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
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
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
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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