Sunday, 6 June 2010

Liberal Criminology

by:  Caries Hanson

The trends within the discipline of criminology have been to search for a methodological and ideological update of liberal thinking.

The cry should not be for a new criminology as a distinct body of knowledge that promises equality within the framework of mechanisation or the state.

The recent trend has been to latch on to authoritarian Marxist principles for meaning and survival, as political and economic elites have historically done, but this only suggests the desperation of criminologists to avoid the choices that have to be made. If anything we should be defining a different world without criminology or the science of punishment in which the hierarchical institutions of the state are dissolved.

By assuming definitions of crime within the framework of law by insisting on legal assumptions as sacred, criminologists comply in the concealment and distortion of reality of social harms inflicted by persons with power.

The world is full of strife, war, misery, injustice, poverty, crime, and exploitation along with rulers, governors and humiliators of the downtrodden. Specific persons pose serious threats to our freedoms because they wish to use each and every one of us instruments of their freedoms. They surround us with their language, concepts, theories, ideas and meanings.

In the process they construct powerful hierarchies and institutions to control manage and teach ideas, legitimising their acts to create docile legally conditioned animals. They teach and coerce us into their values and make it in each person's interest to uphold the political economy which benefits them only.

It is not the social harms punishable by law, which cause the greatest ills of the world. It is the lawful harms, those unpunishable crimes justified and protected by law, the state and the ruling elite's that fill the earth with misery, want, strife, conflict, slaughter and destruction. War and the health of the state are the misery most obviously produced and the most cleverly concealed.

Liberal criminology has become a 'gatekeeper' for state domains of control, the value assumptions of hierarchical authority, of centralised controls and a safety valve and temperature gauge in the limits on how far the state can go.

The liberal writings of the various sociologists, criminologists and psychologists are given much attention in criminology which is indicative of the continued fascination with power, control and the models of the mechanical world. Their thinking is that man is the centre of the universe, but that they are the centre of man. They prescribe what is good and acceptable and how the world and life processes should be managed.

To remain part of the 'status quo' and the academic scene requires at its least submission to a shearing of consciousness, that is tantamount to a shearing of ones humanity, to stand by and observe is to participate, passivity is activity, passivity is assent.

If social scientists have emerged as the market researchers for the state, criminologists, sociologists and psychologists have become the locksmith's, they provide as do all other branches of the social sciences the rationale for the maintenance of the state and its control of its dissidents, but they shield the eyes and close the noses of people to the destruction of themselves as people.

They prefer to spend their time on researching shoplifting, parking-meter fraud, offending behaviour in general and the dubious interventions, which they promote with gusto than the struggles of humanity.

Historically it is not surprising to find statements about justice reflecting the ideology of the state, of law and the existing economic order. The just were always the state.
In the context of the liberal state, the 'black-bag* magicians issue forth no statements about the quality of life, but rather the quality of certain lives, of liberalism and of systems that have no regard for individuals. They have accepted the divisions of the world as it suits the destroyers rather than its creators. They are mercenaries, 'guns for hire* willing to compartmentalise themselves into as many parts as is necessary to carry on 'business as usual' with minimum interference, in so doing they define and label victims of the state.

Rather than smashing idols that take away clarity and vision, these so-called 'scientists' of human nature have posed themselves as minor idols (mandarins) and breathe the uneven breath of the saint who considers himself beyond humanity.

To them human experiences that do not meet standards of certainty and cannot be measured by the dubious methodology of the social sciences are abandoned as irrationalities. In so doing these 'experts' of life continue to defoil the natural living world, they also defoil the minds and tongues of its human inhabitants. They control language about what is real, coin and fit words for the kaleidoscope of illusions they design, thus we live in a culture in which people have no sense of their position.

Criminologists especially among the social scientists continue to demonstrate an outright rejection, at least a reluctance to believe that the methodology of science can be viewed in the context of ideology. They believe as if law and state are absolutes and the impeccable foundations of the correct world, receiving authority by way of some absolute divine right.

