Crime becomes custom, custom becomes crime - Trevor Bark

A political analysis of the nature of crime. We have significant disagreements with the author but reproduce this text reference. Part of the text is readable below, however some is missing. The full text is in the PDF, attached.


The British Marxist Historians (BMH) were involved in the study not only of protest and social movements, but of what was and was becoming crime. The enclosures, the change from wages in kind (perquisites) to the wage form itself (Linebaugh 1991), wood gathering, nutting and so on that were previously peoples custom were criminalized and fought politically by the disposessed. Thompsons 'moral economy' theses was based upon the study of bread riots, and this in turn became part of what is known as the social crime debate (Douglas Hay et al, 1975)

Rather than economic crime and protest being central to the poors' lives, crime became marginalized and left to the professionals or a marginalized lumpen element in the Fordist era. Into the late modern era we have seen the growth of crime often linked to high unemployment and 'flexibility', and the growth of social movement protest.

The themes of the BMH about a militant participation in the present, a political Marxism, and reconstructing theory are important ones. To that end we involve ourselves in the social movements, whether that is a rediscovery of the mass tobacco and alcohol smuggler, other informal economic activity in the city, or the emerging anti-capitalist movement.

I am presenting a case for the development of the social crime concept by testing whether the key characteristics can be found today, and also politically reassessing the nature of crime itself. Originally (Hay et al, 1975) said it wasn't possible to distinguish between 'good' criminals here and 'bad' criminals there, and this all blurred into the labouring poor; Linebaugh (1991) notes payment of wages was often years behind. The distinction between the respectable/unrespectable, non-deserving and deserving poor manifested itself in the political development of the Labour movement and Marxism, and can be found within the anti-capitalist movement.

Following "No Logo" and its emphasis on the trademark brand names in the shops I will present analysis about shoplifting and whether the politics of part of the anti-capitalist movement has had any effect on shoplifters choices. I will ask the question about how you go about destroying the brand most effectively, and outline the liberalism found within "No Logo". 'Crime' is now a central feature of the social movements large manifestations and also for a significant section of the general public.

Part 1

mmunist forms of distribution, or b) an underground capitalism with no laws comprised of stolen or illegally manufactured goods that the community tolerates not because it is prefigurative communism, but because it involves low prices. Finally, there is no 'nice and tidy' social crime here, and destructive anti social crime over there (Thompson, 1972) The authors of "Albions Fatal Tree" could find no evidence of these tightly formed categories existing in real communities. Instead the boundaries between social crime, anti social crime and non criminal acts were a part of everyday life and judgemental moralism didn't impinge on social relationships.

The start of a period of political and media attention on the alcohol and tobacco smuggling issue in comparison with shoplifting is interesting in itself. Vast amounts of money has been spent tackling smuggling and employing 1,000 extra customs officers recently, but why? In terms of financial costs the effects of shoplifting and alcohol and tobacco smuggling are fairly similarly gigantic. Yet one is the subject of MI5 inquiry and the other is not. This has the effect of virtually criminalizing people who previously would see themselves as law abiding individuals, and making the political dimensions of the whole process more apparent. Therefore increased policing control may have the opposite effect of that intended by resolving those already in the smuggling periphery, and drawing those into the smuggling fraternity people who wouldn't normally have considered it. The policing arrangements merely mediate the political struggle being carried out by powerful tobacco corporations, other political actors, and other institutions.

The emergent 'political criminality' is a cultural phenomena in the way it manifests itself, eg a pub on the seafront of Dover covered with anti Police grafitti, bad newspaper cuttings about the police, and piracy images which are identified as an emblem for smuggling. Also the smuggling village par excellance today is that of Gvelde just over the Belgium border. This frontier town is a tobacco centre replete with piracy images because it represents the first port of call of very cheap tobacco. French tobacco is cheap but the cheapest of all is Belgium, and Gvelde is about a 40 minute drive from Calais and the famous Eastenders alcohol retail warehouse in Calais carries maps showing the exact route to take. This analysis makes it clear that the individualistic and bourgeois nature of law (Pashukanis) that separates each 'offence' from all others in place, time and societal context is perforce a deliberate political pro-capitalist act which seeks to depolitisize the events taking place so that they can be processed by the criminal justice factory. A more honest approach as I hope to describe is a more historical and structural view, that does not excuse any of the behaviour that may have provoked lurid media tales, and at the same time avoiding judgemental and individual blame ascribing. Whilst situating behaviour in a living manner that dialectically relates to changes in the economy and society carried out by different actors.

Taking the left realist square of crime we realise that there is not just policing (policing being a generic term for crime prevention) here, and crime there,

"only a relation between the two - crime and control" (Hall et al, 1978 P. 185)

This is lived, negotiated and mediated through the institutions of capitalist society and the fluctuating economic fortunes of the masses, and those that live in it but are not of it eg gypsies, travellers, squatters. Without wishing to deny that there maybe a few people who fit the bourgeois definitions of criminals, who say "yes guv, you've got me bang to rights" in some sort of comic manner, it is the meaning on a mass level of smuggling, shoplifting and other social crime that makes it socially and politically interesting. There is an urgent need to differentiate, however tentatively, between acts as in Mertons analysis which states the tension felt in capitalist society creates actors who want to succeed in terms of bourgeois goals, but who are denied it by the very structure of bourgeois society (they therefore then choose to innovate deviant means to get to their financial end) Between those, and people who commit crime that personifies, again however tentatively and provisionally, crime that includes elements of protest and/or opposition to capitalist society.

