The law and order card is always the trump that governments use to divert attention away from any crisis created by the system they help to run. If all else fails, find a scapegoat, a sacrificial lamb. The only developed Western state that still applies the death penalty is the United States, the land where its constitution proclaims the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Whereas many individual states in America exercised capital punishment, the Federal government had a moratorium on executions Attorney General William Barr has directed the Bureau of Prisons to resume executing death-row inmates after a 16-year pause. Five inmates have been scheduled to be executed in December 2019 and January 2020.
Any sincere socialist is appalled at the idea of the state having the right to execute its citizens. The death penalty in any form is a blatant violation of human rights — the most undignified and irreversible of all punishments. How do you resurrect an innocent person? State executions are in reality the state taking revenge on the wage-slave for a mistake he or she committed because of the frustrations caused by the contradictions of the capitalist system that they are conditioned to exist in. State executions is capitalism at its ugliest. It is the state giving up on the individual and admitting that the social system under capitalism is not working — that the only solution to capital crimes is death.
Many point to the dissolute nature of the death penalty, to how it degenerates civilized society. It is all of this indeed, but, morality aside, state execution has always been racist and class-biased in the USA. The death penalty rarely targets the rich and never the company directors knowingly responsible for corporate manslaughter. If you are wealthy, then you can afford the best legal representation money can buy. In a system in which money tips the scales in favor of justice, the poor are clearly at a disadvantage.
The World Socialist Party of the United States would dearly welcome the abolition of the death penalty, but as a revolutionary party, it is just yet another injustice among thousands of others, many equally deserving. We have no intention of appearing uncaring, but while only a few dozen are executed in the US each year, tens of thousands of children die of hunger and its related illnesses every single day. Millions of people suffer from the effects of war. And daily, many of our fellow-workers suffer death and injury through corporate health and safety negligence. The working class is murdered and dehumanized each and every day.
Yes, the WSPUS loathe the death penalty, as much as we detest every other inequity perpetrated against our class, but the problem is in the class war that is waged against us. Our duty is to respond by urging our class to end capitalism and, in so doing, finally eliminating all the social problems that presently plague us; forever changing a society that sees its poorer and more desperate members killing one another and thus ending up victims themselves at the hands of the capitalist state’s killing machine.