It is war!

Letters to the Editor

It is war!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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Le Chatelier's Principle states that if stress is added to a system, that set-up will act in a way to offset the stress. This is a principle of chemistry that can be applied to any system — although it is less precise for socio-economic systems because of their complexity with many systems interfacing.

Jamaica was in shock and awe about the killing of two police officers and serious injuring of two more in Spanish Town on Friday, June 12, 2020. The prime suspect was later killed by police that same day, but not before shooting another police officer while violently resisting arrest.

I am sure his killing was more than justified, but it does not bring back the two officers he allegedly killed. It is my view that Jamaica has crossed another rubicon; the first rubicon was to use state of emergencies to fight crime.

If the police militarise, the criminals militarise, an arms race will be precipitated. In fighting crime, force is sometimes necessary, but when you strip even criminals of their rights you tell them through action that there are no rules; it is the wild west, and some of them will become Billy the Kid.

The more amoral the State gets the more star power the criminals get.

There are two aspects of war — propaganda and operations. The State in its action must always be perceived as doing the right thing, and it cannot justify taking away anybody's rights and expecting to keep its moral superiority. The State is more powerful than an individual, and that is why it must be held to a higher standard. States of emergency (SOE) are politically expedient, but weaken the legitimacy and moral authority of the State.

I am sure crime-fighting does not need to use SOEs, which, in my view, dehumanise everyone living in the area under this mechanism, and cause irreparable socio-economic damage to everyone who lives in the area. With improved investigative and forensic skills crime can be fought not only with brawn but also with brains.

Based on the complexity theory and Le Chatelier's principle, criminals will use more force like the State. If the State uses strategic tactics, instead of brute force, the criminals will follow suit; there could be an increase in cybercrime, and the like.

Again, I ask what is being done to ensure more Jamaicans do not join criminal gangs and turn to crime?

There are two kinds of education — street and school. Both can give you money and women, but street knowledge is quicker, easier, and more accessible, so many will choose to survive by criminality. Not everyone wants academic education. Trade/skills education aimed at careers in auto mechanics, plumbing, electrical work, masonry, etc, must be taught from the primary level for those who are not willing to go the traditional educational route. Children in Jamaica are being given a diet of academics that I like, but I have realised that human beings are not mere machines and schools should not be factory-producing people who become clerks, police, or serve other parts of the bureaucracy.

Policing is vital, but it is palliative, not corrective. If building a prosperous society was easy every country would be peaceful and prosperous. I will paraphrase Bob Marley: Until a person is not superior and another inferior. It is war!

Brian E Plummer

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