1950s >> 1954 >> no-598-june-1954

Passing show

Crime and Punishment

The recent campaign in the Soviet Union against crime, including the restoration of the death penalty for murder, is being taken in some circles to show that crime is something “inherent in human nature,” and that the early Socialist pioneers were wrong when they said that in a Socialist society there would be no crime. But the people who take up this point of view do not see that in order for their reasoning to be valid, they must first show that there is a Socialist society in the Soviet Union. Far from the existence of crime proving anything about Socialism, it is itself another demonstration that there cannot be Socialism in Russia. The Stalinists themselves, who profess to believe that there is Socialism in Russia, abandon—as they have often done before—their materialist philosophy in order to explain it, and say it is due to elements which are corrupt or hostile to the regime. But before Socialism can be established, it is necessary to have a great majority who understand and want it, and to whom therefore the notion of crime is foreign; and Socialism will abolish crime because it will abolish the material conditions which cause it.

When Stalinists admit that there is crime in Russia they are admitting the falseness of their own view of the nature of Russian society.

On Guard

During the recent correspondence in The Times about the hydrogen bomb, one reader wrote that “the British Army remains unruffled. This last week-end I attended Territorial Army training—the morning was passed with lectures on the use and effect of the atomic bomb; in the afternoon we practised sword drill” (10-4-54). It is good to know that our generals are directing their minds to the problems that beset us.

Presumably, in the last ghastly moment of atomic annihilation, we are supposed to cry “‘Touché !” The present regime cannot guarantee that we will survive; but it is at least trying to teach us how to die like gentlemen.

Joshua.

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