Against the Logic of the Guillotine

I spoke with one of the authors of the Crimethinc piece of the same name about the ‘logic of the guillotine’, how it is used in online left-wing meme culture, why it is problematic and why we need to have a better logic than that of the guillotine if we truly believe in liberatory politics.

Here are some extracts from the introduction to the piece.

“On April 6, 1871, armed participants in the revolutionary Paris Commune seized the guillotine that was stored near the prison in Paris. They brought it to the foot of the statue of Voltaire, where they smashed it into pieces and burned it in a bonfire, to the applause of an immense crowd […] In these conditions, burning the guillotine was a brave gesture repudiating the Reign of Terror and the idea that positive social change can be achieved by slaughtering people.

The guillotine has come to occupy our collective imagination. In a time when the rifts in our society are widening towards civil war, it represents uncompromising bloody revenge. It represents the idea that the violence of the state could be a good thing if only the right people were in charge.

Those who take their own powerlessness for granted assume that they can promote gruesome revenge fantasies without consequences. But if we are serious about changing the world, we owe it to ourselves to make sure that our proposals are not equally gruesome.”