What is criminal counterculture?
The criminalization of Russian society consists, first of all, in the widespread dissemination of criminal counterculture. As you know, in almost all countries of the world and in all historical periods, professional criminals had their own “counterculture,” which refers to the special jargon of the underworld, tattoos, specific song and narrative folklore, and above all, a special worldview and worldview. The professional criminal world has always been closed to ordinary people, which created an aura of mystery and romance around it. Rejected by official culture, the counterculture of the criminal world, however, is attractive to some sections of society. First of all, for young people from the social lower classes, who are extremely likely to associate their life path with the criminal world. Under the influence of the criminal counterculture there is a huge layer of lower social strata - those who are usually defined in sociology as lumpenized strata of the population. Russian scientist I.M. Matskevich, considering the phenomenon of the criminal subculture (he uses the concept of “subculture” for the “culture” of the criminal world), emphasizes that “the criminal subculture is not something special, as it sometimes seems. There is crime in any society, and everywhere it has its own subculture . The criminal subculture absorbs the fruits of the culture of society and, parasitizing on this society, also parasitizes on culture, being its antipode, and not a continuation ”(Matskevich IM Criminal subculture //" Russian Law on the Internet. "No. 1, 2005).
Perhaps, every country in the world has its own criminal counterculture, and representatives of professional crime have special ideological attitudes, lead a specific way of life, and often even outwardly differ from the majority of citizens. However, in the Soviet Union and, then, in the post-Soviet states - Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia, etc., the criminal world has reached real “heights”, having managed to integrate its ideology into a “big society”. It was in the Soviet Union that both the unique criminal hierarchy formed in the places of deprivation of liberty, the specific code of conduct - “concepts”, and the nature of the relationship between the subjects involved in criminal activities and interacting with the professional criminal world formed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the ideology of the criminal world from the walls of prisons and colonies, special vocational schools and special schools, disadvantaged areas of Soviet cities and townships stepped into the “big world”, managing to occupy significant positions in the cultural sphere of Russian society freed from the domination of the communist ideology. At one time, a wonderful Russian director and actor Stanislav Govorukhin published the book The Great Criminal Revolution in Russia. Although more than twenty years have passed since that time, the truth of Govorukhin’s words becomes more and more obvious every year. The generation of “bandits of the dashing nineties” was partly knocked out in disassembly, partly died from vices and diseases accompanying the criminal way of life, some turned into respectable businessmen or just ordinary people, just behind a bottle of alcohol recalling the “combat past”. But the vector of education of young people, which was formed in the Soviet era and reached, despite the numerous mistakes in youth policy, of certain heights, precisely in the 1990-s. and was lost. More precisely - the state itself abandoned the centralized youth policy, abandoned the "social sphere", without offering the population anything in return. For a guy from a working-class neighborhood, from a depressed settlement around an idle mine, the criminal route in the 1990s was viewed as the only possibility of a radical and rapid improvement in their own well-being. And simply - self-realization, salvation from total boredom. In modern Russia, organized crime has already acquired other forms, but the criminal ideology that was popularized in the 1990-s continues to influence young people.
From imperial Russia to democratic Russia
Perhaps the first who seriously became interested in the counterculture of the criminal world and drew attention to it, in Russia were writers. Yes, it was the classics of Russian literature that, at the end of the 19th century, turned to the study of the way of life and worldview of prisoners in numerous prisons and penal servitude in pre-revolutionary Russia. Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky left the famous "Notes from the Dead House", in which he talks about how he was serving a prison sentence in Omsk prison, and then - on hard labor. The life style and worldview of the criminal world of pre-revolutionary Russia is even more expanded, using the example of the social strata of Moscow, was portrayed by an excellent journalist and Moscow historian Vladimir Alekseevich Gilyarovsky. Gilyarovsky, who worked as a correspondent and moderator, including a criminal chronicle, was once a connoisseur of Moscow slums, about whom he left his famous works, which even today, after more than a hundred years, are read in one breath.
However, judging by the descriptions, despite certain similarities, the criminal world of pre-revolutionary Russia was still very different from the modern - and rather not in practical, but precisely in the ideological plane. Therefore, it would be correct to assume that the modern criminal counterculture in the form in which it exists in Russia was formed in the Soviet Union. It was in the Soviet camps that the final design of the "concepts" of the prison hierarchy took place. Later, from the camps, by means of freeing criminals and people who were in close contact with people who happened to be in prison, the criminal counterculture spread “in the wild”, and not only and not so much among professional criminals. As for young people, the spread of criminal counterculture among young people and adolescents was the result of, first of all, contacts with those young people and adolescents who had experience of imprisonment or long-term stay in a closed security institution. As stressed by ON. Fomenko, the proliferation of criminal counterculture contributed to the joint content of a large number of juvenile criminals and offenders in educational colonies, special schools and special vocational schools, receivers - distributors, remand prisons (Fomenko ON. Subculture of juvenile criminals // Modern scientific research and innovation. May, 2011.) .
