What's New: Crimes of the Powerful & State-Routinized Crime
The following essay is my introduction to the Routledge International Handbook of the Crimes of the Powerful, June 2015.
Introduction: On the Invisibility and Neutralization of the Crimes of the Powerful and their Victims. G. Barak.
In the developed political economies of the world, most people are well aware of ordinary criminal harms to person and property. Often committed by the powerless and/or poor, these individualized crimes are not only catalogued in the statistics collected annually by the FBI in the United States and by similar agencies in other developed political economies, but the data as well as visual images of these crimes are also dispersed to the public through the news media. Additionally, there are television dramas and full-length motion pictures engrossed with “street” crimes. By contrast, the more harmful and serious forms of injury to person and property committed by powerful and/or wealthy groups or organizations and by governments or states are neither counted officially by any managerial agencies nor regularly reported on by the news media. And while the public has access to a handful of motion pictures and fewer made for television dramatic series focusing on “suite” crimes, the offenses are restricted to organized crime and the offenders to professional criminals.
As a result, though most citizens of the world and their properties are more likely to experience victimization from the organizational and institutional offenses of the powerful than from the erratic and atomized offenses of the powerless, most people are still concerned about the latter and are in the dark about the former. On the other hand, most critical criminologists are aware of the routinization of the crimes of the powerful and they are mindful that people are increasingly at greater risk for harm or injury from these criminals. And yet, our lack of knowledge of the crimes of the powerful compared to our knowledge of the crimes of the powerless persists. In part, as many chapters in this handbook document, because the crimes and victims of the powerful remain relatively invisible thanks to the concerted efforts of lawyers, governments, and corporations to censor or suppress these disreputable pursuits from going viral when they succeed. This absence of knowledge also continues, in part, because the discipline of criminology spends only five percent of its time researching, teaching, and writing about “white collar” crime while devoting ninety-five percent of its time to “blue collar” crime (McGurrin, et al. 2013). Even this five percent may be inflated because much of what passes for researching and teaching about “white-collar” crime (i.e., embezzlement, identity theft, insurance fraud) not only has little in common with the crimes of the powerful, but also are actually, crimes against the powerful. In these cases, chronically asymmetrical relations of popular knowledge and scholarly inquiry are deeply embedded in the cultural, economic, and political institutions that both influence and transcend academic studies of criminology.
Historically, the crimes of the powerful have managed to avoid or escape criminalization and stigmatization. Time and again, these powerful criminal activities have been conventionalized or neutralized by way of alliances, negotiations, and justifications that undermine the moralizations of these offenses (Carson 1979; Prins 2014; Ruggiero 2013). Concurrently, the legal reactions to as well as the ideological rationalizations of elite offenses by capitalist state actors and other defenders of the status quo contribute to this demoralization of the crimes of the powerful and to the denial of victimhood and liability for those harmed or injured. This tendency of state-criminal enforcement to concede to the needs of the organizationally powerful and to capital accumulation is nothing new. Two illustrations, some 150 years apart, are the habitual crimes of large manufacturers in 19th century England and the epidemic of securities frauds by major financial institutions in the United States and elsewhere early in the 21st century.
In each set of circumstances, there were criminal laws in place to impose negative sanctions on these habitual or reoccurring offenses. In the case of the daily victimization of manufacturing workers, there were laws to avert their wretched working conditions. Nevertheless, impoverished factory workers, adults and children alike, in locations like Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham were subject to flogging, starvation, and 18-hour workdays. In response, the biggest manufacturers regularly received immunity for their routine violations of laws prohibiting mistreatment of their employees (Harvey 2014). At the turn of this century, the recent wave of institutionalized crimes by the financial services industry in the US and elsewhere, which precipitated the Wall Street implosion of 2008 were committed with the assistance from the federal deregulation of certain securities transactions that were previously criminalized. However, there were other laws in place to protect consumers or investors and to criminally punish the world’s largest financial firms for failing to engage in due diligences or for trafficking in toxic securities masquerading as triple AAA certified investments. As most informed people are now aware, these and other systemic criminal violations throughout the financial services industry created a housing bubble and crash and a subsequent global recession, which resulted in the loss of trillions of dollars in capital and the victimization of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. And yet, not one of those financial entities or the principal agents responsible for these high-stakes securities frauds was ever subject to criminal liability or penalty (Barak 2012).
In each of these business as usual crime scenarios, the lack of criminal prosecution of the routinized illegal behaviors have been justified or rationalized away because of the necessity of capitalizing accumulation, enhancing the interests of the capitalist state, and elevating the national well being of all citizens. These social relations of criminal non-enforcement are reflective of a legal order where the capitalist state not only possesses the monopoly over the legitimate use of force and violence, but also the sovereignty over the currency and the law. In addition, the capitalist state possesses the power to tax and to redistribute incomes and assets as well as the regulatory authority over other institutions, such as education, health care, and criminal justice. Most importantly, the capitalist state has ultimate power or eminent domain over private and public property, as these are most often deferential to the needs of capital accumulation and reproduction. Meanwhile, the interests of the capitalist state are not one and the same as the interests of capital, and yet capitalist state apparatuses play key supportive roles in the management of capital vis-à-vis the collaboration of their departments of treasury and their central banks constituting what David Harvey labels as the “state-finance” nexus. Stated somewhat differently, the capitalist state is not an instrument of capital that automatically or mechanistically absolves the crimes of the powerful. Rather, the capitalist state apparatus represents a complex network of bureaucracies and vested interests that are loosely affiliated and whose discretionary power is executed in a bunch of legally contradictory ways that are increasingly subordinate to but not dictated by capital.
Let us take an example involving the relationship between illegal tax evasion, wealth inequality, and the policies of austerity that invisibly hurt average people globally in the name of national indebtedness. As Gabriel Zucman, a London School of Economics assistant professor and protégé of Thomas Piketty as well as the 2013 author of the best-selling The Missing Wealth of Nations argues, the idea of the richest nations’ indebtedness is an illusion caused by tax havens that he estimates hides $7.6 trillion or 8 percent of the world’s personal financial wealth. Based on his calculations, “If all of this illegally hidden money were properly recorded and taxed, global tax revenues would grow by more than $200 billion a year” (Leslie 2014). And these numbers do not include the larger corporate tax avoidance schemes where Zucman calaculates that 20 percent of all corporate profits in the United States are shifted offhorse, depriving the government of a third of corporate tax revenues, effectively dropping the corporate tax rate to only 15 percent.
Zucman argues further that if these offshore assets were properly measured, “Europe would be a net creditor, and American indebtedness would fall from 18 percent of gross domestic product to 9 percent” (Leslie, 2014). Keep in mind that since the less wealthy continue to pay their taxes, the prevailing tax evasive practices deepen wealth inequality as well as weaken consumer buying power. These tax avoiding schemes also skew economic statistics, hamper the private and public sectors from managing the economy or making social policy, erode respect for the law, discourage job creation, foster corruption, and accumulate private capital by rewarding indiviudals and corporations for sheltering money overseas rather than reinvesting it domestically in infrastructure and economic development.
Hence, victims of the financial crimes of the powerful (i.e., “mortgage foreclosures,” “control frauds,” “bankruptcies”) often remain hidden, unrecognized, and out of sight not only because of a lack of criminal enforcement, but also because various tax accounting schemes that during much of the 20th century were offenses in the US, are now commonly practiced by multinational corporations. These formerly prohibited tax avoiding or dodging schemes were decriminalized during the Clinton and Bush II administrations. Under Mr. Obama, these and other unspecified Wall Street practices has been rhetorically rallied against by the President but left essentially untouched by the law. For example, there are damages or loss of revenues incurred today from other state-facilitated forms of legalized corporate tax abuse, such as the practices of “synthetic cash repatriation” and “corporate inversions” that allow untaxed foreign profits to be used to pay the costs of domestic operations or to be reinvested in both stocks and US treasury bonds (McKinnon & Paletta 2014).
A Unifying Framework for Studying the Crimes of the Powerful
As part of the institutional crises and the changing social and political landscapes of the 1960s and 1970s, the study of the “crimes of the powerful” or what previously had been known as those illegalities committed by “white collar” criminals shifted to illegalities committed by private business organizations or corporations and state institutions. As Alan Block and William Chambliss (1981:2) wrote in Organizing Crime about the changing discipline at the time: “criminology underwent a ‘paradigm revolution’” with the “emergence of ‘the new criminology’” (Taylor, Walton & Young 1973) and “the study of the ‘crimes of the powerful’” (Pearce 1976), which included those “crimes of nation states, through the illegal and immoral acts of large corporations, to misuses of police and political office by local, state, and national power holders.” As part of a newly radical or critical paradigm, investigators were free to examine the crimes of power and privilege (Krisberg 1975) as well as the institutional abuses of racism, sexism, imperialism, neocolonialism, and capitalism (Schwendinger & Schwendinger 1970). This paradigmatic shift allowed for entertaining the idea that these institutional arrangements were criminogenic. Similarly, Block and Chambliss (1981:10) were writing about why the “criminal law and criminal behavior are best understood not in terms of customs, norms, or value-conflict and interest-group activity, but as directly linked to efforts by the state to create laws as a resolution to dilemmas created by conflicts that develop out of the basic contradictions in the political economy.”
Some twenty-five years later Crimes of the Powerful: A Reader appeared with a compilation of forty-five extracts from previously published material referring to crimes committed by state institutions and private business organizations and corporations with such substantive section headings as State, violence, crime: States of exception; Partners in crime: The protection racket state; Capitalism and the crimes of the powerful: The slow sacrifice of humanity; and Law and the corporation: Structures of irresponsibility. As its editor, David Whyte (2008) underscored, the study of the crimes of the powerful is “not merely about crime; it is really about power” and the institutionally powerful who have become “the central agents of power in contemporary societies” (p.3).
In everyday terms, the crimes of the not so powerful and the very powerful are inclusive of a panoply of criminal and civil offenses that range from the more mundane thievery, swindling, corruption, usury, predation, violence and coercion to the more arcane practices of monopolization, manipulation, market cornering, price-fixing, and Ponzi schemes, to the more exceptional war crimes or crimes against humanity, to the more common crimes against the environment. More abstractly, the contemporary crimes of the very very powerful are where the personal and the collective intersect and where all species might just depend for their common survival. Finally, the seven overlapping and semiautonomous faces of the crimes of powerful identified below often coincide with each other or with one or more of the other faces.
In the case of environmental crimes, for example, that are harmful to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, these may overlap with other crimes of the powerful such as global, corporate, financial, state, state-corporate, and state-routinized. Similarly, the crimes of globalization that are responsible for much of the world’s environmental pollution and ecosystem destruction, are also associated with those transnational corporations that have often abandoned traditional employment models as they rid themselves of union contracts, healthy work places, direct liability, and employment taxes. In their place, these multinationals substitute government-subsidized business models that pay excessively low wages, engage in wage theft and retaliation, and use contingent workers.
In this handbook, the unifying framework for examining the crimes of the powerful is found in the dialectical expansion or contraction of harms informed, on the one hand, by the reciprocal relations of accumulating licit and illicit capital and, on the other hand, by the reciprocal relations of capitalist reproduction interloping with the systems of bourgeois legality and the apparatus of the capitalist state (see also, Balbus 1974). In light of these political and economic arrangements as well as the emerging and traditional areas of criminological inquiry, this international examination of the crimes of the powerful is classified into seven clustered or overlapping sets of activities: (1) crimes of globalization, (2) corporate crimes (3) environmental crimes, (4) financial crimes, (5) state crimes, (6) state-corporate crimes, and (7) state-routinized crimes. All of these powerful and offending categories of criminality share in common varying gradations of leverage on, opposition to, and protection from the capitalist state apparatus of crime control.
To recapitulate, the crimes of the powerful are typically committed by well-established private and/or public organizations in violation of the rights of workers, women, children, taxpayers, consumers, marketplaces, political and eco-systems and/or against the interests of equity and religiosity, ethnicity and race, and gender and sexuality. These crimes of the powerful also refer to less commonly practiced forms of injury such as those involving torture or various kinds of genocide. These human rights violations are typically known as the internationally sanctioned crimes of war and/or crimes against humanity and the peace. In a nutshell, the crimes of the powerful concern a wide range of activities that are performed illegally as well as a narrower range of illegal avoidances or omissions that frustrate or do not sustain morally bound obligations, and a plethora of harmful activities that are legally beyond incrimination or civil action.
