Home > Contribution to the Civil War > Crime and Punishment – musing on the politics of the External

Crime and Punishment – musing on the politics of the External

There’s an issue that bothers me for long time. Capitalism seems to have a magic ingredient which contribute the complexity of the mode of the production since it exists.

As a start I was thinking of the criminality within the capitalist society. The trigger for this was the position of the Roma people in Hungary. They serve as a sort of sub-proletarian minority as all capitalist country have its ethnicity assigned to some similar role. Their alleged sub-proletarian role is derived from the fact that this minority bear much of the unemployment of the country and have notoriously the worst criminal statistics, or at least, due to the lack of official record on ethnic background, they thought to have the worst criminal statistics. The marginalisation of the Roma people is based on their alleged role as a sub-proletarian, making them essential media and political target as welfare-dependent, uneducated, unwashed, criminal stereotypes. Leaving these superficial ideological mystification behind, we could find a quite complex section of the social terrain which demands a more elaborate view on the society as a whole.

The actual case here, that many Roma families are completely lacking of any legal income apart from the welfare allowances. Members of the family have no job, and they are already at disadvantage on the job-market due to their criminal records. Of course, in this situation they have no legal way to get any loan either. As the welfare money is just simply not enough for anything (regardless of the lifestyle), it is unavoidable to get loans from other “institutions” that is, from loan-sharks. Loan-sharks it this respect became vital for many Roma families, and their involvement in criminal activities are hugely motivated by this fact. High interest rates can not be repaid by any other means. So at some extent we can observe here the constant rising of the Capital, with all its unmistakable birthmarks: A rising of a concentrated merchant-creditor class and a working class, who is likely to have huge amount of debt, rising. In fact, this subjected class shows a huge diversity without the possibility to categorise in any way. It’s ranging from “self-employed entrepreneur” to straightforwardly enslaved groups. The historical parallel with the early capitalism is more than tempting here. The early capitalism found already a great diversity of social classes and roused above them by the means of trading and lending. What we can witness in the “underworld” of modern life is the constant genesis of capital at the margins of the markets and of the classes.

There are two different models I came up with thinking about this peculiar sector of the society. One is for understanding how the illegal economy is completely integral part of the world market. For this I understood the criminal organisation of life as minuscule states that aims to exploit the “external” parts within the society, not unlike the ancient empires took advantage of the people of the “uncharted territories” and their growth was much of an external expanding. These “external parts” are in our case however, more subtle than it was for the Roman Empire. Their status of “sub-proletarian” as “external” to the legal scene of capitalism provides their particular ability to be exploited this way, often with higher rates than anyone within the legal framework. The wealth accumulated from such an illegal business practices breeds new formal, political powers in the form of mafias often grew so extensive that it would clash with the “legal” territory on the basis of interests. So, this model would lead us to an understanding of capitalism where the State formal existence lead to the continuous birth of sort of pseudo-States and if that critical event happens, the “war on crime” and alike is nothing short of a civil war. This model also implies that the communist movement has a continuous capitalist war at hand where we have to organise as intensively as in the case of the inter-state conflicts.

The second model isn’t completely divorced from the one above as I understand the “criminal sector” of capitalist production completely in harmony with the capitalist society as a whole. In the point of view of the State (the legal, formal power), exclusion is essential. There could not be more severe punishment imaginable in a society entirely based on market competition. A market in one way isn’t anything but laying out forcible norms between individual interests. Marketplace is a place where you can exchange your products according to the rules of who runs the marketplace itself. Fees, taxes, behaviour norms form complex legal machinery, and the State naturally is the enforcer of this rule in the scale of national market, and as a matter of fact it is also a beneficiary of running this market. The old republicans sought to unify the interest of the bourgeois with running the national market as a unified effort. Of course it was always idealistic to think that the otherwise competing capitalist of the national markets could be entirely subjected to such a union therefore it was inevitable that new markets will arise along with the national one… but existing in the same geographic and social location. Without effective hegemony over the social landscape rulers of any kind (democratic or dictatorial) sought to abolish these shadow markets where the fracture of the capital is accumulating in order to extend the national market rule completely over their sovereign territory. But there’s a side-effect in the occasional victory over these illegal organisations: the wealth appropriated during the ambushes on “illegal” capital is essentially adding up to the budget of the State and consequently all the market-actors of the legal framework, and most obviously the ones who have more “shares” in the market-running power. Thus, creating indirectly an external to the legal markets would profit them as the kidnapped slaves and robbed wealth for the colonial powers.

It’s pretty hard to deal with news like this from a communist point of view because most of the interest was focused on the “normal” behaviour of Capital where markets have less frequency of clashing each other (like in the case of transnational wars, economic blockades and other spectacular stuff). But looking at history I’ve found that this “hidden” (hidden as it is dismissed just simply under the term of criminal) civil war is more characteristic to capitalism than the former. To understand the way how this civil war raging through our social landscape almost continuously, to build organisations that could deal with the situation of proletarians outside the legal framework isn’t important only because of building some sort of critical mass of proletarian movement but also because in an insurrectionary moment this genesis of capital previously mentioned could become the very seed what we chose to fight against.

This is rather just an introduction to a hopefully interesting discussion than anything specific question. I’m looking forward to see contribution to the question of forming organisations involving the “sub-proletar” section of the working class, the historical practices of revolutionary movements to deal with the constant capital production, the counter-revolutionary force behind the organised crime and of course reflections to how useful such an investigation could be.

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