Causes of Crime


These days we like to attribute crime to greed, to an evil nature, to poor parenting, to television, to movies, to books, to whatever seems to be popular and not in accord with our value system at that time.  However, it is not particularly popular to attribute crime to its more fundamental causes.


Clarence Darrow knew exactly what the causes of crime were when he addressed the prisoners of the Cook County Jail.  (See his speech to them.)


So did Eugene V. Debs understand the causes of crime when he ran for the President of the United States in 1912 and won 6% of the popular vote.   900,000 voters agreed with him.  The platform he ran on called for the government takeover and regulation of private industry.  Although he lost, in that election more than 1,000 of his supporters were elected to public office! (Day, Phyllis J. "A New History of Social Welfare" Allyn & Bacon: Boston, 2000, p. 224). Debs was a socialist.  He was a socialist because he saw the evils inherent under capitalism at that time, evils that still exist to this day.  Evils that cause people to commit crimes.


Darrow and Debs were wonderfully caring human beings whose lives are worth studying as they are both worthy role models.   They, and others, who were also concerned about the plight of the impoverished, recognized that many crimes are either directly or indirectly related to the injustices built into our capitalist system.  


Today we recognize that socialism isn't the answer.  However, that does not mean that we should not be seeking alternatives to capitalism.  One alternative that is working very effectively is worker ownership and the finest example of this type of system is found in the Basque region of Spain and is usually referred to as the Mondragon system.