There are people, patsies, that are easy to mark and easy to impose on. It is these individuals that have disguising frequencies which make them succumb to those with dishonorable motives (Cialdini 4). We see these types of impositions on those who are vulnerable happening everyday and it all different realms of life. Many of us capitulate to pitches, peddlers, fund-raisers, operators, etc. No matter who is doing the influencing, the fact of the matter is, we have all found ourselves succumbing to others without first asking ourselves if this individual is truthful and honest in his/her modes. So if it is evident that individuals are readily available to manipulate in different fashions, we must apprehend situations of dictatorship with caution, when they arise. If the power of persuasion and manipulation is so easily imposed, it can be that easy for an individual with evil tendencies to direct their desires unto innocent people, to carry out their immoral and torturous images and fantasies. Need us recall what happened when Hitler lived; the awful visions we were provided from the Holocaust; or such powerful, corrupt bodies, as the la Cosa Nostra who have supplied our nation with rage, fear, genocide, murderous leaders, and strutting killers? The empirical question at hand then is what makes individuals fall under the spell of such powerful and corrupt individuals?
John Gotti, one of the most memorable and strikingly inhumane individuals, had attributes of his personality that allowed him to gain such enormous quantities of power. Although he is reputedly the most ruthless Mafioso of his generation, his image to most was quite the opposite. "To the kids, to everyone, he is a local hero" (Steele 1). Gotti took tremendous care of his neighborhood and those close to him, creating an image for himself that was difficult for any law enforcement agents to strike down; which they asserted Gotti to be the "biggest and richest crime syndicate in the United States" (Steele 1). Half of his neighborhood in Ozone Park, located in Queens, worked for him and the neighbors felt that the biggest problem they had was to try and find parking (Steele 1).
Ozone Park ordinarily has housed lower-income Italian Americans (1). Annually, on Independence Day for over a decade, the Gambino family has hosted a July 4th extravaganza. The festivities last the entire day with food, fireworks, and hundreds of people. "All the kids can have all the ice cream, soda, cotton candy, free rides, and games they wantÖThat's why I want him to run for president" (Steele 2). Police have never intruded although the party has always been put on without legal consent; "[it's] conducted without city permits, but the police indulge Gotti" (Steele 2). The local people love him and feel as if he is an all around good guy who would do anything to help anyone out, if it is within his doing (which obviously, there were few things that were not within his powers to do). "If he can, he'll help you outÖEverybody listens to him" (Steele 2).
Part of the public' obsession with John Gotti is his extremely charismatic character and his passionate way of speaking (Steele 3). This passion spreads over and seems to charm people as if it almost a hoax or an aphrodisiac. And how could anyone not desire to be lead by a man who holds no fear for anyone and carried him to be so sincere to all that he confronts. As John Gotti said it himself, "I never have to lie to any man because I don't fear anyone. The only time you lie is when you are afraid" (Steele 3). Obviously, a man who held so much power, fame, and fortune, would not conceptually dream of fearing another human being; he thought himself to be an untouchable, a sort of demigod if you will (Steele 4).
Enough emphasis cannot be added to demonstrate the kind of control and capacity John Gotti frequented upon so many individuals that laid inferior and succumbing to his almighty ways of exertion. "[His] was the one criminal organization that most directly affected the lives of ordinary Americans" (Volkman 4). The Gambino family was one of the smallest organized crime entities in terms of numbers but by far, it was one of the most lucrative, aggressive, and well-organized in the United States (Volkman 5). It seems from how many times the Gambino family and John Gotti were able to escape defeat, that they had a sort of impenetrable security screen built around them. Part of this comfort and stability from debacle came from the mere fact that the Cosa Nostra had played an image into all those dupe members of society that in return, portrayed a wholesome and goodness image in their support. All those who fell victim to the charisma and charm of the Mafioso secured a comfort blanket, making it harder to nail blame of wrongdoing onto their actions.
Another part of the problem with the Gambino family and the lack of ability to apprehend them was reliably because almost all that was criminally done, was conducted in as little sunlight as possible (Volkman 5). John Gotti was an insurgent individual who realized his capabilities at a young age and directed them in a negative manner to allow for his infamy to lead him into a leadership position. Wisdom, in a sick sense, was extraordinarily portrayed in how "his power was behind carefully constructed facades" (Volkman 5). His biography clearly demonstrates a perverse American success story, despite the important certitude that he is currently spending his days in twenty-three hour lock-down. The Gambino's illuminate the semblance of "illiterate and poor Italian immigrants [that] create[d] a criminal enterprise that became, in the immortal phrase, 'bigger than U.S. Steel'" (Volkman 6).
