually, Mises was a classical liberal. I believe he was referring to statists. Call them liberals if you will.

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  47. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    no Mises was not a “classical liberal.” And no, he was not referring to “statists.” Do you not even know your own silly philosopher-king?

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  48. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Oh, Dan, I thought I already taught you this history lesson.

    Classical liberalism is a philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets.

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  49. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 5:24 PM


    You don’t understand. I’m a classical liberal. Most liberals are classical liberals. Most conservatives are classical liberals. Most Americans are classical liberals. Most Europeans are classical liberals. Classical liberalism is a general philosophy that entails pretty much all of western economic theory. Idio….oh wait…people like Mises misinterpret modern progressive liberalism to mean socialism as if they are one and the same. They are not. Progressive liberalism believes in freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and free markets. They also believe in a limited government. What limits should be are the differences between American liberals and American conservatives (which also differ from liberals, conservatives, socialists, right-wing fascists, and so on from other countries in the world). American liberals believe government should stay out of our personal lives and provide as equal of an environment for everyone. This doesn’t mean American liberals are against “the free market.” To claim someone like Mises is the only one that stands for “the free market” is completely ludicrous and condescending. The free market is defended by those on the American left just as much as those on the American right. Ludwig von Mises does not represent “classical liberalism” as he represents a segment of “classical liberalism” one that has formed its own identity under “libertarianism.” Libertarianism is another philosophy under the “classical liberal” economic view. Libertarianism does not represent classical liberalism exclusively. It is one spoke under the umbrella called “classical liberalism.” American progressivism does not represent classical liberalism exclusively. It is one spoke under the umbrella called “classical liberalism.” American conservatism does not represent classical liberalism exclusively. It is one spoke under the umbrella called “classical liberalism.” Now, go away and learn some more.

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  50. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    Oh, Dan, you yourself said you are a socialist and a liberal. Most extreme liberals consider themselves, or at least like the ideas of socialism. Most “liberals” of the recent past liked the idea of the Soviet Union and trumped it up in the universities as a good thing. You’ll also see liberals putting praises on Fidel Castro and others like him (Chavez, the Bolivian president, etc). So, modern liberals are socialists in the strict use of the term, as you like to call yourself.

    I the modern liberal states, like NY, you don’t see a respect for property rights and civil liberties, except for the popular ones like gay marriage (which shouldn’t be an issue since no one should have to go to the state to get a license to get married, it’s not the state’s purview). In NY don’t they tax people quite differently? Don’t they say how much salt you can use? The list goes on. NY is not a bastion of civil liberties.

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  51. Dan on June 29, 2011 at 6:09 PM


    You think that if you call me a socialist it matters, as if that somehow reduces my credibility. Yet here you are espousing the praises of socialist states like New Zealand. You say that socialist states like New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and so on provide better economic freedom than the United States. You have no idea what you are arguing Jon. States like New Zealand, Canada, and Australia have strong central governments, have universal health care, have all the things American liberals can only dream we have here. And you claim I am a socialist? You don’t even know the meaning of the word, you imbecile (not a word verboten by Firetag).

    You can have the last word.

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  52. Jon on June 29, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    You are the one that called yourself a socialist. I call myself an anarchist but don’t deny it later, are you denying what you already said?

    Once again I must explain to you that any bit of freedom that can be achieved I will celebrate. If all these countries are, in part, more free than the US than I am glad for those people and would hope that we would follow the good parts. What’s the 13th article of faith say? Something about seeking after that which is good, if a socialistic country has some good attributes I will praise those attributes.

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  53. FireTag on June 29, 2011 at 9:21 PM


    No. It does not include the Fourier complex. By executive fiat of the princess, in order to diagnose the Fourier complex, you must be able to demonstrate an advanced degree in psychology.

    I, of course, am free to diagnose the both of you for persisting in these attacks on each other’s character to my heart’s content.

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  54. Jon on June 30, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    Yes, I suppose I was bored and looking for something to do. The same discussion happens every time, with slight variations, perhaps. Of course, I’m always right and Dan is always wrong :), right Dan?

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  55. Jon on July 1, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    Here you go Dan, information on how Somalia has improved under anarchy except for access to clean/safe water (which, of course is bad) and birth rates.

    A detailed look on how the economy of Somalia has improved and how it is better off compared to neighboring states:

    Not a paradise but better than it could have been despite the our interference into their politics.

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