It’s a fair cop, but society is to blame.
How often have we heard that? How much was it dinned into our brains in childhood?
Did you know it was a point in a Soviet dizinformazia campaign, one of several memes with which they willfully infected western civilization in hopes of bringing it down?
—Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
Yes, there are a lot of poisonous memes in that list. But it was a bit of overkill. For unmaking civilization, this would suffice and is enough.
Why? Because it both removes all individual responsibility and makes it impossible to fix crime, predation and injustice without making society perfect.
Of course, to make society perfect, you have to eliminate all humans who are imperfect, until the perfect man emerges. Which in turn brings us to the 100 million graves filled by communism.
Because humans aren’t — can’t be — perfect. And therefore society will never be perfect.
Like all the most effective and poisonous lies, it has a bit of truth. The type of truth all of us will realize who are human and have from up as humans.
The true part of the idea is that of course criminals act the way they do partly because of how they are, and partly because of how they were raised, and the things that influenced their childhood. Look, none of us thinks otherwise. We know. We know from our own childhood. The things we feel we did wrong, surely wouldn’t have happened that way if we’d been told how they would affect others. (Or would they?)
We know how our order of birth, or who loved us and who didn’t in our childhood affected out own development. And if we have a modicum of imagination, we can see that if we’d grown up in a different environment, we’d have been criminals, right?
That’s the truth and the lie of that meme.
First of all, sure, the circumstances in which you grew up affect you. The thing is, we don’t know how much, or even how. And part of the reason we don’t know it is that it might be different for each person. Nurture or nature? Yes. And to each person perhaps different.
But the lie… We do know incentives work. They work on puppies, they work on kittens and they work on humans. Yes, they work on each human differently. But if you believe something you do is good and will lead to good, you can overcome a lot of your nature.
One of my funniest and most continuous discussions with my two sons is when they tell me they’re incredibly lazy.
They’re not wrong. And I’ve seen them be horribly, self-destructively lazy. I remember the summer when they were in their teens when I swear neither of them saw the sun before noon, and neither of them did anything worth mentioning, except argue and watch illegal car races (Outside our window when we lived in downtown Colorado Springs. At least outside our window that year.) Any request they do anything worth doing was met with sullen complaining.
But then each of them turned to what they must do to achieve the profession (vocation?) they wanted. And they changed.
Which is why I argue with them. They are busy, scrambling-to-make-money-while-training-for-arduous-professions young men, and no one who sees them would say “lazy.” Because of what they want to do in life, and what it requires.
I understand them, because I am also horribly lazy. And my motivation often fails. It’s been more or less broken since I realized that traditional publishing would not allow me to succeed (by which I don’t mean that the format would not allow it, but that I’d not be allowed. That everything would be brought to bear to make me fail. Partly because my first series failed, and thus according to their broken model, it must be my fault, and if I look like I’m doing well, I’m really not, and their model must be proven right by refusing even a modicum of support to my work.) I’m overcoming it. By main force of will power. And yeah, sometimes will power breaks.
Anyway, the problem with that entire “society is to blame” meme is that it precludes that scrambling, that will power, that strength that is required to survive. It corrupts the idea that we’re all born with defects, and yet it is our honor and duty to overcome them, and that the greater the handicaps we’re born with, the greater our honor when overcoming them.
The problem with forgiving the criminal with “it’s society’s fault” is that it condemns the many people who were born with the same disadvantages and never committed crimes, and often did well.
It taints all success with evil. You want to know where the poisonous leftist idea that if you’re wealthy you must be a criminal comes from? It’s in there. Yes, it’s complemented by the stupid idea that all wealth is a fixed pie and no one should take more than “enough” but it comes from the envy and evil of that “society is to blame” meme first of all.
Because if you must excuse criminals because “society is to blame” (i.e. they were born poor or “disadvantaged” — and that word is poisonous enough in itself –) then what happens when people born in horrible poverty “make it”, sometimes to the highest ranks of wealth and power?
Well, if poverty makes you a criminal, then these too must be criminals, only they’re better at hiding it, and therefore extra evil. And I just gave you the key to 90% of the mysteries written by leftists, in which the rich or powerful man is to blame.
And if people who “make it” are demonstrably not criminals? Well, then they must have had “advantages” and “privileges” we know nothing of. And there you have the ridiculous idea that if your parents read to you in childhood, or encouraged you to learn, or did anything good towards your future development, you were “privileged” no matter how stone cold broke you grew up and how many things went against you.
Both the words “disadvantaged” and “privileged” are broken in this use. They don’t mean what they’re made to mean. Poverty gives you disadvantages, but if you’re a grown up human being, you know there are many other advantages and disadvantages, that have nothing to do with monetary wealth. There just are, because society is imperfect, because it’s made of imperfect humans. As for privileges, as Pratchett pointed out they refer to the power of those are in charge, those who can command a “private law.”
Reading books is not a private law, nor does it give you a private law. It’s a familial culture that, yes, helps in success, but doesn’t guarantee it. I don’t know about you, but I know people brought up by book-reading parents who have never cracked a book open and live in the ever-shifting world of TV blabbing. (And some of them still do well.)
It’s not difficult either for you — or me, or anyone with half a brain — to come up with the same history, one leading to power and money, and one to crime, and see the person described as “disadvantaged” or “privileged” depending on how you look at it and weather the person is in the boardroom or jail.
Yeah, there are really bad cases, where someone would need to be a hero to survive and succeed. And yet some people make it, even from there. (Apropos that, there is this post from bookworm room this weekend.)
