Chapter 8 Legal Force

Violence is often used by those in power to *force* those not in power to not use violence. Often we find people in a position where they would normally act out against an opposing force yet the overwhelming power of the force makes this unreasonable. When an individual is on trail and going to be sentenced, he dares not act out in rage against the court for fear of a longer sentence or maybe even a late night prison beating by those who have a monopoly on force. People are actually very fine with violence being inflicted on others as long as an authority figure oks it. Milgram set up experiments in which people would administer shocks to people who where thought to be the subject of experiments. They were instructed to shock individuals who were actors. It was intresting to see just how far a person is willing to inflict pain on another when authority compells them to. They showed a very scary high level of compliance to authority.

Clarence Darrow's "Address to the Prisoners in the Cook County Jail", is one of the more interesting and compelling essays I have ever read. In it he states that the majority of criminals perform jobs not criminal acts and they are compelled to do these jobs by the bigger criminals the land and resource owners. Darrow states that most crimes are committed out of necessity and this is obvious becuase prison population rates climb during hard economic times and winter. He asks which is a bigger crime petty theft or the charging of coal three times what it is worth. Inevitably starving and freezing a large amount of people who cannot afford coal. These charges are seen to be obviously true when ones examines the history of Australia or Georgia former penal colonies. These colonies were the destination of many "undesirables" that were considered criminals in Britian. When they had a chance to own their own land and use it for their benefit they flourished. Darrow is right that almost all criminals if given an equal opportunity would not be criminals.

The use of law has taken place of local customs. In the past members of a community were responsible for enforcing the customs of the community. In the Dahomean state taken over by the French,people living there before occupation had "best friends. When a person commited a crime the best friend was taken until that person returned to face punishment. In Dahomey when an individual commited murder redress was usually achieved through familiy intervention. The family was a corporation there was no outside force involved.

The basis of the chapter 8 it to show how force is used by those in power to control the actions of individuals, where customs use to control those actions. Those in power not only extract a tax for this protection but they also leave themselves in a better position in the market for a good life. The use their violence in often unjust ways. Again whats a bigger crime stealing bread or charging three to fours times what it is worth inevitably stealing sustinance from those who need it most.

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