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6 March, 2019 11:45:02 AM


Correlation between economics and crimes

It is not fair to blame the unemployed and the workers for all social crimes
Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
Correlation between economics and crimes

There lies a close correlation between people’s economic conditions and crimes committed by them.  The type of crimes and their structural status changes with the economic conditions and footings of such people. Most of the people in Bangladesh like other third world countries lives under the poverty line.

Consequently, they cannot afford to meet their daily basic requirements. Such realities of their economic life lead them in most cases to engage themselves in crimes. Apart from this there are also crimes committed by the affluent sections of the society.
Let us look back into the ancient time or the primitive communist societies. In those societies crime meant the violation of social or religious cannons at the best. Afterwards some sorts of disparities were created in societies where slavery emerged and remained prevalent. The economic goods at that time were limited to domestic animals and gardens only centering which cropped up the practice of private ownership of property. This resulted in the enslavement and oppression of a weaker class of people by the other stronger class id est. the property owners. This is a sort of social crime against humanity based on property ownership by the strong. So we see that the basic factor behind social crime is based on the economic condition that prevailed in a certain socio-economic system. The cruel system of slavery slipped the attention of Socrates (Born 469 BC – Died 399 BC) who became legend as a philosopher throughout ages but not that of Spartacus (Born 111 BC – Died 71 BC) a slave leader. Spartacus was a protester, a war hero and a martyr fighting against such an inhuman criminal oppressive system that we identify as the system of slavery in human history.  

Thereafter emerged feudalism in human history in which we find the rise of gradual conflict between the economically different classes of people – the weak and the strong – the serfs and the feudal lords. The economic relationship between different classes of people in such society turned into exploiting one class – the serfs – by the other – the feudal lords – rather than amicable cooperation between the different classes of people. With the evolution of time the eventual result of such class conflicts under feudalism resulted in the emergence of a lesser exploitative system called capitalism with the rise of modern industries in the late eighteenth century.

The resulting capitalist class under capitalism that born out of the womb of feudalism emerged as the owners of the production means such as land, mills-factories, machineries, business establishment etcetera. That is the means of commodity productions have become privately owned under capitalism. Consequently, there in this socio-economic system surfaced two classes of people: (i) Capitalists i.e. the production means owning class and the (ii) Workers i.e. the class that moves the wheels of the commodity production means. Karl Marx (1818-1883) aptly explained the secret of the criminal exploitative character of this system in his historic works Das Kapital, Theory of Surplus Value and his other famous literature. His works influenced even John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), the saviour of capitalism, who authored among others his master piece The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) just after the great capitalistic world wide crash of 1929-1930.

With the advancement of capitalistic industrial civilization the use of workers as a class in the commodity production process has declined giving rise to excess labour because of population boom. This has given rise to unemployment in the capitalistic society. In the face of the absence of working opportunities under capitalism the unemployed ones started to engage themselves in various sorts of crimes like stealing, dacoity, looting, murder, extortions and etcetera to survive and industrial workers engaged in agitations breaking industrial establishments for higher wages for better life. The class conflict continued.

It is not fair to blame the unemployed and the workers alone for social crimes. In a capitalistic economic system both the capitalists and the workers are always involved in criminal behaviours against one another in different manners and fashions. The determining factor behind such crimes under capitalism is the economic disparity and deprivations that prevails among the different strata of people under this system. The working class and low-paid employees under capitalism are invariably and regularly deprived, exploited and oppressed by the capitalists under this or that pretext. This incites them to involve in criminal activities.

The number of the unemployed people resulting from the introduction of automation in the commodity production process and simultaneous advancement of capitalism soars accelerated by the rise of population due also to the simultaneous advancement in medical science. These unemployed and the poor working people especially in the third world countries fail to educate their children. These poor people cannot afford the cost of sending their children to educational institutions. Instead they are compelled to send their immature children to mills and factories and workshops to sell their labours and earn whatever little money they can. Even though these immature workers succeed in earning some money, but they fail to spend the earned money intelligently and prudently because of their illiteracy and ignorance. They usually engage themselves in various sorts of anti-social activities such as gambling, intoxication etcetera with their hard earned meagre amount of money.

Basically responsible factor behind these is the discriminatory and hopeless social conditions that prevail in such crime-prone socio-economic system.

This is only one side of the coin. On the other side are the crimes committed by the higher or elite class of the society i.e. the socio-economically privileged ones. The crimes committed by this class of people include: tender-mongering, corruption, bribe taking, black marketing, profiteering, money grabbing, deceit, illegal occupation of property, defamation, nepotism, favouritism, misuse of power, various sorts of professional crimes etcetera that can be labeled as White Collar Crime. Ninety nine point five percent of such crimes are committed by the higher socio-economically privileged class of people. About only 10 percent of such crimes are exposed and about only 5 percent comes in the print and electronic media; and the rest 85 percent remain concealed or undisclosed.

From the narration given above if we want to work out a statistical correlation between economics and crimes then it may be said that 85 percent of the people in different world countries are involved in crimes for economic reasons. The rest 15 percent are because of biological, geographical and social reasons.

One may appeal to the police administration including other different law enforcing agencies, relevant organs of the governments and print-electronic media to come forward to track down and take necessary steps so that the people may be apprised of such crimes along with taking efforts to out root them accordingly. But one thing is certain, as time has proved that it will be impossible to wipe out or control such crimes keeping the prevailing exploitative, oppressive and discriminatory capitalistic system intact. Crimes are inherent elements of capitalism. To root out such crimes or crimes of whatever sorts it may be and other sorts of corruptions, and wars between nations which capitalism necessitates, we may have to try some other system beyond capitalism in its present form. Certainly in the twenty-first century we need a global socio-economic and political system civilized enough to live without crimes, corruptions and wars.                               

The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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