As a society, we maintain a great number of institutions which attack people’s self-determinism and hurt them in various ways. We are all responsible for our support for, or attacks against, these institutions and their consequences. If these institutions facilitate attacks against people’s self-determinism and facilitate hurting people, then they must necessarily be part of the causes of some crimes.
Consider for instance that about 80% of people who were sexually abused as children will molest their own children, or other children. I recognize fully that the molester is responsible for his own actions. However, I also recognize that the abuse would in all probability not have taken place without the ease with which parent-child sexual abuse, or sexual abuse from other family members, occurs in our system of exclusive parenting. The same is true for physical abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional repression, which can also have grave, criminal consequences.
Without the system of exclusive parenting, caretakers could be monitored and such abuse could be greatly limited. At least, any sane system of child-raising must have as its most fundamental objective to limit as much as possible the abuse of children. If that objective fails, then no other desirable objective can come to fruition.
Given the fact that we, as a society, maintain this institution which hurts our fellow human beings, we bear a collective responsibility for all the crimes committed where the deleterious effects of that institution is a cause for the crime. We all bear a collective responsibility for all the child abuse which is done under a repetition compulsion of parental abuse, all the violent crime which is committed as a repetition compulsion of parental violence, and so on.
And this is only for one single institution: each institution that we support as a society can be examined in turn, and be revealed as a causal link in its own plethora of crimes. The poverty-creating, alienating system of capitalism; the mind-numbing, forced-socialization slavery of schools; the mind-killing, sexually-degrading prison life (with the accompanying life-destroying criminal record); the morality-destroying hierarchies of religion and the military; and the inhumanity of the hospital system and the psychiatric system, are all responsible for destroying lives and creating crime.
In short: each and every one of us bears a collective responsibility, as part of society, for the crimes caused by the institutions, that we support as a society, which attack people’s self-determinism and hurt them sexually, physically and mentally.
Let me give an extreme analogy to illustrate this responsibility. Suppose that person A brainwashes person B, his child, from birth, for 20 years, to consider certain people as having to be killed, how murder is good, and so on. Then B, after his 20 years of brainwashing, goes out and kills one of the members of that targeted group. Our attitude in our Western “justice system” is that B is the sole guilty party in this murder. This is of course pure insanity.
I can foresee that many people will claim that I lack a sense of justice in saying these things. As I pointed out in my previous entry, anyone who tries to examine the roots of evil is automatically decried as trying to justify or hide that evil, because evil is seen as an innate property of the person (the “evil person”). Especially present is the conservative obsession over “personal responsibility” trumping all other forms of responsibility, which may lead people to say that I don’t believe people are responsible for their crimes, but rather that society is (which they attribute as the liberal position).
The sad fact is that there is no greater criminal than the conservative. He may trumpet “personal responsibility,” but when his friends are caught, his concept of responsibility goes right out the window. And when his enemies do so much as breathe, he is ready to punish them way beyond the actual responsibility of said enemies.
In fact, the whole conservative ideology is based on non-confront: non-confront of human biology, non-confront of basic human motivations, non-confront of our shared humanity, non-confront of social responsibility, non-confront of crime, non-confront of science and history, and so on. What they seek to “conserve” is the fear of disobeying the State, the corporate world, and breaking the order of things that they constantly recreate. So much, then, for the conservative’s sense of justice.
The fact of the matter is that I do believe that the criminal is guilty for his own actions, and should bear responsibility for his crimes. What I am talking about is an additional responsibility, not a shifting of responsibility. I am not saying “pity the poor guy; it’s really society’s fault”: I am saying that “it is the criminal’s fault for committing the crime” and that “it is society’s fault for making the crime possible.” I want to make that very clear, in order to annul any of the objections of the kind that I mentioned a moment ago.