Crime: Its Cause and Treatment eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about Crime.

The robber or burglar who kills in the commission of crime is more dangerous and harder to cure than the one who kills from passion or malice.  There is always the element of an occupation, for getting property, and generally a love of adventure that is difficult to overcome, except by a substantial change of social relations which makes acquiring property easier for the class from which all these criminals develop.  The murder that comes from passion and feeling implies situations and circumstances that are rarely strong enough to overcome the restrictions against killing.

XIII

MAN AS A PREDATORY ANIMAL

Not less than eighty per cent of all crimes are property crimes, and it seems probable that, of the rest, most arise from the same motives.  If we look at civilization as the result of that seesaw trend of the race from “Naturalism to Artificialism,” we may get a flexible view of life that will be in accordance with the facts, and will help us to get rid of the arbitrary division of man’s history into the three periods termed Savagery, Barbarism and Civilization.  However desirable this division may be for historic purposes in general, it is only confusing in an effort to study the nature of man.

In the life and origin of the race, the fact is always evidenced that the Ego through its growth and persistence is always drawing to itself from the current of environment all things which it feels desirable to its life and growth.  This must be a necessary condition of survival.  In the long journey from amoeba to man, any circumstance causing a complete halt for even a brief period meant extinction, while even a persistent interference produced a weakened organism, if not an arrest of development.

This then is the origin of the “Master Instinct,” hunger.  When we consider the various emotions growing from the force of this vital urge, as developed by adaptation to an ever-changing environment, we are able to realize fully why it bulks so large in moulding and shaping the destiny of the race.

All psychologists are agreed in classing under the nutritive instinct such activities as acquisition, storing and hoarding.  During a period variously estimated as a quarter of a million to two million years, man and his animal antecedents responded to the hunger instinct, in the manner and by the same methods as did the various jungle animals.  He secured his prey by capture, or killed it wherever found, the one condition being his power to get and to hold.  Later tribal organization arose, and food and shelter were held in common.  But since the folk-ways commended raiding and looting between alien tribes, here was presented an alluring chance to secure both booty and glory to men trained in the “get and hold” process of acquiring.  For thousands of years life itself depended upon this unerring exercise.

It was during the period outlined that man developed his big brain (cerebrum) involving the central nervous system.  Furthermore, it was developed by, and trained to, these particular reactions.  The far-reaching control of the mind must be remembered, as upon this through his racial heritage must be based his conflicting impulses.  These must be reckoned with in our conclusions with regard to present-day behavior, economic or otherwise.

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Crime: Its Cause and Treatment from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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