16 August 2011

Grudgeful Informers

I'm thinking about the Grudge Informer cases which can be read about here,

"The 'grudge informer' problem illustrates a fundamental difference of views about the nature of law and its relationship with morality.

It is called the “grudge informer” to cover events where one person reported another for trivial crimes, which nevertheless carried the death penalty (for exampled speaking against the Fuhrer or the government), to settle feuds or to get revenge, but effectively using the state machinery to try to commit murder.

Fuller records the following case:

After the War a German woman was prosecuted for denouncing her husband to the authorities in accordance with the anti-sedition laws of 1934 & 1938. He had made derogatory remarks about Hitler, The husband was prosecuted and convicted of slandering the Fuehrer, which carried the death penalty. Although sentenced to death, the husband was not executed but was sent as a soldier to the Eastern front. He survived the war and on his return instituted proceedings against his wife.

She argued that she had not in fact committed a crime because a court had sentenced her husband in accordance with the law of the time.

She was convicted of 'illegally depriving another of his freedom' (rechtswidrige Freiheitsberaubung), a crime under the Penal Code, 1871, which had remained in force throughout the Nazi period. The Nazi laws were, the court said, "contrary to the sound conscience and sense of justice of all decent human beings," (1951).

There were other similar prosecutions."

I'm thinking about these cases with regard to the difference in treatment being meted out to looters and rioters compared to bankers/landlords/property owners. The latter all becoming rich by appropriating the property of others, using mechanisms that are set-up within the system of the law. It's trite to say that the looters/rioters broke the law whilst the other class of people listed didn't, but that doesn't give a satisfactory resolution. The grudgeful informer didn't break the law until the Nazi regime fell and she was prosecuted; if the regime had not fallen, she could have been happily living with her paramour. The same is true of the 'bankers/landlords/property owners': they're not breaking the law until the current regime of exploitation is swept away. As to whether or not this regime will be swept away and the property returned: I doubt it. I can see that we're going to be stuck in this loop for a long while, yet.

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