The Concatenator

Punishing criminal behaviour

How do we punish bad behaviour? That is, the kind of behaviour we do not tolerate in a certain society? The Concatenator describes the process of societal development, which can be broken down into 3 phases. We point them out briefly, a more comprehensive description can be found in the book.

Phase 1 is the natural phase and is marked by our close relationship to nature, and the group that we are part of is led by a fearsome leader, a dictator. Differences between group members are often resolved in a physical way, and so punishment of bad behaviour is a direct hit to the human body, via torture or even death e.g. decapitation. Phase 2 is the phase of the social society. Here we find a social system with rights and obligations laid down in a constitutional law. Most of the time this coincides with a democratic system and all individuals -in the most optimal situation- are treated equally. An important aspect is personal freedom, so the punishment is accordingly. No more mutilation of the body, but locked up in a prison cell, the individual gets robbed from his freedom. Phase 3 is the phase of communication. In the former 2 phases the differences between people have become minimal, everyone has proper housing, healthcare, etc. in phase 3. Now, creative freedom, expression and communicating about your ideas are the important aspects.

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One could make the presumption that the degree of societal development can be measured by the way punishment is imposed. A modern, industrialised country like The United States of America is mostly allocated in phase 2 of it's development. But in some states the death penalty is still applicable, a sentence belonging to phase 1. In Norway (also a phase 2 country) they've taken a different approach, instead they try to resocialise the criminal. On a remote island criminals are working together in some sort of community service, the guards don't carry any weapons. Clearly there are several ways as to how we punish criminal behaviour. In phase 1 it is more physical, in phase 2 it tends to be more social. In phase 2 there is more room for reflection: what kind of person do we want to welcome back in our society when the punishment ends? What could be the punishment for someone in phase 3 of social development, in the communicative phase? It is simple, by then the technocratic society is in place, so by blocking the personal digital file, access to the bank account, healthcare, etc. is denied. Without communication, life will be impossible.


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