All Commentary
Friday, March 1, 1963

Developing Disorders–East and West

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 Thailand, serious crimes have risen from 42,276 in 1948 to 139,­618 in 1957 in Bangkok alone. In the provincial areas, crimes have risen from 183,887 to 293,454 for the same years.

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 East Africa, the Congo,and South Africa are in part due to the conflict between the socio­legal norms of the developed and the underdeveloped peoples.

Social Obligations

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