In the Soviet Union, the topic of the existence of criminal counterculture was tabooed in publications designed for a wide circle of readers. In a socialist society, according to the official line of the party and the Komsomol, there could be no criminal countercultures. Of course, information about the prison hierarchy, "concepts", folklore was studied and analyzed, but only in the specialized literature - manuals for use by employees of the internal affairs bodies and prosecutors, textbooks for professional educational institutions of the system of internal affairs, reports of specialized conferences. Only after the beginning of “perestroika”, were the bans on information about the criminal counterculture gradually lifted. However, the lifting of the prohibitions also played a negative role in something. The “yellow press” of the end of 1980-s - the beginning of 1990-s, clinging to the topic of the criminal world as previously tabooed and therefore very popular with the Russian reader, began the actual romanticization of the criminal world. It was during this period that films about the criminal world entered the popular culture of the country, music in the style of “Russian chanson” acquired national love, which in reality is (for the most part) popularized and rather primitive prison lyrics. But for criminologists, sociologists, psychologists and other specialists studying the criminal counterculture, the abolition of ideological taboos was an excellent help, as it allowed to get unhindered access to the works of Western scientists who studied similar phenomena in their countries.
Sociologists studying the specifics of the formation and popularization of the criminal counterculture, it was found that it lies in the characteristics of the criminal behavior of its carriers. The latter primarily include prisoners of places of deprivation of liberty, former prisoners, persons professionally engaged in criminal activities, as well as the circle of persons on which prisoners, former prisoners and professional criminals influence, contributing to the formation of a special system of values and behaviors. In fact, for many people, the criminal counterculture turns into a way of knowing the surrounding reality. With the help of the criminal counterculture, representatives of disadvantaged groups of the population form their own ideas about bad and good, about desirable and undesirable actions, trying to acquire a life philosophy and a life strategy. Assimilating the criminal counterculture, her newly minted adept sooner or later inclines to the recognition of acceptability for himself and for other criminal behavior. However, we must pay tribute, in modern Russia, under the influence of criminal counterculture, because of its enormous spread in society, there is an impressive circle of people who have never had anything to do with criminal activities, who have not served their sentences in prison. The paradox is that, despite their law-abiding, these people in the worldview are influenced by the criminal counterculture. Informal rules - “concepts” - for them even prevail over the laws of the state, and the leaders of the criminal environment can be viewed as authorities or, at least, as those people whose opinion should be listened to. Under the ideological influence of the criminal world today there is a huge part of the Russian youth and representatives of older generations (people of 30-45 years, whose young years fell into the era of the "nineties" with their inherent criminalization of consciousness and behavior). First of all, these are working youth from the provinces, in a word, those who are often called the word "Gopnik".
Youth - the object of influence of crime
It is young people in the modern world who become most susceptible to the influence of the criminal world, and there are reasons for this that are characteristic not only of Russia, but also of many other societies. The specificity of social life in the modern world, especially in a large city or megalopolis, with its glaring social inequality, obvious differences between the ethnic groups of the city’s ethno-confessional and social communities, psychological and ecological discomfort, create favorable conditions for the spread of all sorts of negative behaviors - from alcoholism and drug addiction before the spread of youth crime. Criminal counterculture is becoming a life landmark for young residents of cities and large cities. In Russia, rather small cities are subject to criminalization, especially the former industrial mono-cities, in which, after the closure of the main city-forming enterprises or a significant reduction in the scale of their work, a real vacuum has emerged in the field of employment and vocational training for young people. The most active part of the youth leaves such settlements, in search of a better life, moving to megacities. Less self-motivated young people remain, whom lack of money and idleness, as well as pernicious alcohol and drug addictions, lead them to take the criminal path. On the other hand, in small towns the control of law enforcement agencies is weaker, the level of communication between people, especially young people, is higher, so that the norms and values of the criminal counterculture quickly spread to the youth environment, and their generators and translators gain authority among young people and adolescents become a kind of "spiritual mentors" of the latter. It's hard not to agree with K.A. Radovitsky, who sees in the criminal counterculture "danger in the sense that it affects, as already noted, the general population and characterizes a certain level of development of society, expressed in the devaluation of legal and moral values (serving the interests of the underworld, the criminal subculture inevitably enters in contradiction with generally accepted cultural values), criminogenic forms of organization of its life and the relationship of its members. A characteristic feature of such a subculture is the active and ubiquitous cultivation in the public consciousness of patterns and norms of behavior of the criminal environment, the imposition of elements of criminal creation, the propaganda of the ways of solving problems and clarifying relationships characteristic of this subculture ” Criminal subculture in modern Russian society //). The criminal counterculture is based on the criminal behavior of an individual. Edwin Sutherland considered it as a result of social disorganization of society, since the scientist believed that people’s tendency to crime was not determined by the genetic and biological characteristics of a particular person, but by the social reality in which the person lives and functions.
