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conmiitted from poverty, the second those that result from cupidity,
and in the third group we shall treat of the criminals by profession.

* Marx, **Kapitar', I, ch. xxlv, pp. 699 jj.

* Upon the impossibility of innate moral concepts see Ndcke, "Die neuem
Ersoheinung auf kriininal-anthropologischen Gebiete und ihre Bedeutimg",
p. 342 ("Zeitsohr. f. d. ges. Strafrw.'^^XIV).

*'*I>iar Urspnmg der Idee des Gtereohten und Ungerecthen**, pp. 470,
471. ("Neue ZeiP', 1898-1899, II.)



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564 CRIMINALITY



a. THEFTS COMMITTED FROM POVERTY.

There are some needs which a man must satisfy, without which his
existence is impossible. These are fundamental needs, independent
of environment. If a man has not sufficient food, if he has not (at
least in non-tropical countries) clothing to protect him against cold,
if opportunity for rest is lacking, etc., his life is in danger. In our
present society there are always a number of persons who are in want
of the strict necessaries of life, and who are therefore obUged to steal
if they do not wish to succumb to poverty. It is evident that the
word "poverty" is not to be taken in the most limited sense, so that
one who can still buy a morsel of bread, and yet steals, may still be
considered as a thief from poverty.

We must make here one more observation before we enter upon
the proofs of this thesb. We have defined crime as an egoistic act.
However, the same act may be at once egoistic and altruistic, and this
is the case with some crimes committed from poverty, when an individ-
ual steals in order not to have those in his charge die of hunger.
What conflicts of duty our present society creates !

The proofs that absolute poverty provokes a number of thefts are
of three kinds. The first two are based upon the dynamics of crimi-
nality.

First. In winter, when poverty is most pressing, the number of
thefts etc. is much greater than in summer. Thb is a fact so well
known that it is unnecessary to give detailed proofs of it, and I think
it will be sufficient to give the following statistics dealing with two
important countries for a great number of years.



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ECONOMIC CRIMES



565



Germany, 1888-1892.'





NUMBSB or PuNIBRABLa ACTS COMllITrBD IN THB MOirTHS OF


CBiBiae.'


A


(S


1


1


1


•-»


i


1

<


1


1


1


i


Simple theft | ^


7,991


7,842


6,909


5,777


6,097


6,003


6,230


6,481


6,249


7,436


7,966


8,523


118


115


98


85


87


88


88


92


92


106


117


121


Aggravated / a


913


877


830


777


840


856


879


866


818


956


971


996


theft 16


102


107


92


89


94


98


98


96


94


106


112


111


Embezzle- f a


U89


1,358


1,454


1,397


1,505


1,485


1.583


1,551


1,459


1,604


1,573


1,659


meDt \6


100


97


94


94


98


100


103


101


98


104


105


108


Receiving

stolen l^

goods
Professional


682


615


571


442


458


447


444


451


451


556


643


789


123


122


103


82


82


83


80


81


81


100


120


142


























and ha-


























bitual re- r a
ceivingof \b


3


5


4


8


4


3


3


3


6


3


3


5


71


130


94


195


94


73


71


71


146


71


73


118


stolen


























goods


























Fraud {l


2,174


2,050


1,909


1,744


1,823


1,869


1,932


1,845


1.758


2,065


2,279


2,432


107


111


94


89


90 95

1


95


91 90


102


116


120



There is, then, a pretty considerable increase as winter approaches,
and a decrease with the summer months. I would call the attention
of the reader especially to the fact that it is the crimes of simple theft
and the receiving of stolen goods which show this change in the most
marked way, while aggravated theft, embezzlement and the profes-
sional and habitual receiving of stolen goods show it in less degree.
It b the two former crimes which have poverty as their cause, while
the three latter are more apt to be committed from cupidity and by
professional criminals.

1 ''Kriminalstatistik fOr das Jahr 1894", II, p. 53.

' The figures in the line a are the absolute figures (annual averages), those
in the line b the relative numbers, i.e. what the daily average for that month
would be if the daily average for the year were 100.



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566



CRIMINALITY



The following figures, taken from the criminal calendar composed by
Professor Lacassagne» have to do with



France, 1887-1870.1

Number of Crimes Against Property for Each Months Reduced
to an Equal Duration of 31 Days.



16,S50



15,400



14,250



18.450



5
S



18,625



18,450



18,225



I



18,425



18,875



14,400



I



16,100



4
n

s

(5



1«325



We have here, then, as always, a great increase in fall and winter,
and a corresponding decrease in spring and summer.

