Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Hanging by Invitation: Capital Punishment, the Carceral Archipelago and Escalating Homicide Rates in the Caribbean and Africa

Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Hanging by Invitation: Capital Punishment, the Carceral Archipelago and Escalating Homicide Rates in the Caribbean and Africa

Article excerpt

Introduction:

On reading about the theory of unlimited supply of labor, I was puzzled because the population of the entire Caribbean is less than that of one major city in Nigeria. It was only after hearing Norman Girvan's 2008 Nobel Laureate Celebrations lecture on Lewis that I understood the context of the theory - it was developed with South East Asia in mind and there is no doubt that overpopulation is more of a concern there than in the Caribbean. Yet, it is clear that Lewis generalized the theory to the Caribbean, leading Lloyd Best and others to dub it a theory of industrialization by invitation. Girvan (2005:200) makes this generalization clearer when he stated that 'Lewis rested the case for industrialization on the over-population of the islands'. More recent discussions of the population bomb focus on Africa (Ghose, 2013).

My concern with the theory is not exclusively to do with Africa and the Caribbean but with a generalized concern that wherever it is believed that there is a surplus population in history, the response of policy makers is not always to try and create more opportunities to utilize the surplus human resources more humanely. Rather the tendency is for policies to be developed to cull the population either through population control, war, enslavement, disease, genocide, transportation or through mass incarceration of the surpluses as the theory of Malthus clearly implied. Cheikh Anta Diop theorized that wherever a minority rules over the majority, the tendency was for the state to adopt genocidal measures to keep the dominated population in check (Diop, 1991). Karl Marx summarized this tendency in his critique of Adam Smith's comments on overpopulation in his (Marx's) Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts that was first translated into English by CLR James as follows: 'The surplus will have to die!'i

Strange as it may seem, this was the reaction of Marcus Garvey (1987) to people who accept an inferiority complex as clipped in Damian Marley's Welcome to Jamrock: 'You race of cowards, if you cannot do what other nations have done, what other races have done, then you had better die!' Mark Figueroa (2008) made a related remark at his Lewis 2008 Nobel Laureate Celebration Lecture when he suggested that Lewis' mother was the one who taught him that whatever Europeans can do, Africans can do too. I told Mark afterwards that I had wanted to ask him if Lewis believed everything his mother told him or if he disagreed with any aspect of this advice that Frantz Fanon (1963) would have dismissed as the illusion of catching up with a monstrous Europe? For instance, since Europeans enslaved and colonized the world for hundreds of years, should we Africans aim to do the same? I am suggesting that the idea of unlimited supply of labor is suspect and should not be maintained because of its ideological collateral damages in the hands of agents of social control who are happy to copy the genocidal examples of European modernity while apparently shunning the positive fruits of the Enlightenment. Given the threats of the AIDS pandemic globally, we cannot afford the luxury of thinking that there is a surplus human population anywhere especially given that the people more likely to be seen as surpluses are also by some coincidence the ones that are more prone to HIV infection today just as they are the ones most likely to be sentenced to death and executed in jurisdictions that retain the death penalty in response to relatively high homicide rates and public outcry to fight fire with fire.

In this paper, I will review the theory of unlimited supply of labor and comment on its critics and followers. Then I will review the theory of Punishment and Social Structure by Rusche and Kirchheimer to highlight a concern in criminology that surplus populations tend to be wasted rather than employed gainfully. Against the theoretical background, I will examine whether there is evidence of correlations between high rates of imprisonment and the death penalty and rates of unemployment in the Caribbean and Africa. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.