How Rulership and Economics Impact the Globalization of Criminal Justice

black Image of scales on white background with the words, "calibrate the scales" overlaid. As with any set of scales, the scales of justice must, from time to time, be recalibrated. Total balance is never achieved, but all in the criminal justice and legal systems must strive for it as much as possible.

Each nation has different ruling and economic structures which impact criminal justice and the rule of law. These differences often result in civil strife and wars. These differences are largely ideological, but cause very real problems both within the nation and with neighbors. Because these ruling and economic systems play a role in law and criminal justice, they must be considered and studied by those who will guide globalization. These ruling and economic systems can be condensed into the following…

Systems of Rule Impact Global Criminal Justice

Since the dawn of civilization, humans have sought to create governments which will last. This has largely been a futile effort, though some systems of governance have met with considerable success. Some would say that the ancient Roman system of representative government had the greatest success, lasting as it did for nearly a millennium. Then too, the monarchal theocracy established by the Roman Catholic Church lasted hundreds of years as well. In China, the Zhou Dynasty, also a monarchy, lasted 850 years.

Others may measure the success of a government by the happiness of its people. In the modern age, that honor would largely belong to various Scandinavian countries. Another measure would be economic output (GDP), in which case China, the EU, and the USA would be tops in that order.

For those interested in justice, that is the measure of success for a government. How well a nation provides for the security and adheres to the standards of justice, however, is difficult to measure. In fact, there is no objective standard by which to measure the justice served by a nation. Can justice be measured by how tough a nation treats criminals? Then Russia may be the best example. Is it to be measured by how many criminals are caught and punished? Give the honor to the United States.

Can justice be measured by the absence of crime? If so, how does one account for differences in types of rule? For instance, a dictatorial nation may have little crime because the people fear the government? Yet, can they be said to be living in a just society? On the other end, crime rates may be high because a nation which boasts freedom and liberty makes laws so numerous that everyone will be guilty of something at some point. How is that measured?

Regardless, students of criminal justice and law must pay attention to the types of rule which exist in a nation and how this impacts the cause of justice. This is especially important as the world hinges on a globalized approach to crime.

Aristotle devised a theory which held there are three forms of rule with good and bad facets. This meant that humans may be subject to six types of governments. From him, we get the idea of Monarchy, Oligarchy, and Democracy. Yet, his concept failed to account for Anarchy and Theocracy, both of which are valid forms of rule impacting the cause of justice for humanity. Thus, the forms of rule may be more rightly expressed as:

  • Anarchy
  • Monarchy
  • Oligarchy
  • Democracy
  • Theocracy


Can justice exist in an anarchy? Anarchy means the absence of government. For those who believe that government is vital to the cause of justice, anarchy could never produce a righteous society. Those who believe in anarchy on the other hand would argue that it is government which corrupts justice – that justice is ONLY possible in a world without government. The two sides will likely never agree but two things are certain: Globalism is the antithesis of anarchy and a world without government is not likely to ever happen.


On a par, it has been said that monarchies have provided the most justice for people throughout history. Whether this is true or not, is a matter of debate. What is not to be debated is that whether called monarchy, tyranny, or dictatorship, kingship, or whatever, this form of rule is the rule by one, a king, queen, tyrant, dictator, emperor, or whatever title chosen.


Oligarchy is the rule by many. This may be a governing body, parliament, congress, politburo, corporation, whatever. If a group of people gather to decide, it is an oligarchy. The United States, though a form of democracy, is more akin to an oligarchy. The country is a Republic, which is a representative democracy. A body of people are elected to rule so that although an election by the citizens decides who will rule, the ultimate outcome is a body of 535 legislators decide the law, two elected officials serve as administrators, and nine appointed members serve as supreme judges of the land. An oligarchy.


There have been few successful democracies in the history of humans. Ancient Athens had a true democracy, which is sometimes called direct democracy (as opposed to representative democracy – see Oligarchy above). In Athens, the citizens met to discuss, debate, and directly vote on important decisions. Part of the reason the United States is a representative democracy is because getting people from hundreds of miles away to vote on a matter is impractical. Today, it would be even more impractical, though some have suggested that with the advent of the Internet, direct democracy is possible for the entire world, not just America. Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen, but given how inept and stagnant the U.S. Congress has become and the historically low approval ratings, anything is possible.


There has never been a true theocracy. Theocracy means “God Ruled,” and no almighty creator has ever ruled directly over humans with perhaps the exception of the brief period in the Garden of Eden. Some would claim that ancient Israel under the Kings was a Theocracy and perhaps they would be right. Some would then state that the Pope, as God’s representative on earth, is the head of a Theocracy. Then too, those in Islam would place an Imam or Ayatollah in that role. Regardless, any nation which accepts the rule of a stated representative of a deity may be said to be a theocracy.

Economic Systems Impact Global Criminal Justice

Economic systems pose some confusion for many. This should clarify the matter for most. First, it must be stated that justice does not occur in a vacuum. Criminal justice and law are very much affected by the economic system of a nation.

In the early days of American capitalism, workers were oppressed and underpaid. They fought back and out of their fights Trade Unions were born. Yet, these did not just happen. People fought and died to make Unions a reality because the U.S. Government supported the business barons. These fights were exactly what Carl Marx predicted would happen because of the oppressive nature of raw, unfettered capitalism.

Because capitalism was given a black eye by early, unscrupulous corporate heads, the term has been largely abandoned. Instead, the expression “Free Market Economy” is used. It is intended to replace the term capitalism and does better describe this form of economy, but those who define and describe the terms fail to do it justice.