Though criminologists have been concerned with social relationships, social organisation and disintegration, the underlying philosophy of thought has been essentially the same as that of he physical sciences, people are seen as 'out there', as objects, things that can be viewed and reviewed as under a microscope, dissected, labelled and stuck back together.

They demonstrate little questioning of the sources of authority that dictate who is to be observed and controlled. They continue to assume the benevolence of the cloak of rationality, observation and policy to define the sick, the criminal and the withering members of the world. In so doing they hang out shingles advertising their messianic nature, their secret priesthood to save and restore for the right price those whom their research and policies set up.

In becoming more vociferous about their authority and 'mandarin' status, they have begun to lose their 'flock', to be without convinced believers, they have become beyond belief, beyond the human, in exchange for becoming a source of ideological comfort for the stomping elite.

Many social scientists still see the world of social problems to be the world before their 'scientific' legally corrected and state corrected eyes.

For continued membership of the elite class, these mandarins, and the 'do-gooders'. And the reformists pay their dues by mitigating the guilt of the elites, by providing scientific rationale for the destruction of various scapegoat groups. Given people to look at without an historical relative view of law and illegality, social scientists see 'abnormalities' as conflicts residing within the soul, the person rather than within the ideas, values, interests and authority of the powerful and crime as one form of resistance to these ideas, interests and persons.

What behaviour the criminal law cannot contain within its domain to hunt out the pathological, institutionalised psychiatry, psychology and social work in its sheepish submission to positivistic modes of thinking, will seal tight.

Those who seek meaning for their personal lives are the first to be acted upon, those who retreat, 'bail out' or rebel and for whom no community exists become ready victims of the one forced reality of the state.

The problems of justice have always been a problem of 'people management, responded to in the form of a well regulated 'stable' and a humanitarian system of criminal justice under existing existing economic and political arrangements. Some communities now become managed like some farms with the influx of the do-gooder, social worker, 'out-reach ' worker, community workers, sociologists and psychologists who seek to measure conflicts and the shifting of resources but always within the rule structure of the game warden.

Even the notion of the therapeutic state has evolved historically through humanitarian motivation, though this motivation may have been involved, it was certainly accompanied by control motives and policies of recognised safety valve effects.

The judiciary, which is an integral part of the drama, requires some attention. With its black robes (priests of the state) enforced deference, demanding linguistic superiority and unintelligible jargon, the judiciary cloaks the basis of law and the reality of equity in myths of fairness, the show never stops.

The very processes of law are designed such that the processed person is ignorant of the process and required to have others act on his or her behalf in a language that is incomprehensible. These processes are carried out in a series of legal, psychological, medical and sociological invasions of the person. The processes of law reduces humanity, objectify persons as cases to be disposed of, sold to the highest bidder of diversion or to penal programmes. What human alienation might have existed, the legal processes completes, destroying belief on oneself.

Apologists for the criminal process present defences for the necessity and continuation of law - 'the rule of law'.

In their reification, such bodies hide the fact that law is one instrument by which men have attempted to resolve the question of authority. They hide the fact that the rule of law is rule by men often through violence coercion, brutality, isolation and punishment. The analysers do not analyse the roots of grievances, inequality, injustice and abuses or the reasons why we have become a 'suing society'.

To believe that justice can be culled from bureaucratic red-tape processes in which the actors have no human stake in the processes is to believe in slavery, defend the sources of injustice and to promote the continuation of the slave plantation.

According to the social science ideology, each person is determined by forces of which he or she is unaware of As a consequence, he or she is not responsible for his or her actions, the offensive act signifies (is a symptom) that the actor is sick, unbalanced, unsocialised or chromosomically deviant.