Presently, this and other up-and-coming investigations into the crimes of the powerful are propelled both by the converging material needs of geopolitical securitization and global capital, on the one hand, and by the academic studies in international, transnational, and global criminology, on the other hand (Larsen and Smandych 2008; Sheptycki and Wardak 2005; Smeulers and Haveman 2008). Accordingly, this international handbook brings together several distinctive and yet overlapping areas of criminological study that focus on those harms and injuries whose commonalities may include organizational and institutional networks of powerful people—locally, nationally, and transnationally—and whose fields of criminal endeavor and victimization are diversified and wide-ranging. Indeed, studies of the crimes of the powerful straddle a variety of disciplines and areas of academic interest.
A truly multi-disciplinary field of investigation, the study of the crimes of the powerful involves the cross-fertilization of areas of knowledge and inquiry from readings in criminology, human rights, criminal justice, law, security studies, development studies, and peace and conflict studies. Hence, this collaborative project aims to articulate a way of thinking about these crimes of the powerful that extends our existing theoretical and methodological frameworks for developing a localized and globalized understanding of the complex relations of law, power, and justice both interpersonally and institutionally. Finally, this transnational examination provides a rationale for mounting a nontraditional global movement in resistance to the crimes of the powerful and for social justice not unlike the emerging global movement in resistance to ecocide and for climate justice.
Part I: Culture, Ideology and the Crimes of the Powerful
This inquiry into the crimes of the powerful begins by focusing attention on the socially constructed realities of crime through the lenses of cultural, ideological, and lawful coproduction. As Augustine Brannigan writes in Beyond the Banality of Evil (2013), “crime is the use of force and fraud in the pursuit of self-interest. Sometimes this is illegal, sometimes immoral, and sometimes imprudent” (p.23). Importantly, much of criminality and particularly those crimes of the powerful are often treated as though they were “noncriminal” matters. Armed with this kind of understanding of “crime and crime control,” Part I establishes what constitutes the crimes of the powerful and conveys the economic, philosophical, political, and social interpretations that revolve around defining, excusing, and ignoring the materially harmful activities of the powerful.
One take-a-way from this conceptual overview is that in addition to the state apparatus, the people at large mostly through ignorance, also adjudicates or legitimates the acceptable costs of capitalist criminality, in the courts of public opinion. Together, the crimes of the capitalist economy, for example, become bearable because their overheads allow for and facilitate the progress, development, and survival of an economic and political system whose very legitimation and structure depends on the very same asymmetrical relations of privilege, domination, inequality, consumption, and profit (See also Ruggiero 2013). These self-interested crimes of the powerful, however, are not primarily about individualistic gains, avarice or greed. For example, the crimes of corporate domination or state repression are mainly about trying to secure organizational and institutional goals of advancement, survival, and/or expansion (Quinney 1977; Coleman 2002).
In the opening chapter of Part I, “Crimes of the powerful and the definition of crime,” David Friedrichs locates the origins of the historical bias of the field of criminology within the pioneering work of Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso and the publication of his English translated version of Criminal Anthropology in 1897, which treated the crimes of the powerless as central to his focus. Friedrichs tries to imagine how criminology might have developed differently—perhaps with the crimes of the powerful as its central focal concern—had the 1898 publication of Political Crime by French jurist, Louis Proal, with his emphasis on those crimes committed by the politically powerful, including tyranny, war, and corruption, not fallen into criminological obscurity, or had it acquired a large following of its own similar to or in place of Lombroso’s. Next, he provides a depiction of the evolution of the definition of crime in general and of white-collar crime and the crimes of the powerful in particular. Friedrichs also addresses the limitations of mainstream conceptions of crime, examines the meanings of the crimes of the powerful and who or what constitutes “the powerful” distinguishing between the very powerful and the petit (or petty) powerful. Accordingly, crimes of the powerful may range from the monstrous (e.g., genocide) to the mundane (e.g., harassing peddlers). Friedrichs finishes his overview by discussing emerging conceptions of the crimes of the powerful, such as the crimes of globalization, arguing that increasingly, the application of the term crime to the activities of the powerful is a core attribute of an evolving criminological enterprise.
In chapter 2, “Operationalizing ‘organizational violence’”, Gary S. Green and Huisheng Shou provide a heuristic interrogation of the meaning of organizational violence. They argue that because those who study the wrongdoing of organizations have yet to agree on the concept’s constituent structure, there is a tendency to both under- and over-ascribe violent behavior to organizational agents. Accordingly, they strive both to concretize the abstract conditions of organizational violence to give the concept meaning and to deconstruct the concept in order to determine what behaviors and individuals within an organizational entity should be held accountable, liable, and/or culpable for the crimes of organizational violence. Grounded in the context of organizational decisions and previous definitions of violence, Green and Shou discuss the pros and cons for the inclusion of specific elements in operationalizing organizational violence. After raising and responding to a series of nine questions, Green and Shou proffer their own working definition of organizational violence, as an invitation to others to come forth with precise meanings of organizational violence.
In chapter 3, “Justifying the crimes of the powerful,” Vincenzo Ruggiero concentrates his theoretical investigation on the ways in which the crimes of the powerful are justified through philosophical and political arguments. He begins his analysis by departing from Sykes and Matza’s 1957 “techniques of neutralization” because these justifications or ex-post rationalizations are “precisely situated and mobilised within contexts in which notions of morality and legality are negotiated.” Ruggiero’s adopted idea of justification implies “recourse to general principles and philosophies that are presented as non-negotiable, in that they are thought of as belonging to a collective patrimony of values.” By specifically using such conceptual variables as equality, inclinations, needs, toleration, liberty, and authority, Ruggiero reveals how non-negotiable justification represents “a strategy that may or may not incorporate deceit, but mainly aims to present conducts as being beyond good and evil, to allow them to escape any sort of judgment.” Finally, Ruggiero contends that these illegalities in the name of experimentation, innovation, and the pursuit of private gains and in the wake of their devastation have always had the capacity to restructure legal, political, and ethical relationships on behalf of capital accumulation.
In chapter 4, “Corporate criminals constructing white collar crime—or why there is no corporate crime on USA Network’s White Collar series,” Carrie L. Buist and Paul Leighton employ a content analysis of the first two seasons of the televised series White Collar. They found no programs on corporate or state crime or on respectable citizens engaging in criminal fraud of any kind. Instead, the programming revolved around high-end professional criminals, organized criminals, and elevated incidences of interpersonal crimes like murder rather than coverage of activities that more indirectly cause extensive suffering and victimization. Buist and Leighton conclude that the absence of corporate and state crime in the televised series White Collar parallels the real world where a public consciousness of the crimes of the powerful is disappearing at the very same time as corporate and state abuses of power are becoming more corrupt, harmful, and unabashed.
Whether based on actual or fictional narratives, there are two award-winning and critically acclaimed fictional dramas that are also devoid of respectable citizens engaging in organizational fraud, AMC’s popular series Breaking Bad (2008-2013) that entered the Guinness World Records in 2014 as the highest rated show of all time and Netflix’s streaming internet season House of Cards with two seasons under its belt and a third in production. These highly rated mass mediated programs are worth talking about because they too allegedly reproduce the behavior and crimes of powerful people. Like White Collar, both Breaking Bad and House of Cards are also wanting of any crime stories delving into the world of corporate, financial, state, or global crime. Instead, their interpersonally misleading representations of powerful criminals focus attention on the personalities and pathos of a few characters that in dealing with life’s adversities resort to predatory crimes of drug dealing, extortion, and murder. These stirring images of the individualistic crimes of the powerfully mundane or psychopathic not unlike the reified images of white collar crime in White Collar, are not reflecting on the victimization of consumers or workers by powerful business organizations or of the violations of personal privacy by governmental agents or of voting rights by political gerrymandering.
On the contrary, these criminal portrayals of the powerful are about evil people doing unequivocally bad things. No gray areas of wrongdoing, only shades of black and white. In the case of Breaking Bad, the story’s protagonist, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, turns to a life of crime to make a lot of illegal money for his family to tide them over when he is gone. He takes his expertise and uses it to cook some of the purest methamphetamine to be smoked in parts of Mexico, the USA, and Europe. Our outlaw staring character also distributes his product by way of criminal organized networks and drug dealing cartels. He also kills a few persons up close and personal and has potential witnesses against him “rubbed out” by a network of criminal thugs behind prison walls.
In the case of House of Cards, when the story’s villainous democratic House majority whip learns that he is being passed over for a Secretary of State appointment, he schemes with his equally conniving political wife to exact revenge on his congressional adversaries. On his way to positioning himself to replace a dying Vice President of the United States, he personally kills not only a fellow U.S. representative, but also a female investigative journalist that he has been colluding with and having sex with. By the final episode of the second season, the recently appointed Vice President Frank Underwood has set his boss up to have engaged in unethical and conflict of interest financial dealings while in the oval office. Rather than face messy impeachment hearings the President resigns—and as the closing credits for the second season roll across the screen—audiences witness Underwood being sworn in as the next President of the United States.
Part II: Crimes of Globalization
Whether one is discussing the logics of exclusivity and the social bulimia of late modernity (Young 1999) or the logics of expulsion and the elementary brutalities of advanced political economies (Sassen 2014), each of these analyses of a post-Keynesian multinational world order captures the new realities of advanced global capitalism. These social realities include neoliberal policies of austerity and privatization, the diminution of the welfare state, the immiseration and exclusion of not only the indigenous or migrant classes but also the former working and middle classes of developed societies, as well as the diminishing role of mass consumption for profits in a number of economic sectors, especially those intertwined with an increasingly driven financial globalism marked by the systemic extraction and destruction of the social, the economic, and the biosphere (Klein 2007; Harvey 2014). These crimes of scale and technology not only push people out or away as they contract the spaces of traditional economies and expand those of the newer corporate and transnational sectors.
Crimes of globalization refer to “those demonstrably harmful policies and practices of institutions and entities that…by their very nature occur within a global context” (Rothe and Friedrichs 2015: 26). These crimes of globalization are powered, in part, by the policies of neoliberalism and the actions of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and, in part, by the competitive needs of global markets and capital accumulation. As these four sets of powerful interests interact in the commercial affairs of nations and multinational corporations, they often negatively affect the well being of human and animal populations as well as ecosystems and natural environments. In Part II, the “global crimes” represented include violations of domestic, international, and humanitarian law and are not limited to these myriad of abuses and harms: the contamination of natural resources, health complications, high rates of poverty, extreme inequalities, global dysnomie, predatory activities, toxic waste dumping, violations of sovereignty, assassinations and disappearances, forced evictions, thefts of homelands, recolonization, human trafficking, and the violations of civil rights, worker rights, women rights, and children rights.
The five chapters incorporated here, individually and collectively, shed much light on the etiology of the crimes of globalization and the unsuccessful attempts to control the widespread harm and injury from these crimes. In chapter 5, “Capital and catharsis in the Nigerian petroleum extraction industry: Lessons on the crimes of globalization,” Ifeanyi Ezeonu examines the political economy of oil extraction in the Niger Delta and the harmful activities of transnational corporations, consistent with a growing body of literature that conceptualizes market-driven harms as criminogenic. Ezeonu argues that without a strong regulatory framework in Nigeria the Niger Delta region has become a perfect landscape for neoliberalism and economic activities that have been sustained at highly negative costs to the indigenous population, to healthiness, and to the natural environment. While manifesting high rates of poverty and extreme economic inequality, he also underscores how these abuses by a significant number of Western transnational corporations involved in crude oil and marketing have been aided by the various regimes of the Nigerian government. Ezeonu concludes that while Friedrichs and Friedrichs’ 2002 conception of the crimes of globalization aptly captures the Niger Delta region as a site of neoliberalism and enormous wealth and plunder, “the collaborate roles of domestic capitalists, many of whom control apparatuses of state power,” also encourages the re-contextualizing of these crimes as domestically preventable market-generated harms.
In chapter 6, “State and corporate drivers of global dysnomie: Horrendous crimes and the law,” Anamika Twyman-Ghoshal and Nikos Passas examine the extent to which neoliberal policies contribute to criminogenic processes. They do so by applying the analytical framework of global anomie theory (GAT) to two different case studies, the first involving maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia, and the second involving the forced eviction of an entire people from the island of Diego Garcia to establish a US military base and the accompanying theft of this nation from the Chagossians. Amongst their conclusions, Twyman-Ghoshal and Passas maintain that their case studies expose not only the double standards and inexcusable abuses of power, but also explain how global policies of neoliberalism are conducive to mass victimization. And finally, that global anomie theory is useful for both understanding transnational misconduct and explaining how the processes of globalization and neoliberalism can lead to anomie, dysnomie, and horrendous crimes.