Second. A second proof of the importance of absolute poverty as a
cause of crime etc. is furnished by the fact that there is a consider-
able increase of the crimes in question in times of economic depression
(high price of bread, lack of work, etc.). In Part One I have cited
many works in which this phenomenon is proved for a number of
countries. I refer the reader, therefore, to the more important of
these, and add other data here.

^"Marohe de la oriminalit^ en France, 1825-1880" (** Revue sdenti-
fique'*, 1881), to be found also in Leva88eur*8 **La population franoaise",
II, p. 458.



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ECONOMIC CRIMES



567



Germany, 1882-U11.>









NuMBUt OF Pbbsonb Convictbo of Crimbs ams


YlAlM.


Pbxcb of Rt»
IN Mabxb pbr

1000 KiLOOB.

(Bbbun.)


Impobtb

AND £X-
POBT8 IN

Billions


BBLOW, TO


100,000 OF Population ovbb
OF Aqb.


12 Ybabb




Simple
Thdft.


▼ated
Theft.


Receiving
Stolen
Qoods.


Fraud.


Embea-
slement.


1882


152.8


6.3


250


28


26


37


46


1888


144.7


6.5


241


25


24


38


46


1884


143.3


6.4


231


25


23


39


46


1885


140.6


5.8


214


22


22


38


45


1886


130.6


5.9


210


20


21


41


45


1887


120.9


6.2


196


21


20


43


44


1888


134.5


6.7


194


21


20


44


44


1889


155.5


7.2


211


23


21


49


47


1890


170.0


7.6


206


24


21


50


47


1891


211.2


7.7


216


25


22


54


50


1892


176.3


7.3


236


31


25


59


52


1893


133.7


7.3


202


26


22


58


51


1894


117.8


7.2


198


27


22


60


5St


1895


119.8


7.6


192


24


22


61





1896


118.8


8.2


184


24


19


58


50


1897


180.1


8.5


188


23


18


61


51


1898


146.3


9.4


191


25


19


63


52


1899


146.8


10.0


179


24


19


63


6S


1900


142.6


10.7


181


23


18


60


51


1901


140.7


10.2


190


26


19


64


52


1902


144.2


10.6


191


28


20


66


55


1903


132.3


11.4


182


26


19


64


54


1904


135.1


12.1


176


24


17


62


54


1905


151.9


13.2


175


25


17


61


56


1906


160.6


14.8 »


179


28


18


62


5a


1907


193.2 >


15.5


178


28


18


61


60


1908


186.5


14.0


189


32


20


61


63


1909


176.5


15.1


182


33


20


62


65


1910


152.3


16.4


176


32


19


63


65


1911


168.3


17.8


169


30


19


63


65



If, in examining the preceding table, we do not lose sight of the fact
that the rise or fall of the price of grain does not make itself felt
immediately, and that in the criminal statistics of a certain year
there appear also persons who have committed their crime in a pre*
ceding year, it is clear how enormous is the influence of the economic

1 Taken from the ^'EriminalsUtistik'*, 1895, 1907, 1908 and 1911, and
from the *' Statistisohes Jahrbuoh ftir das deutsohe Beioh.'!

' The fifi^ures from 1907 on are not comparable with those preceding.

> The figures from 1906 on are comparable with those preceding, only
with reserve.



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668 CRIMINALITY

movement upon economic crimes. The price of grain had fonnerly
a decisive influence upon the trend of economic crimes ; now» in indus-
trial countries like Germany, it is rather the industrial situation,
without, however, the price of cereals losing all influence.^

England, 1828-1896.

Dr. Tugan Baranowsky proved for the periods 1823-1850 and 1871-
1896 the correlation between good and bad times and the decrease
and increase of criminaUty.

For the period 1858-1864 the same proof is given by Mayr (see
Part I) ; and for the years 1840-1890 by Fomasari di Verce (see
Part I). The figures of the former have reference only to crime in
general, and do not, therefore, show sufficiently the effect upon crimes
that are merely economic*

Grand-Duchy of Baden, 1876-1898.>

J. S(chmidt), the statistician, shows the parallelism of the two
curves for the period mentioned (p. 248).

Bavaria, 1888-1861.

Dr. G. Mayr was one of the first statisticians to show the influence
of the price of grain upon crimes against property (pp. 39-42).

Belgium, 1889-1890.

