Sunday, September 12, 2010


We continue reviewing the 1986 book entitled “The Politics of Victimization” by Robert Elias, then of Tufts University.*

Elias considers the kinds of victimization that exist.

He notes the U.S. has the highest crime rate in the world. Nicely, in his list of types of victimization he includes not only violent crime but “personal, property, organized, professional, white-collar, corporate, juvenile, sexual and family crimes”. (p.47)

I wonder if – in addition to the radical-feminist interest in sex and family crime – it served the interests of that “white-collar” and “corporate” element to have the country’s attention fixed on ‘sex offenders’ , as it already had been on the 'awful' family? If so, the price for such distraction has been awesome, lethal, and perhaps fatal to the nation’s core economic and perhaps even political health.

From a conceptual point of view, he is on his solid – and not inaccurate – Victimology ground when he points out that some “offenses, like ‘victimless crimes’ produce no direct victims” at all. The wisdom of this can easily and clearly be seen in the white-collar and corporate categories, especially after the financial meltdown of 2008. It is now widely recognized that there have been many ‘victims’ indeed: persons whose livelihood and retirement savings have been wiped out.

But I would also point out that the practitioners of the whackulous financial partying were corroded as well. In her recent book “Bright-sided”** Barbara Ehrenreich recounts the “Woo!” culture that existed in such mortgage companies as Angelo Mozillo’s Countrywide Mortgage: as an employee, you were expected to be excited and ‘upbeat’ and always ‘positive’, and this remained true even as the first ominous warning signs of catastrophe made themselves clear within the financial sector as early as 2004. If you didn’t conform, if you sought to call attention to the danger signs and counseled (a very mature and prudent) caution, then you were labeled as ‘negative’ and ‘not a team-player’.

I can only wonder, as the Sex Offense Mania regime spawned its own unholy matrix of ‘experts’ and cottage industries presenting themselves as either ‘therapeutic’ or as adjuncts to law-enforcement, and also –worse – its own ‘wave’ among law enforcement and prosecutors and even the judiciary, and the legislators and their all-important staffers, what effects this Woo!-culture created.

And you can’t avoid noticing that even as ‘regulation’ intensified exponentially against SOs, the nation’s too-vital (all the real productive industry having been out-sourced, down-sized, or simply wiped away) financial industries were increasingly DE-regulated.

High-fives all around!

I can’t see how you can avoid the conclusion that the entire nation – and most profoundly and permanently – has been truly Victimized by its elites in business, finance, and – inescapably – political and governmental oversight. And yet the ‘regulation’ and ‘oversight’ of the government-created SOs went on and on, amplified by selective, sensationalist and lurid media coverage.

Whence Elias then goes on immediately to reflect that the U.S. itself – since its inception – has been a “violent society” (p.47) I think of Ehrenreich and consider that the U.S. has also always been an emotionally volatile society. Perhaps, even beyond their historical and deep philosophical concerns about the nature of humans and the historical experiences and examples of ancient Greece and Rome (and perhaps the remarkably nuanced chief-doms and governing structures of the Indian tribes) , the Framers also noted the volatility of Americans.

And thus both their hesitation in creating a wide and genuine ‘democracy’ and also their extreme care in constructing the machinery of Constitutional governance (which, in core, is self-governance).

Surely the Woo!-culture is a vivid and alarming example of a lack of individual self-governance, as a professional, as a mature adult, as well as a Citizen. And the group-think dynamic was allowed to break the bounds of good praxis, unhindered by such controlling principles as Maturity and Prudence and – surely – professional integrity.

But also included in that emotional volatility is Fear. In a Note at the back of the book Elias will acknowledge that “The fear of crime may have become a ‘social enterprise that provides entrepreneurs with political and pecuniary profit’” (p.271, Note 189). I think that in addition to the obvious elements of this observation – made in 1986 – there is also the unhappy possibility that certain ‘advocacies’ have themselves somehow been corroded by such dynamics.

Indeed, in a follow-on Note (he makes some meaty revelations at the back of the text, in all those Notes that an unsuspecting reader might overlook) he observes that “selectively using words to create alarm may provide an important tool of social control”. (p.271, Note 191) I would say that the relationship of the SO Mania regime to this vital matter of ‘social control’ is one that the entire SO community must keep in mind.

Who is doing the ‘controlling’? A government that has long been slipping away from the control of its Constitutional governors, The People. And not by outright rejection of the Constitutional vision, but rather by the subtle processes of manipulating and ‘dumbing-down’ and stampeding of the Citizenry, as if The People were merely a herd of cattle, to be spooked at will for the ‘convenience’ and in the ‘interests’ of the government and those to whom it has chosen to pander.

