Applying Classic Science To Understand "Modern States" Shaped By Crime

According to classic political science and history, after medieval kingdoms based on the will of God and the king, modern, secular and liberal States arose. Those modern States are sustained on secular laws that have the purpose of protecting social welfare and individual autonomy. Apparently, most States in the west have adopted democracy, impartial laws, protection of human rights and, therefore, have moved towards modernity.

However, we should worry about several "modern" States that, in practical terms, are shaped by crime; States in which bills and laws are promulgated by criminals and, even worse, legitimized through formal and "legal" democracy.

Many "quotes" here point out that, usually, social reality is not what classic social sciences show.

It is a common idea that crime, as in movies, is about bad guys confronting good guys, and that they only sporadically get in touch through bribery or infiltration. However, data shows that a gray area of massive collaboration and co-optation between good and bad guys is constantly forming: subversive and counter-subversive groups, public servants, politicians, candidates, and different private agents working together to define the rules of societies, to shape institutions according to their partial and criminal interests.

In States in which those situations are observed, most of formal democracy is preserved and fulfilled, which means that bills are proposed, laws approved, and electoral processes are held. Beyond this form, members of criminal networks are the actors in those processes.

For instance, in African countries such as Sudan or Democratic Republic of Congo, private miners, subversive groups and public servants usually engage in a circular causality of corruption conducive to massive violence. Situations like these are currently observed also in Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia.

Additionally, in Guatemala, in 2012, a former president was requested for extradition by the United States for participating in a massive money laundering scheme. In Mexico, in 2009, 38 mayors of the State of Michoacán were captured because of their collaboration with the criminal network "La Familia". In Colombia, July 2001, 30 governors, mayors, legislators, political leaders, and candidates signed a secret pact with the counter-subversive group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia for reestablishing the Colombian State by creating a new set of rules. Some of the signers then became and acted as national legislators between 2002 and 2006.

This is not a matter of punctual and sporadic corruption among enforcement officers; this is a matter of massive corruption and co-optation in the instances that define laws and institutions; the same laws and institutions that sustain States. This is about situations in which the "bad guys" do not confront the "good guys" anymore; instead, they become intrinsic to the formal State and their criminal interests are protected by laws and institutions.

Several questions arise: What can be said about laws proposed and approved by criminals? Are those "real" laws? Shall we ask individuals to decide to obey or disobey each law, depending on whether the legislator is favoring criminal groups or not? What about those cases in which the legislators do not favor criminal groups, but powerful corporations? Do we need a different definition of "law"? Do we need a different definition of "State"?

And this is not only a conceptual issue.

Civil and penal laws are at the base of the everyday life; what we think and how we behave result of interactions between our brain and the codes, rules and institutions around us. When those codes and institutions are based on criminal interests, the social and cultural references of right and wrong change. Then we obtain societies in which illegality is the norm, which is usually defined as a failed State. The result is a vicious circle that strengthens criminal networks that operate across different countries; networks involved in massive corruption, mass murder, human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and cruel violence.

Evidence of these situations does not come form traditional social sciences. Classic and hyper-positivistic fragmentation of social sciences, with dichotomies such as legal/illegal, rational/emotional, micro/macro and individual/social, among others, are not enough to understand and explain the current social reality of different countries.

Beyond the traditional qualitative and quantitative tools, new integrative approaches are needed to explain current social reality. We should therefore, also be worried about how social scientists are barely calling the attention on situations like the ones described above. While they focus on explaining current social reality through classic dichotomies and frameworks, some States keep deteriorating, becoming chaotic and claustrophobic.

Just like the convergence and elimination of boundaries in medicine, engineering, genetics, artificial intelligence, and biochemistry redefine the concept of life through new and integrative approaches, the convergence and elimination of boundaries between social sciences will allow the redefinition of concepts such as crime, law and State, making them more accurate with reality. Just like we cannot see the world anymore in terms of organic/inorganic or natural/artificial, we cannot see the social world in terms of legal/illegal or emotional/rational.

We should be worried about "modern" States that are shaped by crime, and about classic scientists trying to explain them. Society needs armies, enforcement and public policy, but even more important, at the base, society needs an army of challenging and Edgie forward thinkers who are not afraid of eliminating boundaries between sciences, and who care more about improving social reality than only publishing in respected journals. An "army" of Edgies who help weak States to achieve the great possibilities of humanity.