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June 20, 2020 / Congau


We always hurt each other. It seems to be an inevitable and a feature of the human species, but most of the time even the most evil among us don’t really aim at hurting. It is collateral damage, happening when the selfish find it more important to regard their own convenience than other people’s suffering.

But pain is also inflicted for its own sake. Then it is usually called punishment or revenge. There is something even more appalling about this form of infliction since it is entirely conscious. Suffering is the one thing that is bad about human life and it seems more evil than anything to deliberately add more of it.

However, today I’m in the mood to be indulgent with the human race and explain away revenge as a kind of rage that is not entirely controllable. That leaves punishment proper which is almost always inflicted by the state.

The state is a machine. It has no human feelings and performs its operations with clinical coolness, inflicting its poison with even greater composure than a Dr. Mengele.

No one can tell who deserves to be punished, for that would require an insight into a person’s psychology that only a supernatural being could possess, and the state is certainly not such a being. Yet it behaves as if it knew and thus the cruelty of its inflictions is doubled.

The state is not a person. It is faceless as it leans over its victim, citing its dreary book of laws as if it were holy writ, naming its verdict “justice” and pretending that it is necessary and inevitable. That makes it more cruel than anything a human is capable of doing.

When the law of the state has caught the poor sinner, he is lost in its anonymous grip. Slowly and methodically the pain is inflicted.

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