Analogies can depict images sometimes better than direct sentiments and plainly it is the case here. As Volkman best described the sort of endowment such a man fabricated: "a small, dark segment of society is spawned, and, like a virulent cancer, ultimately spreads to infect the body in which it has come to life" (6). Evidence streams from all grasps of society that John Gotti had a way; with people and with wrongfulness, to achieve what he wanted; to control all that he could and as many as feasible. This is a man that was readily able to appreciate the power of ideas. And even more traitorous, was his might to exploit such portrayals. Many "intellectual consensusists fail to appreciate the idea of power, and the will to power of evil men-men who combine and conspire to further their evil purposes" (American Opinion Publishing 6). Gotti reveals what it means when an individual uses weapons of influence to distort other's human perceptions. According to the contrast principle, members of society are affected in the way that we see things and we can be made to see the same things differently. We carry this tendency to see things differently when two things are presented one right after another. Therefore, if a second item is different from the first item, we tend to see the second item as more different than it actually is (Cialdini 20).
To put this theory more directly in application with Gotti, one can see that clearly this is what he did. His neighborhood was in shambles and the Mafia was losing power and needed someone who would be able to lead the way. Those all around him were desperate for a leader, no matter what that leader's motives may have been, they just knew they needed direction and they did not stop to consider what direction they needed lead in. To those who felt powerless, all they could consider was their poor situation and that they needed anything or anyone to make it better. Therefore, when Gotti stepped into the light and was willing to take on such responsibility as becoming these people's leader and try and better their problems, they were, needless to say, more than willing to follow. This second item, the leadership and direction they were presented with, was so different than the first item, feeling powerless and that their situation was not going to get better, was so vastly different, that they did in fact tend to see it as something better than what it actually was. They saw Gotti as a solution and therefore wrongfully justified his illegal and immoral ways of achieving success. This sort of thing is not unusual, unfortunately, because we all can think back to how many times we let hope runaway with reality, leaving us blind to the terrors of what is actually going on. These helpless people did not stop to realize that what they were being lead by, the Mafia, was actually a "massive, transcontinental, transgenerational, self-perpetuating criminal conspiracy" (The New American 11).
Many examples and evidence exists to demonstrate just what sort of effect such a man, or such a charismatic leader, could have over such a large majority of people. Charisma is an important tool and many times it goes unrealized what influence a quality as charisma could have over others. But it is more than obvious that when we make decisions on whom to 'follow' so to speak, charisma is definitely one of the major consideration taken into account when making such a decision. For example, if one had to choose between two speakers, speaker number one being an expert in the field, and present dynamite content, but lacks a bit of luster in front of an audience or speaker number two, who is charismatic, a dynamic presenter with a polished reputation, and adequate content to satisfy one's needs? It is observable that the majority of individuals anywhere on this planet would indeed choose the second speaker. And it is important to note that for an individual to control so many, thousand and thousands of people, he/she need not control all; it simply takes a majority of believers for a corrupt leader to run with.
An extremely strong and emotional document that reveals just how Gotti was able to taint so many minds and way of thinking was demonstrated in the list compiled illustrating "startling similarities between Jesus and John Gotti" (Public Consensus 1). The list was compiled and published as follows:
*Jesus was called the King of Kings *John was called the King of Queens
*Jesus was betrayed by his right hand man *Gotti was betrayed by his right hand man
*Peter denied knowing Jesus *Romual Piecyk denied knowing Gotti
*Jesus, in holy rage, overturned the tables of the money lenders *Gotti, also in a holy rage, overturned the card table of a guy that owed him money
*Jesus fed the masses with a fish and a loaf of bread *John fed the masses with his huge Fourth of July celebrations
*Jesus made "fishers of men" *John "made men" from the Bergin Hunt fish club
*Jesus was the son of Joseph and God *John was the son of John Joseph Gotti
*Jesus forgave sinners *John said "Fuhgedaboudit"
*Jesus hung out with gamblers and drinkers*John hung out with gamblers and drinkers
*Jesus' men believed he was the Christ *John said "My men think I'm Jesus Christ"
*Jesus preached on foot *John often went on "walk talks"
*Jesus was associated with carpenters *John had "associates" in the carpenter'sunion
*Jesus helped the homeless *John gave a homeless guy $50
*Jesus spoke to angels *John had a friend named Angelo
Before this list was produced on line, there was a message that stated something along the lines of that this list was not meant to be taken in a joking manner and was seriously written to show how great Gotti really was. Although this list to many would seem as if someone was being extremely facetious, this was meant to illustrate how true and sincere his followers felt and still do feel about John Gotti and the things that he has done. Another striking finding is that amongst all the web sites accessed yearly through the internet, John Gotti remains to be in the top five percent of those webs gone to. Clearly, his power of persuasion has not diminished substantially since he has been in prison. This highly correlates with Hitler in that even after his troops knew of his death and knew that they no longer had a leader to obey, they sill continued fighting for what Hitler wanted; they remained believing in him when he could no longer tell them what to do.
