Dr. Lunden is Professor of Sociology at Iowa State University. Portions of this article were previously published in the May-June 1962 issue of Police.
Perhaps no one knows precisely what prompted Rudyard Kipling’s famous line: "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." Now that the East has met the West, the serious consequences are disorder and violence. Recent international developments give Kipling’s words new meaning and significance. The industrialized nations of the West and the semi agricultural people of the East have come face to face, and neither side likes what it sees. Geographically, there is an East and a West, but realistically, there are those who have and those who have not.
For centuries the underdeveloped have not peoples accepted marginal living as their destiny.
But exposure to the West during and following World War II leaves them unwilling to remain forever underdeveloped. In a "revolution of rising expectations," they want what others have—and they want it without delay.
Western technological progress has swept like a cyclone into the underdeveloped areas. It has shattered the cultural forms of the less advanced people, only to leave in its wake a social vacuum, a "disorganized dust of individuals" devoid of solidarity and open to disorder, violence, and crime.
From Oxen to Jetliners
We are witnessing today a rapid transition in many areas of the world from a rural agricultural tribal system to an industrialized urban society. This transition has some of the characteristics of the
Industrial Revolution which began in the West two centuries ago. Changes, which took &most 200 years, are now coming in many areas within the span of a single generation. In the West, much time elapsed between the hoe and the tractor, between the oxcart and the superjet plane. Today, in vast areas, people are trying to drop the hoe and adopt the tractor within a matter of months. Others attempt to unhitch oxen and to climb aboard the superjet almost the same day. Some are discarding the bow and arrow for the machine gun. All this may be possible, but the ideas men have in their heads change more slowly than the things they have in their hands.
Although the tractor or the new technology are not the causal elements in the present problems, they are part of the transition that creates disorders in the underdeveloped areas. Industrialization, urbanization, and technology per se may not be the prime elements in affecting the behavior patterns of people, but other factors follow in the wake of these influences.
Evidence of Disorder
Let us, then, examine the limited information available on the amount of disorder in the underdeveloped countries, clear evidence that violence has increased out of all due proportion since World War II.
In the Union of South Africa, prosecutions have increased from 80 per 1,000 in 1935 to 117 in 1955. Serious crimes rose from 49,411 in 1940 to 193,986 in 1955. Stabbings increased from 1,359 in 1940 to 6,080 in 1955. Theft increased from 18,660 in 1948 to 23,573 in 1957 and petty crimes from 28,965 to 71,716 for the same years.
The Republic of Korea has witnessed a sharp increase in almost all types of serious crimes from 24,391 in 1956 to 31,466 in 1957. Between 1953 and 1957, thefts increased from 1,568 to 9,881, personal injuries from 300 to 6,339, embezzlement from 98 to 1,187 and fraud from 188 to 1,169.
In the Kenya Colony of East Africa, serious crimes have increased from 1,273 in 1950 to 3,500 in 1955. The prison population increased in Uganda Prison from 2,168 in 1946 to 4,071 in 1954.
In Yugoslavia, from 1950 to 1956, the number of offenders sentenced for serious crimes increased from 91,024 to 139,105 or from 558 to 734 per 100,000 inhabitants, a rise of 31.5 per cent. In the same years, property crimes increased from 17,092 to 31,113 or 82 per cent; crimes against persons rose from 11,895 to 27,899 or 135 per cent.
These data, though not complete, reveal what has been happening in given areas. Observations and reports from various officials living and working in other areas further attest to mounting conflicts and crimes, as, for example, in the Belgian Congo and South Africa.
Why the Increase in Violence?
The increase in crime and violence in underdeveloped countries is not explained by the industrialization, urbanization, and technological changes. These elements are present in the maelstrom, but they are not the prime factors. The cause, if the term can be used broadly, lies in the psychosocial world of the peoples involved. Modern machinery may build an excellent highway through the hinterland of a country, thereby enabling people living in tribal families, ruled by past customs and patterns of behavior, to migrate to urban centers. These new cities are conglomerates of people, chiefly aliens. The migrant is unable to adjust to this formless mass of people. No longer surrounded by the traditional controls of the tribe or family loyalties, he becomes a rootless person without associates, stripped of his sense of security, a small particle in the world of "disorganized dust." He is "Mr. Nobody," the man without a face lost in the confusion of urban life. The Pakistani migrant, the man from the reserves of Kenya, and many others find in urban areas no support for their traditional way of life. Social mobility has shattered the social world from which they came. The end result is the social deprivation and isolation which breed crime.
The Gulf Between
In addition to these conditions, physical and social barriers separate the native people from the aliens—the have hots from those who have. Working conditions and systems of organization accentuate the conflicts, create tensions, moral confusion, a sense of frustration, and antagonism.