In chapter 7, the first of two harmonizing offerings that analyze Walmart the retailing giant (see also Lang and Klein, chapter 13), Lloyd Klein and Steve Lang in “Truth, justice and the Walmart way: Consequences of a retailing behemoth,” scrutinize the workings of Walmart and other multinational global retailing businesses, spotlighting an international business model that bypasses environmental standards, creates dangerous manufacturing conditions, and subverts workers rights as a strategy for importing cheaply manufactured goods primarily to the United States. After exploring the consequences of Walmart’s business model for workers and communities in several countries, including China, Mexico, and Bangladesh, they “focus their attention on the ways in which workers and communities struggle to resist Walmart’s exploitative corporate practices.” Comparatively, they also examine other countries like Germany that have successfully resisted the global expansion of Walmart and its exploitation of workers and environments alike.
In chapter 8, “Human trafficking: Examining global responses,” Marie Segrave and Sanja Milivojevic provide a critical overview of the insights and contributions of both competing and complementary analyses of human trafficking. Theoretically, they take issue with the inability of these analyses to adequately capture the various forms of “gendered exploitation that occur in connection” with “the migration-labor nexus” that impacts those persons “least able to negotiate lawful migration and labour options in countries of transit or destination.” Pragmatically, Segrave and Milivojevic underscore that despite the extensive interdisciplinary analyses of human trafficking, there is limited empirical data to support many of the claims made and conclusions reached. The purpose of their critique is ultimately to stress the importance of attending to how we frame what is and is not considered human trafficking in order that we take stock of both the counter-trafficking strategies available and the limitations of conceptualizing human trafficking as a crime.
The last selection in Part II, “Globalization, sovereignty and crime: A philosophical processing,” by Kingsley Ejiogu, nicely rounds out the readings on the crimes of globalization. From the vantage points of virtual communities and the commodification of cyberspace, Ejiogu explores the philosophical creation of innovative models of transnational crime. Underpinned by theories of egalitarian global governance, reform interchangeability, and social change with the perceived gains of global interdependence, Ejiogu observes the emergence of the metaphysical pathways to globalized crime and the criminal, evaluates the dilemma of crime as a progressive attachment to the value system of human development, and questions the use of heuristic international philosophical synergies for globalized crime governance. More specifically, Ejiogu grounds his examination of the evolving values of globalization in relation to the transnational crimes of terrorism and human rights abuses at the meeting point of sovereign boundaries. He argues that the transnational development or global pathways of these crimes follow the new borderless world of the Internet. Finally, Ejiogu calls for the development of new disciplinary paradigms both at the integrity and intersection of sovereign borders.
Part III: Corporate Crimes
What exactly is a corporation? The modern version of a corporation is a 19th century invention of capitalism that created a separate entity, a “legal person,” which is not the same as an individual/s or shareholder/s who own/s the company. This corporate legal person like a real person can enter into contracts, borrow money, and sue for damages. However, a corporation unlike a real person has limited rather than full liability. That is, a corporation may be sued without exposing its owners or shareholders to personal liability because by definition they are not the corporation nor are any of the directors, executives, or employees. Thus, the corporation is a legal invention or “fiction” that allows individuals to personally profit from their kosher activities without having to be fully liable for their un-kosher activities, especially when people are harmed from those activities. Hence, the U.S. Supreme Court did not declare in Hobby Lobby in 2014 that a corporation has religious rights because it was confused about whether or not a corporation could pray, but rather because the Court decided 5-4 not only to allow business owners to retain the powerful protection of limited liability, but also to expand this benefit or right by exempting corporations from one of their basic financial obligations of the Affordable Care Act. Naturally, there could be no corporate crimes without corporations or the right to incorporate.
Corporate crimes are those illegal acts committed by either a business entity (e.g., a corporation) or by individuals on behalf of a business entity. Functionally, corporate crimes may also overlap with state-corporate crime (see Part VII) in particular and with state omissions or non-regulatory behaviors (see Parts II-VII) in general because the opportunity to pull these crimes off with minimal liability, criminal or otherwise, depends on the selective practices used by the apparatus of the capitalist state. For example, on 14 September 2014 the New York Times published an extensive investigation into the record of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that goes well beyond its publicly acknowledged failure to detect an ignition switch defect in several models of GM cars now linked to at least 21 deaths. The investigation also included the handling of major safety defects since 2004 and it found that NHTSA had “been slow to identify problems, tentative to act and reluctant to employ its full legal power against companies” (Stout 2014; Stout, et al. 2014).
After analyzing agency correspondence, regulatory documents, and public databases as well as interviewing congressional and executive branch investigators, former agency employees and auto safety experts, The NY Times learned that in many of the major vehicle safety issues during this ten year period—including “unintended acceleration in Toyotas, fires in Jeep fuel tanks and air bag ruptures in Hondas, as well as the GM ignition defect—the agency did not take a leading role until well after the problems had reached a crisis level, safety advocates had sounded alarms and motorists were injured or died” (Stout et al. 2014). Two thousand and fourteen was a particularly disturbing year in automobile safety, which included the deadly ignition “scandal” at GM, the billion-dollar Toyota criminal settlement, and the ever-expanding number of air bag recalls. In fact, in 2014 automakers “recalled more than 48 million vehicles in the United States, surpassing the previous record of about 30 million in 2004” (Stout et al. 2014). The GM ignition recall “compensation program” managed by Kenneth Feinberg is alleged to have paid out $70 million to the families of 15 killed auto victims (Stout 2014). Naturally, consumer safety advocates and safety experts continue to push for a more transparent approach from NHTSA, which had declined to be interviewed for The Times story.
In chapter 10, “Corporate crimes and the problems of enforcement,” Ronald Burns provides a general overview of the history and contemporary state of corporate crime as well as of the affairs, quandaries and inefficacies of enforcing the laws against corporate crime. He also provides a theoretical overview of corporate crime and of the research and methodological issues pertaining to the enforcement of corporate crime. Burns argues though corporations may not necessarily intend to harm or injure, “pressures to perform” result in corporate violations that do, in fact, harm and injure. At the same time, these corporate crimes have traditionally gone unnoticed by the general public and they have been under-enforced by the state, resulting in punishments as merely the costs of doing business as usual.
In chapter 11, “Corporate-financial crime scandals: A comparative analysis of the collapses of Insull and Enron,” Brandon Sullivan analyzes the historical demises of two of the largest energy companies in the United States, Insull in the early 1930s and Enron in the early 2000s. Sullivan argues that both Insull and Enron’s crimes exemplify what William Black has termed “control fraud,” where corporate leaders use their businesses to defraud others while at the same time manipulating external and internal controls to carry out the crimes and to prevent their detection. These types of corporate control frauds were facilitated by criminogenic environments that lacked effective regulation and enforcement and by political campaign contributions and high-price lobbying for enhanced deregulation. Finally, despite the persistence of major corporate-financial scandals like these, including those of Tyco, Adelphia, and Global Crossings to name a few, no serious attempt has ever been made to link the root causes of corporate abuse to the lax policies of regulation.
In chapter 12, “Corporate social responsibility, corporate surveillance and neutralizing corporate resistance: On the commodification of risk-based policing,” Hans Krause Hansen and Julie Uldam are concerned about the lack of attention paid to the role played by corporate surveillance and intelligence practices in tending to the interests of big business and in neutralizing those critics and activists that are keen on revealing corporate fraud or environmentally damaging practices. They are also concerned about how these are used in their social responsibility and public relations campaigning. In the context of critically reviewing the literature on corporate surveillance and intelligence practices, and linking these to theoretical debates on corporate social responsibility, corporate self-regulation, and private policing, Hansen and Uldam empirically analyze the different surveillance and intelligence tactics deployed by oil companies BP and Shell to silence their radical critics. They conclude the chapter by arguing for the further need to theorize corporate power and surveillance in relation to debates on privatized self-regulation and policing.
In the final contribution to Part III, “Walmart’s sustainability initiative: Greening capitalism as a form of corporate irresponsibility,” Steve Lang and Lloyd Klein examine how the retail giant conducts a kind of international diplomacy and a legislation of American social and industrial policy. More specifically, they reveal how Walmart’s mission to make consumption smarter and more sustainable is having a far-reaching and troubling influence on environmental policies and practices around the globe. They also expose the Walmart sustainability paradox that “embraces sustainability outside of its organizational supply chain but not inside its stores with respect to its workforce and their communities.” Lastly, Lang and Klein demonstrate how Walmart’s “greening of capitalism” reinforces neoliberalism and corporate irresponsibility as it appropriates environmental problems and turns them into marketable and profitable business ventures.
Part IV. Environmental Crimes
Much of the time, environmental crimes fit into multiple areas of harm and victimization, as in the case of greenhouse gas emissions or the crimes of hydraulic fracking carried out by the multinational oil and natural gas industries. Depending on the associated context and whether these “fracking crimes” are committed beneath the farms of Midland, Texas, near the rivers and streams that empty into the Great Lakes of the Northern United States, or at the Southern edge of the Sahara Desert in Timbuktu, Mali, they may be identified primarily as environmental, corporate, state-corporate, and/or globalization crimes. However we label these environmental crimes, a growing number of criminologists, including the former President of the American Society of Criminology, Robert Agnew (2012), argue that the “crimes of climate change” are globally positioning the human species for serious risks of extinction. Hyperbolic or not, the potential harm and victimization from environmental crimes to the earth’s ecosystems may ultimately dwarf the combined harm and victimization from all the other crimes of the powerful. What we know for sure, as the four contributions in this part testify: the harmful costs from all of the environmental crimes represent a convergence of powerful interests “not to know” about the real dangers and potential threats to our collective security.
In chapter 14, “Climate change, ecocide and crimes of the powerful,” Rob White discusses the systemic and organizational crimes of the powerful in relation to climate change. In doing so, he provides an integrated analysis of: ecocide and its social relations to and interactions with transnational corporations; global crimes and state-corporate crimes; the commodification and consumption of nature; and the struggle against neo-liberalism, self-interest, and the fortress mentality of late capitalism. White concludes by arguing that exposing injustice and advocating for eco-justice for humans, non-humans, and eco-systems is not enough. In an age of globalization, White also calls for strategic interventions, identifies an alternative vision to Fortress Earth, and outlines the types of ideals and values to pursue in the course of reassessing our systems of production and consumption.
In chapter 15, “Privatization, pollution and power: A green criminological analysis of present and future global water crises,” Bill McClanahan, Avi Brisman and Nigel South take on the popularly conceptualized viewpoints that water pollution and access to clear water are problems with different socioeconomics and geopolitics. They attempt to recast the issues of water and harm by exploring the ways in which the global spread of the privatizing and commoditizing logics of neoliberalism has led to restricted and unequal access to clean water, to a regulatory atmosphere favorable to corporate polluters, and to a reconceptualization of water as a saleable commodity rather than an element of the commons. Utilizing a critical theoretical framework informed by green criminology, McClanahan, Brisman and South seek to contextualize access-restricting water privatization, corporate polluting of oceans, rivers, streams and estuaries, municipal water regulation schemes that criminalize or hinder water reuse, and corporate schemes to profit from the bottling and selling of water as events and movements detrimental to ecological health and sustainability, yet beneficial to powerful corporate, economic, and political actors and institutions.
In chapter 16, “Unfettered fracking: A critical examination of hydraulic fracturing in the United States,” Jacquelynn Doyon and Elizabeth Bradshaw attempt to get a handle on both the regulatory practices of the industry and on the environmental and human health effects of fracking. This is not easy because the United States has no federal framework in place for regulating the hydraulic fracking industry and has yet to perform a comprehensive examination of fracking on water contamination, seismic activity, and workplace safety. Similarly, calls for transparency of the chemicals used in fracking fluids are shielded by “trade secrets” where some 84 percent of the registered wells in the US claim exemptions from full disclosure. As for federal regulations, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempts oil and gas companies from several environmental protection laws, including the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. As a result, states have much latitude in implementing environmental protections and a hodgepodge of policies now currently exists within and between states. While local grassroots efforts to regulate
or ban fracking have met with some successes, the interests of big oil and gas have stymied other attempts. Doyon and Bradshaw’s not surprising take away is that without uniform legislation based on independent scientific research, then the “economic logic” and the harmful effects of industrial fracking will continue unfettered.
The final chapter in Part IV, “The international impact of electronic waste: A case study of Western Africa,” also by Jacquelynn Doyon examines the profitable markets that are not in production or consumption, but are in the business of electronic waste disposal. After decades of shipping hazardous and toxic waste from the industrialized nations of the West to nations in the Asian Pacific such as China and India, more recently that waste (and now heavily electronic) has been re-routed to the western coast of Africa in response to increasing regulations and restrictions in Asia. The lack of international regulation of global waste today coupled with lax enforcement of what domestic laws do exist permits the transboundary shipment of “e-waste” often illegal to the ports of Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana, which places a heavy burden of the physical and environmental harms associated with the improper disposal of electronic waste on already marginalized populations. Her analysis underscores the fact that advanced political economies have a vested interest in exporting e-waste and that developing political economies have a vested interest in importing e-waste. Finally, Doyon discusses the implications of the ongoing relations of lifecycle electronics in terms of exploiting disadvantaged nations and of the prospects for future environmental and human harms.
