ISSUES IN FOCUS
Week of May 3, 1999
CRIME’S FINAL CAUSE
Crime is any activity made illegal by a government. Properly, however, there is only one activity that should be criminal: the initiation of force. In order to understand the fundamental cause of crime—such as murder, robbery and rape—one must focus on the philosophic reasons for crime.
In America, the idea that there are no absolutes has played a critical role in mutating children into criminals. But this idea alone is not sufficient, in and of itself, to turn a child into a criminal. Our schoolyards and campuses are seething with students and teachers of the non-absolute, yet only a miniscule number of them, so far, have engaged in criminal acts.
In other parts of the world, there are those who murder others out of a fanatical and blindly-held belief in some irrational absolute, one usually handed down by religious and/or ethnic leaders. In America, this type of crime has represented only a small fraction of criminal behavior.
Both of the foregoing—indulging in criminal acts because nothing is absolute or because of a blind belief in an irrational absolute—are actually opposite sides of the same coin: the rejection of reason as the guide for one’s actions and the opting for force as one’s means of dealing with others.
Many youngsters are taken, by either of these ideas, to the brink of crime. But for most, it only takes them to the brink—and they stop. For those that go over the edge and become criminals—to murder, rob and rape—there is a final idea that must take hold in their minds, a final ingredient that turns them into depraved fiends.
There are many psychological and practical roads to criminal behavior, but they all converge at one, ultimate destination: the initiation of force by the criminal against another individual. It makes no difference what specific route a youngster takes on the way to becoming a criminal: only the final outcome matters—his decision to personally initiate force against another. And it is the acceptance of this idea that is the tripwire, the final cause, that turns a child into a criminal.
Now, consider the philosophy of the criminal. A criminal operates on the idea that your life, money and property are not yours. Since your life is not yours, he feels free to murder. Since your money and property are not yours, he feels free to take it. And he does all of this by means of the initiation of force.
Now, who are the most vocal exponents of the criminal’s philosophy? Who is bombarding children with this philosophy every, single day? Who has such pervasive access to all media outlets that they are able to spread this philosophy virtually around the clock? Who, through words and deeds, maintains this message as a steady drumbeat pounding away incessantly at the minds of children? Statist politicians and their allies in the media and academia.
Statist politicians place restrictions on how you may live your life—all on the implied premise that your life is not your own, that it is not yours to live as you see fit. Statist politicians take your money and restrict your use of your property—all on the implied premise that your money and property are not yours. And what means do they use to accomplish all of this? The initiation of force by the state against you.
The philosophy of statism is the philosophy of the criminal. Statism is the doctrine that declares your life, money and property are not yours—and that it is right to initiate force. A criminal is simply acting out, as a private individual, the central ideas of statism. A criminal is a statist who has decided to go into business for himself. Over the last 50 years, with the rise of statism, we have seen a corresponding rise in crime—and the growth of the former has brought about the growth of the latter.
Statists dare not identify the philosophy, and cause, of crime: to do so would be to condemn themselves. Instead, as they feign concern over the victims of crime, they seek to further their political goal of augmenting their power. Diverting attention from the actual cause of crime, they call for more restrictions on freedom, for measures to ban weapons, to censor the media, to regulate any outlet for the dissemination of ideas, to regulate parents and children—a call for everything except for the recognition of their own role, and that of their ideas, in the creation of criminals.
If the American public finally comes to understand that crime is the practical expression, in the private sector, of statism’s ideas at work in the public sector, then you will be able to stick a fork in statist politicians: they will be done.
May 3, 1999
© Copyright 1999 Fulton Huxtable
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