Sunday, 2 March 2008

Death Penalty as a Statement of Logic

State execution is essentially a simple statement that there is no evil or moral truth, since in the act of permitting itself this absolute action, it states that there is no absolute truth which can be violated. The reason state murder is employed is generally punishment for the absolute evil of murder, which naturally contradicts its own self. A state that employs the death penalty is either amoral in the sense of the implied non-existence of a moral universe, or immoral in the sense of being in direct violation of the existence of a moral universe.
It can so be seen as a statement that the state's purpose is to uphold control or impose social order, but not that this reflects any moral truth. The state tells the transgressing individual, I do as you do, but I have the greater power. And perhaps that is the greatest meaning behind the death penalty; it is the opportunity of the state to manifest to all its absolute authority and power. A hint of the nature of the beast.
It is an application of Dostoevsky's heroes pondering that in the absence of God there is no moral order, and all is permitted the individual. The state is king of the antheap, and there is no power beyond the state to punish it for its actions. "In the absence of God, I am God." So says Nietzsche's "coldest of cold monsters," the state.

Considering the desire for retribution in kind and the character upon whom death is to be inflicted as justification for execution is the clouding of the mind, the temptation towards evil by impure reasoning. As an ethical extension of such thinking, imagine a penal system of raping convicted rapists, evolving presumably from initially paid servants of the state doing the raping, but in time this possibly becoming done by technological means. The wonderful world of depraved moral nihilism.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Church/State run torture and death penalties

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx8PdvOELvY

elberry said...

i'm not so sure...i think one can - humanly speaking - say that the 3 chav boxers from Sunderland who beat a mentally retarded youth to death for fun deserve to die as the youth did not. From god's perspective i suspect any death, any pain, is bad, regardless of context or person. But we are human beings and are subject to lower concerns. i care more about my friends than you; i care more about you than Lloyd Mintern; i don't care about Mintern at all. To be human is to live in circles of meaning.

My own reservation about execution is that firstly i don't trust any State not to use it to get rid of people it doesn't like; secondly it seems to hand metaphysical power over to the State (metaphysical in that ending or beginning a life is not humanly understood - we can kill or fuck but we can't create a soul as god does) and the State has repeatedly shown itself unworthy of any power more than necessary; and thirdly what if you're wrong and the victim just happened to be on the wrong street at the wrong time?

On a gut level there's also something repugnant to me about the self-righteous solemnity of 'execution'. Murder i'm okay with, that doesn't pretend to be anything other than savage retribution; execution is making murder into a bourgeois matter akin to car insurance and a holiday in Tuscany. It isn't right. Killing someone is a pretty fucking awful thing to do and shouldn't be prettified.

Take a look at the Writhings link on my blogroll, he's a right-wing pagan with some strong views and has a recent piece on capital punishment that's quite interesting. i disagree with his conclusions but like the cut of his jib.

Andrew K said...

No, we abandon truth and enter moral nihilism and depravity when we permit the legitimacy of execution. It would be argued often by some that this is the emotional, soft view, but in fact it's the exact opposite. I am looking at it coldly, rationally and not emotionally.
Murder is an absolute action beyond which one cannot really go, and to permit of this action is to simply say that there are no moral limits. If there are moral limits, then that limit must be reached before cold-blooded murder. To take that step is to say unequivocally that there are no limits, that all is permitted. Once you've gone beyond it, you're just dealing with degrees of falsehood, there is no moral ground left.

Considering the nature of the character upon whom death is to be inflicted is the clouding of the mind, in a sense the temptation towards evil by impure reasoning.

As an afterthought and extension, there is also to be considered the human spiritual equivalent of to each action is an equal & opposite reaction. We do inhabit a universe that is intrinsically moral, & there are results to our actions- as Raskolnikov found out; essentially his committing of murder was an experiment in the existence or not of this truth.

Relativism towards truth leads to a sea of meaninglessness, inhabiting which many think is a reflection of their realism

Andrew said...

Just edited the main post a bit.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with what you say on murder/state run executions (in that I disapprove of it), but I would like to see hard-labour introduced to prisons for serious crimes, chaingangs. Prison is too soft for many crimes.

Andrew K said...

I'd see nothing wrong with that idea. Not a Papillon worked to death notion, but there's obviously a middle ground.

elberry said...

i'm quite in favour of making prisoners work fucking hard at learning Sanskrit or how to make shoes. i'm not talking about soft-option arts & craft stuff, i have in mind 16-hour a day sessions of hard graft that would leave joyriders and rapists with incongruous skills, e.g. having memorised the Upanishads or becoming masters of Provencal cookery.

Andrew K said...

A population of esoterically knowledgeable cons & ex-cons sounds an experiment work making.

Anonymous said...

breaking stones in a quarry would be a more fitting occupation of their time