In the not too distant future, succumbing to or overcoming the environmental harms and crimes of the powerful--from ecocide to global shortages of water to fracking to electronic waste disposal to moving beyond fossil fuels to the unsustainable expansion of consumption--may very well come to a showdown between a climatic crisis of uneven civilized landscapes versus barbarized landscapes, on the one hand, and a reconstructed public capitalism versus an unencumbered private capitalism, on the other hand. Between then and now as Naomi Klein argues in her latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, the task is “to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals, but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyperindividualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy” (Klein 2014: 20). In very concrete terms this means resisting neoliberalism and privatization. It means struggling to disperse power into the hands of the many rather than consolidating it into the hands of a few. It means struggling to expand rather than contract the public commons.
Finally, it means transforming the climate movement into a “people’s movement” as was the case on Sunday, September 21, 2014 when hundreds of thousands of diverse people filled the streets of New York City calling for climate justice, including many thousands of union members, representatives from indigenous peoples’ organizations, business types behind an Investors for Climate Solutions banner, and students, anti-poverty, family and faith groups. As organizers of the People’s Climate March pointed out there were 2646 demonstrations held that day in 156 countries, representing “the largest mass protest to date against government and corporate inaction on the overheating of our planet” (The Nation Editorial 2014: 3). This type of people power had more than a symbolic effect. The very next day institutional investors representing $50 billion in assets, including the offspring of the biggest name in petroleum history, John D. Rockefeller, announced that they were divesting all of their money from fossil fuels.
Part V: Financial Crimes
At least since the post-mortem of the 1929 Wall Street stock market crash tensions have persisted between those people favoring and those people disfavoring regulation or deregulation. After the Wall Street implosion and the subsequent bailouts in 2009, issues and questions about “re-regulation” have added further to the strains over financial market intervention. In the words of Thomas Hoenig (2011: 6), president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City: “It is ironic that in the name of preserving free market capitalism in this country, we have undermined it so deeply.” His point being that for the past seventy-five years, whether during heightened periods of regulation or deregulation, the economic reality of financial markets has always relied upon and consisted of “banking on the state” as the Bank of England’s Andrew Haldane has termed the relationship. For example, during the recent financial meltdown,
public safety nets and assistance were stretched far beyond anything that we had done in past crises. Deposit insurance coverage was substantially expanded and public authorities went well beyond this with guarantees of bank debt instruments, asset guarantees at selected institutions, and many other forms of market support. Discount window lending sharply departed from previous practices in terms of nonbanks and special lending programs. Substantial public capital injections were further provided through TARP to the largest financial organizations in the United States and to several hundred other banks on a scale not seen since the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in the 1930s. These steps were similar to those that many other major countries took (Hoenig 2011: 3).
Hoenig (2011:3-4) argues that over an extended period of time “we have experienced a ratcheting process in which public authorities are pressured to widen and deepen their state safety nets after every financial crisis brought on by excessive bank risk taking. This expansion in safety nets then sets the stage for the next crisis by providing even greater incentives for risk taking and further expanding moral hazard.” As a consequence,
We have become trapped in a repeating game in which participants continue to seek ever higher and more risky returns while ‘banking’ on the State to fund any losses in a crisis. Large organizations, moreover, are the key players in this process as States become more immersed in the perception during a crisis that they protect any bank regarded as systemically important. We must stop this game if we are to create a more stable financial system and not condemn us to an escalating series of crises with rapidly rising costs (Hoenig 2011:4).
One of the questions that I asked about re-regulation in my examination of The Wall Street Financial Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) in Theft of a Nation (2012) was whether or not these financial reforms would alter the economic relations of banking on the state? Another question I posed had to do with what impact or relief would Public Law 111-21 or the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, signed by President Obama on May 20th, for the purposes of improving the enforcement of fraud, securities and commodities fraud, financial institution fraud, and other frauds related to Federal assistance and relief programs, have on the weakest victims of the epidemic in mortgage and securities frauds that occurred throughout the financial services industry during the run-up to the near economic abyss?
Concerning FERA, this public law has had at best a negligible impact on the recovery for the vast majority of Americans victimized directly or indirectly by high- stakes securities fraud. As for Dodd-Frank altering the practices of Wall Street banking on the state, these relations look secure well into the immediate future. In other words, we still have a private banking oligarchy dependent on the US Federal Reserve System (or central bank) and a capitalist state and political economy dependent for its wellbeing on financial capital. These contradictory relationships are hardly conducive for re-regulation or for regulatory control. Moreover, the biggest global banks of Wall Street have more concentrated wealth now than before the implosion in 2008-09 and by way of revolving doors, financial lobbying, and campaign contributions the powerfulness of the Wall Street-Regulatory interlock seems impenetrable.
As most white-collar criminologists in the US know, The Fed (or US Federal Reserve) and in particular the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, are responsible for supervising and monitoring what the big banks on Wall Street do. The Fed in short is supposed to make sure that these banking institutions do not break the rules or take risks that could bring down the financial system. Not exactly “the cop on the beat,” these Fed examiners are embedded in offices of their own within those financial institutions they are assigned to oversee. In early 2009 shortly after the financial meltdown, a team of Fed managers under the charge of David Beim, a former Wall Street banker and current Colombia University finance professor, was asked by the NY Fed president at the time, David Dudley, to investigate and submit a confidential report on the behavior of the Fed running up to the Wall Street meltdown. The report subsequently released to the public by a governmental commission found Fed deference to the banks, an unwillingness to take action, extreme passivity, and regulatory capture. One of the recommendations for how the New York Fed could be more effective was to hire a new kind of employee: “outspoken, unafraid, somebody who would not get captured” (Chicago Public Media & Ira Glass 2014, p.2).
In the wake of the crisis, Congress had concurrently given the Fed new responsibilities and resources that could potentially help implement this Beim recommendation. Hence, the NY Fed went on a hiring spree of new bank examiners and financial experts. One of those hires was a former Fed employee and “whistle-blowing” attorney, Carmen Segarra, who had secretly recorded conversations of Fed meetings during her employment. Her many revelations in conversation with Jake Bernstein, a futures analyst, international trader, and investigative journalist and with Mike Silva, the Fed’s top official inside of Goldman Sachs, on the 60-minute program, This American Life, produced in collaboration with ProPublica that aired on September 26, 2014, substantiates the findings of the Beim Report. I encourage readers to go online and listen to the show for themselves, but to get a sense of the program allow me to share from Ira Glass’ remarks at the beginning of the program and from Bernstein’s remarks before the commercial break half way through:
Ira Glass: “It’s This American Life, I’m Ira Glass. Today on our show we’re hearing never-before-heard recordings made secretly by a bank examiner named Carmen Segarra at the New York Fed. They give an unprecedented look inside this very secretive, very powerful, very important financial regulator” (p.1).
Jake Bernstein: “We first approached the New York Fed to request an interview in July. They declined. We then told them we had Carmen’s secret recordings and invited them to comment on the sections we’re using here on the radio. They declined to comment but two Fed officials came to This American Life’s office to listen and take notes. We sent them thirteen pages of questions. They sent us a two-page statement...Unlike the Beim report; their statement acknowledges no problems at the Fed. They say that in 2011, they began implementing some of Beim’s recommendations, and they list a few. But that list doesn’t include any of the recommendations Beim made about the central problem he saw: the problem of the Fed’s culture, the fear of speaking up, the deference to the banks, and regulatory capture” (p.15).
A sampling of the crimes committed by the world’s mega-financial firms, banks, and institutions include violating securities laws by imposing illegal extra fees and costs on customers, laundering money from illegal enterprises, and improperly pushing toxic financial deals on unsuspecting and budget-stressed cities from Stockton, California to Detroit, Michigan. These same financial players were also fraudulently active in the
Libor interest-rate manipulation. In that particular financial scam, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Federal District Court in Manhattan on 14 March 2014, sueing 16 banking giants, including Bank of America, Citigroup, and JP Morgan in the United States for fraud and conspiring to keep the global interest rate (or the interbank offered rate that banks charge each other) low to enrich themselves. Among the other banks sued, were Britain’s Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, Switzerland’s biggest bank, UBS, and Rabobank of the Netherlands (The Associated Press 2014).
For a sustained period of more than five years (2009-2014), the mass media and the public were more exposed to the workings of the “state-finance” nexus or to the ongoing alliance between the state apparatus and capital (Harvey 2014) and the world of securities frauds than they ever were before or, for that matter, to any of the other crimes of the powerful. Because of the TARP bailouts and other FED perks like interest free loans that followed the financial implosion of 2008-09, the collective loss of some $14 trillion in wealth, and the subsequent worldwide recessions and worse that ensued, there have been literally hundreds of books and many more articles, journalistic and scholarly, written about the securities industry, the regulation/deregulation/reregulation of banking practices, and to a much lesser extent, the risk and recurrent criminogenic conditions that surround these types of securities trades. Additionally, several film documentaries were made such as Inside Job (2010) or The Untouchables (2013), which provide substantial exposés into these financial crimes of Wall Street. Finally, there was the 650-page US Senate investigative report, Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, published in the spring of 2011.
The fundamental lessons or combined messages from these mediums are not all that complicated. Two of the more critical insights demonstrated over and over in the numerous analyses from a myriad of diverse perspectives and fields of inquiry, inclusive of whistle-blowers, investigative journalists, and regulators, are: First, the capitalist-financial system has always been a rigged structure of profit accumulation, unfairly tilted in the favor of one set of economic interests over or against or in conflict with other sets of economic interests, whether or not the law and political economy were subject to periods of increasing or decreasing regulation (Prins 2014). However, concerning inequality, per capita incomes, or financial crime, this need not be the case. As Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz (2014: 7), a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and chief economist for the World Bank, has explained on numerous occasions:
· The dynamics of imperial capitalism of the 19th century needn’t apply in the democracies of the 21st century.
· Our current brand of capitalism is a counterfeit capitalism.
· Inexorable laws of economics aren’t tearing us apart. Our policies are.
Second, the looting, the shorting, and the control frauding by the wealthiest bankers/banking institutions and their financial organizations (e.g., trading companies, holding companies, insurance companies, securities firms, private equity firms) on and off Wall Street, buttressed by insider political and legal colluding, have always been beyond incrimination and generally subject to some form of bailout and/or state subsidy when their untrustworthy actions have resulted in downturns in the economy and in the simultaneous harming of millions of people. In contrast, less powerful financial fraudsters (e.g., think thrifts and savings & loans in the late 1980s) as well as the very powerful corporate (e.g., Enron, WorldCom), state (e.g., Abu Ghraib, Gitmo), and corporate-state (e.g., Blackwater, DynCorp, Halliburton) offenders and their organizations have at least from time to time been held culpable and subject to criminal sanctions (Barak 2012; Black 2005; Prins 2014; Ruggiero 2013; Warren 2014; Will, Handelman and Brotherton 2013). Unlike the Wall Street offenders and their crimes of capital control, the corporate, environmental, and corporate-state offenders are not immune to penal sanctions from advanced, if not developing, political economies and their respective capitalist states.
As far back as 13th and 14th century capitalism, a handful of the biggest bankers and/or traders were always in a position to negotiate, if not dictate, the terms of financial exchanges. In today’s age of globalizing capital, the six biggest banking institutions in the United States post the financial crash of 2008, with their agents situated strategically in the executive, legislative, judicial, and regulatory corridors of Washington, DC, have only further consolidated their wealth, privilege, and capacity to resist criminal sanctions. Moreover, the exposure in the fall of 2014 of the SEC “cover up” for the systemic thefts by the private equity industry of its investors suggests that not much has changed on the criminal enforcement front since the cover up policies of “too big to fail banks” began in 2009. In the case of the missing private equity scandal, apparently there were millions of dollars of income across the equity industry, adding up to a couple of billion dollars, for non-existent monitoring services charged to investors (Smith 2014).
For some perspective on the kind of money these folks can make—when the 1971 founder Bill Gross of Pimco, otherwise known as the Pacific Investment Management Company of Newport Beach, CA resigned on 26 September 2014 and announced that he was off to run a tiny bond fund, Janus Capital Group Inc., a four months old “start-up,” he was earning $200,000,000 a year (Grind 2014). As the saying goes, “that’s not exactly chopped liver,” then again, there are hedge fund managers like Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, Westport, CT and James Simons of Renaissance Technologies, East Setauket, NY who earned $3 billion and $2.1 billion respectively in 2011 (The 40 Highest-Earning Hedge Fund managers, http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mdg45ghlg/ray-dalio-2/).