We must be aware that in just focussing our research on eg smugglers in prison, or smuggling culture on the streets of Dover, Calais and elsewhere, we maybe committing a fundamental error in that we would be separating the 'perceived vanguard' from a wider, more fluid and sophisticated understanding of the different groups that form the class history as a whole. For it is not the only the smugglers who matter, it is the lorry drivers, white van men, off license retailers, market traders, car boot sellers, migrants, travelling salesmen, and most numerous of all the buyers of cheap cigarettes and alcohol.

"The point is easy to illustrate from the social history of nineteenth century London. The criminal 'fraternities' of East London were clearly parts of the wider class ecologies, class cultures and class formations of the London of the period. To reserve them for a special category would be simply to lose any grip on a central aspect of the history of the urban working class and the urban poor of the period. In the historical sense, 'crime' was a well articulated part of the working class cultural repertoire of the period: how some members of the labouring and casual poor 'lived' the contradictory experience and exploitative relationships which characterise class relations as a whole… For the children of those families… it must have been a very thin, often imperceptible, margin indeed between getting what they had to, legally, and scrounging where and however they could; and the margin, for all practical purposes, was not between 'legality' and 'illegality' so much as between survival and sheer destitution"
(Hall et al, 1978, P. 188) Emphasis added

Part 2

Moral Economy definition

What was Thompson's moral economy then, and how did it relate to the food riots? What were its' features and can we identify the same sorts of ideas into modern history? This 'Moral economy' theses is perhaps the most well known formulation of the social crime debate. In particular it speaks of the relationship between the rulers and capitalists, and the people within certain types of crowd.

"The food riot in eighteenth century England was a highly complex form of popular direct action, disciplined and with clear objectives. How far these objectives were achieved - that is, how far the food riot was a "successful" form of action… cannot be done until the crowd's own objectives are identified. It is of course true that riots were triggered off by soaring prices, by malpractices among dealers, or by hunger. But these grievances operated within a popular consensus as to what were legitimate and what were illegitimate practices in marketing, milling, baking, etc. This in turn was grounded upon a consistent traditional view of social norms and obligations, of the proper economic functions of several parties within the community, which, taken together, can be said to constitute the moral economy of the poor. An outrage to these moral assumptions, quite as much as actual deprivation, was the usual occasion for direct action.

While this moral economy cannot be described as "political" in any advanced sense, nevertheless it cannot be described as unpolitical either, since it supposed definite, and passionately held, notions of the common weal - notions which, indeed, found some support in the paternalist tradition of the authorities; notions which the people re-echoed so loudly in their turn that the authorities were, in some measure, the prisoners of the people….

It was about the crowd's 'moral economy' in a context which the article defines… my object of analysis was the mentalite, or, as I prefer, the political culture, the expectations, traditions, and, indeed superstitions of the working population most frequently involved in action in the market; and the relations - sometimes negotiations - between crowd and rulers which go under the unsatisfactory term of 'riot'… to understand the 'political' space in which the crowd might act and might negotiate with the authorities… [includes] a larger analysis of the relations between the two. [19]

The context was the bread riot and this was common because the poor largely lived on bread throughout the country (Thompson 1991) There simply were not the regularised shops as there are today, nor any refrigeration system. Markets were important social occasions and in the socialising information and politics were exchanged. We should also be aware that as one of the few times when people got together was market day, then these both give the possibility and opportunity for political mobilization. The impersonal nature of shopping today doesn't give the collective feeling which occurred in the past. This is not to say that there is no socialising in shopping today, nor that market days are unimportant to people in some parts of the country. Nor is it ignoring the growth of car boot sales, markets or other systems of marketing including those of the grey and black economy. For example, I have been approached by men (and they were solely men) in vans on the streets of Hackney and in supermarket car parks in Tottenham asking if I wanted cheap electrical goods. For our purposes then, it is important to note that if

"Economic class-conflict in nineteenth century England found its characteristic expression in the matter of wages; in eighteenth century England the working
people were most quickly inflamed to action by rising prices."[20]

The Bread riot was not merely the result of economics, and the famous idiom of the pauper who slaps his/her hand on their empty stomach and decides to riot to get food. There was a more complicated custom behind all of this. As Thompson (1991, P. 2) correctly identified, it is the category 'culture' which has transplanted that of 'custom' in both popular and academic discourse.

It is precisely the very notions of culture that should have led scholars to trace the historical lineage and modern expression of social relationships like those found in the moral economy theses. The moral economy maybe read as the predecessor of what was known as the social contract during the Fordist era. This is where in exchange for wage labour and full employment the worker was 'guaranteed' certain services, like education for the children, healthcare, unemployment benefit and so on. These deeply felt needs and culture are

"custom… as sui generis - as ambience, mentalite, and as a whole vocabulary of discourse, of legitimation and of expectation… Many customs were endorsed and sometimes enforced by popular pressure… many of the classic struggles at the entry to the industrial revolution turned as much on customs as upon wages or conditions of work… in the eighteenth century custom was the rhetoric of legitimation for almost any usage, practice, or demanded right… Nor should we underestimate the creative culture forming process from below. Not only the obvious things - folk songs, trades clubs and corn dollies - were made from below, but also interpretations of life, satisfactions and ceremonials."[21]

It is also why we must think about the new moral economy of the poor.


"The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an 'immense collection of commodities'; the individual commodity appears its elementary form. Our investigation therefore begins with the analysis of a commodity" Marx (1976, P. 125)

In order to situate shoplifting properly it is necessary to delve into history, for shops like shoplifters do not appear as if by magic. The retail site is an ever changing feature of society today with its' own personnel and culture, as are the shoplifters. At the same time i have isolated relevant features such as the shoplifters personality, their characteristics, their culture, and situated them in the negotiated world of the shop as they attempt to shoplift. The current high profile literature on globalisation impacts on the goods we buy in shops, and Klein (2000) has firmly fixed peoples attention on brand name goods in our shops. We have to talk about what shoplifting means today and what are the market conditions, what do people want to buy and do they care where it was made under what sort of employment practices? Also when it has been shoplifted how is it distributed? This is not a project or tour de force on shoplifting around the world, but of its role in the global bazaar concentrated in Britain but also in the global cities where the world capitalist control and command insitutions gather (G8, IMF, World bank, World Trade Organisation; in Seattle, Prague, Genoa etc.) Marx in the quotation above realised that it is the commodity that is the distilled essence of capitalist society, for without exchange there is no accumulation. He would also have realised that the concentration on the commodity is an abstraction that isolates and analyses one particular aspect of society in order to make plain its real connections and essence.

