Beyond State-Fetishism: Developing a Theoretical Programme for State Crime Studies

Revista Crítica Penal y Poder 2013, nº 5, Special Issue: Redefining the Criminal Matter: State Crimes, Mass Atrocities and Social Harm September (pp. 115-137)

23 Pages Posted: 3 May 2014

See all articles by Kristian Lasslett

Kristian Lasslett

Ulster University; University of London - International State Crime Initiative

Date Written: September 1, 2013

Abstract

In ways that were perhaps unimaginable even a decade ago, state crime studies has the opportunity to become a rich intellectual resource for diverse struggles of resistance opposed to the crimes of the powerful. However, this role is by no means assured. One barrier that must be overcome is a disciplinary tendency to fetishise those organisational forms – principally states and corporations – through which capitalist relations of production function. This paper will examine the epistemological roots of organisational fetishism, and the consequential effects this analytical tendency has on understandings of state crime. We will then consider how the method, and conceptual framework, which Marx developed to inquire into the sinuous core of the capitalist mode of production can be used to move beyond fetishised understandings of the state. To demonstrate the complexity of the theoretical task before us, I will draw upon the example of Papua New Guinea, a country that has witnessed a range of gross human rights violations associated with the Bougainville war, and which departs in many ways from archetypal models of capitalism. Nevertheless, it will be maintained that Marxism remains a vital framework for enriched understandings of state crime in Papua New Guinea, that move beyond fetishised accounts of elite offending.

Keywords: State Crime, Crimes of the Powerful, Marxism, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville.

Suggested Citation

Lasslett, Kristian, Beyond State-Fetishism: Developing a Theoretical Programme for State Crime Studies (September 1, 2013). Revista Crítica Penal y Poder 2013, nº 5, Special Issue: Redefining the Criminal Matter: State Crimes, Mass Atrocities and Social Harm September (pp. 115-137), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2431794

Kristian Lasslett (Contact Author)

Ulster University ( email )

Shore Road
Jordanstown, BT37 0QB
Northern Ireland

University of London - International State Crime Initiative ( email )

Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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