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Le crime, un des piliers de la société bourgeoise - Matière et Révolution
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Le crime, un des piliers de la société bourgeoise

Wednesday 18 October 2017, by Robert Paris

Le crime, un des piliers de la société bourgeoise

Karl Marx : Le crime est inséparable de la genèse du capitalisme

Karl Marx contre tous les discours creux, de bonne intention, sur le crime

Crimes dans le monde capitaliste

« Bénéfices secondaires du crime », K. Marx :

« Non seulement le crime est normal, mais il est facile de prouver qu’il a bien des utilités.

Un philosophe produit des idées, un poète des vers, un curé des sermons, un professeur des bouquins, etc. Un criminel produit la criminalité. Mais si les liens entre cette branche soi-disant criminelle de la production et toute l’activité productrice de la société sont examinés de plus près, nous sommes forcés d’abandonner un certain nombre de préjugés. Le criminel produit non seulement la criminalité mais aussi la loi criminelle ; il produit le professeur qui donne des cours au sujet de la loi criminelle et de la criminalité, et même l’inévitable livre de base dans lequel le professeur présente ses idées et qui est une marchandise sur le marché. Il en résulte un accroissement des biens matériels, sans compter le plaisir qu’en retire l’auteur dudit livre.

De plus, le criminel produit tout l’appareil policier ainsi que de l’administration de la justice, détectives, juges, jurys, etc., et toutes ces professions différentes, qui constituent autant de catégories dans la division sociale du travail, développent des habiletés diverses au sujet de l’esprit humain, créent de nouveaux besoins et de nouveaux moyens de les satisfaire. La torture elle-même a permis l’invention de techniques fort ingénieuses, employant une foule d’honnêtes travailleurs dans la production de ces instruments.

Le criminel produit une impression tantôt morale, tantôt tragique, et rend un « service » en piquant au vif les sentiments moraux et esthétiques du publie. Il ne produit pas seulement les livres de droit criminel, la loi criminelle elle-même, et ainsi les législateurs, mais aussi l’art, la littérature, les romans et les drames tragiques dont le thème est la criminalité, tel que Œdipe et Richard III, ou Le Voleur de Schiller, etc. Le criminel interrompt la monotonie et la sécurité de la vie bourgeoise. Il la protège ainsi contre la stagnation et fait émerger cette tension à fleur de peau, cette mobilité de l’esprit sans lesquelles le stimulus de la compétition elle-même serait fort mince. Il donne ainsi une nouvelle impulsion aux forces productrices. Le crime enlève du marché du travail une portion excédentaire de la population, diminue la compétition entre travailleurs, et jusqu’à une certaine limite met un frein à la diminution des salaires, et la guerre contre le crime, de son côté, absorbe une autre partie de cette même population. Le criminel apparaît ainsi comme une de ces « forces équilibrantes » naturelles qui établissent une juste balance et ouvrent la porte à plusieurs occupations soi-disant « utiles ».

L’influence du criminel sur le développement des forces productrices peut être détaillée. Est-ce que le métier de serrurier aurait atteint un tel degré de perfection s’il n’y avait pas eu de voleurs ? Est-ce que la fabrication des chèques bancaires aurait atteint un tel degré d’excellence s’il n’y avait pas eu d’escrocs ? Est-ce que le microscope aurait pénétré avec autant d’efficacité le monde commercial de tous les jours s’il n’y avait pas eu de faux-monnayeurs ? Le développement de la chimie appliquée n’est-il pas dû autant à la falsification des marchandises et aux tentatives pour y remédier, qu’aux efforts productifs honnêtes ? Le crime, par le développement sans fin de nouveaux moyens d’attaquer la propriété, a forcé l’invention de nouveaux moyens de défense, et ses effets productifs sont aussi grands que ceux des grèves par rapport à l’invention des machines industrielles.

Laissant le domaine du crime privé, y aurait-il un marché mondial, est-ce que les nations même existeraient s’il n’y avait pas eu de crimes nationaux ? L’arbre du mal n’est-il pas aussi l’arbre du savoir depuis le temps d’Adam ? Le jour où le Mal disparaîtra, la Société en serait gâtée, si même elle ne disparaît pas ! »

Karl Marx, “From Population, Crime and Pauperism” :

“There must be something rotten in the very core of a social system which increases its wealth without diminishing its misery, and increases in crimes even more rapidly than in numbers. It is true enough that, if we compare the year 1855 with the preceding years, there seems to have occurred a sensible decrease of crime from 1855 to 1858. The total number of people committed for trial, which in 1854 amounted to 29,359, had sunk down to 17,855 in 1858; and the number of convicted had also greatly fallen off, if not quite in the same ratio. This apparent decrease of crime, however, since 1854, is to be exclusively attributed to some technical changes in British jurisdiction; to the Juvenile Offenders’ Act in the first instance, and, in the second instance, to the operation of the Criminal Justice Act of 1855, which authorises the Police Magistrates to pass sentences for short periods, with the consent of the prisoners. Violations of the law are generally the offspring of economical agencies beyond the control of the legislator, but, as the working of the Juvenile Offenders’ Act testifies, it depends to some degree on official society to stamp certain violations of its rules as crimes or as transgressions only. This difference of nomenclature, so far from being indifferent, decides on the fate of thousands of men, and the moral tone of society. Law itself may not only punish crime, but improvise it, and the law of professional lawyers is very apt to work in this direction. Thus, it has been justly remarked by an eminent historian, that the Catholic clergy of the medieval times, with its dark views of human nature, introduced by its influence into criminal legislation, has created more crimes than forgiven sins.

Strange to say, the only part of the United Kingdom in which crime has seriously decreased, say by 50, and even by 75 per cent, is Ireland. How can we harmonise this fact with the public-opinion slang of England, according to which Irish nature, instead of British misrule, is responsible for Irish shortcomings? It is, again, no act on the part of the British ruler, but simply the consequence of a famine, an exodus, and a general combination of circumstances favourable to the demand for Irish labour, that has worked this happy change in Irish nature. However that may be, the significance of the following tabular statements cannot be misunderstood.”

Bernard K. Wolfe, “Criminology and Society” :

ARE several schools of thought in criminology, each picking a segment of the relevant facts for emphasis according to social prejudice and whim. Here we are concerned with outlining those schools which locate the causes of crime within the structure of the individual criminal, usually defining them as hereditary.

1. The straight heredists

Many investigators, determined to make a case for a preconceived conviction, have held that criminality is of and by itself a personality trait, transmitted from one generation to the next. This is the simplest explanation for the conformist, and flourished in its least subtle forms in the early days of crime study (retaining its power today in disguised “scientific” garb). So Lombroso, the founder of the scientific study of crime, advanced his theory of the born-criminal, who was supposed to be set off from the “average” population by peculiar morphological traits of an atavistic nature; that is, the criminal is a throwback to our primitive ancestors, distinguished by low brows, prominent ears, submicrocephaly, etc. The criminal, it seems, is a bloodthirsty ape with a thin veneer of culture.

More recently, Dugdale and Goodard, in their respective studies of the Jukes and the Kallikaks, concluded that, in both of the lines studied, high rates of criminality, alcoholism, and degeneracy were symptoms of bad blood. Again, Lange has attempted to prove that crime is an inherited character by establishing this thesis: among identical twins (from the same ovum, therefore possessing identical genetic backgrounds), when one twin is a criminal, there is great probability that the other will be so also; whereas, with fraternal twins (developed from different eggs, therefore with different genetic constitutions), the probability of concordance in criminality is much lower. Finally, some investigators have attempted to show that crime rates vary from one race to another; it is contended that this variance is accounted for by peculiar racial genetic constitution.

The arguments may be taken up in order:

a. When Lombroso’s theory is put to the test of anthropometric measurement, it is found that criminals tend to differ from control groups (students, soldiers, etc.) only as regards stature and body weight. According to Burt, “defective physical conditions are roughly speaking one and one-fourth times as frequent among delinquent children as they are among non-delinquent children from the same schools and streets”. Can these differences be attributed to heredity? Gillette and Reinhardt state that they are due rather to “differences in occupation and social standing. The criminal classes as a rule come from the more economically insecure elements in the population and hence would apparently not be so well fed and well groomed as a large proportion of the non-criminal population.” Further: “Physical defects may easily be incidental rather than causal. For example, physical defects might be caused by poverty, resulting in early malnutrition, overwork, and so forth, which factors may cause criminal conduct.” Strange that it does not occur to the hereditists to interpret physical earmarks as signs of socio-economic inferiority rather than as evidence of ornery blood. But such an interpretation, of course, would immediately entail a serious criticism of society. Far less disturbing to denounce the ancestry of the lower classes.

b. The hereditists must assume that some sort of criminal instinct is rooted in, and transmitted through, the genes. But if there is no evidence for the existence of even the most elementary “instincts”, the theory that an inherited unit-drive is responsible for such a complex activity as crime is still more speculative. Elliott and Merrill: “It is an established psychological fact that the overt behavior patterns involved in criminal conduct could not possibly be inherited.” The proponents of the theory of inherited criminality disregard the fact that there is cultural as well as genetic inheritance. Attitudes are contagious, although they have no root in the germinal cells. Besides, it cannot be claimed that the illegitimate Kallikak line, for instance, was inferior by inheritance to the legitimate one, if sumply because the two strains differed in the economic dimension, the one far down the scale and the other among the privileged classes. Comparisons can be made only when all variables, including the economic one, are controlled and equatable. Finally, is it justified to assume a fundamental difference between the socially supreme classes – the judges, statesmen, lawyers of the legitimate Kallikaks – and the underdogs – the drunkards, thieves, degenerates of the illegitimate Kallikak offshoot? Surely theft, gangsterism and degeneracy are not basically changed by giving them social sanction and calling them individual initiative, enterprise, ingenuity, etc. A rose by any other name ...

c. Lange too assumes an untenable theory of inherited unit-drives as the motivating forces of criminality, yet even he is forced to admit that these “natural tendencies” turn individuals into criminals “under our present system”. He contends that criminality must be inherited since the identical twins whom he studied tended to be concordant in their criminal behavior, even though they were reared apart. But these twins were without exception workers or members of the slum proletariat. To prove his stand, therefore, it would first have to be disproved that there are certain environmental influences and incentives to crime widespread in the working class as a whole. And other research on identical twins seems to refute his contention, or at least to lay it open to serious question.

d. It is a common fallacy, Brinton notes, “that nearly all Negroes are potential, if not actual law-breakers ...” Yet there is decisive evidence that the high Negro crime rates occur in the worst slum sections, while those Negroes who live in the best residential sections seem to avoid the grim clutches of the law as well as the “superior” whites residing in similar happy surroundings. If the average rates for the Negro population as a whole are somewhat higher than those for the white population as a whole (and this is by no means established), then it is equally true that the Negro is, on the average, socially and economically inferior. The sub-standard position of the Negro worker is not an insignificant factor – nor is the picture complete without mention of Jim Crow discrimination (are the Scottsboro boys born-criminals?) and the arrest of Negroes as “ornery critters” without the slightest provocation, on such charges as vagrancy or idleness. Reid: the causes of Negro crime “lie in the social structure for which the white American is primarily responsible”. The logic of the argument holds, mutatis mutandis, for “high” crime rates among other races.