The bazaar according to Ruggiero is the descriptive term for the attempt

"made to identify a continuum between irregular, hidden, semi-legal, and overtly illegal economies. This continuum is given the name bazaar, which captures the notion of a constant movement, a form of occupational commuting... between legitimate and illegitimate activity characterising many urban contexts." [22]

Furthermore, there are other reasons why the shoplifter, shoplifter/shopper and the shopper are blurred. It's the shopping experience that is the background in which the shoplifter works and

"The manifold complexities of interaction involved in shopping produce different kinds and types of shoppers, all of whom can, for example, provide valuable camouflage" [23]

Whilst I have every intention of avoiding what Ruggiero has called the 'sociology of misery' [24] by not having a condescending attitude. Nor allowing the dominant liberal anti-sweatshop ethos [25] to prejudice the delivery of questions regarding the origins of branded goods. For I think people can answer my questions best if they are put with a non-judgemental attitude, and I think they can liberate themselves by and in the process of their everyday and subversive behaviours anyway. Though I could not avoid alluding to another of Ruggiero's concepts, 'the causality of contraries'.[26] It again manifests itself in the modern high tech consumer age when you look at the similarities between shopping and shoplifting, and shoplifting research has always shown that shoplifters come from all social classes. For as Kraut says the motivation for shoplifting

"is the same as for normal shopping: the acquisition of goods at minimum cost." [27]

Furthermore, I argue that there are many motivations for shoplifting that do not simplistically and mechanistically deserve being ascribed with criminal intent by the security forces. Without assuming the judgemental attitude of Katz I largely endorse his argument that

"as unattractive morally as crime may be, we must appreciate that there is genuine experiential creativity in it as well. We should then be able to see what are, for the
subject, the authentic attractions of crime and we should be able to explain variations
in criminality beyond what can be accounted for by background factors." [28]

For whilst I realise that physical harm is a result of crime for some people, for the perpetrators there is more positive value and expression that the negative aspects that police and the powerful continually identify .[29] This 'genuine experiential creativity' and the 'authentic attraction of crime' needs further expansion, some of this can be found in realising that there is a positive and active creation of value and values in the process of committing crime for some people. In the first "Theses on Fuerbach" Marx realised that

"sensuous human activity, [was] practice" [30]

and meaningful for the participants. In relation to shoplifting this means that the act carries with it different meanings for the participants and different emotional effects. For the political shoplifter, it is a blow against capitalism and might make them happier, for the fashion conscious it makes them feel good to have the nice clothes, for the needy it is simply an economic survival strategy, and so on.

A lot of debate around shoplifting revolves around whether people are just greedy, or are they genuinely needy. Campbell says

"there is no statistical evidence to suggest that shoplifting is a particularly middle-class activity. And there can be no justification for the assumption that economics is an irrelevant factor. The evidence strongly suggests that lack of money plays a part (see Arboleda-Florez et al., 1977). On the other hand, it would be romantic and inaccurate to paint a Dickensian picture of shoeless orphans stealing loaves of bread. Sixty-six per cent of girls in 1959, for example, stole clothes or cosmetics - luxury items… The issue seems to be not genuine need but greed at all social class levels" [31]

However, this does seem to be a rather dated approach. Some or most women today would regard cosmetics as a necessity, as they would clothes, and it is only bourgeois moralism about the sanctity of law that breeds the discussion about need or greed in relation to the shoplifters motivation. As I mention later about girls living up to 'supposed ideals', so to is life portrayed as complete if you possess things. As we shall see who can blame people for taking things that are put in the open for them to want, feel, wear, taste and savour when the shops choose the self-select method of shopping above the staff select method in order to maximise profits. Also for the very poor in today's society to engage in any sort of branded lifestyle so avidly promoted in the media people have to shoplift or fund their purchases through other informal methods.

Although Campbell was speaking 20 years ago about clothes and cosmetics not being a case of genuine need, I think she would be arguing you only need food to live. Today the difference is about the quality of life afforded by good food and/or good living. The class differentials in shopping today range from the Italian selection at Harrods at the expensive end, to market leftovers or the cheap supermarkets like Aldi and Netto, and the cheap ranges such as Tesco Value Sausages and Chips at the lower end.

Heroin Chic Women Steal the Brand?

Similarly, the social pressure to conform to supposed ideals on young girls that leads to dietary problems on one hand, also leads to the problem of over consumption by means of the 'five finger shuffle' on the other. Some existing research (Campbell 1981) has shown the high levels of economic pressure reported by delinquent girls that led to their shoplifting in England. Campbell went so far as to announce that it was "consumer fetishism" that led large numbers of working class girls into shoplifting.

