Speed/pure war/power crime: Paul Virilio on the criminogenic accident and the virtual disappearance of the suicidal state
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- Wilson, E. Crime Law Soc Change (2009) 51: 413. doi:10.1007/s10611-008-9168-7
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This essay applies the theoretical concepts of pure war and speed-politics developed by the critical theorist and urbanist Paul Virilio to the concept of power crime. The aim of this paper is to present readers unfamiliar with Virilio’s work with a philosophical methodology of great potential significance to critical criminology. It is divided into two major parts. The first part re-considers power crime and the broader criminogenic environment in terms of the Virilian notions of velocity, optics, and pure war: criminogenic phenomena are shown to be the necessary and unavoidable by-products of the wider convergences among political, economic, and military systems governed by speed. The second part consists of an empirical case study illustrating the practical applicability of these abstract Virilian concepts: the federal prosecution of the private security firm Custer Battles for fraud. The systemic corruption of the US military procurement process and the inability of the federal judicial system to provide a remedy for the fraud perpetrated against the American public is read as a key sign of the suspension of the liberal juro-political order and the effective abolition of the rule of law by fast moving, or “high velocity”, criminogenic processes.