The actor is a criminal, his or her whole being is criminal, he or she is different than others and therefore unequal, a part of the world that needs re-ordering. Conflicts must be resolved scientifically by experts who understand the malaise of the criminal, they can 'treat' the criminal into compliance and obedience through castration, lobotomy, psychological intervention (brainwashing) and when all else fails by lethal injection or the hangman's noose.

The criminal needs to be re-educated, to be bureaucratically processed, medically or scientifically judged different and where necessary contained and isolated until he or she thinks, feels and acts 'correctly'.

Though science and law are conflicting ideologies especially regarding the issues of responsibility, volition and state benevolence, they are as equally serviceable to those in power. Both focus on the individual through symbolic deterrent processing or treatment, both uphold the superiority of the 'experts' judicial or scientific and both postulate one-reality consensual view of the world. Neither question the current political-economic-social order, rather both owe their presence and allegiance to serve, to maintain the present order.

The whole of society has come to take on the properties of a 'total institution' best characterised as an asylum. The state lias become the 'protector', the 'parent', the 'teacher' and the 'punisher'. The 'Nanny State' and its squads have reduced the individual to total property, the tool - the inert extension of the machine of the state.

If you seek positions of power or that of intervention on behalf of elites or power structures, to be a decision maker or to make a career of directing others you are part of the corruption of the state in its oppression. To make a life activity of exercising power is to perpetuate a malevolent state of human affairs.

If you are seeking positions of power or decision making for others, it is you that become criminal, inspecting, bossing, registering, ordering, rehabilitating, paroling, spying, informing or executing places one firmly within the pattern of power holder.

The misery, hunger, wars and strife far surpass the harm of common theft, that the former are intentionally clothed in myth aggravates the harm of the acts themselves. Punishment, retribution, deterrence and protection are concepts logically consistent with imposed authority and loss of human dignity. They are bye-words for ceremonies of enslavement in a society in which slavery is cherished. Treatment, re-education, therapy and behaviour modification are concepts logically consistent with state scientism, the up-dated technology of bureaucratic control.

In the past those who posed a normative threat to localised religious ruling elites were designated as sinners, witches or heretics and met with whippings, brandings, and banishment even death. Those who posed a threat in the early capitalist state alliance were designated as criminal and imprisoned where they were subject to economic exploitation. In current times, those posing a threat to the welfare-scientific states are likely to be designated as mentally ill, socially disordered or even as victims.

Those who refuse to accept the conditions of the welfare state megamachine are sifted, sorted and designated until they reach the components of the paper by which they are processed, in other words social lobotomomization.
Since the late 19th century there has been an increase in the number of people criminalized and sent to penal 'dustbins' and 'warehouses' large expenditures are required to maintain the flow, necessitating an expansion of prison building programmes. Prison overcrowding, idleness and the potential threat of riot and disturbance with consequential lack of control have caused the power structure to seek ways to ease the pressures whilst at the same time retaining the symbolic values of criminalizing members of the 'dangerous class', hence probation, community service, parole and electronic tagging.
Within the social sciences the ideology of determinism was taking hold, its proponents held that each person was propelled by forces - economic, psychological, anthropological or physiological all of which he or she is unaware of, human kind therefore was not capable of exercising free-will, man was determined, the individual as a consequence was not responsible for his or her acts or character.

Punishment or confinement was inappropriate; deterrence foolhardy, fixed sentences were counter-productive to the reduction of crime. The individual must be diagnosed scientifically and a cure prescribed. Indeterminate sentences were required to protect societies and bring about a cure, the actor becomes the focus not the act, the criminal was invented because of ones behaviour, thoughts or mental-health attitudes, states were symptomatic of the person's essence, illness.

