Camus Reflections On The Guillotine Essay

Camus Reflections On The Guillotine Essay-80
Camus asks if this "new murder" by the state, causing such revulsion in an ordinary citizen, instead of making "amends for the harm done to the social body" contrarily ends up adding a "new blot" to the earlier crime.

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Camus approaches the understanding of human nature through a radically opposite concern: what creates a breach in social harmony and what is the fate of such a breach?

In probing this question, Camus pits human nature against the idea of law itself, where law echoes Spinoza's concerns of ‘obedience to reason' and ‘living harmoniously'.

And yet, the reportage of the event borders on "whispering".

Camus observes the malaise: "In our well-policed society we recognise that an illness is serious from the fact that we don't dare speak of it directly." In India, there is a relative lack of scruples in mainstream sensibility that would (selectively) abhor violence and yet vehemently support a retributive execution.

Camus then posits his idea of ‘positive law' as a necessary constraint on man's anti-social nature, and puts the onus on society to make men responsible towards its laws.

Even as he accepts the necessity of social laws for man's "physical survival", Camus finds the necessity of social contract between men and society a compromise.

In 1957, along with the Hungarian-British author Arthur Koestler, Albert Camus had published a long essay titled 'Reflections on the Guillotine', where he fiercely argued against capital punishment.

The intellectual debate around the legitimacy of capital punishment has once again gained ground in India since the hanging of Ajmal Kasab, as Yakub Memon is set to be hanged, convicted over his involvement in the 1993 Bombay blasts.

It is assumed that the condemned man "paid his debt to society" and "justice was done".

These stock expressions betray the anxiety to reassure people that a harmonious end has been achieved.


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