When have not people get a glimpse of what appears to be a better life, but lack the means of gaining these benefits, their frustration and antagonism break out into violence and crimes.
Other factors compound the problem of crime in the underdeveloped areas. In some instances, the aliens fail to understand the local conditions, or at least fail to take those conditions into account. In a few cases, unscrupulous practices have been employed as a result of the factional interests of the outsiders. M. B. Deshmukh, in his UNESCO report on conditions in India, points up the issues:
"Every human being admires honesty, courage, decency, and more so the simple villagers. But the regard for these customary norms of behavior is set aside by a powerful desire to gain rewards without efforts; particularly when very little can be earned by honest efforts and there is almost no social control to curb the criminal instinct."
The Rootless People
Acute as this condition may be, there are other social processes that take place. Where two different social systems meet, the cultural shock brings about a change in the personality which has been called detribalization. When people from the hinterland migrate to the urban industrial center, the established and customary loyalties to places and groups are destroyed in the effort to assimilate the new systems. In this transition, the people lose their traditional ways and patterns of conduct in the rootless urban life. They not only become men without a country, they become a people without a culture.
When men and women are cut off from their past and are unable to accept new and strange patterns of conduct, they become a great mass of nobodies without controls and directions. The tribal customs of the hinterland have no place in the new alien world. In some instances, the migrants attempt to recreate the older tribal customs in the new environment, but alien laws and institutions discourage and forbid these activities. The conditions in South Africa are a sad illustration of these events. When two cultures meet, it is not just the people who encounter each other; there is a conflict of institutions and social systems. Violence and crime are a natural reaction.
Hoping to establish order in these disorganized areas, the constituted authorities often attempt to impose their own laws upon the mass of migrants. In most instances, these prove to be ineffective because they lack native moral, religious, and tribal support. In spite of all the legalistic methods of the West, authorities have not been able to deal adequately with native witchcraft and Black Magic. His basic primitive beliefs have become the African’s defense against the forces of the West, the economic deprivation, social tensions, and the conflict arising from the clash of the two cultures.
The Conflict of Laws
A number of scholars have been aware of the conflicts between the legal norms of different peoples. When H. Kelsen (General Theory of Law and State, 1940) used the term Grundnorm, he explained the situation from a sociolegal basis. The Grundnorm is the basic ethical "ought" upon which law rests. If or when the official law conflicts with the Grundnorm of a people, disorder arises. Unless legal rules and judicial opinions are based upon the Grundnorms, they become empty dialectics. Law, therefore, rests upon a priori moral grounds. Behind the problems of the East and the West, there is this clash between the legal judgments of the one and the sociolegal norms of the other.
The legal theorist, L. Petrazycki, (Law and Morality, 1955), pointed out that a legal code has little effect unless it is based upon the psychological intuitive moral and ethical concepts of a people. When two cultures with divergent basic norms meet, they use different meanings and concepts which in turn create disputes and conflict.
P. A. Sorokin, (Society, Culture and Personality, 1947), refers to "official" and "unofficial" law, the latter being the underlying legalconvictions of a people. Because the official contractual legal systems of the West contravene the convictions and the law norms of the underdeveloped peoples, antagonisms and "maladjustments call forth the phenomenon of crime or violation of the official law."
A quarter of a century ago, T. Sellin, (Culture Conflict and Crime, 1938), analyzed the problems of the "official" and "unofficial" law norms in terms of culture conflict. Focusing on the crimes of foreign-born persons in the United States, Sellin pointed out that legal conflicts arise:
a. When the codes clash on the border of contiguous culture areas.
b. When the law of one cultural group is extended to cover the territory of another group.
c. When the members of one cultural group migrate to another area of different culture.
Today, in the underdeveloped countries, conflicts have arisen because the official law of one cultural group is being extended into the territory of another.
Crimes and Customs
F. G. Speck, in his report on the Labrador Indians (American Anthropology, 1933), found that crimes tended to increase directly as the contacts of the Indians increased with the foreign white traders. In their report of crimes in Siberia, J. J. Anossow and G. Wirschubski in 1931 and 1933 found that when the Soviet Union expanded the new legal code into the outreaches of Siberia, crimes increased. The official law of the Soviet Union outlawed the wearing of veils by women. When this happened and women discarded their veils, Siberians killed the women because it violated the ancient unofficial law requiring women to wear veils.
The French scholar, R. Maunier, in 1936 (Harvard Tercentenary Publications, 1937), found a similar situation in Algeria. Under the native law, an adulterous wife must be killed by her father or brother because the act brought disgrace to the family. When the French magistrates, under the new Penal Code, tried to deal with the matter as premeditated murder and to punish the killers, they met with a "conspiracy of silence by the Algerians" because no one would report the act or testify in court. Also, if a native Algerian accepted the new law and refused to kill the offender, he in turn was killed for failure to comply with the ancient unofficial law.
