July 13, 2008

Stir up the fires, burn the authoritarians

Oh god, more authoritartian bullshit. The teenagers of Redruth, hardly a known crime capital, have been placed under indefinite house arrest without trial. What is worse this policy is popular. The state took away parents power to control their children so the parents now want the state to control their children for them. As DK says:

So, nine out of ten parents admit that they have no control over their own children and would like to dragoon the state into bringing in blanket and arbitrary curfews backed by the force of the law instead.

You know what, parents? Fuck you.

House arrest for teenagers in not the answer to knife crime. Whoever it was decided that collective punishment was the way forward please go fuck yourself, up the arse, with this.

Teenagers are not the source of knife crime, there have been teenagers since the dawn of the human race. They have been going outside in the evenings since the dawn of the human race. They have had knives since the dawn of the human race, before the dawn of the human race actually, but the dramatic rise in crime rates that we are worried about have only been going on since the end of World War 2. 50 years ago there where a lot more youths with knives walking about, but very very few of them using them to kill each other.


Perhaps you don't think that that shows an accurate picture? The definition of what is and what is not a crime does change all the time so you would have point. Literally thousands of things that where not crimes before now are, for example there has been one new crime a day since Labour came to power in 1997. So perhaps homicide rates would be better? There are fewer data, but the trend is identical.

So we are looking for something that had an impact on everybody in the country, but that affected the poor a lot more than the rich. something that happened just after World War 2 (the Home Office paper I linked to above dates it as 1954). Something big enough to change the very foundations of society.

Some people would say it was the end of conscription, and they would be wrong. Large scale conscription has been used precisely twice in british history. Once during WW1, once during WW2. If it was not having conscription was the cause of the criminal problems of today then you would expect similarly high crime rates before WW1 when there was no, and never had been any, conscription. Or at least a spike starting in the 1920s after the WW1 conscription had ended but there wasn't any.

Some people would argue that it was the end of the death penalty, and they would be wrong as well. The removal of the death penalty will certainly have changed the risk/reward balance of violence, but the death penalty for murder was suspended in 1965 and an effect cannot proceed a cause.

Maybe a good place to start looking would be this piece by Chris Dillow his idea is that it is based around social and economic conditions.

Put yourself in the shoes of a young inner-city (black?) lad. Unlike those from more fortunate circumstances, he does not see how it’s possible to succeed by co-operating with others and playing by the rules, simply because he does not see people who have done so. His law-abiding neighbours are poor. Chances are, the only rich men he sees are gangsters.

So, from an early age he learns that the only scant chance of success he has consists not in co-operating but in preying upon others, breaking the rules. Success, then, is a zero-sum game; “it’s a jungle out there” has long been a cliché because it’s true. At best, he carries a knife to protect himself; at worst, to kill others.

But what is the reason for these economic and social conditions? What changed the way that the poor live just after world war 2 so dramatically? It was not some sudden rise in inequality. Inequality was far higher during the Edwardian era when crime was at its lowest. It was not actual poverty, this has been reducing for centuries at an accelerating pace. Why did even the very poor see life as a positive sum game before world war 2 and then as a zero sum game after?

Before world war 2 many people would have been able to directly see the benefits of mutual co-operation because they would have been members of Credit Unions and Friendly Societies and other forms of benefit societies. Often operating in the pubs of the communities that they served most people would be a member of one and for a small amount paid every month they would get insurance should anything bad happen to them. A direct and very tangible demonstration of the good that can come from mutual co-operation.

There are a few left, such as the Exeter Friendly Society but most have now been wiped out. None exist in their original form. Why? Because they were destroyed by the monopoly power of something just after created just after World War 2, the Welfare State.


Blogger Robert the Biker said...

While I agree with most of what you have put here, I do have a couple of points:
While there was no conscription before WW1, there was the impress service (the 'press gangs') for manning the navy, not abolished till the 1830's IIRC.
Secondly, thr rise of the murder rate also mirrors the rise of mass immigration after the War, and its acceleration mirrors the rise in multiculturalism. We have most abjectly failed a generation of inner city black children by telling them that
a. You dont need to fit in with us, we'll fit in with you 'cos its your culture innit' and anything else is 'racist' and
b. We provide them with no heroes outside the thugs and 'gangstas' of the rap culture.

Most of the increase in murders lately have been the black-on-black killings here in London; so bad is this that there is a permanent police operation (operation Trident) to address the problem.

9:44 am  
Blogger chris said...

Actually the Royal Navy has never given up the power to press sailors into service. However the press was very different form conscription.

Firstly conscription affected everybody, but the press could only, and was only, be used against trained seamen. It was trained seamen they where after and what they took, no captain in his right mind would fill his ship up with a bunch of untrained land lubbers that would be spending most of the time seasick.

Secondly the press was actually only quite rarely used. Most sailor's in the Royal Navy where volunteers. It was overcrowded and dangerous but the amount of money that even an ordinary seaman could make was significant. The ships of that time practically never sank or blew up, normally the losing ships from a battle would be taken as prizes. These where then sold off back at port and the money distributed throughout the entire crew that took the prize in proportion to their rank. This is the reason that Nelson who started life from fairly humble middle-class origins ended his life extremely rich.

Third while the Navy kept the power to press seamen after the Napoleonic Wars where over the use of this already rare power became practically unheard of. If the end of conscription was a part of the present crime problem we should see a (small) rise is crime then. What actually happens is the beginnings of the steady fall in crime brought about by Sir Robert Peel's police force.

9:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What part does the unholy rise in loony-lefty-liberal mores and policies?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a rightist or a leftist (rather, my personal politics don't seem sit anywhere on this spectrum - I'm far more of a treat-people-with-respectist, which is not authentically on any parties' agenda in their constant batteles for their own power).

But it seems to me - a child of the 60s, a parent and an erstwhile educator - that PC has reached its idiotic zenith and we're now reaping the whirlwind.

10:48 am  

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