Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The political economy of law and order

Robert Reiner, a Professor in Criminology at the LSE, is well worth reading on the politics of law and order. This is his response to the news shocker that the current recession suggests that we may, surprise, surprise, see an increase in crime in Britain:

The most disturbing aspect of the political and media discussion of the crime figures is the continuing failure to see the picture for the pixels. The economic collapse of the last 18 months has in most policy areas stimulated discussion of how the overall neo-liberal trajectory of political economy and culture over the last 30 years has had pernicious effects way beyond the financial. But criminal justice policy remains ghettoised within its own narrow law and order discourse. Government and opposition focus only on crime prevention, policing and punishment as the relevant policy responses. But a host of evidence shows that the economic, political, social, and cultural transformation engendered by neo-liberalism over the last three decades has stoked increasing propensity to criminality (assembled in my book on Law and Order, and Steve Hall, Simon Winlow and Craig Ancrum's Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture, for example).

Improved crime control tactics barely kept the lid down on crime levels during the now-departed economic boom. The crash we are facing is likely to unleash increasing crime of all kinds, property and personal. The latest crime statistics offer only some rather tentative harbingers of this gathering storm.

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