Migration and criminalization - two sides of the same coin?
The pioneers of studying the criminal counterculture in its youth version became, of course, American sociologists. After all, the United States of America due to the specifics of its socio-economic and socio-cultural development, before other states faced the phenomenon of youth organized crime. The first half of the twentieth century was the heyday of youth and teenage gangs that operated in major American cities and were formed primarily on the basis of the ethnicity of their members. As a “land of migrants,” the United States became a new home for many millions of Italians and Jews, Irish and Chinese, Latin Americans and Poles. At the same time, among the English-speaking American population, there have been historically serious contradictions on racial grounds — African Americans, up to the present, are the most criminalized and explosive layer of the population of the United States of America, making up the majority of American prisoners. The areas of compact residence of African Americans, as well as representatives of a number of migrant groups of the population, have historically been considered the most dangerous for outsiders in American cities. In the twentieth and, especially, the XXI centuries. The problem of youth ethnic crime faced many countries of Western Europe, and then Russia. The growth of migration processes in the modern world has led to the emergence of impressive foreign ethnic and foreign cultural diasporas, whose representatives, especially young people, being brought up in a slightly different system of coordinates, can show aggressive and even criminal behavior in receiving countries.
The criminality of young migrants or children of migrants is a consequence of their cultural differences from the population of the receiving society, and the result of marginal social affiliation, and a kind of “preemptive” response to possible discrimination by the indigenous population. In any case, both Russia and the Western world today face a very serious problem that threatens both public order and the national security of states. Young migrants are very plastic and pliable for ideological impact social material. Moreover, the criminalization of the migrant environment is far from the only danger for host countries. Given the events of recent years in the Middle East, the spread of religious extremist sentiment among young migrants is becoming a serious threat. By the way, it was the young children of migrants who became the basis of that stream of “volunteers”, which is sent from European countries to participate in hostilities in the Middle East - on the side of the “Islamic state”. Extremists show aggressive behavior on the territory of European states themselves. Thus, the brutal murder of a British soldier by two Afro-British who belonged to one of the radical fundamentalist organizations is widely known. Even more famous was the massacre of employees of the French comic magazine, also committed by French citizens of North African origin. Street robberies, thefts, riots, fights are a much more common example of the "daily activities" of youth groups that dilute traditional criminal counterculture with politicization that has not been welcomed in the professional underworld.
As the French philosopher and sociologist Jean Baudrillard emphasized in a somewhat emotional tone, young migrants deny the values and attitudes that prevail in Western society. Moreover, they also reject the social policies of the host countries, seemingly aimed at improving the situation of the migrants themselves. Schools, kindergartens, hospitals - the entire social infrastructure - ultimately represents for them less importance than the opportunity to show and prove their "otherness", including through aggression against the indigenous population. The German sociologist Klaus Bers believes that the ethnic nature of organized youth crime in the modern countries of Western Europe is explained by social factors, first of all, by the belonging of migrants and their children to the “social lows” of European society. Most of the migrants occupy a marginal position, they and their children will never break out of the “social ghettos” or move to a different social stratum. The life of migrants and their children on the sidelines of European societies implies a constant bitterness, an obsession with finding livelihoods, a sense of self-discrimination on the part of the indigenous population. In fact, criminal activity remains the only possible way to more or less quickly gain money from representatives of migrant youth. Especially - in terms of unemployment, which in all Western countries reaches considerable proportions. Ethnic youth criminal gangs sooner or later merge with “adult” ethnic organized communities, or continue to function as their recruitment bases, from which more “serious” criminal organizations can constantly recruit new members.
