The REDSTAR2000 Papers

Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

Crime and Punishment -- Part 2 July 12, 2005 by RedStar2000

Will there be crime under communism? And how should we deal with it? This is an interesting question in its own right...but can be very revealing about the short distance that some have traveled away from "bourgeois right".

Starting on "day one" after the revolution.



Releasing everyone? including rapists, murderers and the mentally insane?

Yes...the usual practice following major revolutions is a general amnesty.

It's too much trouble to review a million records and decide who really belongs in prison and who was imprisoned for reasons that are no longer criminal.

It probably goes back to antiquity...when a new king or emperor ascended the throne, it was a custom to begin his reign with a large-scale amnesty. It may have been considered "good luck" to do that...particularly if the previous monarch was known for his harsh rule.
First posted at RevLeft on June 22, 2005


Other than to preserve "tradition" as you brought up what revolutions traditionally have done, what practical purpose does this serve?

A general amnesty empties all the prisons and jails. The jails we may still need for a while; the prisons can be shut down for good.

Afterwards, violent criminals should be either exiled (if possible) or executed (if necessary).

Prisons are pain factories -- their only purpose is to manufacture human suffering. We should not tolerate them in a post-capitalist society.
First posted at RevLeft on June 22, 2005


Why isn't there time to look at records and whatnot?

Because we're in a revolution and there is much else to be done.

In a revolution, decisions are made quickly, often by a determined minority. Consider all the families of those imprisoned...they will demand immediate release of all prisoners and, like as not, go to the prisons and personally free the prisoners.

And are you going to free some and not all?



A revolution is a very chaotic period, and releasing hardened prisoners into a society may not be a good idea.

Yes, it will be chaotic...which makes it impossible to stop and figure out who "deserves" release and who "doesn't".


Is that before or after you release them?

After. Once the prisons are emptied, those who commit violent crimes will either be exiled or executed.

During the first few years after the revolution, justice is apt to be "quick & dirty"...people won't have time for the elaborate rituals and baroque theater of capitalist "justice".

And the transition will be to "quick & clean"...I don't think we should ever try to restore the bullshit we have now.


But I think that [prisons] could be used as places to rehabilitate and reeducate prisoners.

Has never happened...probably for a variety of reasons.

1. We don't know why a minority of people are violent sociopaths -- thus we have no way of knowing when they are really "rehabilitated" and when they're just faking it.

2. For rehabilitation/re-education to be "workable", prison must be at least a humanly tolerable environment.

3. But if prisons are reasonably pleasant places to live, then people who were the victims of criminals would be pissed off.

4. That's why prisons always end up being matter what the "good intentions" of the penal authorities. And why prison guards are always fascist thugs.


On the other hand though, revolution is a tricky process. Fighting capitalists is hard enough, having criminals ravage through your community just adds to the trouble. Seems like a destabilizing effect there.

The evidence is fragmentary. It seems to be the case that "ordinary crime" declines sharply in revolutionary periods...even "hardened criminals" grasp that something entirely new is happening; something that's far more interesting than their "old life".

A lot depends, I think, on the on-going character of the revolution. If people perceive that things are "settling down" into the "old routines", then yes, I would expect a fresh rise of criminal activity. That would be especially true if the Leninists were to "win out" and permit gross economic inequalities to continue to exist (which they say they will do).

On the other hand, if people sense that something new is always about to happen...that makes crime look boring by comparison.

So we'll see.


Those criminals could even destroy the revolution!!

Been watching too many crime shows on the dummyvision, eh? *laughs*
First posted at RevLeft on June 23, 2005


Someone should start a thread about what is to be done with the prisoners after the revolution, I just want to know about communist legal theory.

In a stateless, classless society there simply isn't that much in the way of "legal theory".

Law in class societies is the nominal attempt to achieve equity among people who are, in physical fact, unequal. Since this could not be done in reality without plunging class society into chaos, what emerges is a kind of theater where it is pretended that the wealthy & powerful are "equal" to the poor & powerless.

"Equality before the Law" is a kind of superstition...not really much different from "our leaders have our best interests at heart" or "everyone has a guardian angel".

Thus in a communist society, where people actually are equal in wealth and power, there's no reason for the baroque rituals that presently exist.

The only form of "crime" that may still be significant is sociopathic...that small number of people who seemingly lack any capacity for empathy for reasons we don't presently know and therefore behave violently to others without reasonable provocation. Such people must be separated from society...and execution or exile are the only practical options.

If we are ever able to develop a reliable "chemical test" (or "genetic test") for sociopathy, then fetuses with positive results would be aborted.
First posted at RevLeft on June 24, 2005


I'll make my question more specific, in a communist, or socialist society, will there be juries, judges, state prosecutors and defenses in courts, all of that, if not, how will it be done?

