Association.—PENALTY, death penalty (Carnet No. 4, 1847)

P.-J. Proudhon, Carnets, Vol. 2, Carnet No. 4, P. 25-26.

Association.—Penalty, death penalty. Its legitimacy. Identity of justice and vengeance (talion, expiation, penitence, excommunication, etc.); Hatred, natural passion, legitimate and holy! Zelus domus tuæ comedit me! said Elijah. It is the hatred of the miscreant. To hate is to desire the death of someone, their retrenchment, they’re a long month.

To hate is to wish the death of someone, their removal in some way.

Man naturally, legally and honestly hates everything that harms him or does him ill: injustice, rudeness, ingratitude, discord, guile, perfidy, coarseness, dirtiness, cruelty, despotism, folly, mockery and vice in general (whether of the body, the heart or the mind.)

Hatred is not just a negative passion: it is a very positive passion, existing by itself, having its specific objects, its varieties, etc.—like love.

Love and hatred, then, [are the] trunk of all the passions.

We can no more say that ugliness, evil and vice are the negation of the beautiful, the good and the virtuous, than we could say that the latter are the negation of the former.

Beauty, goodness and virtue are ideas concerning relations, just like vice, evil and ugliness. One [group] expresses realities as well as the other. Satan is as true as God: sin is a fact as real as virtue. There is no less materiality in a murder than in childbirth. The penal code says body of crime, just as the code of [criminal] procedure says fact in opposition to right.

To make men beautiful, good, industrious and agreeable is to diminish the hatred among them.

Those persons who hate weakly, love coldly.

But the hatred of the man is subject to a discipline, like his loves: it is the law, or penal convention.

Man, by law, abdicates the care of his vengeance into the hands of society: from this, the Courts.

All the declamations against hatred, vengeance and the death penalty are absurd.—A world where charity and fraternity alone reign, impossible.

There will always be hatreds. And as I have said elsewhere that the torments of the mind, moral misery, grasp us after physical misery, as the torments of reason are keener than those of matter, that consequently suffering always increases among men, thus hatred and war will always increase.

But hatred and war that will not end in excessive duels, in blows: war, organized, is fraternity itself.

Crimes will doubtless decrease: it is the sole means of making punishments disappear.—But as long as there is crime, there must be chastisement.

It is also a question of knowing if the punishment must not increase in proportion to the intelligence of the delinquent, instead of diminishing in proportion to the progress of civilization.

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur.]

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