"Youth Tribes" in the "urban jungle"
The main field for the implementation of the criminal counterculture in the youth environment becomes the youth group - a spontaneous union of young people and adolescents, later acquiring more decorated features. The authority of the group is maintained through open violence, at the same time to maintain internal discipline in the group, more often than not, there is a set of rules that the leaders of the group try to write (or “pull”) to more universal unwritten norms and rules of the criminal world. The youth group attracts young people with their aggressiveness and activity, possible real influence, which not only adolescents from neighboring districts can be reckoned with, but also pedagogical workers, employees of municipal authorities and law enforcement agencies. An interesting model explaining the behavior of young people and adolescents dropping into semi-criminal groups and “packs” was presented by the French philosopher Michel Maffesoli, who believes that youth subcultures that function in a post-industrial society should be viewed as a kind of analogue to archaic, primitive tribes. The youth groups operating in the “stone jungle” of megacities and large cities resemble archaic tribes in a number of ways. First, they also have a controlled territory or a “desired control” territory (that is, the one they claim to be). This territory should be protected from the "raids" of possible competitors in the face of neighboring groups. An encroachment on a territory carried out in one form or another is one of the main causes of conflicts between various youth groups in the modern city. Secondly, many youth groups have their own distinctive features, which allow to distinguish "their" in the crowd with the help of a special type of hairstyle, clothing, gait, etc. Finally, the “youth tribes” of the modern metropolis are distinguished by the presence of archaic forms of the internal hierarchy, in which there can be either one very authoritarian leader, or several cooperating or competing leaders, or there can be no leaders at all. Many youth groups have their own rituals and emerging folklore, and this “culture” of young offenders may differ in its manifestations from the “adult” criminal counterculture.
According to some American sociologists, the specificity of the activities of youth groups is based on the desire to assert its priority in the controlled territory. Initially, the task of the group becomes the establishment of control over the territory and its preservation under the conditions of tough confrontation with competing neighboring groups. However, if the task is successfully accomplished, the youth group may try to move to offensive actions, displacing weaker competitors and crushing more and more vast territories under its influence. Actually, adult criminal gangs act in the same way, which in Russia of the end of 1980's - the beginning of 1990's. often formed on the basis of youth groups. To participate in a youth group, and, moreover, to gain leadership or authoritative positions in it, it is necessary to possess the appropriate personal qualities and assimilate the criminal counterculture. At the same time, the norms and rules of the criminal counterculture can be observed not particularly actively, but it is always necessary to create the appearance of carefully following unwritten “concepts” and cultivating the criminal counterculture among subordinates, punishing the latter for departing from the traditions of the criminal world and violating “concepts”.
Social inequality leads to crime
In Russia, the most fertile conditions for the prosperity of the criminal counterculture have developed in a socially disadvantaged environment. As is known, a significant part of the country's population currently lives below the poverty line. Social inequality has become a real problem for modern Russia, especially since the polarization between the individual richest and the poorest social groups reaches multiple scales. However, the criminal counterculture, spreading among young lumpen and marginal, covers with its ideological influence and more prosperous segments of the population. This is largely due to the fact that a significant part of the current businessmen and even civil service officials in the days of their youth, and this is mainly. 1980-e - 1990-ies., It was itself influenced by the criminal counterculture, and some of them have a virtually unhidden criminal past. The expression "authoritative businessman", denoting the leader of the criminal environment, having a "weight" in the criminal and near-criminal world, was born in post-Soviet Russia and took root only in it. In other countries, they talk about the mafia, about the “mafia bosses”, but it does not occur to anyone to turn the leader of the criminal environment into authority for ordinary people who are not connected with the criminal world and not leading a criminal lifestyle. In Russia, 1990's, in conditions of a total collapse of the economy, weak functionality of the authorities, including law enforcement agencies, it was often the criminal world that turned out to be the only informal institution that the average Russian citizen could rely on or assist in resolving various issues . There were cases when “bandits” helped more effectively than law enforcement agencies, and their “services” in solving problems turned out to be cheaper and trouble-free. Of course, this also contributed to the popularization of criminal counterculture in the post-Soviet Russian society.
