News & Politics

Time to Leave New York?


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

August 31, 1961, Vol. VI, No. 45

The Big Decision

By John Wilcock

The Berlin crisis brought it to a head, aided no doubt by the widespread conviction that none of the Mayoralty candidates are sincerely interested in anybody’s welfare but their own. But whatever the ultimate cause there is a prevalent undercurrent of opinion on the subject of leaving New York — permanently. After years of continuing a fight, varying on in degree, against corruption, malfeasance, and idiotic and dishonest official policies, many people have finally concluded that it is a losing struggle.

In the past few weeks I have heard people talk about their plans for going to live in Argentina; for founding a new colony on the California-Oregon boarder; for starting a business in Mexico; for emigrating to Australia (shades of “On the Beach”!) or just “getting the hell out of New York somewhere.”

The reasoning of most of these people runs something like this: No arms build-up in history has ever ended in anything but war, and there is no reason to believe that the current one will be an exception. No civilian is anxious to fight in a war he doesn’t seek. There seems to be no way to influence the vast number of belligerent establishmentarians who do want a war, many of whom are in control. Anybody who stays here too long (in what is generally accepted to be a major target area) will undoubtedly be either dead or drafted. Therefore, the safest thing to do is to get as far away as possible. Preferably out of the country altogether…

It would be ridiculous to pretend that the situation was all bad. New York, despite its growing malaise, is still a wonderfully stimulating place to live and in my opinion America still offers more freedom, more opportunity, and more of almost anything than any country in the world — perhaps than any country in history. Hardly a person living here — least of all an ungrateful immigrant like myself — doesn’t owe it some major obligation for this bounty. But, morally speaking, does such a debt have to be paid with one’s life?

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956. John Wilcock is still going strong at]


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