Given the widely noted increases in individualism and consumerism in the recent past then this can only have fuelled the level of shoplifting. Of course, in relation to the modern general demand for brand names this has an intensifying effect on the girls pre-existing consumer fetishism and leads to more shoplifting. This also applies to boys who are also increasingly fashion conscious. In shoplifting today like Campbell noted when we consider that the girls

"have by no means escaped the sex- role trap. They may feel freer to break the law of the land but not necessarily the law of the female's position in a consumer society, where women themselves are still a commodity." [32]

This debate is largely merely skating around the surface of the issue and not dealing with the structure of society at all. In an ideal world would shoplifters feel the compulsion to shoplift? Would there be shops in an ideal world? In today's capitalist society the fact that people do shoplift in defiance of the law should be enough to tell you that they need to do it in their own eyes, and as E.P. Thompson said

"If we stop history at a given point, then there are no classes but simply a multitude of individuals with a multitude of experiences. But if we watch these men [and women] over an adequate period of social change, we observe patterns in their relationships, their ideas, and their institutions. Class is defined by men as they live their own history, and, in the end, this is its only definition." [33]

I am not arguing that shoplifters form a class in their own right, or that they are only working class, for anybody with any knowledge of the history of shoplifting would reject that notion. I am arguing that the way class is mediated through different environments includes that of the shop, shopping, and shoplifting, and teasing out the relevant relationships and activities is important.

One of the main aspects of shoplifting is what is called on the street, the 'buzz', 'did you get a buzz'. This for my purposes will be the term used to describe an activity which gives the individual a hit of naturally produced adrenaline, due to their own or/and possibly groups behaviour. This is a painkiller that leaves you with warm and happy feelings. For shoplifters of all types describe this effect and it is a common experience across all sorts of crime. The rituals of the catch, and the celebration of it, is a means of self and class valourization. In brief this means that shoplifters revel in both the act of shoplifting itself and in the cultural celebration as well. This releases positive feedback in many forms and also includes the cultural techniques of neutralisation e.g. denial of victim - 'shops can afford it' and so on.

More of us…

"There is no telling who connive at poaching; the Name of them is legion"
F.M. Denwood, Cumbrian Nights, 1932.

Whereas the social crime debate illuminated the criminalisation of the poor, with custom becoming crime under economic liberalism. The new economic transitions or neo-liberalism are creating social and economic conditions similar to the previous period, and now there is a reversal of the transition with crime becoming custom.

The assertion that crime has become custom has not only to do with the first world, for if the processes that Klein writes about are correct then the newly industrialised areas, the export processing zones, appear to be Fordist to the degree that the factories are large. However they appear to be skipping the post war Keynesian social contract that much of Western Europe and the USA had. If that is the case then the peasantry newly displaced from the land with it's own conceptions of revolt (James C. Scott, J. Ditton, Walton & Seddon) may well engage in routine covert insurgency. Of which arson was the most dramatic in the mid 19th century in Britain (Hobsbawm and Rude), although poaching also was widespread and aggressive (Hopkins, Hay et al, 1975) Captain Swing was unfairly classed as a firestarter in the 1830-31 disturbances or riots, but the rural proletariat lived up to its reputation later and "triumphed in this role for 20 years after" (Hobsbawm and Rude) I am a little bit reticent in calling the Swing events riots because like Rule (1979) and Thompson (1991) I see the organised and disciplined nature of the crowd acting and maintaining internal discipline.

If there is no space for the unrespectable to go 'respectable' in the third world through trade union, education, religious and labour movement mediation that accounted for much working class discipline then the self regulating mechanisms favoured by free marketers may well mean that freer and unregulated people may be found. Within the first world the neo liberal economy emerging through decades of high unemployment and soaring crime rates may de facto be said to have shown that 'crime has become custom' for pauperised and semi excluded workers. However, it is well known that there is no mechanistic criminal reaction to unemployment or semi employment, just an alienation that is mediated through many forms. Nor is there any mechanistic way of telling whether crime rates definitely did rise at a certain time because there are tremendous problems with police statistics and other methods of trying to decide the rate of crime.

Part 3

SHOPLIFTING - Very Generalisable…

Time and again research has shown that shoplifters and shoppers are one and the same. See the incredible 200% rise in offences known to the Police in America from 1973 (349,283) to 1989 (1,059,765) And remember that this is the tip of the iceberg - most shoplifting offences are not detected by the private security, and then again not all cases they detect are passed onto the police. Whilst nobody knows how many people security let go either side of the Atlantic there are similarities in the process, stereotypes and prejudices. Whilst it is acknowledged that because of the private nature of the ownership of stores the

"Police involvement in the detection and apprehension of
shoplifters, however, is minimal." [34]

We should not discount the amount of shoplifters who are let go annually. Some idea of the scale of this issue can be gained from Segrave

"Police in [the whole of] New York City arrested 3,177 shoplifters
in 1963; in 1962 they arrested 3,061… [security] personnel picked up 6,200 pilferers in its two Bronx stores in 1963, against 4,900 in 1962." [35]

Today one American website claims

"There are approximately 23 million shoplifters (or 1 in 11 people)
in our nation today. More than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the last five years." [36]

However, we should also be aware of contradictory evidence. In shoplifting research this manifests itself in the long term self report studies that

"challenge the view that shoplifting has been increasing dramatically. In fact, the Monitoring the Future data show that there has been virtually no change in shoplifting activity between 1977 and 1988… The pattern for 1977 (30.2% reported shoplifting during the last year) is nearly identical to that reported for 1988 (30.4%). At no time between 1977 and 1988 was there more than a four-point fluctuation in the percentage reporting recent shoplifting activity." [37]

This data suggests that with the increase in security and security technology more shoplifters have been apprehended and reporting practices may have changed also. As there are degrees of discretion in the work of store detectives.[38] We can also project on the basis of the above data. Assuming a rate of criminality of shoplifting of 30.2% in the American population as a whole, and a population of 250 million. Something like 75 and a half million Americans have committed the crime of shoplifting at least once. This is a 'hereditary criminal tradition' that rivals Australia.

