Marx presents capitalism as the causes of almost all evils in the society. To him, it promotes individualistic or egoistic tendencies that encourage criminal activities in the society. Capitalism enhances poverty, alienation as well as economic distress in the society. He explains that there are two major classes in the society that is the rich or bourgeois and the poor, the working class or the proletariat. However there is the middle class that is between the two in society.
To Marx, the environment has a major impact in influencing the way that human beings behave. It therefore suffices to say that the causes of crime are social in nature and ought to be solved through social action. (Brenkert G, 190). Poverty encourages criminality and if the issue is to be resolved then it is important to first solve or rather address poverty if crime is to be reduced. This can be done if the social institutions at hand are well modified to empower people by reducing the inequalities triggered by capitalism. This paper discusses Karl Marx approach to criminal activities in society but the general assumptions of his theory are discussed.
To Marx, the impact of the underlying conditions of the modern society is higher than that of the political institutions in as far as the causes of crimes are concerned. ‘It is not so much the political institution of a country as the fundamental conditions of modern bourgeois society which produces an average amount of crime in a given fraction of society’. (Brenkert G, 191). Capitalism has ensured the rise of crimes in society as the rich promote crime with the ‘regularity of physical phenomenon’. Instead of praising the rich who are the only ones that benefit from the capitalist societies it would be crucial to change the system.
Marx recommends a radical approach in solving crime in society where the capitalism is overthrown or replaced with communism. Capitalism has proved to be deficient as it brings about much conflict in the society. The problems linked with capitalism like private ownership of property that ensures the sustained inequalities between the rich and the poor can be resolved with the enhancement of communism. Eliminating capitalism will be eliminating the conditions that trigger crime and there will no need for a criminal justice system whose major role is to inflict violence and punishment especially to the poor.
To Marx, man is generally good and it is the society or the surrounding that makes him retain his status quo or change for the worse. To this regard he says that ‘there is no need for greater penetration to see from the teaching of materialism on original goodness and equal intellectual endowment of men, the omnipotence of experience, habit and education and the influence of environment on man, the great significant of industry, the justification of enjoyment etc how necessary the materialism is connected with communism and socialism’. (Brenkert G, 191).
In their book, A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Bottomore and Harris explain how individuals are born into a set of social relationship for which they have no prior choice. Such relationships determine their class structure which can be divided into two major categories; the bourgeois or the rich and the poor proletariat or the working class. One’s mindset or consciousness is largely affected by the class that one finds himself or herself in. Consequently one’s perception towards life is partly inherent. (90)
According to Marx, to resolve capitalism and the effects that it brings to society the implementation of communism would best suffice. Capitalism perpetuates inequality levels as it encourages individualistic tendencies in enhancing private ownership of property. The radical step of replacing the capitalism with communism would not only end criminal activities but also the criminal justice system that perpetuate the bourgeois status quo while inflicting violence and punishment to the poor. This kind of arrangement is an unfair one as it ensures that the poor commit crime at times due to frustrations in the society.
Criminal activities by the poor are due to the prevailing social or environment situations and if they are not well addressed the problem would not cease to exist. Marx presents the conflict theory where there is constant class struggle which precipitates crime and deviance. With capitalism there is greed for wealth and power without paying any attention to the harm inflicted as a consequence.
People in the dominant group strive to acquire as much wealth as possible. Eradicating capitalism is eliminating the social sources of egoism and consequently a step to reducing crime rates in society. From his perspectives the pressures in the society are the cause of crime and lawlessness by any class in the society. Crime in this context is seen as an adaptation or resistance to the existing class domination. (Brenkert G, 191).
However not all crimes are committed are motivated by financial gain. Some crimes are an expression of frustrations against the dominant class. Frustrations are seen as a cause of crime or as a force that triggers criminality activities. It is a reaction towards the perceived exploitative tendencies of the dominant class to the poor. The current legal systems tend to be divided in serving the interests of the rich and the poor. In other words there tends to be a criminal justice system for the rich which is entirely different from that of the poor. The law tends to serve or operate in favor of the rich at the expense of the poor. (Bottomore T and Harris L, 90).
