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December 12, 1934
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spectacle of sixty-six executions. Whatever the jutifications, one would expect a certain awe and restraint in the face of wholesale death. One would expect a little of sorrow and regret. But there is nothing of the sort. As they talk of it, I can almost hear them smacking their lips with relish. There is a glint of sadistic pleasure in their eyes.


Not, mind you, hardened men and women accustomed to slaughter houses and undertaking establishments; but mild-mannered intellectuals, full of quotations from Marx and the New Republic—precisely the sort of intellectuals, in fact, who both in Germany and in Russia are the first candidates for execution in moments of stress. They have covered with phrases what is, after all, the degeneration of their natural instincts against murder, whether official or private. This gruesome parlor game of theirs! They think of themselves as social surgeons, going through smilingly with a batch of amputations. They think of themselves as avenging angels. They actually enjoy the business.

But the surgeon who amputates so blithely, with such routine despatch, without bothering to diagnose or to save the doomed member, is clearly warped in his mind and his nerves. The human body cannot be safely entrusted to him. Neither can the body social be safely entrusted to his kind in the domain of social experiment.

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