A criminal is one who does not respect the laws of society.
Every criminal knows that he is breaking the law. Still he does it. He has no respect for the law. He lives by his own rules.
The laws of society operate to keep the animal instincts of seeking unbridled pleasure and of malice towards one's fellow humans under check.
The feeling of being wronged, of being unjustly treated gives rise to disrespect for the laws. If the laws are against "me", why should "I" respect them? An unfair society ends up in a spiral of increasing crime and corruption.
The more corrupt a society, the more fervent the value-instilling machinery. How else can one explain the thousand and one spiritual, moralistic teachers but as the agents of righteousness in a thoroughly criminal society such as India?
The "I" has unlimited capacity for self-aggrandisement and hedonism. When that capacity is thwarted by society, thence arises the criminal tendency.
It is futile to build a so-called just world by outward adjustments. There is resentment in almost every human being towards the way the universe treats him. No matter how equitable the distribution of wealth, there will always be a lot amongnst us who will be jealous of another's wife or husband, of another's skills, of another's attitude towards life.
The normal man, the one who is afraid, is jealous of the successful as well as the criminal. His jealousy takes the form of flattery and resentment towards the successful, and hate and violence (and sometimes adulation of courage) towards the criminal.
From childhood till old age, the struggle to get pleasure is met by fierce competition and hostility. And if a man thinks that he can avoid getting caught, or if the social morality is not deep enough in him, he will try all manner of tricks to please and sustain himself.
It is only fear, or an instilled sense of morality, that deter a man from committing a crime.
If a society fails at instilling fear, instilling values and morality is considered the next best option. Morality works through the feelings of guilt.
The criminal is one who has manages to thwart both his fear and his guilt. He commits his crime furtively, fearful of punishment, but brave enough to risk it.
The lesser the fear, or the conditioning, the greater the capacity for crime.
As most morality coexists with religion, is it a surprise why atheist (e.g. the communist) regimes are so totalitarian? If guilt has no other foundation than morality, and if morality only works with a sense of absolute good (a.k.a religion), then instilling fear is the only other option, no?
The institutions of society are designed to instill this fear and conditioning in man. As children, we are wont to indulge ourselves, and to expect others to oblige us. But as we grow older, we realize that people tolerate our tantrums and selfishness less and less. We learn to temper our instincts. This social conditioning exists not just in man. In various species of animals, aggression is met with aggression, ambition is met with violence, and so on.
Now there are many ways to achieve pleasure for oneself. Those whom circumstances favour find themselves flush with money and influence, and for them, it is important that the others follow the established laws so as not to threaten their own position of power.
The subservient amongst us try to succeed by following the rules and the instilled morality, and so few of us succeed that way. The instilled morality makes sure that we don't try radical means of upsetting the power structure.
There is a difference between an unfair system and a corrupt system. Systems are unfair if the laws are geared towards serving the powerful. Unfair systems may very well be law-abiding systems. (Consider the capitalist system). Corrupt systems are those in which breaking of laws is rewarded, not punished. (consider the political system in India).
After a certain age, the fear of punishment overtakes the enthusiasm of taking risks, because the organism loses the energy to start afresh. The cost of censure and punishment rises in proportion with the cost of starting afresh in life.
Children are not punished harshly. We recognize that their conditioning is not yet deep enough, and so their animal instincts may as yet be forgiven.
The criminal is a failure for society, and as such he is a danger. Such men must be made examples of.
What happens to the psyche of a normal enough man if he is caught for something that he considered aberrant but safe enough to try?
There is a whole kaleidoscope of different emotions. A little guilt, a little remorse, a little regret (that he should have been more careful not to get caught), a little learning about what (and how) he should try in future, a little shame, a little fall from grace (which can be covered up with bravado and boasting), a little self-justification (how can one ever admit that one was wrong?), a little cover-up of oneself, a little bit of denial (was it really wrong?), a little bit of resentment towards the ones who caught one, a little bit of ridicule and abuse towards the more moral (those cowards!), a little bit of feeling a hero (one tried something risky, didn't one?), a little bit of sadness, maybe anger towards someone who was an agent of discovery (voluntarily or inadvertently) (what a snitch!), a little bit of rebellious talk against the established order, a little bit of trying to make the best of a bad situation (pleading, manipulating, showing sorrow, expressing that one has been wronged, cunningly trying to win the sympathy of others, lying, ...), ...
Oh what an entity the self is! It is the wonder of wonders.
Does one need to watch a movie or to read a novel, if one knows how to read oneself and one's fellow humans?
Truth is stranger than fiction, indeed.