2. The endocrinologists

Now the emphasis shifts from genes of destiny to glands of destiny. Berman maintains that “glandular preponderances are determining factors in the personality, creating genius and dullard, weakling and giant, cavalier and puritan”. Kretschmer maintained that body build is an endocrine product which determines temperament and criminal conduct. Dr. R.A. Reynolds finds that 10 to 15% of the prisoners at San Quentin show obvious symptoms of endocrine disorder, which he states (in the absence of any data for comparison) is a higher percentage than found in the general population. And Schlapp and Smith dismiss the hereditists contemptuously, but repudiate the environmentalists also; how, they ask the latter (and this is a stock question) can you explain the fact that two children have identical social backgrounds, yet one turns out to be a thug, the other a high official with “distinct idealistic trends”? They insist that the thug suffers from chemical (endocrine) disbalance, caused by a “disbalance of the blood and lymph chemistry of the mother at the time of gestation, in turn producing an inhibition of the formative cell process in the foetus ...”

Here again we might suggest that the difference between thug and idealistic official is largely one of terminology and social approval (by the powers that be). But more important is the question, what causes the endocrine upset in the pregnant mother which affects the embryo so deleteriously? Schlapp and Smith reply: In many cases the mother, during the period of pregnancy, was overworked, in wretched financial circumstances, worried about adequate provision of the coming child, etc. Merely setting the problem back one generation, then, does not obscure the environmental etiology of chemical disbalance. But it also remains to be proved that criminals show abnormally high rates of endocrine disorder. There is no confirming evidence on that score whatsoever. Thus, even if it should be established that these disorders are in some measure hereditary, it would not follow that criminality is hereditary, for it has not been demonstrated that the ductless glands play any part in the production of criminal behavior. The fact that so many social scientists have seized upon endocrine malfunctioning to stigmatize the criminal, betrays a touching solicitude for the inviolacy of the social order.

3. The psychologists: the emphasis upon mental deficiency and abnormality

When the theory of criminality as a unit-character of inheritance became too absurd to hold water, the hereditists were not one whit abashed. It became necessary to sneak heredity in the back door, in more subtle forms. The endeavor became, not to determine whether, after all, the criminal really is a distinct personality – this being one of those principles upon which our mind-sets have been nourished – but rather to elaborate other respects in which the criminal is different; this attempt is so persistent, in the face of ever-growing contradictions, that it can only be a symptom of deep-rooted bias in favor of the social structure, a gesture of conformity and class loyalty. So the psychologists began to emphasize other internal factors considered as heritable – feeblemindedness and insanity – and to relate these to criminality. Thus the genes creep in again, this time at one remove but omnipresent as ever.

Goddard insisted “that at least 50% of all criminals are mentally defective”. Another investigator discovers that “probably 80% of the children in the juvenile courts in Manhattan and Bronx are feebleminded”. Judge Harry Owen (undoubtedly one of the high-minded, idealistic public officials?) laments the fact that “mental deficiency lies equally at the bottom of all crime, the type of crime depending upon the nature and extent of the defect”. And, as the emotions have come to the center of attention in the study of motivation, crime students have adjusted themselves nicely. Is the feeblemindedness argument perhaps a little dated? Very well, the Missouri Crime Survey retorts, changing the stand of the social scientist with chameleon-like rapidity: “It is the psychopathic individual who furnishes us with our delinquent problem – the unstable, neurotic, poorly balanced, weak-willed individual with marked character defects and personality handicaps, but often with good intelligence, is the most difficult problem we have to meet in handling criminals.” Groves and Blanchard consider that “it is indeed a conservative statement when we claim that one-half of the criminal class is so by virtue of mental abnormalities.” Thus, if the criminal is not a moron, he must, according to theory, be a maniac. Either way, the theory runs into difficulties:

a. Those who locate inferior intelligence at the root of criminality have to account for such facts as the following: Doll and Adler both found, by comparing the army white draft and prison inmates of New Jersey and Illinois, that the prison groups and free adult males are about the same in point of intelligence; Murchison, Mohr and Gundlach found, disconcertingly enough, that native white criminal groups are superior in intelligence to the white draft on the Army Alpha tests. In the second place, definitions of normality and feeblemindedness are prejudiced at the outset against those who commit anti-social behavior; for if you define criminality as a symptom of feeblemindedness, then you have no serious difficulty in showing that criminals are feebleminded by definition: Miner, for example, insists that “a borderline case which has also shown serious and repeated delinquency should be classed as feebleminded ...” Only a facile social scientist can make a factor both a symptom and a cause of the same deviation. Besides, no one can pretend to know what is measured by the intelligence tests; the Thomases observe that “tests are devised to measure intelligence whose exact nature is unknown, and then intelligence is defined in terms of performance on the tests”. And the results of these tests are largely a function of the tester’s personal attitudes and criteria: Sutherland shows that as tests are based on more recent data and methods, there is observed a decisive trend toward lower rates of “inferiority” among prisoners. Finally, the criminals cannot be compared to other groups, since they are not equatable so far as the socio-economic variables are concerned.

b. The difficulty in attributing psychopathia to the criminal is exactly what it is in all other attempts to assign deviational traits to him: there is no acceptable definition of normality, no evidence as to standards for the general population, no way to control other variables in the groups compared, no clear-cut meaning for the concepts of insanity and psychopathic personality. In such a situation it is a simple matter for the investigator who is swayed by the compulsives of his milieu to set up biased criteria in favor of that milieu, and to work on the premise that the criminal is abnormal. Here also is a difficulty: Recent Social Trends informs us that “the expectancy of supposedly sane persons born in the state of New York of becoming so mentally diseased in one form or other as to be patients in institutions is 4.5%”; approximately one person out of every 22 becomes a psychopathic patient during his lifetime. With such “normal” rates of insanity, it is hardly likely that criminals are more psychopathic than the general, law-abiding run of people.

* * *

All of the above schools of thought, regardless of their concentration-points, are one in their attempt to internalise the causes of crime. We offer the following considerations as significant:

(1) Frequency of economic crimes

Mary van Kleek: “Crimes against property constitute by far the largest group of offences for which men are serving terms at Sing Sing ...” Recent Social Trends: “Homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery, crimes ‘against the person’, in 1931 averaged 11.1% of the total of major offenses; and burglary, larceny and auto theft, crimes ‘against property’, 88.9%. If robbery be considered a crime ‘against property’, then this latter group accounts for 96.1% of the total.” Glueck: of the delinquents studied, 75% were brought into court for larceny and burglary.

(2) Class origins of the criminal groups

Bonger: “Proportionately the non-possessors are more guilty of crime than the possessors.” Sullenger: “Of 500 cases [of juvenile delinquency] selected at random from 1,245 in Omaha, 225, or 45%, were registered as having received aid from relief agencies.” (In this case social workers characteristically concluded that 46% of the fathers in these dependent families were shiftless anyhow.) Show and McKay: “There is a marked similarity in the variation of rates of family dependency and rates of juvenile delinquency.” Glueck: at least 80-85% of the parents of the delinquents studied were proletarians. Lumpkin: of the correctional school sample studied, “95% came from the classes recognized as least advantaged in income and opportunity, and about two-thirds of these particular homes had been given community assistance of one kind or another.” Caldwell: “67% of the occupations of the parents of the delinquent boy group are below the skilled occupations, which is approximately i5% more than for the general population.” Cyril Burt: 56% of delinquents come from the lower economic strata, whereas only 30% of the general population falls within this category. Lund: the economic classes which furnish 66% of the delinquents are only 26% of the population.

(3) Effects of unemployment and the business cycle

Mary van Kleek: 52% of the Sing Sing prisoners studied were unemployed at the time the crime was committed. Cincinnati Bureau of Governmental Research: “40% of all misdemeanor arrests are of the unemployed classes, which comprise only 8% of the total population of Cincinnati.” Reid: of the social factors in crimes committed by 80 Negro offenders, unemployment was the most frequent, occurring in 59 cases. Winslow: “Findings ... are fairly conclusive with reference to the tendency for crimes against property to increase during periods of economic depression and decrease during prosperity.” Miss van Kleek: in Massachusetts, “fluctuations in employment and in crime synchronize to a remarkable degree in those crimes in which obtaining property [burglary and robbery] or the lack of it, as in vagrancy, is a constant factor.” Dorothy Thomas: “There is a marked similarity in the variation of rates of family dependency and rates of juvenile delinquents ...” Magistrate Brodsky, of the Manhattan Family Court: “I should say that in about 98% of the cases now coming before the court, unemployment is the main factor.” California State Unemployment Commission: “All major crimes committed by adults, and all serious offenses charged against juveniles show a sharp increase since 1930.”

The above facts were selected at random from a great mass of available data. They seem to warrant these conclusions:

1. Crimes against property, i.e., crimes with an economic motive, form the great bulk of all crimes.

2. A disproprotionately large amount of criminals come from the lower economic classes.

3. Unemployment is a serious cause of crime.

How would the hereditists analyze these facts ? Are the underdogs perhaps more feebleminded, more psychopathic, cursed to a greater degree by degenerate ancestry, than the nice people? Of course: here the class logic works beautifully: crime is a symptom of abnormality, of inferiority; therefore, the lower classes are abnormal, inferior. It might have been expected, in the face of the above facts, that some investigators would come to doubt whether a thyroid deficiency or a skeleton in the family closet explains the simple fact that a man steals bread when he is hungry, or that a child nourished on the degeneracy of slum life turns out to be a vicious, anti-social type. A new trend of thought has appeared: that which we may call the eclectic school. Their special contribution to the problem has been confusion worse confounded. For, they tell us, the environment is undoubtedly of prime importance in tracing out criminal motivation – but there are innumerable factors to be taken into account when analyzing the social environment; we must consider them all indiscriminately.

Ploscowe:

“The professional criminal is the final product of a long series of demoralizing social influences. His attitudes may be understood only in terms of these influences, and his actions only in terms of his attitudes.”

Chapin:

“The history of thought about crime causation has passed beyond the hypothesis that the chief cause is the defective-minded individual, and it has now arrived at the hypothesis that environmental factors are the chief causes of crime.”

This is encouraging; but Ploscowe immediately cautions us that crime is “a complex phenomenon and its complexity must be taken into account both in searching for causes and also in suggesting methods of treatment”. There are so many causal factors, Healy and Bronner insist, that any “unitary conception” of crime therapy would be sadly inadequate.

What are these “complex causes”? Watts elaborates:

“Any attempt to explain ... changes in the criminal rate on the basis of a ‘single cause’ proves inadequate. It must be sought through an examination of the total situation – including such factors as changes in the age and sex groupings of the population; nationality and cultural backgrounds; economic status; growth and shifting of population centers; world disturbances, wars, business depressions, famines, and political upheavals; the passage of new legislation.”

Recent Social Trends gives us a list of contributing factors which covers admirably every aspect of American history since 1776. White, who recognizes that “the great majority of crimes are committed against property”, becomes more definite:

“The correlation of felonies and certain other social factors, particularly economic factors, suggests that any action by social agencies and the city government to improve living standards, housing conditions, health, and free employment service might have the effect of reducing the felony rate. Some of these improvements would depend considerably upon both rates and wages and regularity of employment. Whatever concerns the functioning of the present system of private property is apparently a factor in the crime situation.”

