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The End of Crime

The End of Crime?

Is it possible to eliminate crime? Policymakers spend most of their time reacting to crime rather than seriously trying to work out what the conditions are that foster crime, and identifying those most likely to commit crimes. That's not to say that theories don't abound as to how we might eradicate crime. The problem is that most movers and shakers are ignorant of these theories, those who propose the theories are often ineffectual at communicating their ideas to a wide audience, and in any case there would be a lack of political will to carry out the measures needed since they imply a new paradigm for managing society.

In his book A Criminal History of Mankind (1983), Colin Wilson provides a fascinating digest of many theories and observations concerning human criminality. He suggests that criminality is in essence a problem of an excess of highly dominant people, and estimates that five percent of the population may belong to this category. (amounting to some three million people in the UK). Many people find an outlet for their perceived sense of dominance by achieving good jobs, prestigious positions in their local communities or even just high status amongst their friends. However, what happens to those who can't find any legitimate position that meets their need to express their sense of dominance, their 'right' to be respected by others? These are the ones who might turn to illegal means to pursue their goals.

Wilson mentions that in the Korean War, the Chinese apparently decided to place a heavy guard on only a small number of the American prisoners they captured - mostly officers and anyone else deemed to have initiative. This amounted to some five percent of the prisoners. The remaining ninety-five percent were placed under only light guard, and, seemingly, none attempted to escape.

This is not so different from what the Germans did in the Second World War. Most Allied prisoners who made repeated attempts to escape ended up at high security installations such as Colditz. The message is that prison-keepers should pay far more attention to the prisoners with initiative than those without.

Going much further back in history, the ancient Spartans, never comprising more than about ten thousand full citizens, were able to suppress for several centuries a huge slave population of anything from one hundred thousand to half a million helots. How did they manage this? They waged a constant reign of terror against the helots, and their primary targets were any helots who dared to come to their attention. Any helot who was too smart, too brave, too tall, too big, too muscular, too good with weapons, too good at talking back, too energetic, too athletic could expect to have a limited lifespan.

On one occasion, the Spartans asked the helots to nominate those amongst them who had provided the best service to Sparta, with the hint that these helots would be given their freedom. Two thousand were selected. These men enjoyed a great celebration, were crowned with garlands and allowed to tour the temples to give thanks to their gods. That night they all vanished and were never seen again. Presumably they were executed and buried in a mass grave.

Every autumn, the Spartan authorities declared war on the helots and any helot might be killed with impunity. Trainee Spartan soldiers were sent into the helot areas, and were expected to kill any helot troublemakers. The idea was that by eliminating the helots' natural leaders, the Spartans would prevent rebellion, and this policy unquestionably worked well.

In the Vietnam War, the Americans had a special project called Phoenix that was designed to assassinate the leadership of the Viet Kong. It didn't work due to lack of accurate intelligence, but it was simply one of a long line of initiatives based on a 'decapitation' i.e. removing the leaders of the enemy. The American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Irish 1916 Uprising might never have got off the ground if their leaders had been identified and dealt with.

As one of the opening moves of the Iraq War, the Americans attempted to blow up Saddam Hussein. Decades earlier, they tried to assassinate Fidel Castro. They would of course dearly love to eliminate Osama bin Laden.

The main point is that only a relatively small proportion of people are capable of leadership (leadership being a manifestation of highly dominant personalities exercising their will over a large collection of less dominant people). If you eliminate an enemy's leaders, you neutralise the entire enemy threat. Within a society, those with leadership potential who cannot find legitimate leadership roles will turn instead to criminal roles. The existence of criminality is actually a reflection of a society's failure to allocate leadership roles appropriately. It's the state's responsibility to identify everyone within the state who has leadership potential and find suitable roles for them. Obviously, there won't be enough leadership roles to go around, but other roles that are sufficient to satisfy would-be leaders' need for appropriate status must be found. When the state fails to achieve this, crime is the outcome. The state is the real crime generator because it has the capability to stop crime, but refuses to take the necessary measures through a lack of understanding of what crime is.