The criminal now is not a human person committing an irrational act but rather someone different - criminal (determined and different) or pathological, the criminal is not a person with an alternative or authentic morality or reality, he is undersocialized and in need of treatment

Social structure, social change, human diversity, similarity and human need now takes precedence over duty as the basis of society.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists and counsellors and other sundry 'treatment experts' have now entered the prison and juvenile 'fortresses', criminals now have to be studied, each one's unique and different characteristics must be located and rooted out, lawyers in feeding off this approach now employ the various differences to crime on behalf of their clients, pathology, mental incompetence, insanity, the weather, age, gender to the extremes of whether the defendant 'victim' was breast fed as a child.

Understanding the criminal mind has become a rich industry in recent years. The so called 'experts' have cast themselves as interpreters of 'monsters minds', occasionally even casting the criminal as a victim of one sort or another but invariably complicating rather than simplifying the matter. If taken seriously the result of such pseudo-science and history will be moral mayhem.

Individual treatment programmes have never been fully practised and rarely if ever showed results except at Auschwitz.

Locating he pathology in the community rather than in the individual has lead to numerous attempts to correct and control the criminal and drug sub-culture. Out-reach and street-gang detached worker programmes which focus on the local community does deter certain specific persons from lives of crime or drug abuse but it will never alone dam the floodgates of its production.

There is a move within the Criminal Justice System towards de-institutionalisation and an ideology of de-criminalization and diversion in search for alternative management stratagems. Dc- institutionalisation means closing the gates of the 'fortress' prison in favour of therapeutic communities and community based sentencing. The reasoning implies that the community must get involved, that members of the community are responsible, that the community must participate in the control of its problem persons, that the offender must be integrated into the local community.

This decentralisation of institutional diversion presents the appearance of local control (more mythology) but is also a movement towards the welfare state.

Such programmes are institutionalisation, its form (reform) is worse because it makes the problem and remedy (control) less stark.

Small residentially based prisons or institutions (hostels, halfway houses) which improve the living conditions of its captives take the appearance if not the heart out of the 'fortressed ' reality of elite control,

The fact is that among the persons to be deinstitutionalized few could return to the community. They do not control the substance of law, their schools, their economies, the police, or the social structures. For them the community represents one more piece of baggage of the elites programmes. One cannot be integrated into a community when community does not exist, but this is the ever-increasing language of the welfare state. The structure is not changed only the managerial mode. The other strategy is behaviour or mind control through the use of dubious pseudo-scientific psychological practices.

The great fear is that the potential for social harm has no limit, who controls, treats, conditions and demolishes whom? How? And why?

Can we all become subject to behaviour modification and all in effect be indeterminately sentenced?

To all those who have explored, there have been no successful correctional programmes yet they have all been successful in retaining a pool of persons for processing. One cannot participate in the therapeutic state without realising that persons with the greatest sense of sociability are resolutely criminalised or submitted to the therapy.

The history of deviance designates and state responses has reflected the modes believed to be best to secure obedience and control. The designates and responses have also reflected the historically and geographically specific economic and social conditions of the time. Sinners, criminals, the mentally ill and the poor (surplus) have been responded to with banishment, brandings, prisons, factories, asylums and lobotomies and in the process welfare consumptive worthlessness.

For the new mandarins, the Blairites, the liberals and the 'centre left' concern for human liberty and the ideals of a just society are to be treated with scorn, taken as naive, primitive impracticable and Utopian. Technological managerial ideologies and the authority based economic hierarchies they protect dismiss all concerns for liberty and justice and any non-hierarchical forms of society.

Today the state has succeeded in meddling in every aspect of our lives.

From the cradle to the grave it strangles us in its arms, pursues us at every step, it appears on every street corner, it imposes on us, holds us, harasses us, it regulates over all our actions and in the process accumulates mountains of laws in which the shrewdest of lawyer is lost. It creates an army of employees, an evil band who have only one religion - control, manipulation and an easy buck. For social workers, probation officers, community workers, counsellors, psychologists who ' hook up' with any political party, they do so in order to be guaranteed maximum appointments for a minimum of work.

Within the order of the new mandarins, justice is transformed into universalistic treatment, equality is uniformity, the mandarins pervert their 'proficiency' in managing people and societies into a justification for doing so.