Speaking of hedge funds, otherwise known, as illiquid partnerships. These were traditionally limited to a small number of wealthy investors employing sophisticated investment strategies, such as taking leveraged, long, short, and derivative positions in both domestic and international markets. Currently, hedge funds as well as private equity funds are vehicles used to pool investment capital with little oversight or regulation as part of the shadow banking industry. In addition to wealthy clients’ money these funds today include the management of ordinary people’s money by way of their pension fund investments, often to the detriment of these investors (Appelbaum & Batt 2014). For a bit more perspective on hedge fund wealth, Gross announced his resignation from Pimco in the early morning hours on a Friday. By the end of the trading day, roughly $10 billion of withdrawals from Pimco had occurred. Some experts speculate that Pimco could lose at least $100 billion or more in total asset withdrawals before things cool out. Pimco CEO Douglas Hodge said in a statement that the firm “manages nearly $2 trillion in assets, and we are confident that the vast majority of our clients will continue to stand with us” (Quoted in Grind, Zuckerman, & Zeng 2014: A1).
Hedge funds may also involve debt-restructuring instruments such as the ones concerning a 2014 UN Human Rights Council resolution in Geneva that condemned investors, led by US hedge funds NML and Aurelius Capital management, who had successfully sued Argentina in US courts, demanding payments worth more than $1.3 billion. The resolution was approved by 33 votes to five, with nine countries abstaining. The United States, Britain, Germany, Japan and the Czech Republic voted against it. “The resolution ‘condemns the activities of vulture funds’ and says it regrets the effect the debt payment to such funds could have ‘on the capacity of governments to fulfill their human rights obligations’” (BBC News 2014).
Two of three contributions in Part V concentrate on the enforcement behaviors of the state in addressing financial institutions for their securities violations. The first involves local community banks and the second involves the banks of Wall Street, allowing for some comparisons of the differential responses to these financial frauds, such as the former but not the latter violators were subject to criminal prosecution. The third contribution provides a broad conceptual examination of the relations between financial fraud and its victimization.
In chapter 18, “Bad banks: Recurrent criminogenic conditions in the U.S. commercial banking industry,” Robert Tillman examines the causes behind the wave of bank failures in the period 2008-2011 that left 355 banks—most of them small, community banks—shuttered, with losses exceeding $57 billion. He also describes the criminogenic environment that surrounded the banking industry in the 1980s that was recreated in the 2000s when lawmakers and regulators ignored the lessons of the recent past and implemented polices that loosened restrictions on commercial banks and other lending institutions. Tillman argues that corrupt bankers took advantage of this relaxed regulatory environment and regional economic booms to engage in a variety of reckless and fraudulent practices, leading their banks to insolvency. Theoretically, he argues for combining economic theories of financial instability and looting with the sociological/ criminological concept of criminogenic markets. Finally, Tillman presents quantitative data on the conditions at failed banks where allegations of misconduct were leveled at bank insiders to support his argument.
In chapter 19, “Finnacial misrepresentation and fraudulent manipulation: SEC settlements with Wall Street firms in the wake of the ecnomic meltdown,” David Shichor examines the settlements between the SEC and Wall Street for its disclosure and misrepresention of violations in the context of the deregulation of the securities market that began in earnest in the 1980s with the Reasgan administration. First, he connects the recent economic meltdown to the now familiar narrative of fraudulent mortgage originations, securitization of risky mortgages, and esoteric financial products. He then critiques and discusses the preferred SEC setllemens with financial firms in which they would “neither admit nor deny” their wrongdoing. Bemoaning the lack of criminal sanctions and recognizing that it is much easier to settle with corporations than to criminally punish executives, Shichor still favors imposing some kind of personal liability on those individuals reponsible for these fraudulent offenses as a potential deterrent and because justice deserves as much.
In chapter 20, “A comprehensive framework for conceptualizing financial frauds and victimization,” Mary Dodge and Sklar Steele offer an in-depth perspective on a variety of factors associated with the different types of financial frauds, the fiscal and emotional impacts of these frauds, and the difficulties of establishing standing as a victim. In the process, Dodge and Steele present an overview of the development and standing of victims of financial fraud as well as a synthesis of empirical research and case studies to advance an inclusive framework for estabishing increased understanding of the dynamics of victmization. They argue there is still much research to conduct on financial victimization and that the use of a social constructionist framework represents a starting point for the necesssary studies related to regulation, prosecution, and sentencing. Dodge and Steele further contend that by ferretting out the nuances of financial fraud and victimization, this will facilitate a fuller appreciation of the need for victim recognition, prevention, and resitution as well as for taking the necessary policy steps toward fullfiling these needs, locally and globally.
Part VI: State Crimes
State crimes originally coined as “state-organized crimes” by William Chambliss (1990: 184) in his 1989 American Society of Criminology presidential address, referred to those “acts defined by law as criminal and committed by state officials in pursuit of their jobs as representatives of the state.” Chambliss identified an array of state-organized crimes, including but not limited to supporting terrorists, spying on citizens, diverting funds illegally, selling arms to blacklisted countries, engaging in criminal conspiracies, carrying out assassinations, and smuggling contraband. A classic state crime from this historical period was the Iran-Contra Affair where senior officials of the Reagan administration during his second term in violation of an arms embargo secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran as a means of trying to secure the release of U.S. hostages held in Iran, on the one hand, and as a means of funding the Nicaraguan Contras in violation of the U.S. Borland Amendment prohibiting the government from funding the Contras in their efforts to overturn the democratically elected Sandinista Nicaraguan government, on the other hand.
As a member of Chambliss’ Program Committee, I was responsible for arranging the topical sessions on Crimes By and Against the State. More than twenty-five papers on crimes by the state were presented. Ten of those ended up in the first book devoted solely to state crime, the edited anthology Crimes By the Capitalist State: An Introduction to State Criminality, published in 1991 as a volume in the SUNY Series in Radical Social and Political Theory. The chapters in this reader were organized around three themes: the classical forms of state crime, the dialectical nature of state crimes, and the crimes of state omission. From the prologue, “the study of state criminality is a political enterprise consisting of, among other things, the study of power, ideology, law, and public and foreign policy. As such, the study of state criminality is part and parcel of the emotionally charged landscape of a changing political economy” (Barak 1991: 5).
Over the past quarter of a century, the conceptualizing of crimes of state has continued to evolve in both theory and practice. For example, in 2004 Penny Green and Tony Ward produced a book length treatment of state crime, utilizing case studies and drawing upon the disciplines of law, criminology, human rights, international relations, political science, and social deviance to craft their analysis in State Crime: Governments, Violence and Corruption. Five year later, in what has become a seminal contribution to the area, State Criminality: The Crime of All Crimes (2009: 6), Rothe provided an integrated theory and practical typology for understanding state crime. Therein, she defines state crime as: “Any action that violates international public law, and/or a state’s own domestic law when these actions are committed by individual actors acting on behalf of, or in the name of the state, even when such acts are motivated by their personal economical, political and ideological interests.” Consistent with these conceptualizations of state criminality, there are also those activities that may not involve state actors directly, but rather are committed by non-state proxies aided by some kind of external resources, facilitation, planning, and/or logistics.
Accordingly, the crimes of and by the state examined in Part VI include torture, organized violence, forced immobility, and gendered violence. These crimes are more inclusive than actions arranged or committed by the state or by its agents or proxies. They also refer to those state crimes of omission and to state crimes of collusion with the crimes of globalization, of corporations, of the environment, and of finance capital already described in great detail. Additionally, the capitalist state and its agents are integral to the commission of state-corporate crimes and state-routinized crimes that will be examined in the next two parts of the handbook. Functionally then, the capitalist state has a stake of one kind or another in virtually all of the crimes of the powerful as well as its own.
Not unlike powerful corporations and financial institutions that are supposed to self-regulate, the capitalist state is also presumed to oversee itself. However, as a dynamic and adaptable institution the state capitalist apparatus has always been situated within the contradictions of forbidding versus forgiving the powerful for the numerous laws that they routinely violate. As a consequence, when it comes to the crimes of the powerful inquiring minds are often left clueless because much of the time these offenses are not materially processed through the formal legal systems and as a result these behaviors remain state secrets that are not available for public enquiry.
In chapter 21, “Transnational institutional torturers: State crime, ideology and the role of France’s savior-faire in Argentina’s dirty war, 1976-1983,” Melanie Collard provides a case study in the exportation of torture techniques as a way of probing the transnational institutionalization of torture. Collard analyses the deadly cooperation between France and Argentina that transformed Argentine war professionals into official state torturers. Using a transnational state crime framework as well as an international structural context, Collard asks why and how France became Argentina’s trainers in torture? Specifically, she examines the “transnational institutional” perpetrator and the linkages connecting France with institutionalized torture in both the Algerian War in the 1950s and in Argentina between 1976 and 1983 vis-à-vis the French military training of Argentine officers in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her conclusions are that the French military had established the theoretical, methodological, and semantic basis for torture that informed the repressive actions of the Argentine army. Therefore, she argues to use the label of “transnational institutional torturers” is appropriate.
In chapter 22, “Para-State Crime and Plural Legalities in Colombia,” Thomas MacManus and Tony Ward, offer a fascinating case study in what they label “para-state” crime. They argue that although the Republic of Colombia is a state, it does not have a complete monopoly over the legitimate use of organized force within its territorial borders. In parts of Colombia, for example, guerrilla groups FARC and ELN rule what amount, or have amounted, to “de facto” states. Complicating matters further is that Colombia has informally delegated some of its legitimate use of violence to paramilitary organizations outside of its legal framework, known as the “paraestado.” MacManus and Ward use the example of Colombia to illustrate the complex and fluid relations of the state and civil society and how these may be expressed in organized violence. They conclude that in Colombia there is an unclear dividing line between civil society and “uncivil society” that relies on coercion rather than moral or political argument to pursue demands.
In chapter 23, “Australian border policing and the production of state harm,” Michael Grewcock examines the systemic abuses inflicted upon irregular migrants by contemporary Western border controls. Using Australia’s “border protection” polices targeting unauthorized refugees as a case study, Grewcock analyzes a continuum of internal and external policing practices including visa restrictions, anti-smuggling operations, mandatory detention and forced removal to Australian funded detention centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, that are designed arguably to disrupt unauthorized movement and ultimately prevent access to Australia’s refugee determination process. He provides extensive evidence, including testimony on the normalization of abuse and the offshore processing and criminalization of people smuggling. Grewcock contends that not only are practices such as indefinite detention inherently and profoundly abusive, but furthermore, by immobilizing refugees in precarious transit zones, subjecting them to indefinite warehousing regimes, denying them access to formal travel and refusing settlement, Australia’s border policing measures expose refugees to much higher levels of risk and push them into more dangerous forms of confinement and travel. Grewcock concludes that rather than protecting refugees from smugglers, Australia’s border policing regime generates multiple harms that can be identified as state crime.
In the last chapter of part VI, “Gendered forms of state crime: The Case of state perpetrated violence against women,” Victoria Collins seeks to extend the discussion of women and gender to include state perpetrated violence. After reviewing the established literature on state perpetrated violence against women, Collins specifically addresses the systematic state victimization of women both in times of conflict/war and peace. Using examples from the violent targeting of women and girls during the 1992-1994 conflict that occurred in the former Yugoslavia to the violent targeting of girls and women by both Sunni and Shite militia during the US occupation of Iraq to the sexual assaults of women soldiers by US military men in peacetime, Collins reveals the ways in which the state directly and indirectly perpetrates gendered violence. She concludes that her case studies demonstrate that the larger historical, social, and political constructions of gender interactions are a product of institutional relations that are reinforced by the state.
Part VII: State-Corporate Crimes
The idea of state-corporate crime traces its roots to an ASC paper presented by Kramer and Ray Michalowski (1990: 3) in which they defined state-corporate crimes as “illegal or socially injurious actions that occur when one or more institutions of political governance pursue a goal in direct cooperation with one or more institutions of economic production and distribution,” as well as a book chapter by Judy Aulette and Michalowski (1993) about the Imperial Foods chicken processing plant fire in Hamlet, North Carolina on September 3, 1991 when 25 workers were killed and 55 were injured because the fire doors were locked preventing these employees from exiting the burning fire. State-corporate crime typically involves political and economic elites or their agents acting together in violation of local, national, and international laws. Their “wrongdoing at the intersection of business and government” has been well documented by numerous case studies, such as the space shuttle Challenger explosion, the Ford Explorer rollovers, and the ValuJet flight 592 crash, which have revealed numerous cover-ups, frauds, collusions, and more (Michalowski & Kramer 2006).