Dr. Weisz has proved the influence of the price of grain during the
period from 1841 to 1860 (p. CI) and Professor Denis that of the eco-
nomic happenings for the period from 1840 to 1890 (pp. 2S5-237),
while Ducpetiaux draws attention especially to the enormous increase
of criminality in Flanders during the years of crisis, 1846-1847 (pp.
32-37) .3

France, 1826-1886.

The influence of the price of grain upon crimes against property has
been shown for the periods 1845-1864, 1850-1864, and 1855-1864
respectively, by Drs. Weisz (pp. 60-61), Come (pp. 48-49), and
Mayr (pp. 46-47). Lacassagne and Laf argue have shown the correla-
tion between the fluctuations of the economic life and those of eco-

» For details see my study already cited, "Verbrechen und Sozialismus."
^ (Note to the American Edition : The English oriminal statistics
for 1905 show an interesting diagram upon the oonneotion between the trend
of eoonomio crime and that of business nom 1885 to 1905 (Int. p. 24).]

' [Note to the American Edition : C/. Jacquart, op. cit. pp. 109 if.l



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ECONOMIC CRIMES



569



nomic crime for the years 1825-80 and 1840-86 respectively (pp. 149

and 231/.).

Italy, 1878-1890.

For this period Fomasari di Verce has shown the parallelism between
the curves of economic occurrences and of economic crime (pp. 138-
143).

New South Wales, 1882-1891.

The same author has shown here also the same correlation (p. 144).

Netherlands, 1860-1891.

Since researches for this country upon our subject are lacking,
I have composed the following diagram from the official data.



YEARS
110


m


Sfi


Sifi


KS


od65


wi


ass


W5


mj


7m


BBS


|R-V?


Biffi


Kfi


ppvS


82SI


100


\


\






























on




\






























&0






\


/


\
























9AAKi






"' ' >


J


\


/


:^


\




^ i


r*


■^


\






/


2Z

20 60


/■


-^H




y


\


s/




\


T


^■^^






\




/


/


10

16 50





\


\.


/


\


j'




%

%


/"


"V











/




14
12






**>






V














V


*-...


.„_


^



I. NUMBEB OF THOSE CoNVICTBD FOB ThBFT TO 100»000 OF THE PoPtJIATION.

n. Price of Bread per Kilogram in Centi]cb&

The parallelism of the two curves is striking, there being simply a
sHght exception in the years 1871-1873. The increase of theft in the
years 1870-1881 coincides with a very great increase in the number of
bankruptcies, which continued until 1882.*

The same parallelism has also been shown for Prussia, Russia,
Wurtemberg, and Zurich by Starke and Mtiller, Tamowsky, Rettich,
and Meyer, as quoted in Part I of this work.'

* [Note to the American Edition : For the ijeriod 1896-1908 I have
shown in my study '* Crime et Socialisme" the strikiiis: parallel between eco-
nomic crime and the business situation.]

' There are still to be mentioned as authors who have treated the dynamics
<rf criminality: J. Sacker, "Der Rflckfall" (pp. 39, 40); ABchaffenburg,
"Das Verbrechen und seine Bekampfung*' (pp. 89 ff,) ; and H. Leu88, "Aus
dem Zuohthause " (pp. 228 ff.),

[Note to the American Edition: See further: for Austria: Hoegel,
4>p. di., pp. 369 /., Herz, op. eit. pp. 40 ff. ; for Saxony : Bdhmert, op. cit.^



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570 CRIMINALITY

Few sociological theses, it seems to me, have been proved as con-
clusively as the one of which we have just been speaking. The im-
portant influence of the trend of economic events upon that of eco-
nomic criminality has been shown for thirteen different countries for
different periods of the nineteenth century. Some authors are of the
opinion that poverty cannot be the cause of crimes that are com-
mitted when economic conditions are most favorable, and when
economic crimes have consequently reached their mimmum. This
assertion still needs fuller proof, as I have already pointed out, since
there are still many persons who are in want of the necessaries of life
«ven in times of prosperity.