The civil laws regulate the manner by which competition between the rich is carried out. The costs of the crimes committed by the rich in the society are of higher magnitude than that caused by the poor in society but it is quite ironical that they get harsher punishment. The poor are easy target especially by the police as well as other criminal justice agents and are more often than not persecuted for their crime. Those at the middle class tend to support the rich probably with the view that there could the same mechanism to protect their status quo.
There is a high level of leniency when treating large scale crime or corporate crimes which are in most cases committed by the affluent in society. In contrast the poor are harshly treated despite the fact that they commit minor or common crime in the society like street theft. Marx also viewed crime as a way by which competition is reduced as people are employed in the criminal justice system for instance the police and their chances of questioning the activities are minimal. Again, in their working in this systems their chances or engaging in the activities that the bourgeois engage in are minimal and competition is hence reduced. Crime also encourages the advancement of technology as new inventions are made to prevent criminal activities.
Terrorism refers to the use of unlawful violence or threat to violence with the purpose of intimidating or influencing societies to pursue goals that are political, religious or ideological in nature. To Marx, this can be seen as a perfect example of how the poor class in society responds in a radical manner to reject or rather show their frustrations to the dominant class.
Countries in Asia are heavily associated with criminal behavior for instance crimes of terror. Asia hosts radical extremists and terror groups thus making terrorism an issue that call for swift attention. The al Qaeda movement was able to penetrate into it and was able to spread its anti- US campaign.
Crime that are linked or associated with crime include motor vehicle violations, immigration fraud, manufacture and trafficking of illegal fire arms, robbery as well as counterfeiting of vital documents like passports. Terrorists are well organized in their undertakings and they undergo training to acquire relevant skills needed to effectively execute their criminal activities. They indulge in criminal activities to acquire the finances needed to acquire relevant materials and tools to execute their activities. They also use the internet to source for funding from people across the globe that supports their ideologies. Operations of underground brothels as well as tax evasion are their other means or sources of income.
Terrorists in most cases will commit common offences and this should be a wake up call to the criminal justice officers at whichever rank they are in to be keen or very cautious. Curbing minor crimes would be curbing major terror attacks. Immigration officers can also make a significant impact in solving crimes of terror in the society by being effective in their duties. (www.whitehouse.gov). To successfully attack their target terrorists need to have the accessibility which is promoted by the immigration departments. Effectiveness by the immigration departments of all countries entails their efficiency in scrutinizing traveling documents as an effort to hindering their easy accessibility.
The knowledge that the terrorists do operate illegal activities like the underground brothels can enable the police as well as other criminal justice officers to curb the activities of terrorists. Another characteristic of perpetrators of crimes of terror is that they are diversified and this makes it hard to completely or effectively be eliminated.
They use the Internet to recruit and train new members and it is quite hard to trace their recruits especially given the fact that the Internet is global in scope. The Internet is also very vital as it provides them with the relevant information that promotes their criminal activities. (www.whitehouse.gov). They also use certain computer software’s to protect their email communications from being intercepted by the criminal justice officers. This way information is passed to the rightful person without causing much alarm or attention from law enforcers. Sourcing of funds can also be through the Internet.
To eradicate terrorism the FBI are keen in introducing measures that will see to it that the activities that ensure the perpetuation of crimes of terror comes to an end. Communication, financing and mobility are the major aspects that ensure that their activities are well executed. Hindering or creating barriers to these activities is an effective approach to eradicating these crimes. To hinder their effective communication the FBI introduced programs that would intercept e mails. Although this may be seen by some as an interference with the right to freedom of expression and speech the FBI would be able to differentiate between what is mere expression of ideas and that which can incite or cause harm to the society.