Such is the evidence that crimes grow out of conflicts when one cultural group attempts to impose their legal norms upon another. The serious conditions which have arisen in
There is a vast difference between the primitive laws of the underdeveloped peoples and the contemporary Anglo-Saxon contractual systems. Herein lies the tragedy in the meeting of the East and West. The West maintains the power of force in law, whereas the real power rests in the social obligations or moral relationships between people. When those who formulate foreign policy or international procedures understand that law is not a concrete abstraction, but the creation of the ethical and moral characteristics of a people, fewer conflicts may arise between the two systems. When the natives in an underdeveloped country are forced to comply with a legal system not based on their living law, conflicts are bound to arise and criminality is the natural result. In this vacuum, lack of integration, and normless existence, violence can be expected. The primitive Vendetta, the Mau Mau, or the earlier Indian massacres are but the brutal evidence of this condition.
Fundamentally, the violence in the underdeveloped countries is due to the clash between the sociolegal systems of two vastly different cultures. On the one hand, there is the primitive living law of tribal customs of the underdeveloped peoples, whereas on the other is the contractual official law of the industrialized, urban-developed countries. The trouble lies not in the tools or the technology, but in the sociolegal ideas of the respective peoples.
The Cult of the Planners
It would be erroneous to suppose these problems of underdeveloped peoples have no counterpart in more highly developed nations. The very nature of the evolutionary progressiveness of the have nations has yielded a cult of "social planners" who assume that each step from cave to penthouse has followed a distinct order or design. They profess to know the stages by which man has risen from the "Pit of the Past," and assume that they, better than any leaders of the past, can now engineer this process of change. Their plans vary in detail, but the main route from here to there extends through population control to the "big push" or over-all breakthrough against poverty. The "big push" involves investments of huge sums of money in the underdeveloped countries for power, transportation, and communication facilities to create industryand promote trade. So vast are their schemes that private enterprise is inadequate to the task; therefore, they insist that government must enter with various "aid" and "corps" activities—now, on a massive push-button scale, because "time is running out."
One of the elemental facts these "social engineers" have failed to understand is that society does not follow an ordered path from yesterday to today. There are no fixed laws in society by which a people climb the ladder of progress from the Stone to the Rocket Age. Some may maintain that they have discovered the laws of nature, but these are illusions that arise like a mirage in a desert. Even the Olympian gods of antiquity were more modest than some of the Master Planners of the present. There is no straight evolutionary line of progress from pit to penthouse—only a very rough road beset by many detours and without established guideposts. From time to time great leaders have arisen to point the direction but they have not built the superhighway.
A second fact the Planners fail to comprehend is that the whole process of society never has been "engineered" for long by a staff of economic or social strategists. The United States became a nation without a "planned economy."
The development of the West has been due to a number of creative leaders with enthusiasm enough to open new ventures with no assurance of guaranteed results. The fast sailing vessels of the nineteenth century, the Clipper Ships of New England, gained the sea trade because some men were willing to risk their fortunes. It should be recalled that the several states in the New World prior to 1815 were "underdeveloped" areas. The country developed without government-to-government foreign aid, or various programs from abroad. The greatest aid from abroad consisted of immigrants attracted to the new world by a certain freedom from government. All this means that there must be men and resources available within a country.
The basic problem involved in the conflict of the East and West is that both fail to understand the "logico-meaningfulness" each postulates relative to the "inner order" of their respective cultures. The Hindu in his village interprets his law in terms of the meaning in Hinduism, the Moslem sees law through the eyes of Islamic beliefs just as the African sees law through the living law of the tribe, the community, and the family. The legal differences between the East and the West cannot be settled until there is some integration of the ethical, moral, and psychological systems of both groups. Until that time arrives, we shall have to live in the present legal "No Man’s Land of Conflict," of violence and crime in high and low places.
Ideas on Liberty
Where Socialism Leads
Ironically, socialism, which is claimed by its advocates to be a system to provide for the needs of everyone, actually leads not only to tyranny but to a progressive breakdown of production and, if persisted in, eventually to starvation and anarchy. Red China is currently following that path; Soviet Russia has borrowed a few ideas from capitalism on occasion to combat economic collapse and starvation. On the other hand, capitalism, which does not claim as its objective "doing good" for everyone, creates infinitely greater wealth for all to partake of and provides freedom for the individual, instead of slavery, while doing so.
SAMUEL AYRES III, M.D. Beverly Hills, California