Traditionally, the idea of state-corporate crimes has signified those illegalities that are products of both state activities and/or policies and corporate activities and/or practices, usually in some form of collaboration for mutual gains or respective interests. More recently, there has been the recognition that these state-corporate or public-private partnerships or symbiotic crimes may also include other organized groups that are not representatives of either business or government. As the chapters in Part VII disclose, these hybrid state-corporate crimes can be more complex, involving other significant participants or interests such as unions, political parties, and paramilitary units. These newer formulations are also increasingly taking both the local and global conditions of capital production into their accounts. Currently, the applications and conceptualizations of state-corporate crime are expanding to include vested interests from civil society as well, as exemplified by the state-corporate-organized crime found in Colombia.
In chapter 25, “Blacking out the gulf: State-corporate environmental crime and the response to the 2010 BP oil spill,” Elizabeth Bradshaw provides a case study in an attempted state-corporate “cover up” to suppress the criminality and environmental impact caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig owned by Transocean and leased by British Petroleum. Bradshaw carefully reveals how both state and corporate actors worked in coordination to conceal the extent of the damages through a variety of means. Employees and cleanup workers were censored, toxic chemical dispersants were used, a media blackout was implemented in the Gulf, and a deliberate manipulation of official images and information about the spill were circulated. Bradshaw argues that the coordinated effort by BP and the federal government were able to keep the devastating effects of the oil spill from public view, thereby limiting, if not preventing, the social control effects of their crimes.
Full disclosure: as of the fall 2014, BP had paid out $43 billion in cleanup costs and fines, in compensation claims from injured businesses, and in relation to pleading guilty to criminal manslaughter charges for the 11 men who died in the explosion. Then on September 4, 2014, Louisiana district judge Carl Barbier concluded that “profit-driven decisions” and “willful misconduct” led to the rig explosion, and so he found BP liable for “gross negligence” under the Clean Water Act, which imposes penalties of $4300 per barrel of oil spilled compared to only $1,100 per barrel for simple “negligence.” This could add up to an additional $18 billion with some of the fines to be picked up by rig owner Transocean and US contractor Halliburton (Banerjee and Khouri 2014). Of course the “gang of three” are appealing the Barbier civil ruling.
In chapter 26, “Collaborative state and corporate crime: Fraud, unions and elite power in Mexico,” Maya Barak examines the case of the National Mine, Metal and Steel Workers Union of Mexico and the numerous civil, criminal, and extra-legal harms committed in tandem by one of the world’s largest mining company and the Mexico government beginning in 2006. Employing a social-historical analysis and framing her discussion around the roles played by neoliberal ideology and anti-labor socio-political culture, Barak takes us through a medley of state-corporate harms including murder, kidnapping, the death of 65 miners, the police brutality of striking workers, threats and intimidation, harassment, bribery, forged documents, fraudulent charges, and conspiracy. Finally, calling into question traditional interpretations of state-corporate/corporate state crime, Barak maintains that these crimes of the powerful may be more appropriately viewed as collaborate state and corporate criminality.
In chapter 27, “Mining as state-corporate crime: The case of AngloGold Ashanti in Colombia,” Damián Zaitch and Laura Gutiérrez-Gómez as part of a larger research project on the nature, causes, and harmful effects of state-corporate-organized crime in Latin America since the 1990s, focus on the South African gold mining multinational AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) in Colombia. Their objective is to describe and explain the interconnections between multinational and governmental bodies, actors, and policies, as they engage in, or promote, various forms of criminal, unethical or harmful behavior. Zaitch and Gutiérrez-Gómez also document the extent to which mining corporations like AGA strongly resist when they are accused by courts and civil society organizations for engaging in a slew of crimes, including fraud, corruption, theft, tax avoidance, contamination of land and water resources, systematic infringement of all kinds of rules, serious safety crimes, forced displacement and destruction of local communities, unlawful dispossession of land, and collaborating with paramilitary forces. Finally, they re-examine Michalowski and Kramer’s (2006) model of state-corporate crime in light of their empirical findings and conclude that in “order to explain and understand the logic of corporate gold mining in Colombia, a less prescriptive approach” is called for that takes harmful interactions and frictions into account at the global, national, and local levels.
Part VIII: State-Routinized Crimes
Reflexive of critical criminology and a definition of crime equating the cause of harm with something that does not necessarily have to be an act or illegal or criminal but could be all three, I am now introducing a variation of state-organized crime denoted here as “state-routinized crimes.” A concept like SRC is especially useful for examining the theory and practice of the crimes of the powerful, especially as these revolve around different forms of institutionalized corruption. While some of these practices may be illegal even criminal, many will be routinized through public policies, civil and administrative laws, and normative political behaviors. Examples would include: the surveillance practices by the NSA, the passage of ag-gag laws, or the Halliburton “loophole” exempting fracking and other modes of oil production from the federal clean air and water acts passed by Congress in 2006. At the time, Halliburton’s former CEO, Dick Chaney, was occupying the office of the US Vice Presidency.
Legal or not, these state-routinized activities may cause or be responsible for all types of real harm and injury. These activities may also provide profits and gains for those participating individuals or networks. Most importantly, these state-routinized activities bring together politicians, lobbyists, and campaign fundraisers as well as stakeholders from all areas of business, law, and the military. Their interactions, as part of the state-financial nexus and the fiscal military-enforcement complex (e.g., the monetization of warmaking and policing) serve as cultural and material transmission belts enabling various crimes of the powerful.
State-routinized crimes share some commonality with expanded conceptions of organized crime. Traditionally, organized crime is commonly viewed as some kind of monolithic organization of criminals and is usually represented by some type of criminal enterprise or syndicate operating locally, nationally, or transnationally. More specifically, organized crime usually refers to “illegal activities connected with the management and coordination of racketeering (organized extortion) and the vices—particularly illegal drugs, illegal gambling, usury, and prostitution” (Block & Chambliss 1981:12). This narrowly construed definition excludes organized corruption, organized professional theft, organized burglary rings, organized identity theft, or any kind of unrelenting criminality organized by any other groups. In contrast to this selectively restrictive construction of organized crime, state-routinized activities include those expressions of “corruption,” “extortion,” and “professional theft” that are institutionalized or legally sanctioned through legislation and court decision, such as the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S.
State-routinized crime borrows from Michael Johnston’s comparative analysis of corruption in both advanced and developing political economies. SRC specifically incorporates Johnston’s idea that corruption can be brought forth legally into a political system of governing, and extends this idea to include extortion as well as professional theft in order to better understand how the crimes of the powerful are neutralized and why their invisibility remains secure. Johnston (2005) characterizes and distinguishes between “influence market” corruption and five other styles of corruption practiced around the world, such as “elite”, “cartel”, “oligarch”, “clan”, or “official mogul”. He argues that the influence market type corruption, in effect, is corruption that has been legalized. Influence market corruption (IMC) occurs in advanced political economies because the roles of competitive politics and lobbying are more complex than they are in those countries where the other styles of corruption are displayed. Compared to the styles of corruption found in developing political economies that work their means and ways around the formal systems of governing, IMC works primarily within the prevailing political-legal-economic order.
Briefly, IMC “revolves around access to, and advantages within, established institutions, rather than deals and connections circumventing them” (Johnston 2005, 42). As Johnston explains, “strong institutions reduce opportunities and some of the incentives, to pursue extra-system strategies, while increasing the risks. Moreover, the very power of those institutions to deliver major benefits and costs raises the value of influence within them” (Ibid.). Like corruption can become legal, I am suggesting that extortion and professional theft can be legalized in the same way, even under the guises of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as in the case of Citizens United.
Let us now loop back around to Block and Chambliss’ description of the crimes of the powerful quoted earlier in this introduction, which in 1981 was inclusive of those “crimes of nation states, through the illegal and immoral acts of large corporations, to misuses of police and political office by local, state, and national power holders.” State-routinized crimes refer to those regularized activities that may or may not be illegal and whose influence enables or facilitates the harmful or injurious effects of the crimes of the powerful, especially those involving agencies of the state apparatus like the police. If one then takes Alan Wolfe’s argument in The Seamy Side of Democracy (1973), which maintained that repression was an essential aspect of class societies that is neither irrational nor spontaneous but rather a calculated method of the state apparatus to shape the parameters within which decisions are made and combine it with the argument that crimes are primarily driven by the structural contradictions of capitalism from Quinney’s Class, State, and Crime, then one is able to interpret the repressive crimes of capitalist state control as state-routinized behavior (See also Balbus 1974).
Repressive measures of state controlled law enforcement circulate by way of fiscal-military states and state-finance nexuses that generate money and resources for all kinds of purposes, including in the United States for militarizing and SWATifizing police forces throughout urban, suburban, and rural America, or for waging wars on oppressed barrio and ghetto communities, or for coordinating the suppression across the nation of Occupy Wall Street encampments in the fall of 2011. In the case of militarizing the police, federal incentives lie within the US Department of Defense that operates the 1033 Program through the Defense Logistics Agency and the Law Enforcement Support Office, whose motto is “from warfighter to crimefighter.” According to LESO, since 1990 the program has transferred $4.3 billion worth of property from the military to the police. More than 17,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have been recipients of military equipment transferred through the program, which has increased from $1 million in 1990 to nearly $450 million in 2013 (ACLU 2014).
State-routinized crimes can also be less than routinized or convoluted. They may also involve criminals from organized enterprises as examples from this handbook reveal and as the story suggests behind the fall 2014 news headline, “Violence Erupts in Hong Kong as Protesters Are Assaulted.” After one week of nonviolent student protests demanding democratic elections for Hong Kong’s chief executive and several days of “erratic and unsuccessful attempts by the Beijing-backed government to end the protests,” unidentified men assaulted protesters and tore down their encampments in two of Hong Kong’s most crowded shopping districts (Buckley et al. 2014). Up to the point of those attacks, the Hong Kong authorities had “resorted to one contradictory tactic after another in trying to end the demonstrations: sending in riot police officers with tear gas one day, pulling them back the next, refusing in principle to talk to the protesters, then calling for talks with university students at the forefront of the pro-democracy campaign, disclosing a plan to wait out the protests, and then appearing ill-prepared and tardy as the protesters were attacked” (Ibid.).
On Friday evening one day after the Communist Party had warned that there would be “chaos in Hong Kong if the protests did not end,” two organized gangs of attackers entered the dispute. They “shoved and punched protesters, sometimes kicking them after they fell.” Others grabbed the scaffolding of canopies and pulled them down. “Residents said that the police were outnumbered and slow to react, and hours passed before reinforcements arrived to protect the protesters from a hostile crowd” of pro Hong Kongers who sided with those who wanted access to work as usual (Buckley et al. 2014). The skirmishing first broke out in the Mong Kok neighborhood of Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated places in the world and home to “organized gangs or triads that extort payments from the many small businesses there” (Ibid.) Some protesters believed that the attackers were connected to the triads. In fact, on the morning after the attacks, a police spokesman said, “19 men, including eight with links to organized crime syndicates, or triads, had been arrested in connection with the violence” (Ibid.)
Meanwhile, the government denied abetting the violence, but said “the turmoil was a good reason for the entire protest movement to end its sit-ins across the city. Benny Tai, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong and a founder of Occupy Central With Love and Peace, was quoted as saying: “‘I hope everybody can persist in the spirit of peaceful resistance.’” However, that “may be unlikely if a commentary published” the morning after the Friday night clashes “on the front page of the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper, People’s Daily, is as prescient as the one on Thursday that warned of chaos. The news commentary said the mayhem ‘could lead to deaths and injuries and other grave consequences’” (Buckley et al. 2014). As Peng Wang (2014) the contributor of the next chapter in the handbook has observed: individuals and entrepreneurs frequently employ gangsters’ services to protect property rights, facilitate transactions, enforce debt repayment, and deal with government extortion.
In chapter 28, “Organized crime in a transitional economy: The resurgence of the criminal underworld in contemporary China,” Wang first identifies the causes for the re-emergence of the criminal underworld in the People’s Republic of China. These include the widening gap between the rich and poor, the emergence of a huge marginalized population, the failure of legal institutions to provide sufficient and efficient protection, the prohibition of certain goods and services, and widespread corruption in the public sector. Wang then examines and critiques the Chinese government’s series of national “strike hard” campaigns as failing to be effective both against organized crime and police corruption. Not being able to defeat or effectively prevent organized crime, he makes two recommendations to the Chinese government. Short term, Wang calls for abandoning the “smashing black” police striking back campaigns because they drain police power and resources away from other types of crime that may be more harmful to society. Long term, he calls for market regulation through legislation and for the decriminalization of some illegal markets, such as gambling and prostitution.