Socialist societies are class societies where material inequalities still they will have all the crap that we do now.

My view is that communist societies will be very different.

There certainly will be no "state prosecutors"...there's no state.

Nor will there be any such profession as "judge"...though there might be amateurs who take an interest in such matters and communities might well ask their advice. There will, no doubt, be a data base of "case law" that interested people will consult as necessary.

Juries will be large, perhaps very large, and will vote on guilt or innocence and, if they convict, will vote on a sentence (usually choosing between exile or execution, although they may select probation under extenuating circumstances).

I think it will become customary in all but unusual circumstances for people to "argue their own case" in front of the jury -- we do not need professional actors or their "tricks of the trade"...we need to find out what happened.

There will still be "investigators" of crime...people who are fascinated by forensic science, pathology, etc. And they can give testimony.

But they will have no "powers of arrest" or "imprisonment".

We might not even arrest people at all until after they've been tried and convicted of a crime -- we just tell them "you've been accused of X and the trial will begin day after tomorrow at 10:00 there to defend yourself or not, at your peril".


As for time to look into the cases of prisoners during the revolution ... you'll have to make time.

Well, when the time comes, you can tell people that...but I don't think anyone will listen.

The "Fall of the Bastille" effect is too strong.
First posted at RevLeft on June 25, 2005


The problem with that system is that you said either exile or execution if found guilty, that is a damn shitty way to go about it, no rehabilitation, that is stupid and it is even worse than the US system where someone at least has a chance at rejoining society.

And you must have noticed, since the media always make such a fuss about it, the stories about "rehabilitated" people who get their chance to "rejoin society" and promptly do it again! That is, they commit another horrible crime.

The problem is one of ignorance on our part...we can't tell when a violent criminal is "really rehabilitated" and is just faking it.

In capitalist America, the guy facing a long sentence for a violent crime is well advised to "find Jesus"...that's the best ticket to early release.

Do you think that "finding Jesus" changes a brutal killer, rapist, etc. into a nice guy that can safely be released into society again?


Also, the problem with any jury no matter the size is that in it, the majority will rule and so anybody that is just genuinely disliked may be killed for something they didn't do.

Could happen. But ask yourself this: why is this "innocent guy" so heartily disliked by a majority that they're willing to execute him on "dubious" evidence or even none at all? What did he do to make people hate him that much?

Perhaps he was just a really obnoxious bastard...always giving everybody a hard time. Well, it does seem harsh to execute somebody because they have a really shitty personality...but if it happens, those are the breaks.

Better that than having our fate decided by a bunch of arrogant scoundrels in robes and wigs.


This system has no checks and balances...

We don't have that now..."checks and balances" are just part of the show.

The only real "check" on the power of the state now is the doctrine of "jury nullification" -- if jurors deem a law unjust, they can legally refuse to convict regardless of the evidence and there's nothing the state can do about it.

You will never see this happen in a courtroom drama in a movie or on the's the best kept secret in American law. Judges never mention this option when giving instructions to a jury at the end of a trial. Even professional law journals rarely discuss it.

It's not something that they want juries to know about.

And mostly, they don't.
First posted at RevLeft on June 25, 2005


If someone "does it again" then they clearly were not rehabilitated, the most likely reason they were not rehabilitated is that the rehabilitation programs are terrible and need much improvement.

But what consolation is that to the second victim of the sociopath? Had the bastard been shot after his first murder, then he could not have committed his second.

What a "bad break" for the second victim.

Only in science fiction have I seen any genuine alternatives to execution or exile. I read a story once that suggested a kind of brain surgery such that the sociopath about to hurt or kill faints instead. And people are warned of the sociopath's presence because his body chemistry has been altered to generate an extremely offensive odor. In another story, a personal robot is assigned to the sociopath and follows him around at all times -- should he threaten to begin a violent attack, the robot stops him. People who have been assigned such robots are social one will have anything to do with them.

Maybe we'll be able to do things like that someday. Until then, execution or exile seem the only options.


Yes, it is harsh to execute someone because they are an obnoxious bastard is harsh, no, more than harsh, it is downright evil and hateful...

Well, we can hope it won't happen...but it might.

We are not angels and "moral perfection" is forever unattainable.

We will always make mistakes; the objective is to make far fewer than we do now.


I know we don't have checks and balances now, isn't that why after the revolution we should try to make a system that will include a way to check the abuse of power, like the wrongful conviction of someone.

What could we use for that purpose? A large jury (say 500 people -- like the Athenians used) hears testimony, sees evidence, etc., and votes both to convict and to execute.