We seem to be getting warm here. But, if the problem is really so complex, we must proceed slowly, with infinite caution; what we need, to understand the multitude of causal factors, is “thorough, consistent, and scientific study” (Anderson in the Wickersham Report)! Understanding must precede action; social science offers us, therefore, as its contribution to crime prevention, a project for the accumulation of more data. Thus the need for immediate drastic activity is avoided – the “independence” of the investigator is extended; but this attitude is, in objective results, nothing but passive acceptance of the status quo: dominant social principles and institutions are freed once more from the rigorous attack which a courageous social science would have to launch upon them. The demand for more data has been the keynote of the social sciences since their very inception (with, of course, the prospect of “practical application” – once understanding has been achieved!), but these sciences have, unfortunately, played no part whatsoever in determining the direction of social development – other than that of “scientific” sanction of That Which Is. If investigators hesitantly suggest that slum clearance, housing projects, higher wages, etc., would be of some help in eliminating crime, their capitalist overseers are not particularly worried; capitalism cajoles its sincere reformers but never so much as considers their reforms. “Yes,” they agree; “but right now you’d better get us more data; the facts are inadequate.” And the scientists loyally bury their heads in the sand once more.

It cannot be denied, of course, that the causes of crime are many and varied. But to lump all possible factors together indiscriminately is to obscure an elementary truth. Broken homes, family tensions, slum areas, gang activities, unemployment and insufficient income, lack of recreational facilities, poor educational methods and opportunities – all these things are indubitably involved in the etiology of crime. But – and this is what the eclectics fail to see – this is just another way of saying: Capitalism causes crime. For what are all these “complex” factors but aspects of our decaying bourgeois culture? What are they but crying illustrations of an outmoded system of private property? “No,” the “progressive” sociologist answers; “the economic factor is but one of a bewildering number of equally important causes.”

The Marxian viewpoint is invaluable here because it shows us the interrelation of causes; it makes clear which factors are primary, which derivative; it explains how various elements are intertwined in a dynamic cultural pattern. The Marxist does not insist that all crimes are economic in character (although the evidence indicates that the great majority of crimes are such) ; he does, however, make it plain that the economic structure of society determines the cultural facts which orthodox theorists hold are non-economic in essence. Is the broken home a contributing factor in the origin of crime? Very well, but is not the broken home a manifestation of decay of capitalist culture, particularly prevalent in those unprivileged areas where unemployment, etc., inevitably disrupt normal family relations? Are slum clearance and housing projects important? Quite so: but the slum is an inevitable product of capitalist development, and the utopianism of hoping to achieve adequate housing under an outmoded system of private property is evident from what has come out of the none-too-laudable housing schemes under the New Deal. Poor educational opportunities, lack of recreational facilities – what are these but proof-by-example of class oppression? Mere enumeration of possible causes is not enough; what is necessary is a social theory (conceiving of society both as structure and as process) which indicates which factors are basic, which of a reflex or secondary nature. The Marxian analysis, which relates cultural factors to the economic bedrock of society, makes it clear that the social scientists who enumerate multitudinous factors as isolated causes are guilty of the therapeutic error of symptom treatment: they are attempting to cope with factors (education, housing, unemployment, etc.) which are on the periphery of social reality. The primary fact is capitalist class society, organized on the basis of private property and private profit; from this basic economic fact flow the surface evils with which muddled sociologists are preoccupied. Economic crisis, now such a fundamental feature of our anachronistic property relations, admittedly produces devastating results in terms of personal suffering and criminal activity; but, Recent Social Trends hastens to caution us, “whether these recurrent episodes of widespread unemployment, huge financial losses and demoralization are an inescapable feature of the form of economic organization which the western world has evolved can be answered only by further study and experiment”!

We noted at the outset that social scientists attribute to dominant principles (the profit motive, individual initiative, etc.) and to approved modes of behavior an enduring normality; most of these investigators, it seems, consider the social structure only in its spatial, static aspect (implying by this attitude that the present structure must be permanent) ; they are thus able to abstract certain factors and consider them in isolation. But to determine the causal relations between these factors, to uncover the dynamic aspect of society and of its definition qf normality – these are the functions which only Marxism can fulfill.

The Marxist recognizes that in our class society, with the controlling social stratum enabled through its monopoly of the means of production to exploit the non-owning groups in the interests of its own material profit, there exists a fundamental clash of interests, which takes overt form in such phenomena as strikes, revolutions – and criminal acts. All of these expressions of class conflict represent, more or less directly, an attack upon the right of private property by the non-owning, or working, class. Individual criminal acts are products of direct economic oppression, or of attitudes and sentiments engendered by class divisions, or of both. The principles of contemporary social organization (which find expression in our legal system) are dominated by outmoded concepts and traditions, whose progressive nature has been transformed into a reactionary, socially retarding, one; these principles, because society is dynamic, have become only restraints upon the activities, both social and economic, of the great majority of people. Since there is a clash between social need and lagging legalistic restrictions (whose purpose is to safeguard inviolate private property), with no prospect of adjustment, there is produced “discomfort, irritation, and unrest which find natural expression in disrespect for government and in disregard for or resistance to law” (Anderson). Crime and organized revolt, then, are but two expressions, the one primitive and futile, the other conscious and purposive, of the same fundamental class conflict. This conflict grows out of the disparity between the competitive principle of private property, exercised in the interests of a distinct minority, and the demands of social welfare in the present era of mass production. The development of American capitalism has produced the widest extremes of wealth and poverty in the western world; created enormous slum districts and underprivileged areas; participated in one or more wars in every generation; formulated a most elaborate system of checks and restraints upon individual and social conduct, while lawlessness and crime have been ever increasing; has, in the sacred interests of private profit, pulled the economic underpinnings of most people out from under them, leaving in their place the tensions of insecurity which sooner or later resolve themselves in organized revolt, and always assert themselves in criminal behavior. And, as the breach between classes has widened, as the “fundamental unity of interest” between boss and worker has become more and more ephemeral, the ideological checks upon anti-social behavior, dispensed from school, pulpit and press, have begun to slip. More and more repressive laws have been created, more and more agencies of enforcement established. That is, as the ties of custom break down, criminal attacks upon property rights must be prevented by the principle of deterrence through fear. The present period of Fascist development, vigilante committees for the protection of law and order, etc., testifies to the need for forcible oppression, to the breakdown of customary servility. Capitalist society thus necessitates in ever-increasing degree the policing of one class by the agents of the other. But in defending its material interests through repression, the capitalist class is laying the psychological, as well as the economic, basis for crime and rebellion. “... the bourgeoisie produces its own grave-diggers.”

From an historical perspective, then, rising crime rates are an index of social instability and a precursor of rebellion. Rozengart (Le Crime Comme Produit Social et Economique):

“... revolt can take different forms. Prepared in advance, organized as much as possible, and executed by the entire working class in an open and audacious manner, it is called revolution; but carried out by one or a few individuals in a hurried manner, with fear and in the shadow of the night ... it is called crime.”

Surely, from the therapeutic point of view, the solution lies, not in family-welfare agencies or elaborate clinics designed to deal with symptoms, but in the provision of employment and security. That capitalism can no longer supply even these elementary prerequisites is now plain enough. The great majority of crimes are motivated by inferior economic position, by elementary need. And most of the remaining types of crime are produced by attitudes and sentiments engendered by class divisions. The gangster merely expresses the dominant competitive power-psychology without the sanction of social superiority (see Louis Adamic’s account of the development of a Capone type of racketeer in Grandsons). Our much-publicized public enemies are underdogs afflicted with the drives of the entrepreneur. And the fact that much public sympathy was on the side of John Dillinger in his escapades to evade the police indicates that most common people do not grasp any fundamental distinction between the Capones and the Rockefeller-Mellon boys. The venom released against public enemies by the capitalist press indicates that the Big Boys are wrathful because a few enterprising bottom dogs have been stealing their fire. In short: Crime is an inevitable outgrowth of capitalism; antisocial behavior remains anti-social, whether it be called the indi-vidual initiative of Morgan or the lawless racketeering of Capone.

In conclusion: the existence of economic disparities between classes, the ideology of the “cash nexus between man and man,” are the prime social incentives to crime. The courageous social scientist must accept the necessity for the abolition of the acquisitive society, with all its legalistic and ideological strings. He must recognize, further, that the act of social transformation must be accomplished by those in whose interests it is undertaken: the working-class. The fundamental therapeutic principle is that of revolutionary social change. And from the historical viewpoint, the crime rates may well be taken as an indication that the underdogs are at long last beginning to bestir themselves: it is significant that as crime rates increase, so also do the purposive, directed activities of the working class – strikes, organization and political activity. Crime and revolt are two aspects of the same ferment, which spells doom for a capitalism grown reactionary.

Crime, The German Ideology by Marx and Engels, Chapter Three: Saint Max

Whereas in the Old Testament the object of our edification was unique” logic in the framework of the past, we are now confronted by the present time in the framework of “unique” logic. We have already thrown sufficient light on the “unique” in his manifold antediluvian “refractions” — as man, Caucasian Caucasian, perfect Christian, truth of humane liberalism, negative unity of realism and idealism, etc., etc. Along with the historical construction of the “ego”, the “ego” itself also collapses. This “ego”, the end of the historical construction, is no “corporeal” ego, carnally procreated by man and woman, which needs no construction in order to exist; it is an “ego” spiritually created by two categories, “idealism” and “realism,” a merely conceptual existence.

The New Testament, which has already been dissolved together with its premise, the Old Testament, possesses a domestic economy that is literally as wisely designed as that of the Old, namely the same “with various transformations”, as can be seen from the following table:

I. Peculiarity = the ancients, child, Negro, etc., in their truth, i.e., development from the “world of things” to one’s “own” outlook and taking possession of this world. Among the ancients this led to riddance of the world, among the moderns — riddance of spirit, among the liberals — riddance of the individual, among the communists — riddance of property, among the — humane [liberals] — riddance of God: hence it led in general to the category of riddance (freedom) as the goal. The negated category of riddance is peculiarity, which of course has no other content than this riddance. Peculiarity is the philosophically constructed quality of all the qualities of Stirner s individual.

II. The owner — as such Stirner has penetrated beyond the untruthfulness of the world of things and the world of spirit; hence the moderns, the phase of Christianity within the logical development: youth, Mongol. — Just as the moderns divide into the triply determined free ones, so the owner falls into three further determinations:

1. My power, corresponding to political liberalism, where the truth of right is brought to light and right as the power of “man” is resolved in power as the right of the “ego”. The struggle against the state as such.

2. My intercourse, corresponding to communism, whereby the truth of society is brought to light and society (in its forms of prison society, family, state, bourgeois society, etc.) as intercourse mediated by “man” is resolved in the intercourse of the “ego”.

3. My self-enjoyment, corresponding to critical, humane liberalism, in which the truth of criticism, the consumption, dissolution and truth of absolute self-consciousness, comes to light as self-consumption, and criticism as dissolution in the interests of man is transformed into dissolution in the interests of the “ego”.

The peculiarity of the individuals was resolved, as we have seen, in the universal category of peculiarity, which was the negation of riddance, of freedom in general. A description of the special qualities of the individual, therefore, can again only consist in the negation of this “freedom” in its three “refractions”; each of these negative freedoms is now converted by its negation into a positive quality. Obviously, just as in the Old Testament riddance of the world of things and the world of thoughts was already regarded as the acquisition of both these worlds, so here also it is a matter of course that this peculiarity or acquisition of things and thoughts is in its turn represented as perfect riddance.