Harsh thoughts, and dark, perhaps. But nobody familiar with the effects of the SO Mania regime can deny the harsh and dark effects of this regime on everything and everyone it has touched, including – in an irony worthy of Tolkien – even its creators and abettors and servants.

And again in a follow-on Note he admits that “The media may promote a false ideology that criminal justice functions primarily to control and eliminate crime instead of promoting interests, protecting property, largely for the few, and controlling the population”. (p.271, Note 193) This comment of his reveals – I think refreshingly – an older ‘liberalism’ that was concerned first and foremost with the eternal predations of that ancient predator – Wealth, especially as it is concentrated to exercise power.

It was this ‘old liberalism’ – known in the 1960s as ‘the Old Left’ – that was wiped away by ‘the New Left’ of the 1960s: Identity Politics and the Identities and advocates supporting that Politics … which was really a revolutionary (in the French-Leninist-Maoist sense) movement profoundly antithetical to the American ethos.*** And that ‘control’ would be hugely influenced by the monstrous corpus of theory and experience created and amassed by such dark minds as Lenin and Goebbels as well as by the advertising-turned-nationalistic-propagandist Edward Bernays, a Swiss who in the early 1900s started advising U.S. corporations how to ‘create the desire’ for their products and then turned his craft to World War 1.****

And he even acknowledges – again, buried in the Notes – that “Offenders may become ‘sacrificial victims’ in society’s attempt to obstruct disintegrative forces”. (p.272, Note 195) This opens the possibility that in some deep and dark workings of the psychology of society the SO Mania regime was erected – perhaps like some sort of neurosis or psychosis or defense-mechanism in individual therapy terminology – to allay deep feelings about much larger and other societal matters.

In this emotional volatility, I think it becomes clear how the SO Mania regime is in deep ways to some extent an efflorescence of much that has been going wrong with American society in the past decades.

In one section he considers ‘Sexual Assault’ directly (p.48) – and recall that he was writing as a very knowledgable professional insider in 1986.

“Although rape was long considered a sexual crime, the women’s movement has helped us recognize it actually as a violent crime”. (p.48) This may sound a bit odd: rape has always been considered a felonious crime, and ‘violence’ – you might think – would be included in such a categorizational assessment.

But in immediate support of his statement, Elias quotes at length a feminist who herself was quoted in the 1979 book “Person/Planet: The Disintegration of Industrial Society”, by a guru of such ‘creative destruction’, Theodore Roszak (you can see, back then, how radical-feminism was supporting the Deconstruction not simply of ‘concepts’ but of the actual reality of American industrial society; from the vantage point of 30 years later, you can make your own judgments about the wisdom of that bit of ‘cutting edge progress’).

Anyhoo, the quotation reads: “The male society has made rape the prototypical expression of its patterns. Domination of the other by force of nature and land and resources, of ‘inferior’ nations and groups of women, of money and markets and material goods …‘Victim’ is the most descriptive noun we have to designate the role women … must play … [I]n male institutions you are either the victim or the oppressor”. (p.48)

You can see here, by the late 1970s, how radical-feminism was seeking to include itself in the paradigmatic concerns of the Boomer generation and of the 1960s: American ‘superpower’ violence against native peoples, colonialism, imperialism … and with all respect to those thoughts, though supported by the Soviet rival as a way to keep its powerful U.S. competitor off-balance. (This dynamic is in addition to the effort to cast the radical-feminist agenda as merely a follow-on of the Black Civil Rights movement – ‘patriarchy’ as Jim Crow, ‘men’ as violent, lumpish Southrons … that sort of thing.)

While this was all ’30 years ago’, that period was the cusp of the era when ‘sex offenses’ started to rear their head, soon to follow with the early 1980s Child Day-Care Satanic Ritual Abuse Trials (now largely, maybe utterly, discredited) which themselves served to fuel the deep and dark fires in which the SO Mania regime was forged.

Again, while it may seem irrelevant to look at statements made decades ago (and surely the now-established Advocacies would prefer to ignore them), yet these statements were the Cutting-Edge Wisdom in the era when all of the present frakkulence was forged.

Men and rape and sexual ‘violence’ were equated with a macho and imperialist and neo-colonialist America. The neatness – cuteness, perhaps – of the equation does not establish its accuracy and legitimacy as a conceptual frame and as ‘knowledge’.

But I wonder if the acquiescence of the government in radical-feminist demands even in the Reagan Eighties was somehow an effort to buy-off the advocacies, and dampen the internationally-embarrassing possibility of a large American domestic ‘advocacy’ continually trumpeting what was in effect the Soviet-line: that the USA was indeed an imperialist and neo-colonialist nation and that – conversely – the USSR was a friend of all underdogs. (Although, in an equally delicious symmetry, the Democrats trumped themselves as champions of the ‘underdog’, a claim made as recently as last week by the Chairman of the DNC on Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’.)