On what grounds can an appeal for "wrongful conviction" be made? Remember, there's no state apparatus that's hiding evidence that might be favorable to the accused. There's no bias in jury selection (it's done by lottery). The individual who's chairing the trial was also selected by lottery...s/he's not a member of a professional "judge class". The forensic detectives who gave testimony were not paid for their efforts...they do that kind of work because they enjoy it.

The accusers may have lied their asses off...but the same is true of the accused. It's up to the jury to decide who is telling the truth.

What else is there? Community bias? Why?

I suppose neighboring communes could work out a deal to try each others that community bias could be avoided. But keep in mind that such a measure would impose a hardship on both the accused and the accusers...who might have to travel to that other community for the trial.

I frankly doubt that there will be any "appeal" process at all. If the verdict is execution, then it would be kinder to carry out the sentence quickly (within an hour or two of the verdict) rather than make someone suffer the anticipation of death for any extended period of time.
First posted at RevLeft on June 27, 2005


I personally think that the whole practice of execution is savage and hypocritical, think about it, "you killed someone so we're gonna kill you!".

You are perfectly free to voice your moral objections to execution...but no one is going to take them seriously unless you can offer viable practical alternatives.

The purpose of execution is not's to stop him from ever doing it again.

So what will you have? A hell-hole prison system with fascist thugs for guards? Who is likely to be "rehabilitated" in such conditions?

And don't tell me that "your prisons" will be "better". *laughs*

Prison is prison! It has always been shit and it will always be shit! It is protracted pain and suffering. It is execution by inches.

It is indefensibly cruel.

A prompt and painless execution is the humane alternative.


Also, your idea to have no appeals could lead to the death of many innocent people because you want them dead so soon.

Why should that be the case? Do you think that ordinary people in communist society are incapable of reaching a correct verdict? Do we need "professionals" to decide these things for us?

I think once we trash the whole legal apparatus of capitalist society that justice is more likely rather than, as you seem to think, "less likely".

quote: Gandhi said, an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.

That's not true...most people do not commit violent crimes and thus most people would never have to forfeit their eyes.
First posted at RevLeft on June 28, 2005


I will not have prisons with fascist guards, I will have rehabilitation centers like I have been saying. Hopefully, what we can do with the rehab patients is to give them a job in a sort of micro-community where they can slowly get readjusted to what it will be like in the "real" world. If they are unable to live peacefully in this smaller community, then they will be sent back to rehab.

That might be acceptable to people on an experimental basis...until the first time one of your "rehab patients" kills again.

At that point, the fecal matter makes contact with the air circulating device.

Beyond this, I don't think you grasp the scientific problem here. The fact is that we don't know why a small minority of humans are willing and able to kill "without remorse"...why they completely lack any sense of empathy with other members of their species. We don't understand "crimes of passion" either.

Therefore we cannot say who is "rehabilitated" and who is least not with any reasonable degree of certainty.

How then can we safely release those individuals back into the community? Are you going to be the one who delivers the message to the friends and loved ones of the second victim -- duh, we fucked up, looks like the bastard wasn't rehabilitated after all, er, sorry about that???

They would not only proceed at once to ask the community to shoot your pseudo-rehabilitated sociopath but they might even ask the community to shoot you for criminal stupidity.

It's no use for you to claim that you "meant well" and were just "trying to be humane"...your actions have real world consequences.

And should you be so insensitive as to quote that old Hindu faker, that might really get people pissed off with you!

First posted at RevLeft on June 28, 2005


Or I'll deliver the message, if you tell the parents of some teenage delinquent that their son has been exiled for vandalism or some petty crime like that, that's real humane huh?

Here is a quote from the link to my site that you evidently overlooked...

quote (redstar2000):

I've said elsewhere that for minor crimes, I favor jails and brief sentences--the "jail" would have the "look and feel" of an apartment building except that you can't leave, and sentences would be one-three years maximum. Inmates would be treated with dignity and encouraged to rehabilitate themselves.

Teen "vandalism" would, in most cases, fit under the rubric of "minor crimes".

Of course, if a teenager did something that caused serious damage or threatened people's lives, then his ass might indeed be exiled.

What's wrong with that?
First posted at RevLeft on June 28, 2005


This is just an idea of mine but as everyone is an individual to a huge degree, there should be NO laws per se but any questionable acts by someone should be referred to a jury or similar and the decision made case specific.

Things might very well work out as you suggest...certainly I can see no reasonable need for the shelves of laws and regulations that currently exist.



...first, if a capitalist were to do this, I'm pretty sure you'd be outraged.

You seem to have an "understanding" here that there is some sort of "universal code" (up in the sky?) that "applies to everyone in all circumstances".

That's wrong.

We perform "act X" even though we denounce the capitalists whenever they perform "act X".

Is that "hypocritical"? No, we are biased in favor of our own class and against our class enemy.

We don't recognize any "universals" except those justified by reason and argument.

