Strange and Repugnant

Tim Fisken writes:

So, I was going to write something about how being part of the pro-war left leads to endorsing strange and repugnant right-wing positions. But I’m too enraged to actually make an argument, and anyway, I think it’s a case of, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.

Well, I have to ask, so perhaps I’ll never know. (Perhaps I’m teetering on the brink of strange and repugnant right-wing positions? Who knows?)For I’m broadly speaking in favour of regicide. I think monarchy is a revolting institution, built on the denial of just about every worthwhile political value, and, furthermore, on the celebration of that very denial. And it seems to me that executing monarchs, rather than simply deposing them, has been a pretty good way of seeking to address the problem posed by this institution. As regular readers of this blog will know, or could easily have guessed, I don’t think it was unreasonable to put Charles I on trial for his life, or Louis XVI, and I don’t think it was a bad thing to shoot the Tsar, either, in 1918, although questions of procedural justice loom a bit larger in that case.

And if I were to spell out at greater length the underlying rationale for why I am, on the one hand, generally opposed to capital punishment, but, on the other hand, more than tolerant of regicide, it might very well look something like the purgative argument for capital punishment which Matthew Kramer sketches in his second post at the Normblog, and to which Tim Fisken links above. I suppose the difference between us would be that I’m reasonably comfortable with regicide and — relatedly — tyrannicide, but not with the use of the death penalty in the case of particularly gruesome murders, as Kramer is. But I’m not sure we’re coming at the question from wildly different points of view, and I certainly don’t find Kramer’s argument either strange or repulsive.

So I don’t find Tim’s post persuasive, although it’s worth noting that he himself notes the absence of an actual argument, owing to his anger.

(Actually, I find Tim’s post peculiar, since the same post which damns a purgative argument on behalf of capital punishment also approvingly quotes Vyshinsky, who was Stalin’s chief prosecutor during, um, the Great Purge. But perhaps there’s a bit of irony there which I’m not sensitive enough to detect. I don’t know.)

I’m tempted to issue a general call for a bit more bourgeois politeness on the left-hand side of the World of British Blogs towards those with whom we disagree. It’s far more satisfying to read Norm and Ken McLeod engaged in respectful contestation here, here, here, here, here and here than it is reading posts like this or this.

But were I to call for more bourgeois politesse, then I’d probably have to undertake to stop being rude about Paul “The Thinker” Richards from time to time, and I’m not ready to do that just yet. So I’ll just express a preference for a bit more politeness than we have round these parts at present, even in the face of sharp disagreement over questions of war and peace, and move on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *