Critical evaluation on Marxist theory on Crime:IntroductionBoth Marx and Engels did not write alot about crime in our society however what was written describes a societywhere the economical/political ruling classes (Bourgeoisie) defined crimes and lawsto exploit the working class (Proletariat) by threatening them with punishmentif they did not adhere to these laws yet at the same time the ruling wereexempting themselves from the law allowing them to maintain power and wealth. Crimeis then created by lone individuals struggling to accept their economicdisadvantages they have been placed in and ultimately going into crime due tothe inequality created between the classes in an exploitative capitalistsociety.Summary:Crime is a product of a criminogeniccapitalist system. All classes commit crimes in society however it is theworking class that are more likely to be deemed as criminals since the rulingclass have created a system which allows their criminality but penalises crimesof the working class. In the UK, there are three branches of power that helpprotect the interest of the ruling class. The Legislature (Parliament) createscriminal laws, and the executive (the State i.e.
The Prime minister and theCrown) carry out the law thus defining a criminalisation process (what iscriminal and what is not criminal). The third branch of power is the judiciary(the Courts) have the power to make judgements on criminal law therefore,having the power to criminalise by convicting the proletariat of their crimes.Other Criminal Justice institutions such as the Police, the Crown ProsecutionService and Prisons also help to implement criminal law. These institutionsignore the crimes of the powerful causing the working classes to be criminalised. In our society, the victims of crime are theworking class as they are negatively affected by capitalism.
According to Quinneycrime will only end “… with the collapse of capitalist society and the creationof a new society, based on socialist principles, will there be a solution tothe crime problem” (Quinney, 2002). This would mean some sort of revolution isneeded to change the current policies that uphold the bourgeoisie’s powerbecause “If social structure is the cause of class conflict resulting in theexploitation and crime, the only solution is to change the social structure.”(Lanier and Henry, 2014).Evaluation:Firstly, in comparison to otherclasses of criminology such as positivism and classic criminology, Marxistcriminology is acknowledging there is a victim which is this case is theworking class who are oppressed by capitalism. However, Left realism hasaccused Marxist criminology of “ignoring the real victims of crime andsupposedly romanticising or idealising those who commit offences” (Ugwudike,2015).
This suggest that Marxist are too focused on victimising the workingclass and they have ignored the actual victim of the crime and just saying theyare also victims of capitalism.Secondly, Marxism recognises that acertain class are being deemed as criminal (in this case the working class) andthe Chicago school with Burgees Zonal theory recognises that a certain zone isdeemed where the criminals reside. Shaw and McKay hypothesised “… that ZoneTwo, the transitional zone, would contain higher levels of crime” (Lanier andHenry, 2014, p.186). Both theories recognised that a certain group of society arecriminal. However, the Chicago school has a focus on crimes of the poorwhereas, Marxism discusses crimes of the powerful and the poor. The Chicagoschool put an emphasis on empirical evidence so, researchers go into the fieldto understand criminals and crime better unlike Marxism, where there is a lackof empirical evidence.
Marxism claims that Socialist societies would end crimebut, there has yet to be a successful case of socialism for example SovietRussia.Thirdly, Marxism highlights thatthere must be a revolution to create a socialist society which will then allowcrime to diminish similarly, Durkheim a structural functionalist came up withthe concept of Anomie (normalness) which is the result of radical socialchange. However, unlike a capitalist society in an Anomic society crime isnormal/functional. “… a societyexplicitly committed to competitive individualism should, therefore, expect ahigh level of crime…crime are normal” (Lanier andHenry, 2014, p.214). This means in this society individuals solely focus onthemselves and ignores the rest of society including the law. StructuralFunctionalism can be considered idealistic in comparison to Marxism becauseMarxism theory is a conflict theory and Marxism recognises that crime needs tobe stopped whereas Functionalism is a consensus theory and Functionalismbelieves that crime has a place in society and social regulations andpunishments are the only way to control crime and criminals but, if socialregulations and punishments were a suitable deterrents then crime would ceaseall together yet crime still happens despite the reprimands.
Marxism focuses onthe criminalisation of the working class however not everyone who is workingclass is criminal. Gabriel Tarde specifically states that “crime is simplynormal learned behaviour…the individual was said to learn ideas through theassociation with other ideas; and behaviour was said to follow” (Hopkins Burke,2016). Tarde focuses on the microcosm and realises that the individuals commitcrime whereas Marxism focuses on the macrocosm and generalises the workingclass as criminal when not everyone is criminal.Fourthly, Marxism and labellingtheory both identify that a criminals and deviance is created. The ruling classuses the criminal justice system to form what is criminal in society and inlabelling theory Becker stated: “thatsocial groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutesdeviance and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling themas outsiders.” (Becker, 1963, p.9). Labelling theory ignores the role of powerand how said power can shape criminal perceptions in society opposed to Marxismwhere they have identified how the ruling class manipulates what and who iscriminal to protect their interests.
Nevertheless, Marxism fail recognise thatpeople in the ruling class’s criminality is discovered for example, the 2015 FIFAcorruption scandal.Merton and Marxism both noted thatsocial inequalities cause people to turn to crime. Marxism saw that classinequality causes the working class to turn to crime and similarly Mertondiscussed the strain of anomie, this is where social structures cannot yieldlimitless opportunities for all and, those who cannot have those opportunitiesthen turn to crime. Merton discusses how not every individual can succeed insociety due have less opportunities in life however Merton fails to discuss whysome people have less opportunities than others although, Marxism explains howcapitalism causes an inequality between classes. Marxism claims the legalsystem is responsible for repressing the working class and punishing them whenthey break the law however Marxism does not consider that crime is created dueto cultural failure. Merton highlights that people who commit crimes are oftenunsuccessful in their cultural goals “…Merton argued that human “appetites” ordesires, are not natural. Rather, they are created by cultural influence.”(Lanier and Henry, 2014, p.
219). Marxism fails to acknowledge other factorssuch as culture when analysing why people commit crimes.Feminism and Marxism both recognisethat there is a social inequality in society. For feminist, the inequality isbetween genders (patriarchy) and for Marxists it is class inequalities (capitalism).Marxism fails to explain gender inequalities with in crime unlike feminismwhere the key argument is that patriarchy portrays the female criminal as moredeviant than the male criminal. On the other hand, feminism does not discussissues relating to class inequalities and how crime stems from capitalism whichis Marxist criminologist main argument.Conclusion:Marxist criminology theory exploreshow the Bourgeoise uses their power to conceal their own criminality bymanipulating the Criminal Justice System to their own advantage but at the sametime penalising the Proletariat for their deviance.
This system createsinequality between the classes that can only be resolved through socialism. Eventhough Marxism discusses the relationship between capitalism and crime unlikeother classes of criminology; Marxism lacks empirical evidence that socialismwill lead to a crime free society and it ignores the fact that not all workingclass people turn to crime and some people of the ruling class do get convictedof their crimes. Overall Marxist criminology does present an accurate pictureof a capitalist society and does explain how firstly how crime occurs due toclass inequalities so individuals turn to crime to have the same economicalgain as the ruling class. Secondly, Marxism explains who is criminal in thiscase all classes are criminal but it’s the working that get punished. Thirdlyit defines that the victims of crime are in fact the victims of capitalism whichare the working class.
Finally, Marxism details how crime is controlled throughthe criminal justice system and how they criminalise the working class and howthe ruling class has the power to criminalise via the criminalise via thecriminal justice system. Despite Marxism depicting a clear explanation ofcrime, Marxist criminologists claim the collapse of capitalism will cause crimeto stop yet it appears the that socialism is not a feasible solution tocapitalism.