The “ego” with its property, its world, consisting of the qualities just “pointed out”, is owner. As self-enjoying and self-consuming, it is the “ego” raised to the second power, the owner of the owner, it being as much rid of the owner as the owner belongs to it; the result is “absolute negativity” in its dual determination as indifference, “unconcern"’ and negative relation to itself, the owner. Its property in respect of the world and its riddance of the world is now transformed into this negative relation to itself, into this self-dissolution and self-ownership of the owner. The ego, thus determined, is —

III. The unique, who again, therefore, has no other content than that of owner plus the philosophical determination of the “negative relation to himself”. The profound Jacques pretends that there is nothing to say about this unique, because it is a corporeal, not constructed individual. But the matter here is rather the same as in the case of Hegel’s absolute idea at the end of the Logik and of absolute personality at the end of the Encyklopädie, about which there is likewise nothing to say because the construction contains everything that can be said about such constructed personalities. Hegel knows this and does not mind admitting it, whereas Stirner hypocritically maintains that his “unique” ‘s also something different from the constructed unique alone, but something that cannot be expressed, viz., a corporeal individual. This hypocritical appearance vanishes ‘f the thing is reversed, if the unique is defined as owner, and it is said of the owner that he has the universal category of peculiarity as his universal determination. This not only says everything that is “sayable” about the unique, but also what he is in general — minus the fantasy of Jacques le bonhomme about him.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of the unique! How incomprehensible are his thoughts, and his ways past finding out! “ [Romans 11:33] "Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him!” (Job 26:14.)

Note 1.

“If You allow yourself to be judged right by someone else, then you must equally allow yourself to be judged wrong by him. If you receive justification and reward from him, then expect also accusation and punishment from him. Right is accompanied by wrong, Legality by crime. Who — are — you? — You — are — a — criminal!!” (p. 262).

The code civil is accompanied by the code pénal, the code pénal by the code de commerce. Who are you? You are a commerçant!

Saint Sancho could have spared us this nerve-shattering surprise. In his case the words: “If you allow yourself to be judged right by someone else, then you must equally allow yourself to be judged wrong by him” have lost all meaning if they are intended to add a new definition; for one of his earlier equations already states: If you allow yourself to be judged right by someone else, then you allow yourself to be judged by alien right, hence your wrong.

A. Simple Canonisation of Crime and Punishment

a) Crime

As regards crime, we have already seen that this is the name for a universal category of the egoist in agreement with himself, the negation of the holy, sin. In the previously given antitheses and equations concerning examples of the holy (state, right, law), the negative relation of the ego to these holies, or the copula, could also be called crime, just as about Hegelian logic, which is likewise an example of the holy, Saint Sancho can also say: I am not Hegelian logic, I am a sinner against Hegelian logic. Since he was speaking of right, state. etc., he should now have continued: another example of sin or crime are what are called juridical or political crimes. Instead of this, he again informs us in detail that these crimes are

sin against the holy,

sin against the fixed idea,

sin against the spectre,

sin against “Man”.

“Criminals exist only against something holy” (p. 268).

"Only owing to the holy does the criminal code exist” (p. 318).

"Crimes arise from the fixed idea” (p. 269).

"One sees here that it is again ‘man’ who also creates the concept of crime, of sin, and thereby also of right.” (Previously it was the reverse.) “A man in whom I do not recognise man is a sinner” p, 268).

Note 1.

“Can I assume that someone commits a crime against me” (this is asserted in opposition to the French people in the revolution), “without also assuming that he ought to act as I consider right? And actions of this kind I call the right, the good, etc., those deviating from this — a crime. Accordingly I think that the others ought to aim with me at the same goal ... as beings who should obey some sort of ‘rational’ law” (Vocation! Designation! Task! The Holy!!!). “I lay down what man is and what it means to act truly as a man, and I demand from each that this law should become for hint the norm and the ideal; in the reverse case he proves himself a sinner and criminal ...” (pp. [267,] 268).

At the same time, he sheds an anxious tear at the grave of those “proper people” who in the epoch of terror were slaughtered by the sovereign people in the name of the holy. Further, by means of an example, he shows how the names of real crimes can I be construed from this holy-point of view.

“If, as in the revolution, this spectre, man, is understood to mean the ‘good citizen’, then the familiar ‘political transgressions and crimes’ are brought about from this concept of man.” (He should have said: this concept, etc., brings up the familiar crimes) (p. 268).

A brilliant example )f the extent to which credulity is Sancho’s predominant quality in the section on crime is furnished by his transformation of the sansculottes of the revolution into “good citizens” of Berlin through a synonymical abuse of the word citoyen. According to Saint Max, “good citizens and loyal officials” are inseparable. Hence “Robespierre, for example, Saint-Just, and so on” would be “loyal officials”, whereas Danton was responsible for a cash deficit and squandered state money. Saint Sancho has made a good start for a history of the revolution for the Prussian townsman and villager.

Note 2. Having thus described for us political and juridical crime as an example of crime in general — namely his category of crime, sin, negation, enmity. insult, contempt for the holy, disreputable behaviour towards the holy — Saint Sancho can now confidently declare:

“In crime, the egoist has hitherto asserted himself and mocked the, holy” (p. 319)

In this passage all the crimes hitherto committed are assigned to the credit of the egoist in agreement with himself, although subsequently we shall have to transfer a few of them to the debit side. Sancho imagines that hitherto crimes have been committed only in order to mock at “the holy” and to assert oneself not against things, but against the holy aspect of things. Because the theft committed by a poor devil who appropriates someone else’s taler can be put in the category of a crime against the law, for that reason the poor devil committed the theft just because of a desire to break the law. In exactly the same way as in an earlier passage Jacques le bonhomme imagined that laws are issued only for the sake of the holy, and that thieves are sent to prison only for the sake of the holy.

b) Punishment

Since we are at present concerned with juridical and political crimes we discover in this connection that such crimes “in the ordinary sense” usually involve a punishment, or, as it is written, “the wages of sin is death”. [Romans 6:23] After what we have already learned about crime, it follows, of course, that punishment is the self-defence and resistance of the holy to those who desecrate it.

Note 1.

“Punishment has sense only when it is intended as expiation for violating something holy” (p. 316). In punishing, ,we commit the folly of desiring to satisfy right, a spectre” (the holy). “The holy must” here “defend itself against man”. (Saint Sancho here “commits the folly” of mistaking “Man” for “the unique ones”, the “proper egos”, etc.) (p. 318).

Note 2.

“Only owing to the holy does the criminal code exist and it disintegrates of itself when punishment is abandoned” (p. 318).

What Saint Sancho really wants to say is: Punishment falls into decay of itself if the criminal code is abandoned, i.e., punishment only exists owing to the criminal code. “But is not” a criminal code that only exists owing to punishment “all nonsense, and is not” punishment that exists only owing to the criminal code “also nonsense"? (Sancho contra Hess, Wigand, [Max Stirner, “Recensenten Stirners"] p. 186.) Sancho here mistakes the criminal code for a textbook of theological morality.

Note 3.

As an example of how crime arises from the fixed idea, there is the following:

“The sanctity of marriage is a fixed idea. From this sanctify it follows that infidelity is a crime, and — therefore a certain law on marriage” (to the great annoyance of the “G[erman] Chambers” and of the “Emperor of all R[ussians]”, not to speak of the “Emperor of Japan” and the “Emperor of China”, and particularly the “Sultan”) “imposes a shorter or longer term of punishment for that” (p. 269).

Frederick William !V, who thinks he is able to promulgate laws in accordance with the holy, and therefore is always at loggerheads with the whole world, can comfort himself with the thought that in our Sancho he has found at least one man imbued with faith in the state. Let Saint Sancho just compare the Prussian marriage law, which exists only in the head of its author, with the provisions of the Code civil, which are operative in practice, and he will be able to discover the difference between holy and worldly marriage laws.[94] In the Prussian phantasmagoria, for reasons of state, the sanctity of marriage is supposed to be enforced both upon husband and wife; in French practice, where the wife is regarded as the private property of her husband, only the wife can be punished for adultery, and then only on the demand of the husband, who exercises his property right.

B. Appropriation of Crime and Punishment Through Antithesis

Crime in the sense of man = Violation of man’s law (of the state’s declaration of will, of state power), p. 259 et seq. Crime in my sense = Violation of my law (of my declaration of will, of my power), p. 256 and passim.

These two equations are counterposed as antitheses and derive simply from the opposition of “man” and the “ego”. They merely sum up what has been said already.

The holy punishes the “ego” — I punish the ‘ego” Crime = hostility to Man’s law (the Holy). — Hostility = crime against my law. The criminal the enemy or opponent of the holy (the Holy as a moral person). — Enemy or opponent = criminal against the “ego”, the corporeal. Punishment = self-defence of the holy against the “ego”. — My self-defence = My punishment of the “ego”. Punishment = satisfaction (vengeance) of man in relation to the “ego”. — Satisfaction (vengeance) = My punishment of the “ego”,

In the fast antithesis, satisfaction can also be called self-satisfaction, since it is the satisfaction of me, in opposition to the satisfaction of man.

If in the above antithetical equations only the first member is taken into account, then one obtains the following series of simple antitheses where the thesis always contains the holy, universal, alien name, while the anti-thesis always contains the worldly, personal, appropriated name.

Crime — Hostility. Criminal — Enemy or opponent. Punishment — My defence. Punishment — Satisfaction, vengeance, self-satisfaction.

In an instant we shall say a few words about these equations and antitheses which are so simple that even a “born simpleton” (p. 434) can master this “unique” method of thought in five minutes. But first a few more quotations in addition to those given earlier. Note 1.

“in relation to me you can never be a criminal but only an opponent” (p. 268),and “enemy” in the same sense on p. 256. — Crime as the hostility of man is illustrated on page 268 by the example of the “enemies of the Fatherland”. — “punishment ought” (a moral postulate) “to be replaced by satisfaction, which again cannot aim at satisfying right or justice, but at giving us satisfaction” (p. 318).

Note 2.

While Saint Sancho attacks the halo (the windmill) of existing power, he does not even understand this power, let alone come to grips with it; he only advances the moral demand that the relation of the ego to it should be formally changed. (See “Logic”)

“I am forced to put up with the fact” (bombastic assurance) “that he” (viz. My enemy, who has a few million people behind him) “treats me as his enemy; but I shall never permit him to treat me as his creature or to make his reason or unreasonableness my guiding principle” (p. 256, where he allows the aforesaid Sancho a very restricted freedom, namely the choice between allowing himself to be treated as his creature or of suffering the 3,300 lashes imposed by Merlin on his posaderas. This freedom is allowed him by any criminal code which. it is true, does not first ask the aforesaid Sancho in what form it should declare its hostility to him)."But even if you impress your opponent as a force” (being for him an “impressive force”) “You do not on that account become a sanctified authority; unless he is a wretch. He is not obliged to respect you and pay regard to you even if he has to be on his guard against you and your power” (p. 258).

Here Saint Sancho himself appears as a “wretch” when with the greatest seriousness he haggles [pun on the word Schächer which means “wretch” or “robber”, while schachern means “to barter” to haggle"] about the difference between “to impress” and “to be respected”, “to be on one’s guard” and to “have regard for” — a difference of a sixteenth part at most. When Saint Sancho is “on his guard” against someone,

“he gives himself over to reflection, and he has an object which he has in view, which he respects and which inspires him with reverence and fear” (p. 115).

In the above equations, punishment, vengeance, satisfaction, etc., are depicted as coming only from me; inasmuch as Saint Sancho is the object of satisfaction, the antitheses can be turned round: then self-satisfaction is transformed into another-getting-satisfaction-with-regard-to-me or the prejudicing-of-my-satisfaction.

Note 3.