Hitler, overwhelmingly and fearfully similar to Gotti, was convinced of his own criminality (Rosenbaum 67). He had astonishly slippery and conniving falseness with all that he preached unto those in Germany. Comparable to Gotti in how he was allowed to establish and maintain such power over so many thousands, Hitler came at a time when he needed to be a ruler and a leader, and Germany needed that the most. The country was economically deprived and at an all-time level of turmoil. No way out was in sight and the Germans were convinced that their situation was never going to reveal a better light; they were truly on a downward cycle of mobility. Hitler seemingly came to these needy people and offered them a solution, like Gotti it was an illegal one, but the people refused to see any way of their situation becoming better to be wrong. They rationalized his doings by comparing their easing struggle to what they were before he came to be, essentially nothing.
Hitler had such attributes that allowed him to create enormous power over an entire country. He had "hypnotic, mesmeric eyes and an underlying wrapping effect of proximity to absolute world-shattering power" (Rosenbaum 67). It is somewhat ironic that psychological reviews on what Hitler used the most to control so many, were actually found to be qualities that demonstrate a weal individual. "Hitler adopted self-conscious Svengali mannerismsÖthe penetrating stare and the self-induced trance frenzies" (Rosenbaum 67). Those in his orbit could not help but be overcome by him. "Even in defeat he was a titan to those around him, a demigod, a celebrity beyond parallel" (Rosenbaum 67). But it was not necessarily an effect that derived entirely from his personality attributes. It was more an effect that escalated because of the environment he came to be in and because of the physical and emotional state the people were in. "If they kept the faith, then even in defeat, they could believe they were living out a noble Wagnerian Gotterdammerung" (Rosenbaum 67).
Although Hitler and the image of his extraordinary power has been analyzed time and time again, it is not surprising that a general consensus or analyzing answer has not been created yet. It is agreed upon, of course, that he did have egregious power. "It did not work on everybody; it did not work-to put it crudely-on the aristocrats or people who were sensitive to the vulgarity of his behavior or surroundingÖBut when he wanted to mesmerize, he did have that wherewithal" (Rosenbaum 65). In essence, there were few individuals who were able not to succumb to his power, even the elite eventually did.
Hitler was a man by far that was dreadfully and mistakenly convinced of his own rectitude. He tried in a sense to succeed in "endowing a sincere belief in genocide with a kind of dignity" (Rosenbaum 69). Hitler was sincerely and honestly convinced of his own mind that the Jews were the deadly enemy of the Aryan race and that they needed to be destroyed in order for the superior race to survive. His disillusionment led him to become abusive with his power and use his charisma as a leader to spill the same unto many. Charisma is a powerful tool and there is a fine line between something that could be considered completely good and something considered completely bad. Every leader possess within him or herself charisma that allowed him or her to obtain such a position of power. It is needed to get things going and continually motivated. But too much emphasis and use of charisma, as the Holocaust and the Third Reich reveal, can unconceivably become overbearing in such a sense that individuals can be left unable to think on their own and unable t o feel without being told how to.
Reciprocity is at the heart of both of these cruel and unusual human beings. The notion or idea that rests behind reciprocation is that in mutual agreements, each side does something in return for the other. It is a give and take sort of relationship, if you will. Gotti gave his neighborhood economic stability and someone to come to for solutions to their problems. In return, the people who lived in Queens (in all actuality it was a lot more widespread than Queens) gave Gotti undivided and full support of all that he did. They became his servants and continued through with anything that he may have asked from them. Hitler did the same for Germany because he too gave the country economic stability and enhance their power through all the battles they fought and countries they came to rule over through defeat. In return, the people gave Hitler a means to his end, for the demolishing of all Jews and for the Arian race to be the ultimate race and power. It was such a strong, demoralizing, foolish, and blind action of reciprocity that was done on both comparisons' behalf that all concern was left at each party holding up their end of what was expected. In a crude way of using the term, it was a gam and a way of life that controlled many, and continues to do so in our country, on our streets, and even in our homes.
Reciprocation has the obvious ability to be used so effectively as a device for gaining another's compliance because of its power. "The rule possesses awesome strength, often producing a 'yes' response to a request that, except for an existing feeling of indebtedness, would have surely been refused" (Cialdini 21). That is exactly and unequivocally what these controlled individuals in both instances felt, a sense of indebtedness. No person feels comfortable with their situation if they feel as if they owe another being something. We live our lives many of times doing things so that we can repay others or make even the slate in which we have produced for ourselves. This give and take relationship is almost certainly unavoidable because the majority of us are by far unable to live our lives without letting others try and better their existing situation. Many let Gotti and even more let Hitler better their situations, leaving them almost forever to be in their debt. They knew that if repayment for help was not seen, their better situation could easily be taken away from them. And unfortunately, we too constantly repay those who better our lives so that they will continue to better our lives. What must be considered then, is if we are repaying deeds in the wrong way, immorally, unethically, and even illegally? If we blindly accept and give and continue to reciprocate without seeing, there may very well be the rise of a Fourth Reich, a new and stronger la Cosa Nostra Don, or something worse, which we cannot even conceive of.