The radical changes in the life of Russian society after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition to a market economy took the population by surprise. Citizens of Russia faced such serious problems as unemployment, inflation of prices for goods and services, the commercialization of education, for which they turned out to be simply not ready, moreover, they were deprived of immunity to such phenomena, which were practically absent in Soviet society. The strongest blow fell on the younger generation of Russians. The lack of prospects, the impossibility of not only acquiring their own housing, but also finding a decent job, contributed to the spread of all sorts of social vices among the youth and adolescents - drunkenness, drug addiction, prostitution. A significant part of the youth was criminalized, another joined radical political unions of an extremist orientation. After two decades that have passed since the beginning of radical reforms, it should be noted that many normal people came out from yesterday’s “gangsters” and yesterday’s “extremists”, who became entrepreneurs and politicians as the socio-economic and political situation stabilized , government employees, scientists and teachers. These are those who have found the strength to "go up", who initially possessed a certain life potential and, possibly, specific social resources. Modern youth, who are also largely influenced by the criminal counterculture, will not have such an opportunity. Channels of vertical social mobility in modern Russia are becoming increasingly controllable, and many areas of activity are now virtually closed to people from the lower classes, since the latter cannot receive proper education, but if received, they have no guarantee of employment in their specialty. The overlapping of the channels of social mobility, which is turning Russian society into a class and even caste, again, is pushing the broad masses of youth into the arms of the underworld. Sociologist V.N. Tymoshenko cites data from the World Health Organization, according to the report of which, “youth gangs are formed where the existing social system collapsed and there are no alternative forms of cultural behavior. Among other socio-economic, community-based interpersonal factors that push young people into gangs, the authors of the report cite the lack of opportunities for social or economic mobility in a society where the consumer lifestyle is aggressively preached; reduced effectiveness of law enforcement; cessation of schooling, as well as low pay for unskilled labor ”(V. Timoshenko Rascol-gangs or new "generals of sand quarries". Part 1. // http://journal-neo.com/?q=ru/node/4144).
Socio-economic problems in the life of Russia in the 1990-ies. contributed to the mass impoverishment of the Russian population and the associated marginalization of entire social strata. The number of lumpenized and marginal segments of the country's population — the so-called “social bottom” - has grown many times. A numerous layer of completely deprived, lumpenized people was formed, among whom criminal counterculture was established in its various modifications. All these people are homeless, professional beggars, vagrants, street children, illegal migrants from the former Soviet republics, alcoholics and drug addicts, prostitutes, pimps who did not find classes in the “civilian” and the combatants who went into the world of alcohol-drug illusions in the “hot” points ”and former athletes - all of them, to one degree or another, are the field of influence of value and behavioral attitudes of the criminal counterculture.
As for the more prosperous segments of the population, who, in theory, were supposed to be deprived of the "pleasure" of regular communication with the carriers of the criminal counterculture, their criminalization was carried out using popular culture - the same cinema, radio, television, "yellow newspapers." It is mass culture that is responsible for spreading jargon in the “philistine” environment, primitive and distorted ideas about “life in prison” and about the criminal world, for romanticizing the image of a criminal and a prisoner, for popularizing “thieves” song and narrative folklore. However, what has the state done in order to prevent the much-needed in terms of profit, but extremely dangerous for the spiritual and moral foundations of society, the promotion of criminal counterculture? In 1990-ies, the state got rid of the regulation of the cultural sphere of society, which did not fail to affect the fall of culture, spirituality and morality in post-Soviet Russia, which is most clearly manifested in the example of modern Russian youth and adolescents. The destruction of the Soviet political and economic system was accompanied by the so-called “de-ideologization” of Russian society, within the framework of which there was a rejection of the educational policy, which was formed during the entire period of existence of the Soviet state and demonstrated a very high performance. In 1990-ies through television, radio, newspapers, cinema, among the young people, apoliticality was asserted, it was suggested that the young man should not be engaged in and even interested in social and political problems, but should only be entertained and “make money”. This vicious ideological stance complemented the influence of the criminal counterculture, also corrupting and disorienting the Russian youth.
Thus, summing up what has been said, it can be noted that in the post-Soviet Russia the criminalization of society, in the first place - the youth environment, has reached enormous proportions. One of the manifestations of the criminalization of society was the spread of the criminal counterculture beyond the commonality of its traditional carriers - representatives of the professional criminal world and the underclass. The popularization of criminal counterculture in Russian society became possible not only due to the direct influence of the underworld and social classes on other social strata, but also due to the lack of clear ideological guidelines for the development of the state, the destruction of youth policy in the 1990s, the deepening of social inequality and social polarization of the population. Most likely, the Russian state, despite possible measures of a controlling and prohibitive nature, will not be able to “decriminalize” Russian society in the foreseeable future, minimize the impact of the criminal counterculture on the Russian population, including the youth. The only exception can be a cardinal turn of the state towards solving the problems of education and upbringing of the younger generations, fighting crime of all kinds and its propaganda, reducing social inequality and social distance between certain groups of the Russian population.