In Britain self report data from interviews with youth point towards not only the 'mass shoplifter' that I identify later in this article, but also the mass criminal. Two extensive surveys, firstly commissioned by the Jewish Association for Business Ethics that spoke to 34,000 pupils from all backgrounds aged 13 to 15 and the second commissioned by the Government's Youth Justice Board spoke to 5,263 children aged 11 to 16. Of the 34,000 children

"45% of them believe law-breaking is acceptable. Under-age drinking, criminal damage and fraudulent use of public transport were among offences regarded as minor… One in 10 boys said there was nothing wrong with shoplifting" [39]

Furthermore the second survey revels similar evidence

"Theft was also on the increase, with 35% admitting to shoplifting, compared with 31% the year before. The number of children stealing from school rose from 15% to 23%. The survey reported that 49% of children had dodged fares, compared with 44% last year." [40]

Other evidence that shows criminals are ordinary people is the amount of studies that show peak shoplifting hours are the ones that coincide with peak shopping hours (Christmas,weekends,late afternoons and sales) Also women have always been well and over represented in shoplifting since the development of the modern department store.

"Shoplifting has always been considered to be the female
offence par excellence." (emphasis in original) [41]

In 1966 the American trade journal, "Progressive Grocer" did a survey involving 2000 fairly large shops. The average total of detected shoplifting cases was 8.7 in a week, with an estimated further 171 undetected per week, this would make the local Tescos the crime capital of Enfield [North London, close to Middlesex University] with, I estimate conservatively, greater than 200 undetected shoplifting cases per week. It is important to stress

"the fact that most ordinary people have shoplifted at least once by the time they reach adulthood, a statement that could hardly be made about any other indictable offence." [42]

I aim to analyse shoplifting in the current epoch and dispel many illusions by talking about

"the ordinariness of shoplifting - [that] has not been explored as it should… shoplifting - this banal phenomenon - is found in a large proportion of the population and the offenders are mostly quite ordinary people". [43]

The Chief Executive of Somerfield who should know more than most about both the extent and types of shoplifting and shoplifters says

"Shoplifting is a multi-million pound industry. Those who do it look - on the whole - just like you and me. They aren't all drug crazed youths (though there are plenty of those). For retailers, the problem has become an enormous burdon… shoplifting is a problem [for the retailers] that just won't go away." [44]

Other things that lead to the underexposure of shoplifting both criminologically and socially are the fact that companies historically have not liked to alienate the public or their own employees with excessive security. Also Klemke (1992) has noted [45], the tendency for criminologists to look at general trends in society as a whole instead of looking at particular crimes. Thus,

"Delinquency researchers, in particular, have established that most delinquents are involved in a wide variety of delinquent acts and rarely specialise in one type of delinquency. This tends to discourage researchers from focusing on a single type of deviance. As a result, unique insights that apply to particular types of deviance are
overlooked." [46]

Consequently, the changes in the global economy although they have impinged on Criminological theory generally have not impinged upon shoplifting analysis as far as I'm aware. This is a pity for as well as the reasons noted here, there have been important historical observations about shoplifting in the work of Henry Mayhew [47] , and also the infamous Jonathan Wild went to the gallows for his role in shoplifting. Not forgetting the many high profile celebrity shoplifters there are like Richard Madeley .[48]

There are several possible avenues to pursue when looking at how globalisation of capitalism has impinged on shoplifting, the European Economic Community (EEC) and in particular Britain. This also involves changes in the personnel of the shoplifter, the use of the shoplifted goods, the types and site of the goods production, and the retail of the shoplifted goods.

Do shoplifters follow the pronouncements of Naomi Klein in her bestseller "No Logo", and refuse to shoplift the big name brands like Nike and Reebok? Or do shoplifters pursue their trade without regard to the productive process and the inherent barbarity of the "Export Processing Zones"? (Klein, 2000)

Perhaps there are other fruitful avenues to pursue from economic life in the EEC. Whether it's the free movement of goods and people that began in 1992 when the barriers came down, or has the ease of transport and the channel tunnel affected shoplifters notions of suitable places to visit. It is well known that professionals of all illegal trades often like to operate outside their known areas, and this is bound to have had an impact in France.

Since the Calais region has become a famous destination for booze cruises the level of growth of stores and warehouses has been astonishing. Since I have been visiting Calais there has been a noticeable increase in store security. [49] Whether it is the checking of boxes in the Auchen, formerly known as the 'Mammoth' supermarket (a favourite destination of organised bus excursions from London), or the checking and sealing of bags before you enter the Carrefour at the Cite Europe shopping mall, specifically built near the Calais Eurotunnel site. This of course is where the large barbed wire fences now surround the railway to prevent the refugees boarding as the trains slow down.


E.P. Thompson described the popular protest of the bread riot, and it's self disciplined peoples' order. The similarities between this and contemporary events are all to clear. Whilst most of the participants are orderly,[50] there was on occasion activity that went beyond the respectable dignity that was used as long as it was effective. There are a variety of other actions for the common good outside of the 'set piece confrontations' of the bread riot. Describing the 'Wiltshire Outrages' of 1802 Randall shows that people responded to the technological innovation brought on by the industrial revolution and economic liberalism (Rule, P. 365) in a sophisticated manner. They targeted the Gig Mills that reduced the amount of labour the shearmen and boys had to do quite dramatically, to one quarter of the previous amount that obviously would have resulted in widespread unemployment.

"the general purpose of the shearman's actions embraced a pre-emptive move against frames as well as a protest against the use of gig mills. As was to be the case in the Luddite districts, protest took 'legitimate' trade union forms and involved petitioning of parliament as well as intimidation and attacks on machinery and other forms of property. The use of threatening letters was an integral part of the deterrent intent of the shearm[51]en."

