Conceptualizing the ultimate punishment in China: a political, cultural, and historical analysis of the death penalty in communist China, 1949-2007
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] In his well known essay "Politics as a Vocation", Max Weber argued that the "...state is a human community that...claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory" (Weber 1918: 78). One form of "the legitimate use of physical force" that is commonly used in both the United States and China is the execution of human beings. This paper will argue that this particular form of state sanctioned violence is not consistent with basic human rights and evolving modern standards of decency. Historically, capital punishment has functioned as the ultimate resort to the social control of Chinese communist dictatorship. The goal of this paper is to investigate the major political, social, and cultural causes to the state legislated capital punishment in contemporary Communist China, and analytically challenge the ground assumptions of commonsense theory of deterrence on death penalty received by the Chinese criminological ideology and jurisprudence of criminal justice system. Scientifically and statistically there is no necessary positive correlation between death penalty and crime rate in China, which has proven to be true through many incidences in the communist China. In particular, this paper will also be an attempt to address the political, cultural, and legal issues on how and why capital punishment was adopted, retained, and widely executed by the Chinese communist government since 1949; and also define the initiative and progress of abolition movement in China into two levels: the change of institutional legal system and the arousal of ideological consciousness of human rights. (One example of it would be lethal injection replacing gunshot execution.)
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