10 October

It probably didn't feel like it to the 15,000 or so people whose heads it removed over the next two decades, but the guillotine was introduced as a 'painless and private capital punishment method equal for all the classes, as an interim step towards completely banning the death penalty'.

October 10, 2009 · 1 min read

Dr Joseph Ignace Guillotin ‘belonged to a small reform movement that sought to banish the death penalty completely. On October 10th 1789 – the second day of the debate about France’s penal code – Guillotin proposed six articles to the new Legislative Assembly. In one of them he proposed that “the criminal shall be decapitated; this will be done solely by means of a simple mechanism”. This was defined as a “machine that beheads painlessly”.

‘This uniform method of executing was to replace the inhumane methods such as burning, mutilation, drowning, and hanging. An easy death – so to speak – was no longer to be the prerogative of nobles. Guillotin also wanted the machine to be hidden from the view of large crowds, in accord with his view that the execution should be private and dignified.’

Source


Manchester skyline

Why planning is political

Andrea Sandor explores how community-led developments are putting democracy at the heart of the planning process

Review – Tracksuits, Traumas and Class Traitors

D Hunter's 'Tracksuits, Traumas and Class Traitors' is an exploration of working-class struggle and strength, writes Liam Kennedy

Bank Job directors Daniel and Hilary

Review – Bank Job

Jake Woodier reviews a new documentary film that brings heist aesthetics to a story of debt activism


Beyond leek-flavoured UKism

‘Radical federalism’ should do more than rearrange the constitutional furniture, writes Undod’s Robat Idris

A street sign in Watford marks Colonial Way leading to Rhodes Way, Imperial Way and Clive Way

Statues, street names, and contested memory

Proudly 'anti-woke' posturing is just the latest government attempt to memorialise white supremacy. Meghan Tinsley reports on the politics of commemoration

Who decides what counts as ‘political’?

Government demands for public sector ‘neutrality’ uphold a harmful status quo. For civil servant Sophie Izon, it's time to speak out