Crime and Politics: Spot the Difference*
This essay is about the relationships between crime and politics. It also includes a slightly self-indulgent sub-text: a glance at what happened to some ideas from the 'new criminology' movement which so involved many of us thirty years ago.
I start with two texts--not 'Texts' with a capital T in the literary, post- modernist sense, but texts in the old fashioned sense, that priests, rabbis and mullahs use for their sermons.
The first is very familiar to criminologists : a much-quoted passage from one of the most influential books of the period, David Matza Becoming Deviant--a text very much resonating the culture of the 1960s (and conceived by Matza while he was a visitor at the LSE in 1967/8). With characteristic irony, he records the uncoupling of modern criminology from politics: 'Among their most notable accomplishments, the criminological positivists succeeded in what would seem the impossible. They separated the study of crime from the workings and theory of the state.'.1
My second text is less familiar to criminoloizists, but more to everyone else. It's from John Le Carrd recent novel, The Night Manager. This is the scene: the Cold War is over; there is no more pretence at ideology; history has come to an end. The new enemy is the callous international cartels of drug-trafficking, illegal arms-trading and money-laundering. Burr, the agent for the law enforcement division of the revamped British intelligence services, now deals not with the old politics but the new crime. In one scene in Zurich, he is trying to recruit our hero, Jonathan Pine, to help bring to justice a particularly obnoxious dealer in illegal arms and drugs:____________________