Those who administer or scientifically manage the lives of many are now servants of the ruling elite by the very nature their work, if they are not in fact the elite. Those most concerned about social problems are not quite at one with themselves in their desire to change them, solving social problems would necessitate a change in the organisational mores from which they arise.

The humanitarian for all his allegiances to the humanitarian mores, the drug counsellor seeking to divert the drug and substance abuser, the social worker the underprivileged and the probation officer the offender remain members of our society and as such is under its organisational mores. They wish to improve the conditions of victims but not interfere with the structures which create them. Until they give up their allegiance to the organisational mores and in some cases run squarely against them they must continue to treat symptoms without removing the causes.

No one loses by giving verbal expression to humanitarianism, the 'do-gooder1 is perfectly adept at this, but many would lose by putting humanitarianism into practice and certainly someone would lose by any conceivable reform.

Significant reforms within the prison system have not always come about by liberal intervention. In many cases reform has come about as a 'knee-jerk' response from the realisation that some prisoners are now more articulate, more socially and politically conscious and seek to by-pass the status quo in exposing their control and being that loss of control is their defeat they resort to compromises.

Other changes have resulted from the direct action of those who sought not reform or structural changes but an overhaul, it was not reformist in content, rather it was revolutionary in practice - Strangeways, Parkhurst, Hull, Dartmoor and Whitemoor!

Prisons have always been run by the consent of its inhabitants, do-gooders and reformists keep them 'in check' on behalf of the state, only those selected by the state are indeed allowed to enter our prisons, control must be maintained.

These people survive because of the 'safety valve' they operate on behalf of the state and the Prison Service to the extent that they are funded directly or indirectly by state operated organs. Organisations like the Preservation for the Rights of Prisoners founded by Dick Pooley on the exercise at Dartmoor prison. The League of Human Rights Observance founded in Parkhurst Prison and Radical Alternatives to Prison were all inspired by prisoners themselves and were always outside the sphere of the influence of 'do-gooders' probation officers etc.

The prisoners active involvement presented a revolutionary approach and found expression through such organisations, protests within prisons for a time mounted and certainly PROP became the focus of concern to the Home Office and indeed the do-gooders for they were bereft of control, these individuals wanted to believe that only they had the special skills and insights to articulate prisoners grievances, it never occurred to them that like the state appointed Boards of Visitors to prisons, they were merely seen as a safety valve and at times that valve was to blow.
Their self assumed monopoly on prison reform and manipulation had revealed them to be totally worthless at the crucial time, they became empty vessels,

Today we have The Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism Group and the Anarchist Black Cross who campaign for what they view as prisoners of the state, neither pull any punches and are always ready to expose abuses and denial of human rights, even the organisation of protests and limited financial assistance to prisoners.
Prisoners cannot rely on the do-gooders or indeed those self-assumed or self-appointed egocentric prisoners who assume such roles because of the benefit of being more articulate than their fellow 'cons', you do not negotiate from a position of weakness or from the surrender to the pseudo-reformists.

Today with this in mind and with the various government reports in recent years which do no more than show disaffection within the penal system, a new method of control has been introduced - The Incentive and Enhanced Privilege Scheme, the carrot and the stick to keep prisoners 'in line', to set prisoner against prisoner, a divisive mechanism based more on psychological intervention, but we hear little from the 'reformers' on the subject of the proposals to incarcerate those individuals considered dangerous irrespective of whether they have committed an offence or not, where does it stop? Who is dangerous and who decides? Indeed what is being dangerous?

After a thousand years of the right to jury trial that looks now set to end as does the shifting of the burden of innocence in specific cases and sentences become longer, and the prison building programme being extended to accommodate even more prisoners, where are the 'do gooders'?

In the final analysis, control by the elites will always remain intact and who really cares about that?

HMP Kingston, June 2000

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