Academic journal article Social Justice

Behind Every Great Fortune There Is a Great Crime

Academic journal article Social Justice

Behind Every Great Fortune There Is a Great Crime

Article excerpt

In the first issue of social justice, 25 years ago, Hi Schwendinger's "Editorial" and Tony Platt's article, "Prospects for a Radical Criminology in the United States," laid out an agenda that to a great degree has been fulfilled in the pages of Social Justice. Today more than ever, there is a need to widen and deepen the scope of research on crime - state, corporate, and financial criminal behavior that now reaches every crevice of the globe. Criminology is central to social analysis of what the ideologues of imperialism refer to as "globalization." Whether in corporate campaign financing, the executive branch's illegal transfer of billions of dollars in overseas bailouts, or in the unilateral bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan, criminal acts are committed, contrary to domestic and international law, with impunity. In a word, where criminality becomes respectable, the respectable have become criminals. Impunity is linked to power, dominance, and exploitation: billion-dollar hedge funds gamble trillions and the Federal Reserve intervenes - bypassing Congress and the electorate to bail them out ("they're too big to fail"), while the elderly and poor are arbitrarily cut out of medical insurance by HMOs (they're too small to care about).

The rhetoric of globalization (more accurately globaloney), with its emphasis on the end of frontiers and the supremacy of multinational capital based on imperatives of the market, obscures an essential element, crime - large-scale, long-term homicide (genocide) is its original point of departure. Behind every great fortune there is a great crime, Honore de Balzac wrote a century and a half ago. The ascendancy of capitalism in what is now dubbed the emerging markets is the product of state crimes, aided, abetted, or directly perpetrated by the West, principally Washington. The great fortunes of Asia are intimately related to the mass killings of between 500,000 and one million people in Indonesia and over two million in Indochina and Korea. These are crimes against humanity according to international law.

Latin America became a favorite "emerging market" over the bodies of thousands of Chilean, Argentinean, and Brazilian workers, thanks to illegal coups engineered and supported by accomplices before the fact in Washington. Closer to home, Central America embraced the free market agenda in the 1990s after Washington's massive support for the military and paramilitary death squads. The results: 75,000 dead in El Salvador, 150,000 in Guatemala, 50,000 in Nicaragua (the illegal Contra connection) - more than a quarter of a million killed, mostly via what is politely referred to as "extrajudicial" killings.

The Human Rights Tribunal in the Hague would have a full menu bringing to justice the intellectual authors and perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Central America, beginning with the key members of the Cabinet and several undersecretaries for Latin American Affairs. …

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