There appears to be many similarities between the examples of direct action in the face of liberalism and neo-liberalism. The same issues also come to the fore. Of crucial importance is the role of violence and the distinction between the respectable/unrespectable, non-deserving and deserving poor, deserving protester and non-deserving. The NGOs, U2s' Bono and Sir Bob Geldorf all try to portray the

Social Movement (GSM) as being composed of the vast majority of reasonable people for whom violence is alien, and de facto accept the respectability/unrespectability divide that this assumes. Of course for the movement itself, both of Luddism and the rest of the working class movement in history and today where Michael Hardt [52] says the leadership of the NGOs and some political groups maybe loudest in pleading their benign and just protest; but the people on the streets don't accept these distinctions. It is also seen as a method of divide and rule by activists, who say that in practice these binary polarities don't exist. Pointing out that supposed pacifists in Genoa attacked the black bloc with sticks, whilst in Seattle the peace police assaulted the Black Bloc as they guarded Nike Town for capitalists and the police.

As part of a political strategy that wanted to show the ultimately reasonable nature of the cause of working people, the Hammonds had an imperative to

"push violence to the periphery of trade union history. They were unable to place a movement like Luddism, in which violence was central, into their conception of the long-term evolution of the labour movement. It had to be explained away by insisting that the persons who broke the machines were apart from the "consitutionalists" who concentrated on seeking a parliamentary redress. At the same time, anxious to deny any revolutionary input into the British Labour movement, they were at pains to stamp on any suggestion that Luddism could have been to a significant degree a manifestation of an underground revolutionary movement." [53]

E.P. Thompson also ridiculed the lengths to which the Hammonds discounted the place of a popular direct action tradition, violence and a revolutionary tradition in the Labour movement (Thompson, 1968 , P627-637) Other authors like Henry Pelling were also at pains to play down suggestions that people 'believe in the armalite and the ballot box'. The Vicar of Seaford may have been partially right when he suggests

"Agricultural Trade Unions meet at a public house in this place... The ostensible motive for the union is the mutual relief when the members (or Brothers as they term them) are out of work - but their real intention as I know but cannot legally prove it, is intimidation, and they have agreed as soon as they are strong enough to strike simultaneously throughout the country; if possible in harvest - threats are also uttered among them of setting fire to the corn..." [54]

The actions described point to a living movement that doesn't discount 'any means necessary' for it's cause, including the assination of a Mill owner who wanted to ride up to his 'saddle girths' in Luddite blood by Luddites. Todays' movement does not hold a pure legalistic viewpoint of legitimacy, with all the Mayday protests in Britain that eminate from anarchist sources being technically (by law) illegal. There are many pacifist activities that have broken the law in their persuit of justice, so it is not the law that is the font of respectability. It's the definitions that the corporate media and the police attaches to actions that form the contested arena of un/respectability.

Rule comments "Randall is right to stress that they were part of the tactics of a well organised, strongly unionised group of skilled workers engaged in a conscious pre-emptive action. Effectively they succeeded in postponing the widespread introduction of the machinery for around twenty years". There have been actions against neo-liberalism and capitalist globalisation around the world (Walton and Seddon, Klein) for over a decade, and there were actions against the decimation of industry in Europe and America for some decades before that. With the demonstrations against the world capitalist control and command institutions over the past few years we can see a similar political outlook being forged and the various actions in different political situations are seen to be part of common strategy.

Anarchic Protest and the British Marxist Historians

"on swill and grains you wish the poor to be fed
And underneath the Guillotine we could wish to see your heads
For i think it is a great shame to serve the poor so -
And i think a few of you heads will make a pretty show"

Anonymous threat made to local food magnates, Malden, 1800. In "Albion's Fatal Tree", P. 338.

In discussing the BMH attitude towards protest and social movements we would do well to consider E.P Thompsons treatment of "Popular Action". For my purposes I am going to talk about actions that have given the current wave of protest its' dynamism. Examples of this new wave of anarchic protesters are the Black Bloc and the Wombles. There are certain late entrants to the anti capitalist movement who say that the Black Bloc isn't involved in struggles to build socialism, "as a substitute for mass mobilization"[55] . In fact this is a new interpretation of the old and reactionary critique aimed at anarchists, 'that anarchists are adventurists', "the anarchist Black Bloc, whose pursuit of violent confrontation with the state… [is] the idea of exemplary action on behalf of the masses" [56] . This is also hypocrisy on behalf of Callinicos who is in an hierarchical organization, the Socialist Workers Party, whose party functions on an elitist leadership imperative. It serves functions for Callinicos as well as being a blatent slander as to the political beliefs and motives of anarchists engaged in the Black Bloc. Function one is to gloss over the reality which is difficult for hierarchical organizations to understand, namely that there exists a number of working class people who think that the way forward entails violent confrontation with the state, and they note

"Without violent confrontation with the forces of the state the working class will never break through the deadly, stultifying condition which enmeshes it today. The class becomes decadent without class violence. Without a willingness to confront and attack physically the state, authority and institutions will continue to flourish." [57]

Many British Black Bloc participants were schooled in the Class War, and in the aims and principles of Class War it says

"Real change can only come about by working class people organizing themselves to deal with the problems that they experience and to provide for ourselves. Direct Action is necessary against the individuals and institutions who stand in the way of this. There is no alternative. Violence is a necessary part of the class war - not as elitist terrorists but as an integrated part of the class". [58] [

So the anonymity that Black hoods and white overalls gives provides the best medium for the permanently felt need by the same and different people to demonstrate proactively rather than passively. The action thus being peoples preferred method of participating and demonstrating fully integrated into the class, by the many and varied campaigning and routine trade union work that Black Bloc people do in their daily lives outside the 'glory events'. You could apply this further and show that there are many other anarchist inspired actions happening, for example the well publicized pieing of prominent people like Bill Gates or Wombles actions in London at Nike Town, at the Italian Embassy or the Labour Party conference, and on Mayday that this applies to as well.