I must say here a few words in answer to a final objection to the
preceding observation; namely, that the increase of theft etc., in
times of economic depression, is, in great part, a consequence, not of
absolute poverty, but of the impossibility of satisfying needs that
have sprung up in more favorable times ; and that the increase will
be, therefore, in large measure due to an increase of crimes committed
from cupidity, and not from poverty. This may be true in some cases,
but not, in my opinion in the great majority of cases, for the following
reasons. When the economic situation is favorable, when earnings
are more than usual, and when, consequently, wants increase and
become more intense, can everyone satisfy the desires awakened in
bim by the spirit of imitation ? Surely not ; even at such times of
prosperity there are still many individuals with whom desire is
awakened but who are not able to satisfy it in a lawful manner.
On the other hand, wants in general diminish in times of crisis;
cupidity is therefore less excited, and with a limited income men are
quite satisfied with having the means of subsistence, when there are
so many who lack the very necessaries of life. In my opinion, crim^
from cupidity increase rather than diminish in times of prosperity,
while in times of depression the opposite takes place. This cannot be
proved for each economic crime separately, since criminal statistics
do not show whether a crime is committed from poverty or cupidity.
However, embezzlement, fraud, and aggravated theft are committed
in a greater degree from cupidity than is simple theft, (and by pro-
fessional criminals). Now statistics show that it is chiefly simple
theft that follows the course of economic events, the other crimes
named doing so much less ; the same is true of the changes during the

and Wulffen, op. cit,, I pp. 390 ff. ; for Servia : Wadler, op. cit., p. 73 ff. Cf.
also in general : F. Mancini, Le varie specie di furto nella storia e nou»
sociologia". III 3, Ch. IV.]



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ECX)NOMIC CRIMES 571

different seasons. Finally, while absolute poverty in countries like
Germany has decreased and simple theft also, luxury and cupidity
have increased, together with the other crimes named.^

The third proof that poverty is a great factor in the etiology of
theft is the enormous number of widows and divorced women who
participate in these crimes (see pp. 452, 45S). There is no reason to
believe that these women are more covetous than married women or
spinsters ; but it is certain that their economic situation is often very
burdensome.'

We shall not employ any further methods to establish our thesis ;
since for the reasons already stated they would lead to results of no
great significance, and it seems that the accuracy of the thesis has
been sufficiently shown by the proofs cited.

We have now come to the end of our consideration of the subject
of thefts committed from poverty. There are two ways in which it is
the cause of theft. On the one hand it incites directly the appro-
priation of the property of others, and on the other hand it exercises
a demoralizing influence.

6. THEFT COMMITTED FROM CUPIDITY.

We have now to deal with crimes of persons who steal neither from
absolute poverty, nor by profession. Those who are guilty of these
crimes earn enough to satisfy their more pressing needs, and they
steal only when the occasion presents itself (whence their name of
occasional criminals) ' in order to satisfy their desire for luxury.

The first question, then, which must be answered here is this ; how
do these needs arise ? The answer can be brief ; they are aroused by
the environment. In a society where some are rich, who have more
income than is needed to supply the fundamental necessities, and
who create other needs for themselves, in such a society the cupid-
ity of those who have not similar incomes at their disposal will be

» C/. further: Asehaffenburg, op, cU., pp. 98 #. ; Eggert, "Not und Ver-
brechen" ; WuLffen, op. cii., I, pp. 395 JBF. ; v, Rohden in "Zeitschr. f. Sozial-
wissenschaft", Vll, pp. 522 /., and IX, pp. 229 ff.

« Cf. the reoent study of Priming, "Die sozial Lage der Witwe in Deutsche
land*^ ("Zeitsohr. f. Sozialwissenschaft", III).

' In general, criminals are distinguished as oooasional, habitual, and pro-
fessional. Habitual criminals, however, are also occasional criminals, for
they do not seek the occasion for their crimes like criminals by profession,
but profit by it whenever it presents itself. They are the bond of union be-
tween the first and third kind of criminals, and in my opinion, it is unneces-
sary to treat of them separately.



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672 CRIMINALITY

awakened. The desires which the criminals of whom we are speaking
wish tx) satisfy by their misdeeds are not different from those of the
well-to-do. It goes without saying that no one has ever desired any
luxury that he has not seen someone else enjoying. It would be a
waste of time to discuss this. Every need that is not strictly neces-
sary, is not innate but acquired. If one has much, the other, an
imitator, wants the same. There b but one piece of advice to give
to those who are not convinced of this simple truth ; that they read
some ethnological works treating of peoples among whom there are
neither rich nor poor. They will then see that cupidity, with us a
universal quality, is there unknown.^

The division between rich and poor is many centuries old and does
not belong to capitalism alone, although under capitalism the distance
between the two has greatly increased and is still increasing. The
greater this distance is, the more, other things being equal, cupidity
increases.*