It's well-established that the vast majority of crimes in the UK are carried out by a small number of people, most of whom are well-known to the police, or will become so. Shouldn't these people be the primary focus of the criminal justice system? Once a person becomes entrenched on the list of repeat offenders, the sentence he receives for his next conviction should become disproportionately severe. The American three strikes and you're out policy is perhaps too extreme, but five strikes seems reasonable enough. By that stage, it's clear that the criminal has no intention of reforming his ways.

Of course, to have reached this stage in the first place represents a failure on the state's part. Much better to prevent the criminality in the first place. Apparently, it would be cheaper to send a child to Eton than to a young offenders' institution. This, in a sense, is exactly the solution required. School, the main state institution with which a potential criminal first comes into contact, is the obvious place at which the state should invest resources for identifying potential troublemakers. Everyone who gets excluded from school should be regarded as being at particularly high-risk of engaging in future criminality.

At the moment, the state does little with these individuals. In fact, this is precisely the time at which state intervention should reach its maximum. These kids are excluded because of their behaviour, which will be that of dominant individuals lashing out against a system that's refusing to acknowledge their dominance. Respect is the word these kids always bandy around - precisely the word a dominant person wishes to hear as due recognition of his status. Respect is precisely what these kids are never given. They are labelled as bullies, troublemakers, malcontents, educationally backward, disruptive, out of control; all of which represent a distinct lack of respect, and a wholesale failure to recognise the talents that these kids dohave. One might instead choose to label them as assertive, daring, brave, adventurous, natural leaders, non-conformists, independent thinkers, free-spirited, and show them respect for differing from the docile common herd.

They should be taken away from the malign family and social environment in which they live, and which is exacerbating their potential criminality, and sent to special boarding schools where they should be treated with the respect they demand. If the state can find a way to constructively channel the energy these highly dominant individuals posses, not only will it prevent them travelling down the criminal path with all the damage and expense that entails, but it might actually find itself with a valuable resource.

Of course, there would be those who would express outrage that these apparent troublemakers were in a sense being rewarded for their bad behaviour, and that a lot of state money was being seemingly wasted on 'bad apples'. The response to this is simple. Carry out a pilot project and analyse the results. If a special school for excluded kids were able to show a positive turnaround in their behaviour, while a control group of excluded kids receiving no special treatment was found to have descended into ever deepening criminality, wouldn't that provide an evidential answer?

It's obvious that not all potential leaders will come from nice, law-abiding middle class families. Some would-be leaders will be born into unfavourable circumstances. What happens to these people? At the moment, they are handled disastrously. What's the profile of a typical dangerous criminal? Such people are probably men of poor educational attainment from broken homes in deprived areas associated with low incomes. They probably suffer from insufficient parental authority, little adult supervision, and drugs and alcohol may be easily accessible. Their poor performance at school may leave them illiterate and innumerate. They will probably be attracted to gangs, and will use their natural dominance to rise to leadership roles within these gangs, often through the use of excessive violence. (Think of the brutally ambitious character portrayed by Al Pacino in Scarface.)

The state will view these individuals as enemies, but in fact it was the state that created them by its negligent attitude towards them. It's a catastrophe when the state allows highly dominant individuals to fester. Crime is the inevitable product. The solution is obvious: state intervention to identify dominant individuals and remove them to better conditions where their qualities can be harnessed for the benefit of the state. If the state can achieve this, it can massively reduce the size of the police force and scale down the hugely expensive criminal-justice system. Far fewer prisons will be required. Social services won't be required to anything like the same extent. The overall savings might be vast, not to mention the most obvious benefit of all - fewer murders, muggings, robberies, rapes and violent assaults.

The Tories in particular are fond of saying that crime is the responsibility of criminals. With this attitude, they have no hope of combating crime. These days, the Labour Party are scarcely distinguishable from the Tories and are equally incapable of offering solutions. Only when society blames itself for the existence of crime and sees criminality as an inevitable by-product of highly dominant individuals being brought up in environments in which their dominance has no chance of being healthily expressed can the first steps to a solution be taken. The Spartans, for the purpose of controlling their slaves, put a huge effort into identifying the movers and shakers amongst the helots. Our society should put an equal effort into identifying the movers and shakers in our 'underclass'. If they are not embraced by society, they will oppose it. Crime can be eradicated, but only if its source is understood, and regrettably no one in power has grasped what that is.