Thompsons first characteristic of popular action is that of the anonymous tradition discussed in "Customs in Common"and "Albions Fatal Tree", Chapter 6.

"the anonymous threat... is often found in a society of total clientage and dependency, on the other side of simulated deference. It is exactly in a rural society, where any open, identified resistance to ruling power may result in immediate retaliation - loss of home, employment, tenancy, if not victimization at law - that one tends to find the acts of darkness: the anonymous letter, arson of the stack or outhouse, houghing of cattle, the shot or brick through the window, the gate off its hinges, the orchard felled, the fishpond sluices opened at night. The same man touches his forelock to the squire by day - and who goes down to history as an example of deference - may kill his sheep, snare his peasants or poisen his dogs at night." [59]

The Black Bloc is composed of anonymous people whose very presence is threatening to the authorities, as shown by the recent legislation against face masks in Britain and the response to these sections of the crowd on actions in Europe and Seattle. Given that the media has carried out several high profile exposes of individuals, protesting openly carries risks. These people have been found by journalists themselves, and some by the (secret) police who have circulated dossiers of protesters to the media. There have been threats as well in the aftermath of the J18 that people could be sued in the courts for business to recover its' losses. Added to the ritualistic publishing of peoples photographs in national newspapers and on TV via the news and programmes like Crimewatch. Then it is clear than anyone who challenges the legitimacy of capitalist property rights and the rule of law can expect victimisation. Hence the growth of anonymous protest in an age of widespread deference by those who feel they must tow the line to save their job in risk society with a huge fear of unemployment. This is coupled with an intolerance of protest and protesters by the media and the police. So not unlike the Waltham Blacks who provoked the Black Acts by Blackening their faces when in action, we have the criminalisation of mask wearing in todays society.

The second component of popular action is what Thompson calls the "countertheatre of the poor… the plebs asserted their presence by a theatre of threat and sedition" [60] involving subtle demonstrations, satirical even, of which the meaning was difficult to assertain by the uneducated onlooker, who could not miss the occasions when displays were meant to be menacing. All these features can be found in the recent demonstrations, whether it's the pink block which sometimes acts as a cover for militant activity or the use of the huge skirt which covered drilling equipment on the M40 during the Reclaim the Streets action in 1997. The Reclaim the Streets tactics have rapidly been globalised and have being responsible for J18 have been part of Peoples Global Action from its beginnings. Thompsons' third component is the crowds "capacity for swift direct action… its own art of the possible. Its successes must be immediate, or not at all." [61] This can be seen on the RTS influenced J18 'stop the city' action where the crowd seized the opportunities it had, amongst them was the raid on the Liffe building (Futures stock market).

There are many things to be said for the emerging 'summit hopping' tradition that dates back in Britain to the G8 in Birmingham in May 1998. When talking to participants from Seattle in '99, Prague '00, Genoa '01 and the Peoples Global Action forum in Milan in 2001 the media seems overly concerned with the class composition of the protesters rather than the protesters themselves. Perhaps this dates back to the riots in 1981 where the Daily Mail 'found' 2 people who toured the country instigating and paying for the spread of rioting around the country? The media have to explain away protest in a reactionary manner, unless they approve of it like the applause for the Countryside Alliance. There has been right wing criticism of left wing and anarchist activity since the 1980's when police waved £10 notes at striking miners. It took other forms like the well known refrain "Get a job", or abuse from newspapers like the Daily Star calling travellers "Scum", telling them to get a job and a bath, and other assorted nonsense.

For people in the Globalised Social Movement (GSM) these accusations are totally untrue as many of them have jobs, even though many are also students often they have to supplement their loans with employment as well. For a militant section of the GSM however they make the most of the money they do have by substituting free goods and services and put the money saved towards political work. Like the well known use and abuse of public transport and facilities (service stations) by football hooligans but different in significant ways ie rather than the proceeds and enjoyment camaraderie creates being aimed at supporting their team or purely for individualistic purposes the activity is seen as having communistic and anarchistic purposes supporting the collectivity via shared goods and recollections. This can be described as substituting a loss of money that creates capitalist profit for free goods for use value. Often this means toiletries, transport, clothes and food are "liberated" [to use a term from my informants] and then turned into goods and services useful for 'communism' &/or 'anarchism'.

Taking this further my research revealed a conscious design by participants. They knew they were globalised shoplifters on tour, from Milan to Prague and beyond. Perhaps this is an embodiment of the globalised multitude Negri and Hardt (2001) mention, an oppositional globalisation against the globalised corporate world described by Naomi Klein (2000) The new shopping malls described by Klein selling the brands made by deregulated productions chains can be found in many cities, and if you can shoplift in the belly of the beast (London, J18, '99, Frankfurt International Airport, and more) you can shoplift anywhere for the skills are transferable. The technology used to protect goods in the shops of the global city is some of the leading examples of its type, however once it is removed from the item (whether it damages it or not) there is nothing to prevent the shoplifters imitating the routine shopping behaviour of placing goods in a bag and leaving the store.

Other techniques that can be described as 'hand' and 'disguise' skills are also transferable to global cities around the world. 'Hand' skills can refer to the placing of goods up sleeves, in pockets, in hats, in such a way that the process uses shop fixtures or the shoplifters body itself, or an accomplice to prevent it being witnessed by cameras, store personnel or other shoppers who maybe plain clothes store detectives. Of course this process doesn't apply to hidden cameras but a large part of the cameras and store detective function is to deter people from shoplifting by disciplining their hopes and dreams, rather than to catch the skilled shoplifters who are not deterred by security staff or technology. This is not to say that the GSM is composed totally of skilled shoplifters, of course the real range is from the non-shoplifters to the professional shoplifter as I've tried to indicate. It is impossible to come to definitive positions about the quantity of the relative category's personnel as for a myriad of reasons it is impossible to tell the strength of the GSM anyway. All I can do is describe the way the GSM manifests itself from participation and observation.

