Our Unjust Legal Systems

Wim Rietdijk, D.Sci.

Dogma, taboo and vested interests preventing truth and justice from prevailing in the legal system

What is the sense of law if it is not a dependable ally of truth against deceit and of right against wrong? Why should often only the rich be in a position to buy favourable verdicts in cases where common sense gives a clear answer?
      Juridical reform is long overdue. We only discuss a few points, further referring to the Mainpage of this site on my book The Scientifization of Culture, in which the problem is integrated into a comprehensive theory on society, ideology and power.

1. As early as 1973 Marvin Wolfgang (University of Pennsylvania) et al. found that a small group of chronic offenders commits 83% of all serious crimes in the US, 25 in his life per criminal on the average.
      Implication: if third-time serious repeaters were removed from society for good, serious crime would decrease dramatically.
      Question: Why establishments in about all Western countries still failed in taking the relevant measure? What interests prevented such protection of citizenry?

2. Why a defendant needs any more rights than his not being convicted if innocent, and in the other case his punishment not to be disproportionate? Why any right to silence and to not contributing to his own conviction? Are we playing cricket rather than shielding the public from cruelty and deceit?
      Why should technicalities ever prevent the truth from coming into the open and why should the way in which it has been found have influence on the verdict? Again: are we playing cricket instead of fighting meanness on behalf of its (potential) victims? Why not subordinate everything in the judicial process to finding the truth: rights, technicalities, the action of lawyers - the latter being under oath to cooperate and saying everything relevant they know, also if it is harmful to their clients? People should never be acquitted because something remained hidden, that is, because of deceit.
      Again: What is the sense of law at all if it is not bringing truth and integrity into the strongest possible position against meanness and deceit? Why should "privacy" ever shield meanness or lies? Is it some dogma or taboo?

3. To say it otherwise: In a democracy - in which the authorities represent the people and an ethic serving its happiness - an old principle of fighting crime loses its meaning: the idea that criminal procedure is a contest between the state and "a citizen". Actually, it is a fight between human rights of the people (as to not being mutilated, defrauded,...) and meanness violating them, meanness possibly acting via the defendant. Hence, any idea of giving such meanness a chance of escaping is out of place: both the state representing the human-rights side and the defendant who is possibly innocent have an interest in an all-out fight against lies, inaccuracy and the meanness in question. And if the accused is indeed guilty, the essential duty of judicial procedure is bringing him into the weakest possible position to get away with his crime, without any "rights" to call on in order to sabotage the search for truth.