To this end and for the goal of making application of economic systems to the goals of crime control and justice in the world, we make a slight change to the usual terms used. Again, for the sake of simplicity and finding common ground upon which to build global criminal justice systems, perhaps the better terms to describe economics are:

  • Free-Market Systems (Capitalism)
  • Partially-Controlled Market Systems

Ø  Government Control (National Socialism)

Ø  Corporate Control (Plutocracy)

  • Fully-Controlled Market Systems

Ø  Government Control (Communism)

Ø  Corporate Control (Fascism)

Following is a brief explanation of each Economic System.

Free Market Systems (Capitalism)

At one time, capitalism meant no government control over the markets, the means of production, or the workers. In that era, there were no worker protections such as social security, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, family leave, and others commonly provided in many nations today. Instead, a worker who was injured on the job had to fend for himself. If fired from a job, he had better find work soon or go without. Job conditions were often terrible. If a job involved inhaling smoke and dust, there were no respirators. If the job involved climbing to heights, there were no safety harnesses. Many jobs were very dangerous. Deadly.

That is the nature of a truly capitalist economy. Today called Free Market Economics, such an economic system is more like an anarchy than a democracy. Free Market Economics is the libertarian form of economics – the absence of government controls.

Today, however, the United States and China both boast Free Market Economics, but really, neither can properly be said to be such. Instead, most countries that claim Capitalism or Free Market Economies are instead partially controlled by the government. Because of this, they are more rightly called socialist economies.

Partially-Controlled Market Systems Under Government Control (Socialism)

Socialism got a bad name largely because of the NAZI’s and the Soviet Union. During the McCarthy era in America, the Cold War attitudes prevented people from allowing anything remotely like Communism from entering polite discussion. Socialism was improperly equated with Communism and Communism was improperly equated with dictatorship and oppression. Socialism was often pitted against Democracy. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.

Socialism and Communism describe economic systems. Democracy and dictatorship describe systems of rule. Thus, anyone who attempts to compare socialism to democracy is either guilty of ignorance or intentional deception. The two do not compare.

Socialism simply describes an economic system in which the government exercises some control. It is not more complicated than that. But by that definition, the United States has had a socialist economy from its beginning – the U.S. Constitution expresses numerous controls over the economy of the nation. In other words, the United States could be better called a Socialist Republic.

Note that some countries in Europe are given the term Democratic Socialism. However, because they do not exercise Democracy by definition, but instead representative democracy, they are also Socialist Republics.

Partially-Controlled Market Systems Under Corporate Control (Plutocracy)

When partially-controlled economies fall under corporate or business control, the generally accepted term is plutocracy. The term simply means “government by the wealthy,” with “pluto” meaning “wealth.”  The term generally dates to 16th Century Greece when the wealthy class emerged to rule the land.

Since that time, many modern writers have started to claim that the United States and many of the Western Nations are plutocracies. At its root, plutocracy appears to describe a form of rule yet this is not entirely correct.

If we assume that the United States is a plutocracy and it is a form of rule, then the Congress, the Presidency, and Supreme Court have no power. Sure, these may be bought by powerful business interests, but the business interests would have to yield direct (not indirect) power for the nation to be a plutocracy in the sense of rulership.

Instead, it can more rightly be claimed that plutocracy refers more to the economic system in place. In the United States and many Western Nations, Central Banks control monetary policy and regulate currencies. In the U.S., the private banking organization the Federal Reserve does so. Certainly, this control over the economy when combined with powerful corporate purchasing of elected officials constitutes a plutocracy. It does not, however, negate the Representative Democratic process. Instead, it acts as the economic system in place.

But this economic structure is not absolute. In the United States, the citizens are permitted to own property including private and public businesses. So, the control over the market by powerful, wealthy business persons is partial. It is a form of socialism which can be best described as a plutocracy.

Fully-Controlled Market Systems Under Government Control (Communism)

Another form of socialism is communism. In a communist economy, the government fully controls the means of production, the ownership of property, and the results of production. Everything is owned jointly by the people collectively. Thus, a democracy or even a representative democracy (Republic) can have a communist form of economy.

In fact, the USSR meant just that – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Soviet Union was a Republic. The people were represented by officials from each district and these representatives formed the ruling class of the government. The economy was a communism.

In the ideal communism, everyone shared equally in the growth and spoils of the economy. Sadly, that ideal has been seldom applied. Perhaps the nation which came closest to this ideal was Cuba, but its economy is very limited so the people suffer as equally as they could prosper.

Fully-Controlled Market Systems Under Corporate Control (Fascism)

The last form of economy is also a form of socialism but in this case, the total control over economic output and production – including property ownership – is in the hands of the wealthy class. Like a plutocracy in that the wealthy class control the economy, in a Fascist state the wealthy also directly make the laws which rule the land.

Perhaps the closest to a fascist state in the world today is North Korea. The state owns nearly all property, though the People’s Army, the Workers’ Party, and cabinet members own quasi-private companies from which they are enriched.

Rulership and Economics Impact the Globalization of Criminal Justice

Students of criminal justice and law around the world must remember that no policy is created in a vacuum. The policies of one nation impact the policies of another. When one country inflates their currency, another adjusts theirs. When one country goes to war with a neighbor, others must deal with the refugee crisis. When one country allows drug dealers free reign in their lands, another must combat the cost of addiction. When one country fails to meet the needs of its people, others will see increases in immigration from that land. When one country harbors terrorists, others have a more difficult time protecting their people.

In finding ways to combat the many criminal organizations around the world to protect their own lands, each nation must find ways to get the assistance of other nations. This is not easy because of how many potential combinations of ruling and economic systems at play. Add to this the differences in cultural values and attitudes, the various legal structures which come into play, and other elements which cause division and the job of finding common ground becomes even more difficult.

Yet, by simplifying governance, economics, and the rule of law into the simplest of terms, common ground may be found. If the nations of the world can do this, then the globalization of criminal justice and the laws which support the cause of justice is possible.