Burn, Baby, Burn! (was Re: death and the Death Penalty)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Fri Mar 5 18:37:28 PST 1999

Angela wrote:
>is support for the death penalty a result or a cause of the shift
>against social democratic politics? it would make sense to me as a
>result, but not as a cause; but if you have any details one way or the
>other, I'd be interested in looking at them.

To me, death penalty has three aspects: an _index_ of power of the working class (in that support for it is high when the class is weak and low when strong); an _effect_ of economic recession/depression (the more unemployed, under-employed, underpaid, and overworked people are, the more they turn to activities defined 'illegal' by capital, while at the same time capital has an increased need/desire to control the restive and malcotent working class); and an _instrument_ for moving politics further to the right (in that a focus on individual behaviors displaces a critique of and desire to change the structures of social relations, while it helps to curtail civil and political liberties). For historical illustrations of my thesis, see Michael Hoover's post on the subject.

>what struck me about peter linebaugh's essay "gruesome gertie at the
>buckle of the bible belt" (new left review, 209) was not so much that
>it showed the racism and class character that is the death penalty in
>the US, though this is patently true and still shocking; but this:
>the need to "conduct the struggle against the capital punishment in
>the context of the struggle against the capitalist thanatocracy as a
>whole". linebaugh recognises the anger without conceding to the form
>that anger is allowed to take (the settling of accounts) in
>capitalism. more importantly perhaps, linebaugh presents us with the
>possibility for an expression of class anger and hatred WITHIN the
>context of an argument against the death penalty.

I agree with you. Why not have a revolution now? Hey, be realistic and demand the impossible! Failing that, we should have an uprising or two at least. I encourage the working class to riot and storm malls of their choice and loot with vengeance. Or go to the NY Stock Exchange and urinate upon rich white guys in expensive Italian suits. Shoot them if you like. Burn down 'gated communities.' Trash think tanks, so-called left-wing ones included. I'll leave it up to rioting workers what they want to do with Max Sawicky.


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