The very same ideologists who could imagine that right, law, state, etc., arose from a general concept, in the final analysis perhaps the concept of man, and that they were put into effect for the sake of this concept — these same ideologists can, of course, also imagine that crimes are committed purely because of a wanton attitude towards some concept, that crimes, in general, are nothing but making mockery of concepts and are only punished in order to do justice to the insulted concepts. Concerning this we have already said what was necessary in connection with right, and still earlier in connection with hierarchy, to which we refer the reader.

In the above-mentioned antitheses, the canonised definitions — crime, punishment, etc. — are confronted with the name of another definition, which Saint Sancho in his favourite fashion extracts from these first definitions and appropriates for himself. This new definition, which, as we have said, appears here as a mere name, being worldly is supposed to contain the direct individual relation and express the factual relations. (See “Logic”.) The history of right shows that in the earliest, most primitive epochs these individual, factual relations in their crudest form directly constituted right. With the development of civil society, hence with the development of private interests into class interests, the relations of right underwent changes and acquired a civilised form. They were no longer regarded as individual, but as universal relations. At the same time, division of labour placed the protection of the conflicting interests of separate individuals into the hands of a few persons, whereby the barbaric enforcement of right also disappeared. Saint Sancho’s entire criticism of right in the above-mentioned antitheses is limited to declaring the civilised form of. legal relations and the civilised division of labour to be the fruit of the “fixed idea”, of the holy, and, on the other hand, to claiming for himself the barbaric expression of relations of right and the barbaric method of settling conflicts. For him it is all only a matter of names; he does not touch on the content itself, since he does not know the real relations on which these different forms of right are based, and in the juridical expression of class relations perceives only the idealised names of those barbaric relations. Thus, in Stirner’s declaration of will, we rediscover the feud; in hostility, self-defence, etc. — a copy of club-law and practice of the old feudal mode of life; in satisfaction, vengeance, etc. — the jus talionis, the old German Gewere, compensatio, satisfactio — in short, the chief elements of the leges barbarorum and consuetudines feudorum, which Sancho has appropriated for himself and taken to his heart not from libraries, but from the tales of his former master about Amadis of Gaul. In the final analysis, therefore, Saint Sancho again arrives merely at an impotent moral injunction that everybody should himself obtain satisfaction and carry out punishment. He believes Don Quixote’s assurance that by a mere moral injunction he can without more ado convert the material forces arising from the division of labour into personal forces. How closely juridical relations are linked with the development of these material forces due to the division of labour is already clear from the historical development of the power of the law courts and the complaints of the feudal lords about the legal development. (See, e.g., Monteil. loc. cit., XIV, XV siècle) It was just in the epoch between the rule of the aristocracy and the rule of the bourgeoisie, when the interests of two classes came into conflict, when trade between the European nations began to be important, and hence international relations themselves assumed a bourgeois character, it was just at that time that the power of the courts of law began to be important, and under the rule of the bourgeoisie, when this broadly developed division of labour becomes absolutely essential, the power of these courts reaches its highest point. What the servants of the division of labour, the judges and still more the professores juris, imagine in this connection is a matter of the greatest indifference.

C. Crime in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Sense

We saw above that crime in the ordinary sense, by being falsified, was put to the credit of the egoist in the extraordinary sense. Now this falsification becomes obvious. The extraordinary egoist now finds that he commits only extraordinary crimes, which have to be set against the ordinary crimes. Therefore we debit the aforesaid egoist with the ordinary crimes, which have been previously entered into the credit column.

The struggle of the ordinary criminals against other people’s property can also be expressed as follows (although this holds good of any competitor):

that they — “seek other people’s goods” (p. 265),

seek holy goods,

seek the holy, and in this way the ordinary criminal

is transformed into a “believer” (p. 265).

But this reproach which the egoist in the extraordinary sense levels against the criminal in the ordinary sense is only an apparent one — for it is indeed he himself who strives for the halo of the whole world. The real reproach that he levels against the criminal is not that he seeks “the holy”, but that he seeks “goods”.

After Saint Sancho has built himself a “world of his own, a heaven”, namely this time an imaginary world of feuds and knights-errant, transferred to the modern world, after he has at the same time given documentary evidence of his difference, as a knightly criminal, from ordinary criminals, after this he once more undertakes a crusade against “dragons and ostriches, hobgoblins”, “ghosts, apparitions and fixed ideas”. His faithful servant, Szeliga, gallops reverently after him. As they wend their way, however, there occurs the astounding adventure of the unfortunate ones who were being dragged off to some place they had no wish to go to, as described in Chapter XXII of Cervantes. For while our knight-errant and his servant Don Quixote were jogging along their path, Sancho raised his eyes and saw coming towards him some dozen men on foot manacled and bound together by a long chain, accompanied by a commissar and four gendarmes, belonging to the holy Hermandad, to the Hermandad which is holy, to the holy. When they came close, Saint Sancho very politely asked the guards to be so kind as to tell him why these people were being led in chains. — They are convicts of His Majesty sent to work at Spandau,[you do not have to know any more. — How, cried Saint Sancho, men being forced? Is it possible that the king can use force against someone’s “proper ego"? In that case I take upon myself the vocation of putting a stop to this force. “The behaviour of the state is violent action, and it calls this justice. Violent action of an individual, however, it calls crime.” Thereupon Saint Sancho first of all began to admonish the prisoners, saying that they ought not to grieve, that although they were “not free”, they were still their “own”, and that although maybe their “bones” might “crack” under the lash of the whip and that perhaps they might even have a “leg torn off”, yet, he said, you will triumph over all that, for “no one can bind your will"! “And I know for certain that there is no witchcraft in the world that could direct and compel the will, as some simpletons imagine; for the will is our free arbitrary power and there is no magic herb or spell that can subdue it.” Yes, “your will no one can bind and your ill will remains free!”

But since this sermon did not pacify the convicts, who began one after the other to relate how they had been unjustly condemned, Sancho said: “Dear brethren, from what you have related it has become clear to me that, although you have been punished for your crimes, yet the punishment which you are suffering gives you little pleasure and that hence you are reluctant to receive it and do not look forward to it. And it is highly possible that the cause of your ruin is pusillanimity on the rack in one case, poverty in another, lack of favour in a third and, finally, the judge’s unfair judgment, and that you have not been given the justice that was your due, ‘your right’. All this compels me to show you why heaven sent me into the world. But since the wisdom of the egoist in agreement with himself prescribes not doing by force what can be done by agreement, I hereby request the commissar and gendarmes to release you and let you go your ways. Moreover, my dear gendarmes, these unfortunates have done you no harm. It does not behove egoists in agreement with themselves to become the executioners of other unique ones who have done them no harm. Evidently, with you ‘the category of the one who has been robbed stands in the forefront’. Why do you show such ‘zeal’ in your actions ‘against crime’? ‘Verily, verily I say unto you, you are enthusiastic for morality, you are filled with the idea of morality’, ‘You persecute all those who are hostile to it’ — ‘Owing to your oath as officials’, you are bringing these poor convicts ‘to prison’, you are the holy! Therefore release these people voluntarily. if you do not, you will have to reckon with me, who overthrows nations with one puff of the living ego’, who ‘commits the most unmeasured desecration’ and ‘is not afraid even of the Moon’.”

“This is a fine piece of impudence indeed!,, cried the commissar. ,You’d do better to put that basin straight on your head and be on your way!” Saint Sancho, however, infuriated by this Prussian rudeness, couched his lance and rushed at the commissar with as much speed as the “apposition” is capable of, so that he immediately threw him to the ground. There ensued a general mêlée, during which the convicts freed themselves from their chains, a gendarme threw Szeliga-Don Quixote into the Landwehrgraben or sheep’s ditch [Schafgraben], and Saint Sancho performed the most heroic feats in his struggle against the holy. A few minutes later, the gendarmes were scattered, Szeliga crept out of the ditch and the holy was abolished for the time being.

Then Saint Sancho gathered round him the liberated convicts and addressed them as follows (pp. 265, 266 of “the book”):

“What is the ordinary criminal” (the criminal in the ordinary sense) “but a man who has committed the fatal mistake” (a fatal story-teller for the citizen and the countryman!) “of striving after what belongs to the people instead of seeking what is his own? He has desired the contemptible” (a general muttering among the convicts at this moral judgment) “goods of another, he has done what believers do who aspire to what belongs to God” (the criminal as a noble soul). “What does the priest do who admonishes the criminal? He tells him of the great violation of right he has committed by his action in desecrating what the state has sanctified, the property of the state, which also includes the life of the state’s subjects. Instead of this the priest might have done better to reproach the criminal with having besmirched himself” (titters among the convicts at this egoistical appropriation of banal clerical phraseology) “by not despising the alien but regarding it as worthy of being robbed” (murmuring among the convicts). “He could have done so, were he not a priest” (one of the convicts: “In the ordinary sense!”). I, however, “speak with the criminal as with an egoist, and he will be ashamed” (shameless, loud cheers from the criminals, who do not wish to he called upon to feel shame), “not because he has committed a crime against your laws and your goods, but because he considered it worth while to circumvent your laws” (this refers only to “circumvention in the ordinary sense”; elsewhere, however, “I go round a rock so long as I am unable to blow it up” and I “circumvent”, for example, even the “censorship”), “and to desire your goods” (renewed cheers); “he will be ashamed ...

Gines de Passamonte, the arch-thief, who in general was not very patient, shouted: “Are we then to do nothing but feel ashamed, be submissive, when a priest in the extraordinary sense ‘admonishes’ us?”

“He will be ashamed,” continues Sancho, “,that he did not despise you, together with what is yours, that he was too little of an egoist.” (Sancho here applies an alien measure to the egoism of the criminal. In consequence, a general bellowing breaks out among the convicts; in some confusion, Sancho gives way, turning with a rhetorical gesture to the absent “good burghers”.) “But you cannot speak to him egoistically, for you have not the stature of a criminal, you ... perpetrate nothing.”

Gines again interrupts: “What credulity, my good man! Our prison warders perpetrate all kinds of crimes, they embezzle, they defraud, they commit rape [... twelve pages of manuscript missing here ...]

Dora B. Montefiore 1919, “The Crimes of Imperialism” :

When sentencing recently a W.R.A.F. girl clerk of 21 for attempting the life of her “war baby,” the Old Bailey Judge is reported to have remarked: “Infant life is so sacred that we cannot afford to let the opinion get about that attempts to do away with infant life can be passed over lightly.” We Socialists are prepared fully to accept the dictum of the learned Judge that infant life is supremely sacred, and that it is bad for the moral tone of the world that the contrary opinion should get about; and under that formula we are further prepared to indict every Imperialist government existing at the present time in the world as “baby-killers,” as destroyers of what should be looked upon and cared for as supremely sacred. Under this indictment we include not only Imperialist crimes against the infant life of other Empires, but against the infant life of their own individual Empire; and we go further and say such cowardly crime is an integral part of Imperialism, which in the 20th century is but crowned, and privileged, and consecrated, and entrenched capitalism, which possesses no bowels of compassion, whose only law of Right is the law of Might, and which uses Church, State, the Press, the Law Courts, the Army, Navy and Flying Service, and Parliament itself for the furtherance of its hideous and hypocritical crimes. This may seem strong language, but the more one has travelled the more one has seen the various Imperialisms at work in countries of backward development among native and coloured races, and recently in the heart of Europe itself, the more it is brought home to those who possess the Socialist interpretation of the cause and cure of capitalist exploitation, the more it becomes apparent that unless the proletariats of the world are prepared to unite in a conscious struggle against Imperialism the lives of their children will be more than ever enslaved and at the mercy of “military necessity” or of “commercial expansion.”

