quinta-feira, 3 de setembro de 2015

Criminality is not a perverted disposition to do evil rather than good. It is merely a childish tendency to take shortcuts. All crime has the nature of a smash and grab raid; it is an attempt to get something for nothing. The thief steals instead of working for what he wants. The rapist violates a girl instead of persuading her to give herself. Freud once said that a child would destroy the world if it had the power. He meant that a child is totally subjective, wrapped up in its own feelings and so incapable of seeing anyone else’s point of view. A criminal is an adult who goes on behaving like a child.

But there is a fallacy in this childish morality of grab-what-you-want. The person who is able to indulge all his moods and feelings is never happy for more than a few moments together; for most of the time, he is miserable. Our flashes of real happiness are glimpses of objectivity, when we somehow rise above the stifling, dreamlike world of our subjective desires and feelings. The great tyrants of history, the men who have been able to indulge their feelings without regard to other people, have usually ended up half insane; for over-indulged feelings are the greatest tyrants of all.

Crime is renewed in every generation because human beings are children; very few of us achieve anything like adulthood. But at least it is not self-perpetuating, as human creativity is. Shakespeare learns from Marlowe, and in turn inspires Goethe. Beethoven learns from Haydn and in turn inspires Wagner. Newton learns from Kepler and in turn inspires Einstein. But Vlad the Impaler, Jack the Ripper and Al Capone leave no progeny. Their ‘achievement’ is negative, and dies with them. The criminal also tends to be the victim of natural selection — of his own lack of self-control. Man has achieved his present level of civilisation because creativity ‘snowballs’ while crime, fortunately, remains static.


Colin Wilson, A Criminal History of Mankind, Granada Publishing, 1984.