Saturday, February 11, 2023

Crime and Poliics

Crime and Politics

Peter Schultz


I read this wonderfully clarifying quote from a former recruiter for the CIA: The CIA attracts “those who are seeking a socially acceptable way of expressing criminal tendencies.’” But why not apply this to politicians as well? What if being political is a socially acceptable way to express criminal tendencies or, to be more direct, of being a “criminal?” 

After all, what is “crime” if not an expression of our will to power, as Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Plato, Aristotle, and Augustine would say? Although Augustine might call it “sin.” 

Why are “gangs” endemic to “ghetto”life? Expressions of power that are “socially acceptable” in “the hood.” Think of that book on D.C. whose title I forget right now: D.C. as a “gangland,” as “a hood” where officials can be criminal in socially acceptable ways. Think of war crimes, which convey respectability on their perpetrators. Bush Jr. didn’t abandon the criminality that defined his youth; he just entered the political arena where his “criminal  tendencies” were respectable. And how seductive invading Iraq must have been for him: great criminality that brought great respect and fame! [Book title, one of my favorites by the by: the Seduction of Crime. Wow! Now I get it!] 

Wasn’t that, being both powerful and socially acceptable, what Tony Soprano was seeking via his criminality - and what Bush got by killing millions of Iraqis? And Malcolm X, as Malcolm Little, a small time criminal, “Detroit Red,” was exercising his power - what little he had and included a white girlfriend - in a way that made him socially acceptable, respected in his neighborhood. I use to argue in class that there was little difference between what motivated Malcolm to be a criminal, viz., the quest for power, respect, and wealth,  and what motivated students to become lawyers, for example. I didn’t know how right I was. “Every cop a criminal and every sinner a saint!” From the Rolling Stones: “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and fame.” Sympathy for the Devil. “But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.” Oh yeah!

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