On free will and criminals


Fellow sufferers, a lot has been written about free will on this blog and those of you who are regular readers know the opinion of yours truly. In this address by Clarence Darrow, he makes such a compelling argument for bringing down of prison walls one wonders why several years later, the Americans still have the highest prison population among any nation in the developed and industrialized west.

Once during an argument with some buddies of mine, I told them what they call justice is nothing other than the rich protecting their property. Clarence writes

The laws are really organized for the protection of the men who rule the world. They were never organized or enforced to do justice. We have no system for doing justice, not the slightest in the world.

a statement I find hard to disagree with. Elsewhere he says

Hanging men in our county jails does not prevent murder. It makes murderers.

something yours truly agrees with. But more so it is the concluding remarks that I will share before sending you to read the whole article as an assignment from your genial host.

The only way in the world to abolish crime and criminals is to abolish the big ones and the little ones together. Make fair conditions of life. Give men a chance to live. Abolish the right of private ownership of land, abolish monopoly, make the world partners in production, partners in the good things of life. Nobody would steal if he could get something of his own some easier way. Nobody will commit burglary when he has a house full. No girl will go out on the streets when she has a comfortable place at home. The man who owns a sweatshop or a department store may not be to blame himself for the condition of his girls, but when he pays them five dollars, three dollars, and two dollars a week, I wonder where he thinks they will get the rest of their money to live. The only way to cure these conditions is by equality. There should be no jails. They do not accomplish what they pretend to accomplish. If you would wipe them out, there would be no more criminals than now. They terrorize nobody. They are a blot upon civilization, and a jail is an evidence of the lack of charity of the people on the outside who make the jails and fill them with the victims of their greed.

Address to prisoners at the Chicago Jail by Clarence Darrow

If you don’t follow WEIT, you may want to visit his site there is a lot of biology to learn, cat stories for cat lovers, music for music lovers and gems such as these for those who have time to spare reading philosophy. So get over there too and learn something new.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

7 thoughts on “On free will and criminals

  1. Mordanicus says:

    Moral statements have unlike factual ones, no truth value. In other words you can’t say whether a particular moral statement is true or false, since there is no way you can prove this. This position is called non-cognitivism.

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    • makagutu says:

      I can’t argue against this statement, but when me and you talk about something being bad or good we can agree that the said thing is such and such because of how we perceive its effect on us.

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  2. aguywithoutboxersRoger Poladopoulos says:

    One of the major reasons for the US having the highest prison population is nothing more than the thinly-veiled racism that persists even to this day in our American society. The current prison system is a massive failure, period. Great post, my Nairobi brother! As always, you are on point! Much love and naked hugs!

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  3. Good morning, Mak. I think it’s really surprising that so many people have faith in justice. I wonder if this has anything to do with religion, if religion makes people believe in divine justice after death and causes them to think that we could strive for justice in this life, too. Nietzsche refers to Thucydides and says that justice is only possible between two parties of equal strength. If not, the stronger one takes what he can and the weaker one suffers what he must. Exactly like in your quote!

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    • makagutu says:

      Good morning my friend, how are you?
      I don’t think many people have considered the question of justice to even have an opinion, informed or otherwise, about it. They hear it, they repeat it and to them, they mostly think they have said something profound.
      I think Nietzsche writes only the rich can forgive, as in, they are the ones who can forego a debt and we are currently so poor to forego these debts we think society is owed and so we build prisons.

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