In chapter 29, “Institutionalized abuse of police power: How public policing condones and legitimizes police corruption in North America,” Marilyn Corsianos scrutinizes how law enforcement as an institution creates crime opportunities for its officers, how it often operates to justify police abuse of powers, and how particular types of police abuse are either not recognized as such and/or are overwhelming ignored by internal investigators. First, Corsianos evaluates the lack of accountability mechanisms in relation to the tenants of the police culture. Next, she examines police organizational goals and public perceptions of police deviance in relation to how the state constructs and responds to incidents of police corruption. Corsianos also calls for a broader conception of police corruption to include forms of corruption that are not ordinarily recognized as such, including patterns of discriminatory law enforcement. Finally, she concludes that the North American police identities and policing systems facilitate organizational acquiescence to certain forms of police misconduct while fostering opportunities to engage in other forms.
In chapter 30, “The appearances and realities of corruption in Greece: The cases of MAYO and Siemens AG,” Effi Lambropoulou reviews the functions of corruption as she attempts to demystify Greece’s image as a nation of corrupt people. In light of two high-profile celebrated corruption cases concerning both the public and private sectors, she reconsiders passage of anticorruption legislation over the past two decades. The first study discloses what Lambropoulou refers to as an example of low accountability of political elites, involving party politics and questionable campaign financing based on a case filed in 2002 and because of a lack of evidence closed in 2008. The second study involves Siemens AG as an example of a classic “pay to play” crime of globalization.
Lambropoulou concludes her analysis by acknowledging the cases of grand and petty corruption that are maintained over time in certain geopolitical landscapes in the South of Europe. However, she rejects the presentation of Greece as exemplifying Europe’s corrupt state par excellence, because this characterization operates as a tool of scandalization and denunciation used for the legitimation of important political and economic decisions.
Part IX: Failing to Control the Crimes of the Powerful
If there were only three thematic refrains in this international handbook, probably the most unifying of those themes would be the extent to which the enforcement apparatuses of capitalist states have failed miserably to control the crimes of the powerful. Another unifying theme would be the extent to which corporations, financial institutions, and state apparatuses will invest in strategies to deceive the consuming public, to distort and mystify harmful practices, to deny and dilute the effects of widespread victimization, and to co-opt or resist those interests, policies, or laws that contest the dominant relations of their power and abusive behavior. A third unifying theme, at least implicitly if not explicitly, would be the extent to which the existing power arrangements of the state-noncriminal nexus of capital unsustainable expansion needs to be fundamentally transformed through massive social, political, and economic activism.
Certainly, one of the most prominent examples of the state-noncriminal working nexus failing to control the crimes of the powerful in general and state criminality in particular was when President Obama, the US Congress, and the Department of Justice in a shared “state of denial” did not pursue criminal charges against officials of George W. Bush’s administration for torturing and other criminal misconduct that were integral parts of their “secret” war on terror. Not only did Mr. Obama declare that the United States should “look forward, as opposed to looking backward,” but his administration was also unwilling to entertain an independent investigation into the torture. Even when a Senate intelligence committee finally releases its soon-to-be (at the time of this writing) and long-awaited summary of a 6,200 page “torture review” already involving more than a year of legal review and redactions, there will not be a full accountability from those who arranged, encouraged, and conducted torture following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. And, while the world is well aware that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind behind the Twin Towers destruction and killing of close to 3000 persons, was water-boarded 183 times by the CIA in March 2003, the same cannot be stated about the hundreds of other enemy combatants who were tortured on behalf of the US at numerous black sites around the globe.
Under the rule of law, the state apparatus should have focused its attention on and punished those who had abetted or committed these tortures. Accordingly, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Poland and Macedonia to pay damages to detainees for their complicity in the C.I.A.’s secret torture program. The USA, however, like other superpowers continue to buck the prevailing trends in international law and justice. Although Mr. Obama in August of 2014 finally did publicly acknowledge, “we tortured some folks,” he continues “to resist the consequences of that admission. His administration has even pressed federal judges to close the door on civil suits by former detainees, citing state secrets” (Hafetz 2014). This looks, sounds and smells strikingly familiar to the same modus operandi of denial used by the Obama administration to clear the banksters of Wall Street for their criminal and fraudulent wrongdoings (Barak 2012).
These contradictory absences of the “rule of law” and the normalization or conventionalization of these crimes of the powerful across a liberal democratic society like the USA is also indicative of the degree to which its economic leaders and political institutions are held accountable to and/or dependent on rules and regulations that are fairly applied. Historically, Francis Fukuyama (2014) has shown that political order and decay fluctuates in response to the changing modes and relations of production. For example, throughout the laissez-faire 19th century, the US had a weak, decentralized, corrupt, and pre-industrial patrimonial state. During this period, graft and other forms of bribery contributed not only to the buying of justice by those who could afford it but also to national immorality. At the time, rackets, pull, and protection were common antidotes for stubborn legal nuances. Prevailing values of wealth and success predominated as guiding principles of right and wrong (Barak 1980). Well into the 20th century, the “ability to ‘make good’ and ‘get away with it’ offsets the questionable means employed in the business as well as the professional world. Disrespect for law and order is the accompanying product of this scheme of success” (Cantor 1932: 145).
From the turn of the 20th century up through the 1960s in the USA, changes brought about by a social revolution (first expressed by President Teddy Roosevelt and his Progressives and later by his distant cousin President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Dealers) and driven by the forces of industrialization recognized the plights and the struggles of the poor and the marginal classes. As a response to those masses of individuals who were not benefitting from and were posing a threat to the expanding political economy, some sectors of the ruling strata set about to provide a Square Deal for everyday people and to “clean up” working environments as well as the political corruption within and without the legal systems. A strong unionization movement of working Americans and a “radical” way of thinking eventually gained the political support of some industrialists and other social leaders. A much stronger and centralized capitalist state emerged in the 1930s, subject to Keynesianism and a slew of new federal regulations, realizing a legal zenith of sorts with the “due process” revolution of the Earl Warren Supreme Court in the 1960s.
By the 1980s and up to the present, one could argue that a decaying process or a reversal of legitimation has been occurring, in response both to the ideologies of neo-conservatism and neoliberalism and to the forces of global competitive capitalism. By the 1990s, as the “me generation” graduates from elite colleges and universities flocked to Wall Street to make their financial fortunes as investment brokers, arbitrage dealers, and derivative traders, unenlightened self-interest, unregulated financial markets, and unfettered victimization had become the order of the day. As Fukuyama (2014) argues political and social, if not, economic development in the US has been going in reverse, spurred by deregulation, privatization, growing inequality, concentrating wealth and power, a decaying infrastructure, and a contracting welfare state. Similarly, recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have facilitated this reversal, exemplified by Citizens United and Hobby Lobby, both further expanding the power and rights of “insider” corporate entities over those of “outsider” individuals. In the process, the political institutions have become less democratic, less fair, less efficient, and more dependent on corporate classes for their policy setting agendas. Failing to control the crimes of the powerful is only one manifestation of the decaying state of affairs in the United States and elsewhere.
Failing to control the violations of the powerful applies both to criminal offenders and to their offenses. With respect to criminal desistence and/or not controlling the habitual offenders on the street or in the suite, there has been some research, more examining the extent of the former than the latter, to which “personal” and “social” capital among these offenders relates to their reoffending or not. Generally, personal and social capital has been conceptualized in terms of “social bonds” at the individual-micro level (Sampson and Laub 1993; Nagin and Paternoster 1994) and in terms of “collective efficacy” at the group-macro level (Sampson et al. 1997; Rose and Clear 1998). Regarding white-collar offenders there are some three studies of note, one analysis is descriptive (Weisburd and Waring 2001) and two are trajectory (Piquero and Weisburd 2009; van Onna et al. 2014). It appears from these studies that employment as a form of social if not economic capital is a key factor in desistence from future crime.
Unfortunately for our purposes, the available records on white-collar criminals are limited to the Yale data sets that include both working class and middle class convicted offenders rather than the upper class offenders from the corridors of corporate or state power. Such data are missing for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that there are so few convicted powerful offenders to collect information on. In the case of any ex-Wall Street offenders from Goldman Sachs, AIG, or Morgan Stanley and so on there are zero convict records to study—because none of these “criminal” violators were ever charged, let alone prosecuted or convicted for any of their criminal wrongdoings. There are, however, some anecdotal stories about one very superrich professional ex offender Michael Milken. Developer of the high-yield bond and other innovations in access to capital, Milken pled guilty in 1989 to reporting and securities violations, was sentenced to ten years in prison, fined $600 million, and barred from the securities industry for life.
As part of his plea deal, Milken’s indictments for racketeering and inside trading were dropped. Subsequently, his sentence was reduced to two years for cooperating with prosecutors against his former financial colleagues and for his good behavior. Upon his release from prison, he was invited by the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA to participate as a guess lecturer in a finance course and to help the school develop a teaching video at his expense for use by universities across the USA. Today, Milken is worth some $2.5 billion dollars. He is also a survivor of prostate cancer and a founder of medical philanthropies funding research into all types of life-threatening diseases. So, one might say that in addition to his vast economic worth, he has a great deal of “social” capital through his philanthropic endeavors, such as the Milken Family Foundation and the Milken Institute. Milken is also married to his second wife and has three grown children, so one could check off the “personal” capital box, too, as contributing to his desistence from crime.
In the opening chapter of this final section, “Postconviction and powerful offenders: The white collar offender as professional ex,” Ben Hunter and Stephen Farrall explore the postconviction accounts of white-collar offenders with reference to their professional ex statuses. In doing so Hunter and Farrall reveal how by adopting a professional ex status an individual draws upon a previous, deviant identity, in order to give legitimacy to a new identity. They specifically focus in detail on the accounts of a couple of relatively powerful professional ex offenders. The first is Barry Minkow, convicted of accounting fraud at age 20 for single-handedly operating a $100 million Ponzi scheme that collapsed in 1987. Upon release from prison he became a pastor, a fraud investigator, and ethics spokesperson who ultimately returned to prison in 2011 and again in 2014. Today, he stills owes more than $600 million in restitution for his role in deliberately helping to drive down the stock price of homebuilder Lennar Corporation, a Fortune 500 company based out of Miami, Florida. The other professional ex reviewed by Hunter and Farrall is Charles Colson of Watergate infamy. A former adviser to President Nixon, who after release from prison became a famous Evangelical Leader and founder of the very successful Prison Fellowship Ministries, Colson remained crime free up to his death in 2012 at the age of 80.
With respect to not controlling powerful crimes, abuses, and misbehaviors there are the internal/informal levers of power (i.e., boards of directors, investors, legal counsel, accountants) and the external/formal levers of power (i.e., law, litigation, arbitration, punishment) circulating through business organizations in particular. There are also the ideological or cultural inhibitors espoused by those criminologists, policy wonks, entrepreneurs, economists, lawyers, and others that often advocate on behalf of “social responsibility” or “financial accountability” as informal strategies for reducing the crimes of the powerful. In the case of corporate and financial abuse and crime, boards of directors are called upon to “do the right thing,” to act ethically and responsibly in their roles of oversight and accountability.
These palliatives are often heard and repeated as bromides for reining in the misbehavior of the powerful, such as when Mary Jo White, the chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, delivered a speech at Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance in the early summer of 2014. White emphasized the importance of the duty of corporate directors to protect shareholders from abusive practices at companies that they oversee: “ethics and honesty can become core corporate values when directors and senior executives embrace them” (Quoted in Morgenson 2014: 1SB). Unfortunately, published research reveals that under current governing relations where the majority of corporate boards have personal ties with their chief executives, this is much easier said than done, even when their overlapping relations (or conflicts of interests) are disclosed or transparent. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) of those with personal ties as contrasted with only six percent of those with no personal ties, in order to assist CEOs in getting their annual bonuses, for example, would agree to actions that would not only hurt investors and taxpayers, but that also would increase the risks for the well-being of these companies’ futures. These contradictory relations are vital to the workings of corporate boardrooms (Morgenson 2014). Critics of social responsibility and and financial accountability recognize the importance of these findings. Unfortunately, most advocates, expert and lay alike, typically ignore these everyday, compromising relationships.
In chapter 32, “Business ethics as a means of controlling abusive corporate behavior,” Jay Kennedy examines the often, contradictory relations between private profits and social responsibility. He first describes and discusses the field of “business ethics,” with an emphasis on behavioral ethics and the ability of ethical business principals to control the proliferation of abusive corporate behavior within a business environment. In the process, Kennedy highlights both the history and philosophy underpinning business ethics and the ability of its behavioral approach to influence business decision-making through both formal and informal means. He concludes that while business ethics are not necessarily a panacea, they do provide government regulators, non-governmental agencies, corporations, business schools, and business people with a means “to materially affect abusive behavior within the marketplace,” especially when that behavior is viewed as ethically ambiguous.
