Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I previously wrote about the War For Drugs. This is part of the crime racket, but certainly not all of it. State invented crimes such as "illegal" drugs or laws against the sex trade are an obvious scam created to maintain the Police-Prison Industrial Complex. (1) True crimes, anti-social acts such as fraud, robbery, assault, rape, murder, have also been incorporated into this complex. People who commit genuine anti-social acts see other people as objects to be used or exploited. This lack of empathy and the use of people as a means are the classic symptoms of emotional disturbances such as psychopathy and narcissism.

Narcissism seems to have environmental origins, usually rooted in childhood. The origins of pschyopathic behavior are found in a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Genetic pre-disposition pschycopathic conditions can either be offset or encouraged by the social environment, most especially child rearing practices. Brain lesions caused by child abuse before the age of five might also be a factor. Few indeed, are the psychopaths who have not had an abusive childhood. The origins of psychopathic behavior and narcissism are reasonably well known, yet anti-social acts are treated as punishable crimes rather than as mental and social problems.

The reason for this is not to hard to figure out. Follow the buck! If crime was treated as a psycho-social problem, the Police-Prison-Industrial Complex would lose out big time. The free ride would end. Tax money that now went to the Complex would go to psychiatry, social services and mental institutions. The role of the police and courts would be reduced to apprehending and proving the guilt of the alleged offender. Prisons would no longer exist. Non-violent crimes would involve victim restitution and therapy. Dangerous individuals would still be separated from the rest of society, but in mental institutions not jail cells. Emphasis would be placed upon the root causes of anti-social acts. Overcoming poverty, child abuse and bullying would be an absolute priority. Society would vigorously combat social attitudes now promoted in consumer culture which encourage psychopathic or narcissistic behavior, such as the need to win at any cost, glorification of violence and contempt for people.

Like the ridiculous superstitions about cannabis trotted out by the Drug War Mafia, the Police-Prison Industrial Complex uses worn-out beliefs to keep its nose deep in the tax-payer hog trough. One of the most absurd of these beliefs is the notion of "legal insanity." The definition of legal insanity dates from 1844, long before psychology had developed. The courts, out of forgivable ignorance at the time, reduced mental illness to psychosis - the situation where a person is totally deluded in his-her actions. (2) The mentally ill who knew what they were doing, even though their acts were those of madmen, were deemed sane. Hence the jailing of psychopaths. (3) As one might expect, crammed in with other misfits, their conditions worsen in prison. Due to the nature of the law, they are released when their sentence is up, "cured" or not. Any attempt to change this 19th century conception to a contemporary clinical definition of insanity is fought tooth and nail by the courts and police. One need not wonder why.


While treating crime as a psychological problem can be more humane, we must remain wary about the mental health industry. In the past, girls were placed in asylums for having pre-marital sex or for "being disobedient." One young woman in the late '50's was given multiple shock treatments because she liked to dress in black and carried a copy of Proust. I knew a fellow institutionalized for having long hair. Having a class analysis of society could get you marked as paranoid. Several fat volumes could be filled with similar horror stories. There will have to be many checks and balances installed to prevent such abuse.

1, These laws didn't start out as scams, but as the obsessions of authoritarian busy-bodies who wanted to impose their twisted ideas of morality on the population.
2. This was a progressive step in 1844. Before the notion of legal insanity was imposed, the psychotic were held accountable for their actions and suffered the most barbarous punishments.
3. What can you say about a system that deems a murderous lunatic like John Wayne Gacy, "sane"? What kind of crackpots are running the show? I also doubt whether serious psychopathic behavior can be "cured." Some people will have to be isolated from the public for their entire lives.


Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I'm all for abolishing consensual "crimes," making prisons more humane, radically shifting the burden of proof to the state and strengthening due process safeguards, and letting individual and neighborhood self-defense take up the resulting slack.

But as you mention, there is a great danger in a "mental health" approach to crime. As C.S. Lewis argued (in The Abolition of Man and fictionally in That Hideous Strength), when the state charges you with a crime there's a definite end point beyond which it has no further power over you. When your sentence is over, it's over. But when the state undertakes to "cure" you "for your own good," it's not through with you until it says it is; it can only let you go when your mind is clean and you love Big Brother. As Lewis said, the social engineers who oversee the therapeutic version of criminal justice are not worthy to shake the hands of honest criminals.

9:15 AM  

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