'Disguise' skills refers to the ways shoplifters massage the way the viewer interprets what the shoplifter is doing, and so masks the criminality (according to a legalistic perspective) of what they are doing. This can range from simply not overtly challenging capitalist money-exchange relations by buying something at the same time as shoplifting, so there is a legitimate reason to be at the scene of the 'crime'. To assuming the role of the shopper by creating doubt in the mind of anybody watching eg by being pleasant to shopworkers. For if shoplifters merely picked up goods and blatantly walked out of the store each time the prisons would be more full than they are today as this would be obvious for the store detectives, although sometimes confident people smartly dressed can carry out this blatant type of shoplifting successfully.

Good 2 B Bad

"I shoplifted the "Fortune" world top 500 companies. I did this by stealing a copy of Fortune that had the special supplement in it about the world top 500 companies, so I've not actually taken anything from all the top 500 companies, yet…. [laughing] They'll never stop us all." [62]

Shoplifters come in many varieties and a totally comprehensive typology of shoplifters would either be too simplistic so that you could confidently fit every possible person into the categories. For example, the professionals who would swop the price labels on expensive bottles of wine to a cheaper price before the introduction of 'swipe technology' made this impossible in some stores, although some stores still in the pre-information technology age still use sticky labels although they are increasingly hard to find. Or a sophisticated typology may fall foul of the law of the 'black swan' [something beyond the bounds of reasoning and that is totally unexpected] - because you can't possibly know about ALL shoplifters as they do not own up publicly and you cannot hope to meet all varieties of shoplifters using other methods anyway.

"The problem may stem from the paradox involved in the very 'ordinariness' of shoplifting. It is such a common offence and it is committed by so many people that no specific characteristic or pattern arises to make a typology of an all-encompassing classification of the offenders." [63]

I have mentioned elsewhere that shoplifters go for the small valuable items, firstly in order to make concealment easier and then also to maximise the money they can make or save on a product. Another dimension to this is that shoplifters have mentioned to me that they take what they regret paying for. So this means any goods they believe should be everybody's by right are legitimate targets. So whilst they wouldn't shoplift bleach they would shoplift nappies as they are expensive for the poor.

Given the difficulties and the widespread acknowledgement that nobody actually knows the extent nor seriousness of the losses to shoplifting, and neither is there any serious research about the widespread nature of the crime and shoplifters themselves. Then we are faced with the idea of the mass shoplifter whose disguise is that of everyday language and clothes, who escapes sociological classification due to their very abundance.

Counterfeit the Shoplifted

Hopefully I've provided some insight into patterns of behaviour and strategies, the social context, and sometimes the person's thinking and explanations for shoplifting behaviour. This is also justified by my estimation that there is not one estate or housing scheme in Britain that does not have its shoplifters.

At the same time I am aware that some of my material is from America, although this can be justified by the fact that it is the worlds most advanced consumer society and has a globalised economy. In part this was also forced upon me by the dearth of British shoplifting material. One example of this is the report by Lord Grabiner [64] that can talk about the informal economy without mentioning shoplifting at all. Apparently shoplifting doesn't exist (!) in the Governments view of the informal economy that is solely concerned with saving money via benefit fraud reduction.

In the real world the bazaar economy straddles the legitimate and illegitimate. For the socially included, excluded and those in between, the informal economic continuum includes shoplifting.

"Stolen goods are a major component of the ghetto economy. Subjects who engaged in shoplifting or other forms of theft seldom sold the goods they stole to professional fences. Most often, they sold the goods to other neighborhood residents directly." [65]

"Shoplifting is often a major component of the larger street culture of drugs, prostitution, and crime" [66]

For those criminalized by the law the chances of criminal success are heightened if they follow street fashion demand and shoplift an original Nike Football shirt or popular computer games like Lara Croft, and then counterfeit it. This is the next and ultimate development of the politics of "No Logo" - No trademark No Brand No Price! The liberalism in Naomi Kleins book then has been subjected to critical analysis, and the process of aufheben has taken place. This points towards communism as both the means and ends of superseding the branded society, as it is manifested in shoplifting networks of brand appropriation, and the more egalitarian social relationships found within. The relationships of price avoidance and the spreading of goods and services at rock bottom rates or in exchange for other goods, work or services will never be slogans for official communist parties.

However, the poor and other illicit entrepreneurs are promoting more communistic social relationships outside and against the imposition of capitalist and companies' laws or control. So the helplessness described in the philanthropic tradition and paraphrased as the 'sociology of misery' has been avoided and the analysis points towards self and community help as a means of individual and class valourization in a conception of the active amoral poor and not the

"virtuous poor, one can pity them, of course, but
one cannot possibly admire them." [67] (Emphasis added).

For how do you destroy the branded society most effectively? By destroying the value of the brand that lies in its exclusivity, materials and image. The process of shoplifting does this by making the goods widely available and creating a different image. By taking Gucci from Sloane street and Calvin Klein from New Bond Street both in the posh West End of London, and putting them on the streets of Toxteth, Handsworth, Hackney, Meadowell, Blackbird Leys, St. Pauls, Moss Side and Hendon (in Sunderland and London) there are different meanings in mass formation.

As Negri and Hardt in their counterblast to the existing liberalism within the anti globalisation movement mention the

"perpetual movement of the Wobblies [International Workers of the World, IWW] was indeed an immanent pilgrimage, creating a new society in the shell of the old"
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