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24 January 1973

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Part of the Michel Foucault book series (MFL)

Abstract

WE COULD ALSO HAVE cited other signs of this emergence of the criminal as social enemy,† for example, the debate on the death penalty in May 1791 when Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau presented his draft Penal Code.1 The arguments actually started from the principle that everyone considered to be fundamental: crime is an attack on society and the criminal is a social enemy.2 Thus, faced with those who evoked the principle formulated by Rousseau in the Social Contract—since the criminal is the enemy of society, he must be exiled or killed3—Robespierre, in an apparently anti-Rousseauist manner yet from the same theoretical basis, objected that inasmuch as the criminal is an enemy of society, the latter precisely does not have the right to kill him, because once it has seized hold of a criminal the battle is over; society is faced with an enemy prisoner, as it were, and it would be as barbaric for society to kill an enemy it has already vanquished as it would for a warrior to kill his captive or an adult to kill a child: the society that kills the criminal it has judged is like an adult who would kill a child.4 Such a debate allows us to study the theoretical-political effect of this principle of the criminal-social enemy It also provides a reference for the analysis of a theoretical-political discussion. This analysis would, for example, have to take into account what Marx wrote regarding the discussion of the theft of wood,5 and what Blanqui, fifteen years later, wrote on what took place regarding rights over wine.6 Starting from these models, we could maybe see how to analyze political discussions, oppositions, and struggles of discourse within a given political situation.

Keywords

Death Penalty Eighteenth Century Social Contract Corporal Punishment Social Defense 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 4.
    See M. de Robespierre, “Discours à l’Assemblée nationale,” 30 May 1791, Archives parlementaires 1787–1860, first series, vol. XXVI, p. 622Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    See K. Marx, Karl Marx, Collected Works, Volume 1 (New York: International Publishers, 1975).Google Scholar
  3. see E. P. Thompson, “Modes de domination et révolution en Angleterre,” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, vol. 2 (2–3), 1976, especially p. 139.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    see M. Mourre, Dictionnaire encyclopédique d’histoire (Paris: Bordas, 1978) 7 volumes, vol. 1, pp. 576–577.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    F. Serpillon, Code criminel, ou Commentaire sur l’ordonnance de 1670 (Lyon: Périsse, 1767)Google Scholar
  6. see H. Richard, “Un criminaliste bourguignon: François Serpillon, 1695–1772” in Histoire et Criminalité de l’Antiquité au XXe siècle: nouvelles approches. Actes du colloque de Dijon-Chenove, 3–5 octobre 1991 (Dijon: Éditions universitaires de Dijon, 1992) pp. 439–448.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    C. de Rémusat, “Discussion du projet de loi relatif à des réformes dans la législation pénale,” Chamber of Deputies, 1 December 1831, Archives parlementaires, 1787–1860, second series, vol. LXXII, p. 185, col. 2.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    For more recent research see J.-G. Petit, “Obscurité des Lumières: les prisons d’Europe, d’après John Howard, autour 1780,” Criminologie, vol. 28 (1), 1995, pp. 5–22.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    See Great Britain, The Statutes at large, from the Sixteenth Year of the Reign of King George the Third to the Twentieth Year of the Reign of King George the Third, inclusive (London: Charles Eyre & William Strahan, 1780 [19 Geo. III, c. 74]) vol. 13, section V, p. 487Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    J. Bentham, Panopticon, or the Inspection-House, in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, ed., John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1791) vol. IV, pp. 37–173Google Scholar
  11. see A. Stanziani, “The Traveling Panopticon: Labor Institutions and Labor Practices in Russia and Britain in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 51 (4), October 2009, pp. 715–741.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    A. Duport, “Discours à l’Assemblée nationale constituante,” 31 May 1791, Archives parlementaires, 1787–1860, first series, vol. XXVI, pp. 646–650.Google Scholar
  13. 20.
    See L.-R. Villermé, Des prisons telles qu’elles sont et telles qu’elles devreaient être (Paris: Méquignon-Marvis, 1820) p. 137Google Scholar
  14. 22.
    See N.-D. Barré, “130 années de statistique pénitentiaire en France,” Déviance et Société, vol. 10 (2), 1986, pp. 107–128Google Scholar
  15. 25.
    See C. Lucas, Du système pénitentiaire en Europe et aux États-Unis, vol. I (Paris: Bossange, 1828), vol. II (Paris: Dehay, 1830)Google Scholar
  16. 26.
    see R. Langeron, Decazes, ministre du Roi (Paris: Hachette, 1960).Google Scholar
  17. 28.
    J. P. Brissot de Warville, Théorie des loix criminelles (Berlin: [s.n.], 1781) 2 volumesGoogle Scholar
  18. L.-M. Le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau, “Rapport sur le projet du Code pénal” at the National Assembly, 23 May 1791, Archives parlementaires 1787–1860, first series, vol. XXVI, pp. 319–345.Google Scholar
  19. 43.
    J. A. Brillat-Savarin, “Suite de la discussion sur le Code pénal et adoption du principe de la peine des travaux forcés,” 2 June 1791, Archives parlementaires, 1787–1860, first series, vol. XXVI, p. 712, col. 1.Google Scholar

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© Graham Burchell 2015

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