What is criminal? The term is abused in political debate to attack undesirable or politically- opposing opinions. What is deemed to be a criminal offense, a misdemeanour, or crime? Partly, it is a ‘natural’ judgment resulting from the human conscious, specific cultural traditions and experiences, and partly a political decision. What may be an economic crime for a socialist may be the advisable attitude for a libertarian.
In the beginning, we have to define what is culturally normal and not; what is right and what is wrong, and make up a framework designed by the community or tradition (the collected wisdom of past generations) to set down what is legally normal and abnormal; what is good and what is evil. The basic cultural values and concepts are the fundament, the design of statutory law, a framework only. A radical decision on the ‘normal’ is necessary, which can in itself not be pluralistic.
A basic assumption is indispensable for any further consideration. For me, human beings have a free will and a conscious, and, therefore, are responsible for their acts or omissions. Humans are formed by their genetic set and their environment. Ideologies from the left deny a free will and an individual personality (they only see collectives, classes, races, etc.) and see a human mind as a ‘blank slate’. From there it is a small step to see criminally-acting humans as victims of adverse circumstances and objects of re-socializing efforts only and to be averse to punishments – reactionaries standing in the way of progress excluded, of course.
The sciences which analyze criminal behavior and actions and reactions of potential victims are criminology and victimology. Both, within public discourse, are not well established, as sociology, political science, psychology and other realms calling themselves human sciences have taken over to explain or explain away criminal acts. This is detrimental for effectively fighting crime.
What is a pacified society and state and what is the opposite? A pacified society is one in which a normal member of that society can expect a crime-free environment and will experience crime or contact with criminals only as an exception. A shift in small numbers of criminals can already endanger the peace and stability of a society and a state. I once heard the argument that 99 percent of South Africans are peaceful and friendly. If only one percent of the population are criminals we would only see smoking ruins. As a rule, we may say that humans live in a pacified state if no more than half a ‘promille’ – one-tenth of a percent – of the population is in jail; as well as a working police force and criminal courts as a prerequisite. If the numbers go towards one ‘promille’, problems start. In South Africa, jails dwell around 160,000 prisoners, leaving the effectiveness of police and courts being questioned. Having a population of about 55 million you may, dear reader, calculate for your own.
The cultural homogeneity (that must not mean an ethnic one) of a population is important. The extent of legal and, especially, illegal immigration is important. The structure of the population according to age and sex is important, as about 90 percent of violent crimes are committed by males between the age of 15 and 35. As well as the legitimacy of institutions, especially faith-based; the preservation of cultural roots and stability; and most important is not only what the penal code states but the cultural ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’, and the binding power and general acceptance of cultural norms. Average numbers tell us nothing. Especially in ethnic, religious, or economically-diverse societies, we always have to focus on a concrete community and their situation. Crime can only be fought locally.
Back to M. Cicero: Loyalty and trust are fundamental for justice and a working system of law. No rule of law is possible without essential trust. That means reliability, stability, and truthfulness in behavior, manners and verbal proclamations. Therefore, it is constructive to keep the law clear, simple, short and to refrain from ‘motorized’ legislation. The law shall also not serve any cults. A healthy dose of skepticism is recommended.
Trust and faith must be mutual among citizens and state organs, and between state organs themselves. If provisions of law, especially criminal law, become nasty and tiresome (in the past, segregation and influx control and now quota systems and dubious hate speech regulations) the law itself is ridiculed, and necessary obedience will no longer be understood. If state organs do not care about the law or do not care what responsible organs do and say, the citizens will not care either. ‘Trust is fine but controlling is better’ is a typical Bolshie quote, but the opposite is true. A well structured legal system is running without too much control. Excessive control systems give birth to many kinds of corruption, especially the ‘envelope’. The fish always smells from the head. As the master so the servants. That cannot be repeated often enough. By writing and then managing law, we have to start from an adequate average assumption and a realistic anthropology. Most state interventions are counterproductive, unnecessary and are driven by political Romanticism or a policy of illusions. After crime has been defined, fighting crime starts with cultural (in the most extensive, Latin sense of the word) work and a certain degree of discipline must be enforced. Then, remaining criminal acts may be few and the objects of work for criminal police and courts.
Nullum crimen sine lege certum. But also: nullum crimen sine poena efficax. Justice must be done, but it must also be seen to be done and, of course, felt. Efficiency is not repressive, as social justice warriors say, or even’ fascist’, but one undeletable property of law administration. Nearly every crime is organized. What is actually understood with that term is an ongoing, business-like organized structure of criminals. Such structures will always try to influence or take control of state organs. In the worst case, both structures are interwoven and the citizens (sheep) cannot see any difference between wolves and sheepdogs. The term ‘corruption’ derives from the Latin word ‘corruptio’, meaning to ruin, spoil, or seduce. The term is related to the word ‘corruo, rui’, meaning to break or fall down, to perish, or to corrode. Bribery is just the consequence of primary corruption. Fighting corruption starts with refraining to give the traffic policeman money. The more regulations against corruption, the more control necessary, and the more bribery. That goes then ad infinitum in a vicious cycle.
The worst case is a state consumed by civil or subversive war, with no separations between criminal and political acts and acts of law substituted by factual measures; which can mean one thing today and another thing tomorrow. The framework and hierarchies of institutions are then replaced by suddenly created busybodies and execution, based on very vague orders of political leadership. Which states come into our mind? Still, hopefully far away from the worst case, we can still reorganize Law and especially criminal Law according to the classic rules combining liberty with efficiency.