If only the German imperial power could be broken we were told (from 1914 onwards) there would dawn the day of a new heaven and a new earth for Europe. It was presumable that “infant life” was included in that large promise, yet since August 1914 “infant life” throughout Europe has experienced, and is still experiencing, nothing but HELL. It was a pity that when the Old Bailey Judge was mouthing his hypocrisies about “the sacredness of infant life” Elsie Kathie (awakened from her child dream of patriotic service for a grateful country in the ranks of the W.R.A.Fs.) could not have confronted her capitalist accusers, and pointing a finger of scorn at the “venerable judge” have launched her accusation against the form of Society he represented as a system of wholesale slayers and destroyers of infant life. The proofs come not from Socialist writers, but pour in from Blue Books, from Consular Reports, from workers in Church organisations such as the Y.W,CA., from the daily press (carefully censored as it is) and from the accusations of one Imperialist government against another when they have the misfortune to fall out on the subject of division of plunder. Let the international proletariat take warning that this last source of information will soon be closed as the League of Nations is the final form of political and commercial trust, and when it is firmly welded together the interests of the great imperialist nations will be ONE, and they will start out on their predatory enterprise for exploiting commercially every corner of the world with fresh life, fresh powers, and fresh organised cruelties. Just as commercialism has discovered that the Trust is a more paying proposition than competitive industries, each trying to undersell and destroy the other, so Imperialism has discovered that a League of Nations will be a more paying proposition than competitive Imperialism, which has so recently defeated its own ends and laid the world waste. The master class is appalled at the cost and waste of modern warfare; it is just beginning to reckon up its losses—not in “sacred infant life,” not even in the life of its youth and manhood poured out on a hundred battlefields—but in what is much more sacred to the master class, the loss and waste of real wealth, which none but the workers can replace and recreate. Every daily paper rings with the story of “the need for economy,” of “the country on the verge of bankruptcy,” of the debates in Parliament on the economic situation. We Socialists remain unmoved. The sooner the capitalist state is bankrupt the sooner will come the chance of the proletariat to declare its Dictatorship on board the political ship that has lost its economic rudder, and to begin to produce for use instead of for profit. We take the assurances in the recent financial debate of Mr. Chamberlain and of Mr. Lloyd George for what they are worth. Lies and violence are the political poison gas and the machine-guns of capitalism. Mr. Lloyd George with his oratory may temporarily bluff the parliamentarians who listen to him, but he cannot bluff all the nation all the time. It is quite possible that, as a last resort, the master class will put a Labour Party in power with an absolutely empty exchequer and a monstrous public debt, and will cynically advise them to carry out their paper programme of social reform.

But the workers must have the sense and the interpretation to see through the purpose of such skilfully baited traps; they are on a par with the arrangement of having a tame Labour representative in the Government (without portfolio), or of having tame Labour Food Dictators, making millions of pounds profit for the Government out of food. Then will be their moment to put in practice what they have learned from Russia.

Let the workers remember that among the most hideous crimes of capitalism are the millions of deaths by slow starvation during the last four years of infant and child life. That in India, according to a statement made by the India Famine Fund Committee of Canada, “32,000,000 deaths have occurred already from plague and famine, and 150,000,000 are on the verge of starvation. The cities are peopled by emaciated humanity; traffic has ceased, mails are undelivered, and business is at a standstill.” Is it surprising that there were revolts “in which innumerable half-naked men, women, and children, armed with nothing but bamboo sticks, lost their lives before British machine guns, while British aeroplanes have bombed them from the skies”? But, at the same time, the workers must never forget that the master class, through the mouth of one of its paid judges asserts that “infant life is sacred.” And it might be useful also to remember that in the recent financial debate there was a tendency on the part of some of the master class parliamentary representatives to suggest a cutting down of expenses on the Education Bill; while the news from Soviet Russia is, in spite of brutal blockades, and a remorseless ringing round of Allied enemy forces, that after 1920 education will be provided for all up to 20 years of age, and will be compulsory up to 16. That means “the sacredness of young life” in action, instead of in empty words.

Emma Goldman 1917, “Prisons: A Social Crime and Failure” :

IN 1849 Feodor Dostoyevsky wrote on the wall of his prison cell the following story of The Priest and the Devil:

“‘Hello, you little fat father!’ the devil said to the priest. ‘What made you lie so to those poor, misled people? What tortures of hell did you depict? Don’t you know they are already suffering the tortures of hell in their earthly lives? Don’t you know that you and the authorities of the State are my representatives on earth? It is you that make them suffer the pains of hell with which you threaten them. Don’t you know this? Well, then, come with me!’

The devil grabbed the priest by the collar, lifted him high in the air, and carried him to a factory, to an iron foundry. He saw the workmen there running and hurrying to and fro, and toiling in the scorching heat. Very soon the thick, heavy air and the heat are too much for the priest. With tears in his eyes, he pleads with the devil: ‘Let me go! Let me leave this hell!’

‘Oh, my dear friend, I must show you many more places.’ The devil gets hold of him again and drags him off to a farm. There he sees workmen threshing the grain. The dust and heat are insufferable. The overseer carries a knout, and unmercifully beats anyone who falls to the ground overcome by hard toil or hunger.

Next the priest is taken to the huts where these same workers live with their families – dirty, cold, smoky, ill-smelling holes. The devil grins. He points out the poverty and hardships which are at home here.

‘Well, isn’t this enough?’ he asks. And it seems as if even he, the devil, pities the people. The pious servant of God can hardly bear it. With uplifted hands he begs: ‘Let me go away from here. Yes, yes! This is hell on earth!’

‘Well, then, you see. And you still promise them another hell. You torment them, torture them to death mentally when they are already all but dead physically! Come on! I will show you one more hell – one more, the very worst.’

He took him to a prison and showed him a dungeon, with its foul air and the many human forms, robbed of all health and energy, lying on the floor, covered with vermin that were devouring their poor, naked, emaciated bodies.

‘Take off your silken clothes,’ said the devil to the priest, ‘put on your ankles heavy chains such as these unfortunates wear; lie down on the cold and filthy floor – and then talk to them about a hell that still awaits them!’

‘No, no!’ answered the priest, ‘I cannot think of anything more dreadful than this. I entreat you, let me go away from here!’

‘Yes, this is hell. There can be no worse hell than this. Did you not know it? Did you not know that these men and women whom you are frightening with the picture of a hell hereafter – did you not know that they are in hell right here, before they die?’

This was written fifty years ago in dark Russia, on the wall of one of the most horrible prisons. Yet who can deny that the same applies with equal force to the present time, even to American prisons?

With all our boasted reforms, our great social changes, and our far-reaching discoveries, human beings continue to be sent to the worst of hells, wherein they are outraged, degraded, and tortured, that society may be “protected” from the phantoms of its own making.

Prison, a social protection? What monstrous mind ever conceived such an idea? Just as well say that health can be promoted by a widespread contagion.

After eighteen months of horror in an English prison, Oscar Wilde gave to the world his great masterpiece, The Ballad of Reading Goal:

The vilest deeds, like poison weeds,

Bloom well in prison air;

It is only what is good in Man

That wastes and withers there.

Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,

And the Warder is Despair.

Society goes on perpetuating this poisonous air, not realizing that out of it can come naught but the most poisonous results.

We are spending at the present $3,500,000 per day, $1,000,095,000 per year, to maintain prison institutions, and that in a democratic country, – a sum almost as large as the combined output of wheat, valued at $750,000,000, and the output of coal, valued at $350,000,000. Professor Bushnell of Washington, D.C., estimates the cost of prisons at $6,000,000,000 annually, and Dr. G. Frank Lydston, an eminent American writer on crime, gives $5,000,000,000 annually as a reasonable figure. Such unheard-of expenditure for the purpose of maintaining vast armies of human beings caged up like wild beasts! [1]

Yet crimes are on the increase. Thus we learn that in America there are four and a half times as many crimes to every million population today as there were twenty years ago.

The most horrible aspect is that our national crime is murder, not robbery, embezzlement, or rape, as in the South. London is five times as large as Chicago, yet there are one hundred and eighteen murders annually in the latter city, while only twenty in London. Nor is Chicago the leading city in crime, since it is only seventh on the list, which is headed by four Southern cities, and San Francisco and Los Angeles. In view of such a terrible condition of affairs, it seems ridiculous to prate of the protection society derives from its prisons.

The average mind is slow in grasping a truth, but when the most thoroughly organized, centralized institution, maintained at an excessive national expense, has proven a complete social failure, the dullest must begin to question its right to exist. The time is past when we can be content with our social fabric merely because it is “ordained by divine right,” or by the majesty of the law.

The widespread prison investigations, agitation, and education during the last few years are conclusive proof that men are learning to dig deep into the very bottom of society, down to the causes of the terrible discrepancy between social and individual life.

Why, then, are prisons a social crime and a failure? To answer this vital question it behooves us to seek the nature and cause of crimes, the methods employed in coping with them, and the effects these methods produce in ridding society of the curse and horror of crimes.

First, as to the nature of crime:

Havelock Ellis divides crime into four phases, the political, the passional, the insane, and the occasional. He says that the political criminal is the victim of an attempt of a more or less despotic government to preserve its own stability. He is not necessarily guilty of an unsocial offense; he simply tries to overturn a certain political order which may itself be anti-social. This truth is recognized all over the world, except in America where the foolish notion still prevails that in a Democracy there is no place for political criminals. Yet John Brown was a political criminal; so were the Chicago Anarchists; so is every striker. Consequently, says Havelock Ellis, the political criminal of our time or place may be the hero, martyr, saint of another age. Lombroso calls the political criminal the true precursor of the progressive movement of humanity.

“The criminal by passion is usually a man of wholesome birth and honest life, who under the stress of some great, unmerited wrong has wrought justice for himself.” [2]

Mr. Hugh C. Weir, in The Menace of the Police, cites the case of Jim Flaherty, a criminal by passion, who, instead of being saved by society, is turned into a drunkard and a recidivist, with a ruined and poverty-stricken family as the result.

A more pathetic type is Archie, the victim in Brand Whitlock’s novel, The Turn of the Balance, the greatest American expos of crime in the making. Archie, even more than Flaherty, was driven to crime and death by the cruel inhumanity of his surroundings, and by the unscrupulous hounding of the machinery of the law. Archie and Flaherty are but the types of many thousands, demonstrating how the legal aspects of crime, and the methods of dealing with it, help to create the disease which is undermining our entire social life.

“The insane criminal really can no more be considered a criminal than a child, since he is mentally in the same condition as an infant or an animal.” [3]

The law already recognizes that, but only in rare cases of a very flagrant nature, or when the culprit’s wealth permits the luxury of criminal insanity. It has become quite fashionable to be the victim of paranoia. But on the whole the “sovereignty of justice” still continues to punish criminally insane with the whole severity of its power. Thus Mr. Ellis quotes from Dr. Richter’s statistics showing that in Germany one hundred and six madmen, out of one hundred and forty-four criminally insane, were condemned to severe punishment.

The occasional criminal “represents by far the largest class of our prison population, hence is the greatest menace to social well-being.” What is the cause that compels a vast army of the human family to take to crime, to prefer the hideous life within prison walls to the life outside? Certainly that cause must be an iron master, who leaves its victims no avenue of escape, for the most depraved human being loves liberty.