The cupidity of those who can satisfy oijly the desire for the bare
necessities b not awakened in the same measure in each of them.
As has already been remarked by Guerry and Quetelet (see Part I),
economic crimes are most numerous in the countries where manufac-
turing and commerce are most developed, and where the contrasts of
fortune are consequently the greatest. It is for this reason that the
cities, where the contrasts between poverty and wealth are greatest,
give also very high figures for crimes against property (see pp. 5S0-
531). •

Those who live in the same country or the same city are not, in
spite of that, in the same environment. Every great city has thou-
sands of workers who, because of the character of their labor, have no
contact with luxury; others, on the contrary, have the desire for
luxiuy awakened in them by the fact that their work brings them in
touch with wealth. Hence it is, for example, that so large a number
of economic crimes are committed by workers occupied in commerce
(see p. 446), and by servants.' There are workmen who have never
been accustomed to more than they are able to earn at the time, but
there are also those who have known better days and to whom the
impossibiUty of satisfying needs previously acquired is a constant
source of suffering.



1 See the passage from Mably, Pt. I, p. 14 ; also Lasaalle, ** Offenes Antwortr
Schreiben" (**Reden und Schriften", II, pp. 426-427).

* Cf. Fdldea, "Einige Ergebnisse der neueren Eriminalstatistik ", p. 648.
» Cf. Ryckbre, **La servante crimineUe", oh. III.



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ECONOMIC CRIMES 573

However, the contrast between rich and poor is not the only cause
of the origin of cupidity. We must also sketch in addition to the
above, especially the manner in which conmiercial capital tries to draw
buyers. The times are long gone by when the producer worked
principally to order. Modem industry manufactures enormous
quantities of goods without the outlet for them being known. The
desire to buy must, then, be excited in the public. Beautiful dis-
plays, dazzling illuminations, and many other means are used to
attain the desired end. The perfection of this system is reached in
the great modem retail store, where persons may enter freely, and see
and handle everything, where, in short, the public is drawn as a moth
to a flame. The result of these tactics is that the cupidity of the
crowd is highly excited.^

After what has been said it is unnecessary to dwell longer upon the
different ways in which cupidity is awakened in our present society.
However we must note the following. Almost all the thefts of the
class of which we are speaking (those committed by so-called occa-
sional criminals) are thefts of articles of very small value (see the
figures on p. 201) ; the exceptions are the thefts of large sums of
money. The authors of these last are in general the employes of
banks, etc., persons who, from the nature of their work, have the
opportunity to appropriate other people's money. When we investi-
gate the reasons for their committing their misdeeds, we shall see that
nine times out of ten (I cannot prove it by figures, but no one will
contradict me) the criminal is a speculator who has lost, or perhaps an
individual who visits prostitutes, and hence has great need of money.

Cupidity is thus excited by the environment, but not in the same
degree in every case, the environment not being the same for all.
However, even supposing that the environment were exactly identical
for a number of persons, cupidity would not be excited in the same
measure in some as in others, since they are not alike, one being bom
with more intense desires than others (admitting that it is the environ-
ment that calls forth the desires). The more intense a man's desires,
the more risk he runs, other things being equal, of falling foul of the
law. As I have already remarked above, this is important for the
person who is seeking the reason why A and not B has stolen, though
both live in the same environment ; for sociology this fact is only of

1 As to the literature upon theft in stores, etc., see especially Laccissagne,
"Les vols h r^talage et dans les grands magasins" (**Compte rendu du IV
Congrds d'anthr. crim.'M and Dubuisson, **Jj&a voleuses de grand magasins"
(**Aroh. d'anthr. orim.'% XVI.); also Lomhroso and Ferrero^ "La femme
eriminelle et la prostitu^", pp. 481, 482; AJhand^ op. cit., pp. 91-95.



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574 CRIMINALITY

secondary importance, for it does not ask **Who becomes criminal?**
but rather **How does it happen that there are crimes?*'

We have now examined one of the sides of the question; the
principal cause of these crimes is the cupidity awakened by the
environment. If the environment were different, cupidity would not
be aroused and the crimes would not be committed. In my opinion
most criminologists do not sufficiently appreciate the importance
of this fact. It is very difficult for anyone who lives at ease to form
an idea of what is passing in the mind of one who has only the bare
necessaries of life and is deprived of every comfort and amusements
while he sees others who have too much, and yet often work less than
he does.

Let us now examine the other side of the question. For this pur-
pose let us make use once more of the figure of balances in describing



Online LibraryWilliam Adrian BongerCriminality and economic conditions → online text (page 58 of 72)