People will never all be born the same in the same circumstances, because society is made of humans: that is jumped up monkeys who can’t see the future and are prey to their impulses.
Even the best of us could never, ever ever be perfect all the time. It’s not possible. And it’s not possible to keep yourself from doing harm. Just like every child who grew up knows he was a victim of injustice several times, every parent alive, ever, has a sackful of guilt for all the times we did the wrong thing knowing it was wrong, but at the time we just couldn’t do anything else. Our health, our emotions, our fallible nature made it impossible for us to do the right thing, or even avoid doing the wrong thing.
When you remove the responsibility for criminality from the criminal and put it on “society”, you’re demanding that society be perfect.
You’re also taking someone who has chosen to commit a crime KNOWING it was a crime (yes, lefties, most people know it’s wrong to rape, to murder, etc. Those who don’t already fall under “diminished capacity” and there are ways to keep them from harming themselves or others) and telling them it’s not their fault. That is, giving them leeway to fail/be criminals over and over again. Which means you’re entrapping them in envy, in evil, in refusal to change their ways. Because how can they if society is to blame.
Yes, I DO know we know now that people can be born psychopaths. What we don’t know is what that means. We do know that it doesn’t mean you must become a mass murderer or a career criminal.
But if society is to blame, there is no escape. Because society isn’t perfect, we can’t refrain from killing or robbing or whatever. We’re all damned from the moment we first draw breath.
I do believe how we’ve come to the point where much of the left must believe in invisible demons like “white privilege”, because you know, some people obviously come from somewhere profoundly broken and still make it. Something must explain it, in the heads of the left. So, white privilege, and book reading privilege, and words and math being patriarchal, and…
We’ve also, sadly come to how socialism (which also accepts this tenet) kills, either directly (by say, denial of socialized health care) or by preventing reproduction. If individual humans have no agency, what point is there in reproducing? We’re all part of a vast, collective meat-engine, groaning from evil to evil with no ability to self determine.
It also explains why they hate the more or less apolitical Jordan Peterson that much. He says “Sure, you’re made of snakes. We’re all made of snakes. It’s still your responsibility to clean up your room and live a decent life.” This is anathema to “society is to blame, and therefore the greatest criminals are just victims.” As it should be. And it makes him an existential threat to the gospel of the left.
It’s evil. It’s an evil, destructive lie. Unfortunately I’m not even 100% sure the Soviet Union knew how destructive it was. You see, it’s part of the Marxist creed that humans were at some point perfect, until property and “greed” came into the world, inaugurating the “capitalist” (the rest of us call it humans being humans. So that’s a lie, too) system, which then “distorts” humans, so society isn’t perfect and there’s crime. For Marx this would all be cured when communism automagically descended upon the world with the withering of the state.
Apparently it never occurred to the angry inkblot that if humans were still humans, this would never happen. Or that if it happened there would be no point to humanity, because all of us would just be perfect automatons living perfect lives.
Of course you were born in an unfair society. Duh. It’s human, created by fallible humans. And of course, the way you were raised, hell, the way you were born is going to make you susceptible to errors that in turn hurt others. OF COURSE it is.
Does this mean nothing is your fault? Oh, please. Be real. You know very well when you choose to do wrong things. And all it takes is ANY contact with the criminal population to know they choose.
Real crimes, not you know, the procedural crimes that infect our penal code, you know what you’re doing. You choose what you’re doing. When you rob, when you kill, it’s not society doing it, it’s you. And telling you that you’re a victim, just enables you to do it over and over again, which in turn, of course, makes society more broken and allows the snakeoil salesmen of communism to come along and promise peace and prosperity. Which, somehow, always turn out to be more power and wealth to those in charge, while the people below them, despite all curtailment of freedom (they must after all be made to be perfect) become more and more corrupt (because humans can’t be perfect. They can only life about it.)
It’s time to fight back. And the first place to fight back is inside your own mind. No, society is not to blame. No, you’re not entirely a free agent either.
Be merciful. Be as merciful as you can be, without turning the evil-doer into the victim and thereby being cruel to the actual victims.
And above all, be merciful to yourself. And demanding of yourself, too. The two are not incompatible.
Yes, you will fail. You will fail many times. Anyone who has achieved anything knows it starts with failing many many times. And sometimes it won’t be your fault (like I wouldn’t know that. Though part of it is, too, my fault.) And sometimes it will be.
The attraction of Marxism is utterly exonerating you and allowing you to five in to your worst impulses.
Like all such doctrines, it brings only evil.
Yeah, you’re made of snakes. That dinosaur brain, that monkey brain will betray you over and over again.
But you also know you have at least some control over your fate. Start small. Aim high and start small. Do what you can to make yourself and the world better today.
Humans are born to strive. We’re not cattle or pets to live in perfect happiness.
Society isn’t perfect. It’s most of the time not even good. And isn’t that a great opportunity?
Do what you can today. Establish your goals. Aim for them. Work towards them, even if they seem unattainable from where you are.
One step, two, and sometime in the future you’ll see you’ve come miles towards the goal.
Forgive yourself when you fail and keep at it.
There is no such thing as privilege, except the privilege of all humans: to strive towards what we want. That is your very own “private law”. The law you make your own, with your own will power. “I’ll forgive others and myself for failing, but I won’t hold myself excused from TRYING.”
There are disadvantages. All of us have them. Yes, many of them are invisible.
Disadvantages are there to be overcome. That’s what we are. That’s what we do.
And now I’m going to do at least a little bit of work towards my goal of making an impact on the culture with my writing.
And you go too and take at least a few steps. Today. Just start. Who knows where it will end?