That's a pretty short list.

quote: if we exile someone then we are just shipping them off to another city-state where they will probably commit more crimes.

Well, another polis would have to agree to accept him...otherwise it's curtains for his ass. Maybe they'd accept the teen-ager guilty of life-threatening vandalism; I don't think any will accept the murderer or rapist.


And I would like to know, if you think that there should be a violent revolution, and you think that all murderers must be executed, what makes the revolutionaries exempt?

It's our revolution; we're on the winning side.
First posted at RevLeft on June 28, 2005


So what you are saying is that because we are fighting for what we think is right we have this new right to just kill anyone and get away with it because it's "our" revolution.

Yes, a victorious revolution does indeed "have the right" to "just kill anyone" and "get away with it".

Do you think that means that the purpose of proletarian revolution is to go out and kill lots and lots of people "because we can get away with it"?

Recall that you began this thread with a question about communist legal theory...which has now been discussed at some length.

Now you want to raise the question of "revolutionary violence"...a subject discussed in many threads.

Very well, there is practically certain to be a "red terror" after the the course of which a substantial number of prominent members of the old ruling class will be executed, with or without trial.

That is what happens after a revolution...the people who would have killed us if they could have are instead themselves killed by us.

And we would "get away with it" just as they get away with it now.

The struggle between the working class and the capitalist class is very harsh...and we cannot afford any pacifist illusions about that.

It really is them or us!
First posted at RevLeft on June 29, 2005


"It really is them or us"~ RedStar2000 "You're either with us or against us"~ George Dubya Bush
See the similarity?

Of course. George W. Bush spoke the truth in public...possibly for the first and only time in his entire life.

And I just told the truth as I always do.
First posted at RevLeft on June 29, 2005


What if a person kills his wife (I'm not sure if marriage will still exist by then, this is just an example), do we not need a "special apparatus" to arrest and convict him?

A "special apparatus" of people with expertise in forensics and pathology.

If so, how can this be done, would we have to elect the leaders of this "special apparatus"?

Basically, legitimate violence is in the hands of armed workers who serve in the militia on a volunteer and rotating basis...and it's "up to them" what to do in an immediate sense about, for example, a murder that happens "on their watch".

There's not much they can do about an act of random "street violence" unless they actually see it happen or, hopefully, bystanders attack and disarm the killer on the spot.

In the case of someone whose spouse is murdered, yes, there will be a "crime scene" investigation, an autopsy, etc. But those people don't have any power to arrest anyone. All they can do is say "this is what happened as best that our science can tell".

It will be, most likely, the relatives and friends of the murdered spouse who will bring an accusation -- "her no-good husband did it". They will be the ones who have to get up in front of a large jury and "make a case" against the accused. And the accused will have to "defend himself" against the accusation...pointing out the "weak links" in his accusers' case.

"Arrest" is not even really necessary; failure to appear in court will likely be construed as admission of guilt and he will be convicted in absentia. He may then flee to some other city or some other country...but he will find life very hard without any "electronic credentials". If the jury voted to execute him, then he can never return...thus preserving the safety of the community.

And that is really the point: it's not "punishment" that we are concerned with, it's the freedom from random violence that is imperative. Whether we "kill the killer" or exile him is immaterial; the point is to stop him from ever doing it again.

(One "profession" that will not disappear in communist society: the private eye. These amateur detectives may be persuaded to investigate your case and accumulate witnesses and evidence to either defend you from a false accusation or assist you in prosecuting someone who you think committed a crime against you or someone close to you.)
First posted at RevLeft on July 1, 2005
· Welcome
· Theory
· Guest Book
· Hype
· Additional Reading
· Links

· Contact
Latest Theory Collections
· Communists Against Religion -- Part 19 June 6, 2006
· Conversations with Capitalists May 21, 2006
· Vegetable Morality April 17, 2006
· Parents and Children April 11, 2006
· The Curse of Lenin's Mummy April 3, 2006
Defining Theory Collections
· What Did Marx "Get Wrong"? September 13, 2004
· Class in Post-Revolutionary Society - Part 1 July 9, 2004
· Demarchy and a New Revolutionary Communist Movement November 13, 2003
· A New Type of Communist Organization October 5, 2003
· The "Tools" of Marxism July 19, 2003
· Marxism Without the Crap July 3, 2003
· What is Socialism? An Attempt at a Brief Definition June 19, 2003
· What is Communism? A Brief Definition June 19, 2003
· A New Communist Paradigm for the 21st Century May 8, 2003
· On "Dialectics" -- The Heresy Posts May 8, 2003
Random Quote
The oppressed nearly always lose. That’s why we call them the oppressed.  

Search Internet
Search Website
· There have been 3 users active in the past 15 minutes.

Copyright © 2003-2006 -- Some rights reserved.