The next reading illustrates a “reversal in crime control.” That is a contradictory situation where agribusiness in this instance has been able to successfully lobby for the passage of laws to criminalize the behavior of those who would expose the farming industry’s cruelty to animals. In chapter 33, “Ag-Gag laws and farming crimes against animals,” Doris Lin, an animal rights attorney, examines the efforts of agribusinesses to shut down the investigations into factory farming cruelty to animals through the passage of “ag-gag laws” that criminalize the making or distribution of undercover photos or videos that document these felonious behaviors. As paradoxical as these laws might be, Lin reveals that in the US animal cruelty laws at all levels of government operate to protect factory farms and animal agriculture more than they protect animals.
For example, most state animal cruelty laws exempt animals raised for food as well as most of the practices common to big agricultural facilities. But instead of the government addressing the cruel conditions of factory farming or the inadequacy of existing laws to protect these animals, in a number of states ag-gag bills are being introduced as one more means of suppressing the exposure of animal cruelty, as well as a means to criminalize those individuals who would dare to bring these abuses to public attention. Following her discussions on factory farming crimes, the relationships between agribusiness and government regulation, and the development of ag-gag laws, Lin also explains why “humane farming” is not a viable alternative to factory farming. She concludes that whether or not one believes animals are sentient and have rights, ag-gag laws are objectionable because they not only allow an industry to operate in secrecy, but they also punish individuals who expose wrongdoing.
In chapter 34, “Genocide and controlling the crimes of the powerful,” Augustine Brannigan explains why genocide and related war crimes among the gravest offenses recognized in international criminal law has been so rarely successfully prosecuted. After introducing the Kantian vision of a “cosmopolitan justice” he then outlines the evolution of the legal framework under which genocide has been defined and applied. His narrative moves chronically from sovereign immunity to criminal accountability, to the rule of law at Nuremberg, to the Genocide Convention of 1948, and lastly, to the Rome Statue and the establishment of The International Criminal Court in 2002. Using applicable examples as he proceeds throughout this history, Brannigan identifies the numerous contemporary obstacles still in the way of the attempts to control the crimes of the powerful through the law of genocide, such as the costs of funding these tribunals or the biases of focusing on developing nations in Africa that have little power to introduce their own security measures or to resist the neo-colonial incursions by the ICC to fill these legal vacuums.
Although Brannigan acknowledges that there has been a “remarkable diminution of the impunity with which sovereigns can evade criminal accountability in international law,” the problem of not yet achieving cosmopolitan justice through the creation of the ICC stems primarily from the fact that “the major superpowers have absented themselves from its jurisdiction by failing to support the convention on which it is based.” He ends his essay with the hope that as Nuremberg provided a check on sovereign immunity that globalization may produce a reconceptualization of sovereign power as “a balance of political autonomy combined with a responsibility to the community of nations and to the governed.” Brannigan acknowledges that if this were to materialize, it would have to be led by the “middle powers” nations like Germany, Canada, Brazil, Japan and so on because this is not likely to be a priority of the superpowers.
Moreover, in terms of “balanced” global power this would also have to be in opposition to empire. As Kramer (2012: 442) argues, “One necessary, although clearly not sufficient, step in the effort to curb state crime…is to challenge, resist, and change the American empire,” which continues not only “to engage in the most state violence in the world,” but also through its “attempted imperial domination of the globe creates or supports conditions that lead to state crimes on the part of other nations.” With respect to external or international violators, among the relatively powerful world nations, probably Israel, Russia, and the United States are the biggest offenders. In the case of the US, for example, post 9/11, it has tortured (e.g., Bagram Air Force Base, Afghanistan; Abu Ghraib, Iraq; Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba) and assassinated “enemy combatants” by drone (e.g., Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia). The US also illegally invaded and waged war against Iraq in 2003 and occupied the country until the end of 2011. Not unlike Stanley Cohen (2001) in States of Denial of the atrocities and suffering throughout the world, Kramer argues that challenging the crimes of empire calls for breaking through the denial and normalization of these crimes of the powerful, contesting their corporate and state connections, and enhancing the power and control of international political and legal institutions.
In chapter 35, “Controlling state crime and alternative reactions,” Jeffrey Ian Ross contextualizes the notions of controlling state crimes. He first outlines the traditional types of “internal” (e.g., police, national security/intelligence agencies, the military, and educational institutions) and “external” (e.g., domestic and international laws, transitional justice, and criminal tribunals) control mechanisms. He then examines the alternative reactions (e.g., victim/activist/opposition group resistance, state/organizational resistance, and state/organizational public relations) to the traditional state controls and the state’s responses to those. After reviewing these traditional and nontraditional attempts at controlling state crime, Ross concludes somewhat sardonically that short of abolishing the state that state crimes and the noncontrol of these will continue to provide ample content for understanding why these processes of control fail to do so.
In chapter 36, “Hacking the state: Hackers, technology, control, resistance, and the state,” Kevin Steinmetz and Jurg Gerber examine hackers as important players in the global struggle for technological control and resistance. This offering seeks to incorporate alternative perspectives into the state crime literature. Specifically examining the roles, the philosophies, and the practices of hackers, Steinmetz and Gerber contend that while hackers such as Anonymous, a loosely associated network of activists and hacktivists, are often demonized in a process of social construction and moral panics and sometimes pose threats to state and corporate interests, they actually have much to teach criminologists and state actors about cyberspace and crimes by the state. Going forward they conclude that nations, aided by hacker communities, would be well served in reevaluating their policies and laws surrounding technology, information, and surveillance.
Interesting “bedfellows” one might say about national cyberspace security forces teaming up with hacker communities to prevent crime. However, that is precisely the case in Washington Post journalist David Ignatius’ 2014 novel, The Director where the CIA hires a hacker to head up its “counter-hacking” division to bring the agency into the 21st digital century as it races to prevent the international financial system from what could be total bankruptcy. Spoiler alert: Turns out that the hacker with all the preppy credentials that one could need, including an advanced degree in computer engineering from Stanford University, is a double agent in league with a cyber group of “liberal do-gooders” who want to steal the money back from New York, London, and Hong Kong and redistribute it into the peoples’ banking accounts.
Turning from fiction to headlines: On 3 October 2014, “Hackers’ Attack Cracked 10 Financial Firms in Major Assault,” including JP Morgan Chase, the world’s largest bank accessing information on 83 million households and businesses, in what has been called “one of the most serious computer intrusions into an American corporation.” According to the NY Times article, the hackers are thought to be operating from Russia and appear to have loose connections with officials of the Russian government. The breadth of the cyber attacks and “the lack of clarity about whether it was an effort to steal from accounts or to demonstrate that the hackers could penetrate even the best-protected American financial institutions” has left “Washington intelligence officials and policy makers far more concerned than they have let on publicly” (Goldstein ed al. 2014).
Speculation about the breaches that occurred in August 2014 include that they were meant to send a message to Wall Street and the US that its digital networks of the world’s most powerful banking institutions were vulnerable. “It could be in retaliation for the sanctions” placed on Russia for its military intervention into the Ukraine by the US and its allies, stated one senior official who had been briefed on the intelligence. “But it could be mixed motives—to steal if they can, or to sell whatever information they could glean” (Goldstein et al. 2014). Whether or not the banks are up to the job of digitally protecting themselves, the attacks have already stoked questions about the inconsistent regulations governing when companies must inform regulators and their customers about a breach.
In the wider world of domestic and international state security surveillance, for example, there is the National Security Agency that is virtually an unencumbered free agent without any real type of oversight or regulation. On several occasions during its history the NSA has come under criticism for spying. Most recently, this was the case when Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed the extent of the NSA’s secret surveillance, including that the agency intercepts the communications of over a billion persons worldwide, tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people, and collects and stores the phone records of all US citizens. Post 9/11 both the Bush and Obama administrations waged a war against whistleblowers and investigative journalists that has had a chilling affect on both (Solomon & Wheeler 2014.)
In chapter 37, “(Liberal) democracy means surveillance: On security, control and the surveillance techno-fetish,” Dawn Rothe and Travis Linnemann suggest that it is not only surveillance programs such as PRISM that must be “a target for radical critique, but also the public’s disavowal of its complicity in more banal and normalized forms of surveillance,” including a slowing down and unplugging from our mediated lives. As for the recent revelations over state surveillance, they argue that these are simply the latest iteration in processes that have always been part and parcel of state power, social control, and capitalist order building. They reject the position that what is called for is merely a balancing of individual rights and security, arguing that the portrayal of surveillance in this vein legitimates the state system by implying that some degree of surveillance is acceptable. Rothe and Linnemann contend that the intermittent outrage over government intrusion, more aptly, reflects an enduring capitalist techno-fetish, which they aver is a deeply engrained part of our consumer culture. The focus upon “new” surveillance projects, operate as fetish objects that permit the public to accept and endure all of the “dirty compromises” of United States life. Once fetishized, surveillance technologies, not unlike drone strikes, become objects of outrage, allowing the underlying state violence of state power to carry on, in essence, unchallenged. Finally, to fetishize “new” surveillance they argue is to overlook and become complicit in quotidian forms of state violence, coercion and terror.
In the closing chapter to this handbook, “Limiting finance capital and regulatory control as non-penal alternatives to Wall Street looting and high-risk securities frauds,” Gregg Barak explains why the criminal law has had no effect on controlling high-risk securities frauds. The contribution departs from those financial reforms calling for organizational ethics, for stricter law enforcement, and the passage of new laws not only because all of these have consistently failed in the past, but also because high-risk security trading and many of the illegalities originate from private stock exchanges and “dark pools” representing today more than a third of equity trading in the United States and Europe. These high-speed trading pools involving mutual funds, pension funds and other institutional investors are where the frauds are more likely to happen because these trades are done outside the public exchanges and beyond their control or oversight.
Chapter 38 begins by describing the forces of free-market capitalism and the failures of securities law to prevent Wall Street fraud and looting. It discusses the inefficacies as well as the non-controls of state-legal interventions into these securities, past and present. The chapter finishes by summing up its argument and identifying twenty related policy proposals and/or political ambitions that are anti-neoliberalism to the core and reflective of an alternative paradigm viewed as absolutely necessary for changing the prevailing power relations of free-market capitalism and for curbing the crimes of the powerful. This new paradigm is part of the movement away from an ownership economy and toward a collaborative economy based on developing a mixed economy as well as the financial restructuring of the political economy.
Crises, Contradictions and Control: A Postscript for the 21st Century?
More than six years after the financial collapse a global recession, if not economic crisis, still persists throughout the world. The well being of the relatively powerless and masses of people have continued to deteriorate. Meanwhile, the superrich and the very powerful are getting much richer and more powerful than ever before. In 2012 the top 100 billionaires from China, Russia, India, Mexico, Indonesia, North America, and Europe added $240 billion to their coffers, enough money Oxfam calculates to end world poverty overnight. Unfortunately, the current policies in place to address these contradictions are more likely to exacerbate rather than to ameliorate them. Unless the power relations behind the policies that speak to the problems of capital accumulation, reproduction, and consumption fundamentally change, then the prospects of controlling the crimes of the powerful as opposed to suffering from them will remain close to zero.
Policy wise, to fix the contemporary crises the world finds itself caught between neoliberal, supply-side and monetarist remedies as in Europe and the United States that emphasize austerity and privatization, on the one hand, or a centralized demand-side and debt-financed expansion that ignores the Keynesian emphasis on the redistribution of money to ordinary people as in China, on the other hand. Paradoxically, the economic and political outcomes are the same—widening and escalating inequalities—because in either case the world is increasingly turning to central banks, led by the Federal Reserve of the United States, to manage the reoccurring financial global crises. These “solutions” to resolving the problem of capital accumulation depend, in other words, on the contradictory “dictatorship of the world’s central bankers” whose primary concern is about protecting and bailing out the banks, the plutocrats that run them, and the various systems of market capitalism with little, if any, regard for the well being of the general masses of people.
In sum, unless the prevailing political and economic arrangements locally and globally as well as the contradictions of the bourgeois legal relations of the capitalist state are structurally addressed, it is very hard to imagine how any other kind of tinkering will alter the negative trends of unsustainable capital development or make any kind of dent in the volume of, let alone, in the driving forces underpinning the crimes and victimization of the powerful. Accordingly, what is needed, as an alternative to the current economic malaises is a worldwide peoples movement on behalf of a global system of international Keynesianism, an Eco-welfarism, and a Marshall-like strategic plan of sustainable growth. Consistent with this utopian vision is a realpolitik recognition that resisting the crimes of the powerful has little in common with trying to make the existing regulatory or penal arrangements of social control work better through reformist type modifications of business as usual. Rather, fundamental changes of the political economy through social, cultural, and global activism are called for. Without eliminating the basic conditions that nurture these crimes of the powerful, new and improved social controls will not change the enduring reproduction of these crimes.
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