4. How could it happen that a contrast arose between law enforcement and common sense and justice as formulated above? In my book The Scientifization of Culture this is explained within the greater scope of the concepts of institutionalization and group-interest-based social mechanisms in general that counteract both integrity and progress. Here we indicate some points:
a) In the past, the overpowering and authoritarian state often was indeed a real danger to an accused individual, who, therefore, should be shielded against too much "authority". Gradually, the balance changed, but lawyers, rehabilitation officers, psychiatrists and others discovered that it is in their best interest that the "crime-fighting business" expands rather than shrinks because of its very suitability. Since practically no competition as to the latter countervailed such "Parkinsonian" interest in expansion, the trend became complication, "rights", exclusionary rules and - particularly - "studied inefficiency" in reducing crime and in making civil suits a simple question of common sense, truth and righteousness.
      Example: it would certainly not be in the interest of lawyers and rehabilitation bodies if the simple and just measure about third-time repeaters mentioned under (1) became policy: it would massively cost them clients. Well, lawyers etc., just as many other people, also ideologically fight for their business not being cut down: "Stiffer penalties do not work", "Crime stems from poverty, bad housing,...(rather than permissiveness, moral relativism, inadequate law enforcement and bad genes)", and so on. Pseudo-progressive politicians join in, deriving from such ideology a justification for spending more money on behalf of every moral and genetic rearguard you can imagine, rather than ending permissiveness and introducing eugenics. Of course, egalitarianism, permissiveness, anti-eugenics, and social environmentalism ("nurture rather than nature") more generally constitute an interest-serving ideology for the "deprivileged industry", that is much more powerful than the military-industrial complex. At least, we have to conclude soberly that such hypothesis explains the popularity of the relevant attitudes - appearing in spite of weak arguments - in the simplest and most coherent way.
b) The rich have an interest in complication and elaborate "rights": expensive lawyers can do much with them.
c) There are many "grey" zones, also in business and politics, in which complication, formalism and "privacy" restrictions as to finding the truth, rather than common sense and integrity, do much for those having something to hide. In short: Troubled waters and not making integrity the top priority are pleasant for those many who are fishing good in them. These do not like too much emphasis on the moral dimension in law at all. And you honest citizen are the victim of a system in which being right does not automatically mean that all judges are in a hurry to put you in the right too.
      Actually, various sectors of our establishment have to fear from consistent integrity, even more than from its opposite such as crime. Unconsciously motivated by self-interest, they instinctively fight with vague ideological slogans ("police state", "privacy",...) to make complication, formalism and "rights" into artificially engineered troubled waters, to the benefit of those who have hidden agendas and/or can pay lawyers much.
      How morally sick and technicalities-infested thinking in the juridical domain actually is can be seen from two mere facts:
1. In the US - where the technicality disease is worst - convicts to the death penalty often have to wait for years for a final Supreme Court verdict. This instead of the case that higher courts judge the known facts, their relevance to guilty or not, and their moral weight, within weeks rather than months.
2. Rather than forcing addicts to kick the habit - if necessary by interning them in camps where they have to work for their living - one invests much money and time in fighting the dealers, who are much more difficult to be found than addicts. But of course: chronic addicts are more lucrative for the "deprivileged industry" than such internment policy would be.

5. Up to now, you were powerless because money, organization and ideology were all on the side of those whose interest-stimulated lack of compassion with the victims of crime made them soft on it. You had no coherent alternative to the much-propagated "orthodoxy". My book The Scientifization of Culture contains one. Not a "rightist", "back to the past" one, but an enlightened progressive one putting progress and, therefore, reason and righteousness first and foremost. An alternative comprehensive social theory in which the chutzpahs of an unjust formalistic legal system coherently fit in with those of other socio-cultural domains in which fallacies and taboos ideologically shield interest-based orthodoxies. We mention a few among such "chutzpah domains" and orthodoxies:
a) incoherent "modern" art and postmodernism;
b) egalitarianism, sympathy for underclasses and political correctness implying human quality to be not very important after all, and having little to do with genes;
c) "rightist" orthodoxies, from fundamentalism and nationalism to excusing cartels and groups that play into each other's hands; think of inflated "cartel" fees of doctors, the power of many business organizations and labour unions,...;
d) sexual taboos implying that what creates joy with consenting adults has much to do with "sin", and
e) moral relativism making good and evil (such as Auschwitz) a question of cultural tradition or preference of the powers that be.
      After understanding socio-cultural mechanisms - such as ideologies - common to the continuation of so many orthodoxies and policies that serve group interests contrasting with progress in reason, ethics and emotional well-being, you will no longer feel powerless against the status quo. You will have a coherent, well-founded socio-cultural theory from which you can act in line with enlightened ideas. The interest groups and their ideologues will no longer be far better organized and more determined than you, who saw no "system in the madness", let alone your having a coherent alternative model of society and a course of action against the in-crowds. On the contrary, you will feel reason, objective moral values and progress on your side, with the central idea that:
The common basis of taboo, repressions, culturally pushed fallacies, ideology and social evils is made up by vested group interests unconsciously (instinctively) turning against reason, rational ethics (integrity and neighbourly love) and emotional awakening in order to keep waters troubled and you unenlightened and powerless. They can do so via old-time censorship, sexual taboos, moral relativism, political correctness or old-fashioned "rightism", but all such means and ideas serve anti-enlightened vested interests, as my book The Scientifization of Culture explains in detail
      And never forget: How radically and vigorously we enforce integrity - in crime-fighting, politics, business etc. - mainly reflects our compassion with (potential) victims of meanness.

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