The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Barbarous gang rape in Delhi. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!
First, it is necessary to denounce the attack against this woman as a tremendous act of barbarism and inhumanity. The article does a very good job communicating the utter sense of horror and disgust such acts provoke. Moreover, the article is very right to point out that this attack is certainly not the first act of such terrible violence against women in India. So the question then becomes, why the outrage at this particular attack? Was it because the young the woman was an educated, aspiring, young medical student about to start a promising life with her fiance and not a poor, ignorant, "untouchable"? What is happening in Indian society today that this particular rape provoked such outrage--outrage that--at least as it was portrayed in the Western media--looked like it might have been a "protest movement"?
Besides these questions, I think the weakness of the article was that it failed to really delve into the nature of the "protest movement" that emerged in the wake of the attack. Was this really all the effect of a concerted media campaign or was there something more "grassroots," "bottom-up" about it? The Western media told us these protests reflected a positive trend in Indian society, an emerging modernization through which violence against women would no longer be openly tolerated.
But what about the call by the protestors for "exemplary punishment"? Was this stoked by the media or did it reflect the populace's absolute abhorrence for the violence? In any event, I don't think the article did enough to denounce this aspect of the protests. How in the world are there protests calling for the state to murder people, regardless of whatever it is they have done? This makes it look much more like a lench mob than a protest movement. As communists, I think, we need to be absolutely clear that under no circumstances should it ever be acceptable, tolerbale or even a subject for indifference when the state kills people (miscreants or otherwise).
However, I think the article does evoke a realization that as we talk about decomposition and barbarism; we must concede that these things generally occur through human agents (unwitting or not). Barbarism presupposes barbarians. But as Marxists, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of dehumanizing those who are unfortuante enough to become the agents of this barbarism. We can call them "miscreants," "criminals" or as Lenin did in State and Revolution "transgressors," but we should not fall into the trap of thinking that they are something less than human. Its one step from there to Rwanda. As Lenin wrote, the goal of the communist revolution is to produce a society in which the transgressors can be reintegrated into the society--not disposed of like "cockroaches." For me, a protest movement calling for the state to murder people is almost as aborrent as the attack against this woman itself.
I hope that one of the first acts of the tranisitional state, and this would be against Lenin and the Bolshevik experience (although perhaps fully in line with Marx) would be the complete unconditional repeal of the death penalty regardless of the "crime." What better way to show to the population that the new socirty is something different than the bourgeois state? The Egyptian bourgeois state just handed down over 50 more death sentences against the Port Said "rioters." Undoubetely, the vast majority of those who will be subjected to this "punishment" will be working class--the police that stoked the events will escape with a relative slap on the wrist, as a mere symbolic punishment.
In the U.S., later this week the state of Maryland will abolish the death penalty. This issue reflects deep clevages in U.S. society and many of the red states remain deeply committed to punishing the bodies of offenders (In fact, some seem to delight in doing it as a kind of big middle finger to the "liberal establishment"), but when even the bourgeois state can recognize that something is simply untenable, barbarism in its own right, I think have to conclude that this can never be an option for the period of transition.
So, yes--it is necessary to denounce the attack against this woman as a vile example of the barbarism a decomposing society is capable of, but we need to be even more forceful in our denunciation of anything that might look like a social or protest movement having anything to do with demanding the state murder anyone else.