Linking poverty to crimes of terror is highly debatable but it cannot be completely ignored. Osama bin Laden, the man behind the 911 terror attack is an affluent person in society and we cannot therefore say that his indulgence in criminality is due to his poor economic status as Marx would argue. (www.whitehouse.gov). However, the exploitative aspect arises when we establish the manner by which he uses the poor to execute the criminal activities. In most cases the poor people used to perpetrate the terror crimes are only responding to orders and do not effectively understand the motives of their deeds.
This can be seen as an aspect of capitalistic societies where the rich will do anything possible to maintain their status quo. They do not care what harm their actions will cause to the poor. To pursue their own personal interests the rich will exploit the poor who are easier to manipulate. The use of religion is incorporated in increasing the efficiency of gangs of terror crimes. Most Arab countries cite the injustices from the dominant class or superpowers especially the US as the cause of their indulgence in terrorism. They feel alienated and exploited by the US. If the feelings of alienation are eliminated effectively then curbing of terrorism would be possible.
The formation of terror groups for instance Jemaah Islamiyah of south East Asia was initially to push for the establishment of sharia laws in Indonesia. However with time this changed as its association with the al Qaeda became intense and it involved the training at Afghanistan camps.
Membership to the movement increased and it was easy to manipulate them especially using religion. It was internalized by many that it was a jihad or holy war to kill people from the west. This can be well illustrated in the October 12 2002 terror attacks in Bali Indonesia in which the ‘people from the west’ were the target group. The group was also responsible for the attack at the World Trade Center in 1993.
Inequality in their own countries does not cause terrorism in Asia however inequality in the world standards where there is a wide discrepancy between the developed countries and the developing countries is what warrants the terror activities.
Killing the key leaders is also a measure of reducing crimes of terror in the society. Americans believe that establishing democracy in Asian as well as the pacific countries would solve terrorism. Democracy promotes the freedom of expression and speech and if it replaced the monarchial form of ruling where people only use the terror attacks to air their grievances. Democracy also promotes or rather advocates for the respect of human dignity that is highly abused when terrorism takes place. Other mechanisms to curb these crimes is the use of military power as well as the use of diplomatic, financial and intelligence and law enforcement activities to protect innocent citizens from harm.
Disrupting their accessibility to acquire vital or basic things needed to survive would also be effective in hindering their activities. Paul Pillar in his book, Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy explains how controlling the flow of fire arms or any other weapon jeopardizes with their day to day activities and hence reducing their effectiveness.
Massive campaigns against terrorism across the globe reduce the number of nations that have a significant influence or can offer assistance to terror groups. (167). Terrorists have diversified networks that hinder their effective elimination. This is evident from the constant appearances of the terror gangs in the media to declare their intentions of attacks. Security has been enforced to ensure that their easy access to areas they plan to attack is prohibited.
Technical advancement as described by Marx is a consequence of criminal activities is evident. The security levels have been heightened through technical improvements geared to making the screening of visas more effective.
The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and United Nations counter-terrorism bodies have been at the fore front in fighting against terrorism. Although the tight relationship was not an ancient occurrence the parties involved intended to ensure that it lasts for long.
The UN advocated for disarmament of all countries and is also keen to suggest the imposition of harsher measures on those responsible for crimes of terror. It is well aware of the effect of weakening the impact of terror groups by denying them relevant but essential things. Interpol was very cautious in fighting terrorism as can be seen with their efforts in increased scrutiny of people thought to be suspects.
According to Marx the major policies that would ensure that terrorism is a thing of the past is the introduction of communism where ownership of property is communal not private. This way the levels of inequalities would be eliminated and there will be no need to fight in trying to fight oppression from the dominant countries. Instead of the US trying to impose their control powers on developing countries it can assist them address their own inequality issues towards promoting one united world. Alienation feelings would be a thing of the past as no group would feel exploited by the other.
George Brenkert. Marx’s Ethics of Freedom. Rutledge publishers. 1983. P 191- 197
- B Bottomore and LawrenceHarris. A Dictionary of Marxist Thought
Blackwell Publishing.1991. p 90
The White House. National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. September 2006.Retrieved on 2nd April 2008 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nsct/2006/
Paul Pillar. Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy. Brookings Institution Press. 2001. P 167