Time for Criminology: The Established is not Enough

[Editorial of Radical Criminology, issue #5]


The present period has a certain premonitory feel about it. A sense of historic promise. There is a real air of change. The mood is one of resistance, of uprising.

On Parapolitics and a New Criminology (Editor's Preface to _The Spectacle of the False Flag_)

[This is  the editor's preface to our newest book on THOUGHT|CRIMES press (imprint of punctum books).  It's called The Spectacle of the False Flag: Parapolitics from JFK to Watergate and it's by Eric Wilson.  Please download it free from our website, or order a print copy here.]

[Cover Image: The Spectacle of the False Flag: Parapolitics from JFK to Watergate]Criminology is a strange discipline. For an area of study focused overwhelmingly, obsessively even, on state activity, criminology has perhaps as much as any social science, outside of psychology, completely and utterly undertheorized the state. The character of the state is largely misunderstood or only slightly understood within criminology (even as the criminology of figures like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Nicos Poulantzas, who wrote much on law and the state, remain mostly unread by criminologists). Too often the state is simply taken for granted without real critical analysis. It is accepted straightforwardly, unproblematically, as the legitimate social authority, the social arbitrator.

Where critical approaches to the state are pursued there has been a tendency toward instrumentality or uniformity in discussing and explaining state activities. That is, the state is typically portrayed as a rather direct expression of the repressive needs of capital as a whole. And this, again, is the case only in critical approaches in which the state is interrogated or even problematized at all, most criminology taking the state, its legitimacy if not its neutrality, for granted.

The Postmodern Turn in Criminology

Much of contemporary criminology remains bound to concepts and perspectives developed and framed in relation to conditions of modernity (even the emergence of modernity) and the structures, institutions, and processes of modernism. Among these concepts are rationality (rational choice and rational calculation), progress, and enlightenment—deterrence and correctivity.

The modernist criminologies remain dependent on instituted authorities and their organizations—police, courts, correctional facilities, legislatures—for definitions and understandings of crime, criminality, and responses to crime. Processes associated with liberal democratic governance are viewed as proper (and privileged) means for adjudicating social norms and responses to violations of norms. Agencies of the police, courts, and corrections are viewed as the legitimate institutions for the pursuit of—the realization of—“criminal justice.”

Radical Realism

[First published Fall 2014, for the blog, Simply Criminology.]

Realism is generally defined, in a broad sense, as a concern with or interest in the so-called actual or real rather than the abstract or speculative. It is a tendency to view affairs or events supposedly “as they are” rather than as we would like them to be. This is typically contrasted with idealist (or utopian or radical) that are accused of forgoing a focus on everyday life “as it is” and instead focusing on abstract visions of a world imagined or yet to come.

Lombroso’s Anarchy Problem

[by Jeff Shantz, Fall 2014, as appeared in the Simply Criminology blog]

ACJS Today: "On the Criminalization of Dissent: Deconstructing Official Oppression in an Age of Neoliberalism"

The criminalization of dissent has been a
common feature of neo-liberal governance in the
current period of capitalist globalization. It has
accompanied various structural adjustment and
free trade policies as the required force to impose
such programs on unwilling publics. Police
violence has been a constant feature of
alternative globalization demonstrations.
Examples of escalating state attacks on
opponents of global capital include tear gas
attacks; use of rubber bullets and concussion
grenades; illegal searches and seizures;
surveillance and beatings of arrestees; and, most

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