This terrific force is conditioned in our cruel social and economic arrangement. I do not mean to deny the biologic, physiologic, or psychologic factors in creating crime; but there is hardly an advanced criminologist who will not concede that the social and economic influences are the most relentless, the most poisonous germs of crime. Granted even that there are innate criminal tendencies, it is none the less true that these tendencies find rich nutrition in our social environment.

There is close relation, says Havelock Ellis, between crimes against the person and the price of alcohol, between crimes against property and the price of wheat. He quotes Quetelet and Lacassagne, the former looking upon society as the preparer of crime, and the criminals as instruments that execute them. The latter find that “the social environment is the cultivation medium of criminality; that the criminal is the microbe, an element which only becomes important when it finds the medium which causes it to ferment; every society has the criminals it deserves.[4]

The most “prosperous” industrial period makes it impossible for the worker to earn enough to keep up health and vigor. And as prosperity is, at best, an imaginary condition, thousands of people are constantly added to the host of the unemployed. From East to West, from South to North, this vast army tramps in search of work or food, and all they find is the workhouse or the slums. Those who have a spark of self-respect left, prefer open defiance, prefer crime to the emaciated, degraded position of poverty.

Edward Carpenter estimates that five-sixths of indictable crimes consist in some violation of property rights; but that is too low a figure. A thorough investigation would prove that nine crimes out of ten could be traced, directly or indirectly, to our economic and social iniquities, to our system of remorseless exploitation and robbery. There is no criminal so stupid but recognizes this terrible fact, though he may not be able to account for it.

A collection of criminal philosophy, which Havelock Ellis, Lombroso, and other eminent men have compiled, shows that the criminal feels only too keenly that it is society that drives him to crime. A Milanese thief said to Lombroso: “I do not rob, I merely take from the rich their superfluities; besides, do not advocates and merchants rob?” A murderer wrote: “Knowing that three-fourths of the social virtues are cowardly vices, I thought an open assault on a rich man would be less ignoble than the cautious combination of fraud.” Another wrote: “I am imprisoned for stealing a half dozen eggs. Ministers who rob millions are honored. Poor Italy!” An educated convict said to Mr. Davitt: “The laws of society are framed for the purpose of securing the wealth of the world to power and calculation, thereby depriving the larger portion of mankind of its rights and chances. Why should they punish me for taking by somewhat similar means from those who have taken more than they had a right to?” The same man added: “Religion robs the soul of its independence; patriotism is the stupid worship of the world for which the well-being and the peace of the inhabitants were sacrificed by those who profit by it, while the laws of the land, in restraining natural desires, were waging war on the manifest spirit of the law of our beings. Compared with this,” he concluded, “thieving is an honorable pursuit.” [5] Verily, there is greater truth in this philosophy than in all the law-and-moral books of society.

The economic, political, moral, and physical factors being the microbes of crime, how does society meet the situation?

The methods of coping with crime have no doubt undergone several changes, but mainly in a theoretic sense. In practice, society has retained the primitive motive in dealing with the offender; that is, revenge. It has also adopted the theologic idea; namely, punishment; while the legal and “civilized” methods consist of deterrence or terror, and reform. We shall presently see that all four modes have failed utterly, and that we are today no nearer a solution than in the dark ages.

The natural impulse of the primitive man to strike back, to avenge a wrong, is out of date. Instead, the civilized man, stripped of courage and daring, has delegated to an organized machinery the duty of avenging his wrongs, in the foolish belief that the State is justified in doing what he no longer has the manhood or consistency to do. The “majesty of the law” is a reasoning thing; it would not stoop to primitive instincts. Its mission is of a “higher” nature. True, it is still steeped in the theologic muddle, which proclaims punishment as a means of purification, or the vicarious atonement of sin. But legally and socially the statute exercises punishment, not merely as an infliction of pain upon the offender, but also for its terrifying effect upon others.

What is the real basis of punishment, however? The notion of a free will, the idea that man is at all times a free agent for good or evil; if he chooses the latter, he must be made to pay the price. Although this theory has long been exploded, and thrown upon the dustheap, it continues to be applied daily by the entire machinery of government, turning it into the most cruel and brutal tormentor of human life. The only reason for its continuance is the still more cruel notion that the greater the terror punishment spreads, the more certain its preventative effect.

Society is using the most drastic methods in dealing with the social offender. Why do they not deter? Although in America a man is supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty, the instruments of law, the police, carry on a reign of terror, making indiscriminate arrests, beating, clubbing, bullying people, using the barbarous method of the “third degree,” subjecting their unfortunate victims to the foul air of the station house, and the still fouler language of its guardians. Yet crimes are rapidly multiplying, and society is paying the price. On the other hand, it is an open secret that when the unfortunate citizen has been given the full “mercy” of the law, and for the sake of safety is hidden in the worst of hells, his real Calvary begins. Robbed of his rights as a human being, degraded to a mere automaton without will or feeling, dependent entirely upon the mercy of brutal keepers, he daily goes through a process of dehumanization, compared with which savage revenge was mere child’s play.

There is not a single penal institution or reformatory in the United States where men are not tortured “to be made good,” by means of the black-jack, the club, the strait-jacket, the water-cure, the “humming bird” (an electrical contrivance run along the human body), the solitary, the bull-ring, and starvation diet. In these institutions his will is broken, his soul degraded, his spirit subdued by the deadly monotony and routine of prison life. In Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and in the South, these horrors have become so flagrant as to reach the outside world, while in most other prisons the same Christian methods still prevail. But prison walls rarely allow the agonized shrieks of the victims to escape – prison walls are thick, they dull the sound. Society might with greater immunity abolish all prisons at once, than to hope for protection from these twentieth-century chambers of horrors.

Year after year the gates of prison hells return to the world an emaciated, deformed, will-less, ship-wrecked crew of humanity, with the Cain mark on their foreheads, their hopes crushed, all their natural inclinations thwarted. With nothing but hunger and inhumanity to greet them, these victims soon sink back into crime as the only possibility of existence. It is not at all an unusual thing to find men and women who have spent half their lives – nay, almost their entire existence – in prison. I know a woman on Blackwell’s Island, who had been in and out thirty-eight times; and through a friend I learn that a young boy of seventeen, whom he had nursed and cared for in the Pittsburg penitentiary, had never known the meaning of liberty. From the reformatory to the penitentiary had been the path of this boy’s life, until, broken in body, he died a victim of social revenge. These personal experiences are substantiated by extensive data giving overwhelming proof of the utter futility of prisons as a means of deterrence or reform.

Well-meaning persons are now working for a new departure in the prison question, – reclamation, to restore once more to the prisoner the possibility of becoming a human being. Commendable as this is, I fear it is impossible to hope for good results from pouring good wine into a musty bottle. Nothing short of a complete reconstruction of society will deliver mankind from the cancer of crime. Still, if the dull edge of our social conscience would be sharpened, the penal institutions might be given a new coat of varnish. But the first step to be taken is the renovation of the social consciousness, which is in a rather dilapidated condition. It is sadly in need to be awakened to the fact that crime is a question of degree, that we all have the rudiments of crime in us, more or less, according to our mental, physical, and social environment; and that the individual criminal is merely a reflex of the tendencies of the aggregate.

With the social consciousness wakened, the average individual may learn to refuse the “honor” of being the bloodhound of the law. He may cease to persecute, despise, and mistrust the social offender, and give him a chance to live and breathe among his fellows. Institutions are, of course, harder to reach. They are cold, impenetrable, and cruel; still, with the social consciousness quickened, it might be possible to free the prison victims from the brutality of prison officials, guards, and keepers. Public opinion is a powerful weapon; keepers of human prey, even, are afraid of it. They may be taught a little humanity, especially if they realize that their jobs depend upon it.

But the most important step is to demand for the prisoner the right to work while in prison, with some monetary recompense that would enable him to lay aside a little for the day of his release, the beginning of a new life.

It is almost ridiculous to hope much from present society when we consider that workingmen, wage-slaves themselves, object to convict labor. I shall not go into the cruelty of this objection, but merely consider the impracticability of it. To begin with, the opposition so far raised by organized labor has been directed against windmills. Prisoners have always worked; only the State has been their exploiter, even as the individual employer has been the robber of organized labor. The States have either set the convicts to work for the government, or they have farmed convict labor to private individuals. Twenty-nine of the States pursue the latter plan. The Federal government and seventeen States have discarded it, as have the leading nations of Europe, since it leads to hideous overworking and abuse of prisoners, and to endless graft.

“Rhode Island, the State dominated by Aldrich, offers perhaps the worst example. Under a five-year contract, dated July 7th, 1906, and renewable for five years more at the option of private contractors, the labor of the inmates of the Rhode Island Penitentiary and the Providence County Jail is sold to the Reliance-Sterling Mfg. Co. at the rate of a trifle less than 25 cents a day per man. This Company is really a gigantic Prison Labor Trust, for it also leases the convict labor of Connecticut, Michigan, Indiana, Nebraska, and South Dakota penitentiaries, and the reformatories of New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, eleven establishments in all.

“The enormity of the graft under the Rhode Island contract may be estimated from the fact that this same Company pays 62½ cents a day in Nebraska for the convict’s labor, and that Tennessee, for example, gets $1.10 a day for a convict’s work from the Gray-Dudley Hardware Co.; Missouri gets 70 cents a day from the Star Overall Mfg. Co.; West Virginia 65 cents a day from the Kraft Mfg. Co., and Maryland 55 cents a day from Oppenheim, Oberndorf & Co., shirt manufacturers. The very difference in prices points to enormous graft. For example, the Reliance-Sterling Mfg. Co. manufactures shirts, the cost of free labor being not less than $1.20 per dozen, while it pays Rhode Island thirty cents a dozen. Furthermore, the State charges this Trust no rent for the use of its huge factory, charges nothing for power, heat, light, or even drainage, and exacts no taxes. What graft!” [6]

It is estimated that more than twelve million dollars’ worth of workingmen’s shirts and overalls is produced annually in this country by prison labor. It is a woman’s industry, and the first reflection that arises is that an immense amount of free female labor is thus displaced. The second consideration is that male convicts, who should be learning trades that would give them some chance of being self-supporting after their release, are kept at this work at which they can not possibly make a dollar. This is the more serious when we consider that much of this labor is done in reformatories, which so loudly profess to be training their inmates to become useful citizens.

The third, and most important, consideration is that the enormous profits thus wrung from convict labor are a constant incentive to the contractors to exact from their unhappy victims tasks altogether beyond their strength, and to punish them cruelly when their work does not come up to the excessive demands made.

Another word on the condemnation of convicts to tasks at which they cannot hope to make a living after release. Indiana, for example, is a State that has made a great splurge over being in the front rank of modern penological improvements. Yet, according to the report rendered in 1908 by the training school of its “reformatory,” 135 were engaged in the manufacture of chains, 207 in that of shirts, and 255 in the foundry – a total of 597 in three occupations. But at this so-called reformatory 59 occupations were represented by the inmates, 39 of which were connected with country pursuits. Indiana, like other States, professes to be training the inmates of her reformatory to occupations by which they will be able to make their living when released. She actually sets them to work making chains, shirts, and brooms, the latter for the benefit of the Louisville Fancy Grocery Co. Broom-making is a trade largely monopolized by the blind, shirt-making is done by women, and there is only one free chain-factory in the State, and at that a released convict can not hope to get employment. The whole thing is a cruel farce.

