Every day the morning papers bring news of dacoities and murders, kidnappings and rapes, hold-ups of trains and hijackings of planes, adulteration of foodstuffs, drugs and even of poisons. All this makes one sit up and wonder whether crime is inseparable from civilized life. We appear to live on an earth of well-dressed gangs.
Men have been barbarians much longer than they have been civilized. They are only precariously civilized and deep within them there is the propensity, persistent as the force of gravity to revert to our first natures. Small wonder that under stress and strain the most civilized people are as near barbarism as the most polished steel is to rust. Nations, like metals have only a superficial brilliancy.
Compared with our wonderful progress in physical service and practical applications, our system of government, of administering justice of national education, and our whole social and moral organization, remains in a ...view middle of the document...
But the time comes when it is asserted that poverty is man-made and stems from the inequity of the wicked system that obtains. The covert crime begets the overt crime.
The biggest of all crimes that we associate with this civilization is the horror of war. War today is murder on a gigantic scale. At one time it was thought a few hundred corpses would be enough; then came a time when thousands were still too few and today we cannot even count all the dead wherever we look. And the irony is that this large-scale killing, this organized butchery is eulogized in glowing terms, and Victoria Crosses are awarded. Besides, being organized murder, war is also organized loot.
All efforts are directed towards crippling the economy of the enemy. The atom bomb was thrown not on Tokyo, the capital of Japan but on Hiroshima, the industrial hub of that country. The outcome of war in the modern world is un payable debts, repudiations, ruined investments, the utter disorganization of finance, the collapse of the monetary system, the disappearance of the greater part of foreign trade, and, usually, on top of it, revolution from below. Here then is a crime, which does not pay.
The crimes of extreme civilization are probably worse than those of extreme barbarism, because of their refinement, the corruption they presuppose and their superior degree of intellectuality. The barbarian hacked the enemy to pieces; the civilized man tortures him mentally, wins him financially and then, if necessary liquidates him physically. Politicians are past masters in this sordid game. The barbarian was cruel but open-handed, his descendant today is no less cruel but hypocritical.
The barbarian was a beast, with beastly appetites. He was a tiger, an ape, a camel, a goat in turn, whatever suited the occasion. After all it was a struggle for survival, for him. He acted like an automaton. There was no consciousness of crime. The modern civilized man perpetrates crime deliberately. He hoards foodstuffs with a view to selling them at the opportune moment. And in the meantime millions are starved to death. Bengal famine was a glaring example of this sordid game.The civilized man stabs in the dark. His crimes wear a thick cloak.