The oppression by the ruling class
Do you believe that the ruling class unfairly passes laws that favorable to themselves and detrimental to the rest of us? If so what can we do about it?
Yes. Before the question is answered, one must broadly understand what law and justice entail. The definition of law is essential in understanding what demands. However, its explanation alone does not elaborate on its social construction. The most widely accepted definition of law is that law is a written body of rules and regulations that arises from the governing body and is enforced by its agents who prescribe punishments when the rules are broken. The definition conforms to Plato’s understanding of the law who believed that the law must be enforced by an all-powerful state (Law, 2015). Law has existed from ancient times; the only problem was that it was unwritten but even in this primitive societies people followed the rules. Law serves to administer justice in the community. The only question is whether the laws perform their duty.
A long time ago, societies were small. Consequently, the social connections were tight with a limited division of labor and with limited individual differences. The persons thought in the same manner and this bred a sense of collective consciousness, a concept known as mechanical solidarity. During the industrial revolution, the jobs evolved and it became clear that division of labor was the way to go. The social relations weakened or rather became temporary to achieve particular goals, a concept known as organic solidarity. It became apparent that some individuals controlled the resources available in society and thus began to rule over the poor (Swedberg, 2018). It is important to note that the ruling class has always been among the richest in society.
The ruling class always enacts rules that favor them. The most surprising aspect is that the oppressed perceive that the laws passed are legitimate, a concept known as false consciousness. The ruling class control resources to key institutions such as the media, education, church, and the law itself. Hence, the rich do not hesitate to direct the passing of legislation that favors them. For example, before the American Revolution, the colonists passed laws that dictated the possession of slaves (Peffer, 2014). The laws permitted them to oppress the slaves and granted them sovereignty over their lives with little to no protest from those in society. Such scenarios provide instances where scholars ask if the laws provided justice. The answer is no. Justice occurs when the meek, the weak, the poor, and the vulnerable are given access to the same privileges as the wealthy ruling class. The world is nowhere near achieving justice and persons around the world keep pushing for it. Previous laws limiting the administration of justice have been amended. For example, women are now allowed to vote, the rich now pay taxes that march their large profits, and slavery was banned.
However, for many people, justice exists in their imagination and has not been fully realized. The justice system is biased and designed to favor the richest and the ruling class. Take, for example, the media scrutiny that comes when a rich person is under investigation. Deep within, people believe that the laws may favor the rich hence the intense speculations that follow. The law permits all persons to hire an attorney which is right, yet the most powerful people get the best ones who can sway the judges for lesser penalties or none at all. This then begs the question if justice was administered for them because for the same crimes the weak get heavier punishments.
The social conflict theory by Marx and Engels views financial crime as a function of the conflict that exists in society (Tucker, 2017). The theory postulates that class conflicts produce crimes and, therefore, the rich and powerful create rules to protect their rights, privileges, and interests. For example, the embezzlement of funds by an employee is a violation of law which protects the interests of the employer. According to the social conflict theory, one may argue that if institutions create powerful impenetrable systems such laws would not exist. Consequently, financial laws are formed to protect the interests of the influential, rich people. According to the social conflict theory, law enforcement agencies are compelled by the predominant social class to protect their interests (Swedberg, 2018). The wealthy are allowed to take junks of money from their institutions to build executive homes as long as they do not tamper with the wealth of their shareholders. Top executives are awarded huge salaries that are several times the salaries of the lowest-earning employee. Surprisingly, there are no provisions to regulate bizarre practices, yet the rich rush to push for laws to protect their property.
Marx divided society into two classes the ruler and the ruled. The more someone has access to the unequal, inaccessible resources the more power such individuals possess. Marx postulated this as the ideal capitalist nation (Swedberg, 2017). The conflict theorists are convinced that social inequality is due to the differences in wealth, status, ideas, and religious beliefs. The laws enforced tend to target certain classes instead of individuals. There are ways to mitigate these social injustices. For example, the government should be given more power to oversee even the rich. The state should encourage and respect the rule of law. Another method is to enact laws that even the weakest in the society can relate to hence, create a sense of equity.
Law, J. (Ed.). (2015). A dictionary of law. OUP Oxford.
Peffer, R. G. (2014). Marxism, morality, and social justice. Princeton University Press.
Swedberg, R. (2018). Max Weber and the idea of economic sociology. Princeton University Press.
Tucker, R. C. (2017). Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx. Routledge.