If, then, the States can be instrumental in robbing their helpless victims of such tremendous profits is it not high time for organized labor to stop its idle howl, and to insist on decent remuneration for the convict, even as labor organizations claim for themselves? In that way workingmen would kill the germ which makes of the prisoner an enemy to the interests of labor. I have said elsewhere that thousands of convicts, incompetent and without a trade, without means of subsistence, are yearly turned back into the social fold. These men and women must live, for even an ex-convict has needs. Prison life has made them anti-social beings, and the rigidly closed doors that meet them on their release are not likely to decrease their bitterness. The inevitable result is that they form a favorable nucleus out of which scabs, black-legs, detectives, and policemen are drawn, only too willing to do the master’s bidding. Thus organized labor, by its foolish opposition to work in prison, defeats its own ends. It helps to create poisonous fumes that stifle every attempt for economic betterment. If the workingman wants to avoid these effects, he should insist on the right of the convict to work, he should meet him as a brother, take him into his organization, and with his aid turn against the system which grinds them both.

Last, but not least, is the growing realization of the barbarity and the inadequacy of the definite sentence. Those who believe in, and earnestly aim at, a change are fast coming to the conclusion that man must be given an opportunity to make good. And how is he to do it with ten, fifteen, or twenty years’ imprisonment before him? The hope of liberty and of opportunity is the only incentive to life, especially the prisoner’s life. Society has sinned so long against him – it ought at least to leave him that. I am not very sanguine that it will, or that any real change in that direction can take place until the conditions that breed both the prisoner and the jailer will be forever abolished.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!

Out of his heart a white!

For who can say by what strange way

Christ brings his will to light,

Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore

Bloomed in the great Pope’s sight.

Notes

1. Crime and Criminals. W.C. Owen.

2. The Criminal, Havelock Ellis.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Quoted from the publications of the National Committee on Prison Labor.

La sociologie du crime

« Les règles de la méthode sociologique » de Emile Durkheim :

« Il pourrait arriver que l’on nous accusât d’avoir voulu absoudre le crime, sous prétexte que nous en faisons un phénomène de sociologie normale. L’objection pourtant serait puérile. Car, s’il est normal que, dans toute société, il y ait des crimes, il n’est pas moins normal qu’ils soient punis. L’institution d’un système répressif n’est pas un fait moins universel que l’existence d’une criminalité, ni moins indispensable à la santé collective. Pour qu’il n’y eût pas de crimes, il faudrait un nivellement des consciences individuelles qui, pour des raisons qu’on trouvera plus loin, n’est ni possible ni désirable ; mais, pour qu’il n’y eût pas de répression il faudrait une absence d’homogéniété morale qui est inconciliable avec l’existence d’une société. (...) Si le crime est normal, c’est à condition d’être haï. Notre méthode n’a donc rien de révolutionnaire. Elle est même en un sens, essentiellement, conservatrice, puisqu’elle considère les faits sociaux comme des choses dont la nature, si souple et si malléable qu’elle soit, n’est pourtant pas modifiable à volonté. Combien est plus dangereux la doctrine qui n’y voit que le produit de combinaisons mentales, qu’un simple artifice dialectique peut, en un instant, bouleverser de fond en comble ! (...) Notre principal objectif, en effet, est d’étendre à la conduite humaine le rationalisme scientifique, en faisant voir que, considérée dans le passé, elle est réductible à des rapports de cause à effet qu’une opération non moins rationnelle peut transformer ensuite en règles d’action pour l’avenir. Ce qu’on a appelé notre positivisme n’est qu’une conséquence de ce rationalisme. On ne peut être tenté de dépasser les faits, soit pour en rendre compte, soit pour en diriger le cours, que dans la mesure où on les croit irrationnels. S’ils sont intelligibles tout entiers, ils suffisent à la science comme à la pratique : à la science, car il n’y a pas alors de motif pour chercher en dehors d’eux les raisons qu’ils ont d’être ; à la pratique, car leur valeur utile est une de ces raions. (...)

Pour qu’il y ait fait social, il faut que plusieurs individus tout au moins aient mêlé leur actionet que cette combinaison ait dégagé quelque produit nouveau. (...) Il y a un mot qui, pourvu toutefois qu’on en étende un peu l’acception ordinaire, exprime assez bien cette manière d’être très spéciale : c’est celui d’institution. On peut, en effet, sans dénaturer le sens de cette expression, appeler « institution s » toutes les croyances et tous les modes de conduite institués par la collectivité ; la sociologie peut alors être définie : la science des institutions, de leur génèse et de leur fonctionnement. (...)

Jusqu’à présent, les sociologues se sont peu préoccupés de caractériser et de définir la méthode qu’ils appliquent à l’étude des faits sociaux. (...) Un chapitre du « Cours de philosophie psoitive » d’Auguste Comte, voilà donc, à peu près, la seule étude originale et importante que nous possédions en la matière. (...) Et, en effet, jusqu’à présent la sociologie a plus ou moins exclusivement traité non des choses, mais de concepts. Comte, il est vrai, a proclamé que les phénomènes sociaux sont des faits naturels, soumis à des lois naturelles. Par là ; il a implicitement reconnu leur caractère de choses ; car il n’y a que des choses dans la nature. (...) Comte part de cette idée qu’il y a une évolution continue du genre humain qui consiste dans une réalisation toujours plus complète de la nature humaine et le problème qu’il traite est de retrouver l’ordre de cette évolution. (...)

La science, pour être objective, doit partir, non de concpets qui se sont formés sans elle, mais de la sensation. C’est aux données sensibles qu’elle doit directement emprunter les éléments de ses définitions initiales. (...) Un sensation est d’autant plus objective que l’objet auquel elle se rapporte a plus de fixité ; car la condition de toute objectivité, c’est l’existence d’un point de repère, constant et identique, auquel la représentation peut être rapportée et qui permet d’éliminer tout ce qu’elle a de variable, partant de subjectif. (...) En dehors des actes individuels qu’elles suscitent, les habitudes collectives s’expriment sous des formes définies, règles juridiques, morales, dictons populaires, faits de structure sociale, etc. Comme ces formes existent d’une manière permanente, qu’elles ne changent pas avec les diverses applications qui en sont faites, elles constituent un objet fixe, un étalon constant qui est toujours à la portée de l’observateur et qui ne laisse pas de place aux impressions subjectives et aux observations personnelles. Une règle du droit est ce qu’elle est et il n’y a pas deux manières de la percevoir. (...)

Nous appellerons normaux les faits qui présentent les formes les plus générales et nous donnerons aux autres le nom de morbides ou de pathologiques. (...) Il est vrai que le type moyen ne saurait être déterminé avec la même netteté qu’un type individuel, puisque ses attributs constitutifs ne sont pas absolument fixés, mais sont susceptibles de varier. Mais qu’il puisse être constitué, c’est ce qu’on ne saurait mettre en doute, puisuq’il est la matière immédiate de la science : car il se confond avec le type générique. (...) Par exemple, pour savoir si l’état économique actuel des peuples européens, avec l’absence d’organisation qui en est la caractéristique, est normal ou non, on cherchera ce qui, dans le passé, y a donné naissance. Si ces conditions sont encore celles où sont actuellement placées nos sociétés, c’est que cette situation est normale en dépit des protestations qu’elle soulève. (...) Or il importe que, dès le début de la recherche, on puisse classer les faits en normaux et anormaux, sous la réserve de quelques cas exceptionnels (...) Classer le crime parmi le phénomène de sociologie normale, ce n’est pas seulement dire qu’il est un phénomène inévitable quoique regrettable, dû à l’incorrigible méchanceté des hommes : c’est affirmer qu’il est un facteur de la santé publique, une partie intégrante de toute société saine. (...) En premier lieu, le crime est normal parce qu’une société qui en serait exempte est tout à fait impossible. (...) Puisqu’il ne peut pas y avoir de société où les individus ne divergent plus ou moins du type collectif, il est inévitable aussi que, parmi ces divergences, il y en ait qui présentent un caractère criminel. (...) Le crime est donc indispensable : il est lié aux conditions fondamentales de toute vie sociale, mais par cela même il est utile : car ces conditions dont il est solidaire sont elles-mêmes indispensables à l’évolution normale de la morale et du droit. (...) Pour les socialistes, c’est l’organisation capitaliste, malgré sa généralité, qui constitue une déviation de l’état normal, produite par la violence et l’artifice. (...) C’est toujours à grand renfort de dialectique que ces questions son tranchées. (...) Mais on rend la science même impossible. En effet, elle a pour objet immédiat l’étude du type normal ; or, si les faits les plus généraux peuvent être morbides, il peut se faire que le type normal n’ait jamais existé dans les faits. Dès lors à quoi sert de les étudier ? (...) Pour que la sociologie traite les faits comme des choses, il faut que la sociologie sente la nécessité de se mettre à leur école. (...) Pour que la sociologie soit vraiment une science des choses, il faut que la généralité des phénomènes soit prise comme critère de leur normalité. Notre méthode a, d’ailleurs, l’avantage de régler l’action en même temps que la pensée. (…) Comment assigner à la perfection un terme qu’elle ne puisse dépasser ? Elle échappe, par définition, à toute limitation. Le but de l’humanité recule donc à l’infini, décourageant les uns par son éloignement même, excitant, au contraire, et enfiévrant les autres, qui, pour s’en rapprocher un peu, pressent le pas et se précipitent dans les révolutions. (…) Il ne s’agit plus de poursuivre désespérément une fin qui fuit à mesure qu’on avance, mais de travailler avec une régulière persévérance à maintenir l’état normal, à le rétablir s’il est troublé, à en retrouver les conditions si elles viennent à changer. Le devoir de l’homme d’Etat n’est plus de pousser violemment les sociétés vers un idéal qui lui paraît séduisant, mais son rôle est celui du médecin : il prévient l’éclosion des maladies par une bonne hygiène et, quand elles sont déclarées, il cherche à les guérir. Conclusion En résumé, les caractères de cette méthode sont les suivants. D’abord, elle est indépendante de toute philosophie. (…) Si la sociologie ainsi conçue peut servir à illustrer de faits curieux une philosophie, elle ne saurait l’enrichir de vues nouvelles, puisqu’elle ne signale rien de nouveau dans l’objet qu’elle étudie. (…) Vis-à-vis des doctrines pratiques, notre méthode permet et commande la même indépendance. La sociologie ainsi entendue ne sera ni individualiste, ni communiste, ni socialiste, au sens qu’on donne vulgairement à ces mots. Par principe, elle ignorera ces théories auxquelles elle ne saurait reconnaître de valeur scientifique, puisqu’elles tendent directement, non à exprimer les faits, mais à les réformer. (…) Mais le rôle de la sociologie à ce point de vue doit justement consister à nous affranchir de tous les partis (…) Seule, en effet, elle peut apprendre à traiter avec respect, mais sans fétichisme, les institutions historiques quelles qu’elles soient (…) »

Source

Émile Durkheim, « Le crime, phénomène normal »

Maurice Cusson, « Contrôle social du crime »

Jean-Paul Brodeur, « Le crime organisé »

Marie-Andrée Bertrand, « Le femme et le crime »

Dr J.-J. Matignon, Crime et misère en Chine

Denis Szabo, « Science et crime »

Jean-Marie Fecteau, « Crime et pauvreté à l’ère du libéralisme »

Bronislaw Malinowski, « Le crime et la coutume dans les sociétés primitives »

Laurent Mucchielli et Jean-Christophe Marcel, « La sociologie du crime en France depuis 1945 »

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