Which then leads to the thought that the radical-feminist advocacies (upon whom I focus here because they were key initiators and players in what became the development of the SO Mania regime) played their own political game by intimidating the Beltway to satisfy their demands or they would continue to embarrass the USA as Reagan started to work on his international efforts to deal with the USSR in the glare of the world’s attention.

Immediately thereafter, Elias starts with the ‘statistics’: more than 60,000 rapes reported in the U.S. each year, 5 to 10 times as many as Europe, and – of course – this number “underestimates the actual amount by at least 4 times”. This last estimate is provided by quoting a 1984 article in ‘Victimology’ magazine in an article on ‘date rape’, that amorphous and legally tortuous concept that began to stretch the definition of ‘rape’ into the most difficult territory of he-said/she-said, the complexity which for centuries all sane Western jurists had realized was a lethal swamp for organized sovereign justice.

Oh, and then on second thought about the amount of ‘rapes’, Elias adds immediately: “perhaps by as much as twenty-five times”. (p.48) It stuns to read these ‘old’ documents and realize how easily advocates threw huge numbers around like play-dough (and, come to think of it, the way defense contractors and Beltway pols threw around figures of money and nuclear throw-weights and numbers of awesome Soviet forces in the hugely powerful and well-established Soviet military machine (as they said back then before the whole Soviet illusion collapsed like a house of cards … where Hitler had failed in his1940 bid to ‘simply kick in the door and the whole structure will come crashing down’, the door and structure imploded on its own without an explosion less than a decade later.)

And – in a careful turn – Elias quickly adds that “Male rapes, often in prisons or among homosexuals, apparently constitute only a fraction of the total” (p.48). It is – given the nature of Identity Politics Correctness these days – impossible to know whether the question of homosexual rape is Correctly to be played-up or down-played, and what the Correct opinion is that one should have (now and also back in 1986). But here it serves in any event to make sure that the focus remains where the radical-feminist advocacy wanted it to remain: on females as the ‘rape victims’ of males.

While he acknowledges without obvious concern the phenomenon of “many women” not reporting “this crime”, he has no doubt as to its “prevalence”. (p.48) Rape is, he asserts, “the leading crime against women and the fastest growing index crime”. (p.49) Although to what extent this growth is attributable to the elasticity of the definition, the growing awareness that charges could be filed with increasingly less danger of being sanctioned for false-charges, the increasing social – or at least media – status of being a ‘victim’, or an intensifying reorientation of a law-enforcement apparatus responding to political pressures … there are numerous variables here rarely examined.

But this doesn’t stop Elias from quickly lamenting that “we have made little headway in reducing it or in promoting the victim’s role in prosecuting the offender (not ‘defendant’, I note) and that “prosecutions have not increased”. (p.49) Whether THIS is a result of a still-robust professional doubt as to the veracity or prosecutability of such allegations, or merely a macho stubbornness on the part of law enforcement in submitting to the demanded agenda … more variables not often examined.

The ‘sexual’ and ‘family crimes’ often “overlap” (p.49) – and here is the connection between the Domestic Violence regime and the SO Mania regime.

His next section is on ‘Battering’, but I will leave it for the next Post.


*My copy is the paperback version put out by Oxford UP in 1986. It bears the ISBN 0-19-503980-7. It will be unwieldy to include both Chapter Titles and sub-headings as well as page numbers, in case you have a different edition. I will stick to only using page references when I make quotations, but for especially important points I will do so.

**Ehrenreich, Barbara. “Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America”. New York: Picador, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-8050-8749-9. This is the paperback edition at $15 US. Well worth the read, and it’s not difficult – although stunning and alarming in what it reveals about the country’s approach to life in all its major aspects.

***You are welcome to look at this Post about the effects of the social philosopher Herbert Marcuse, refugee from the Nazi regime in 1933, who in 1965 as an American university professor wrote an article urging that for real ‘liberation’ a society must repress and deny public discussion of ‘established’ ideas in order to create ‘space’ for whatever opposes that ‘establishment’. To be truly ‘tolerant’ a society must be ‘intolerant’ – a thought uttered in 1965, before the Vietnam-era military excuse that ‘we had to destroy the village in order to save it’.

****For the historically-minded, note the ominous progression (or, more aptly, regression) in Communism: where ‘propaganda’ as social control was initially employed, it then mutated into government-managed Terror, against its own population, to the point where in Soviet Russia Stalin gave little thought to ‘propaganda’; violations of the established Political Correctness (a Soviet term itself) were met with simply outright and forthright police Terror. Any government engaged in ‘revolution’ must by the very nature and dynamics of its undertaking somehow ‘war’ upon its own people. And the SO Mania regime is a fruit of that poisonous tree.

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