[First published December 15, 2005] Among the many questions I got from those who received or read here my estimated increase in the last century’s democide to 262,000,000, two in particular I want to mention. One is, “What is the answer to stop this insanity?” And the other is, “how do you deal with the sheer horror of what we are capable of doing to one another?”
The answer to both is the same. First, one must recognize that the regimes carrying out this mass murder of thousands and millions are not insane, but rational and calculating rulers who are eliminating what they see as threats to them, consolidating their power, seeking to increase their power, exacting revenge on former ruling groups, or exterminating those who they believe pollute their nation, race, or ethnic group. True, paranoia, fear, hatred, and lust for power are driving forces, but these human emotions should not obscure the rational calculations involved, and the problem solving nature that democide is to them. One of the shocks to the myth (of some introductory political science textbooks) that governments are generally benevolent is that some of the most horrendous democides were decided on in a conference or cabinet meetings of top officials.
Once understood that democide is usually a government policy made by rational decision makers, we can then understand why some governments do this and others don’t. It dependents on how top government leaders become so, the mechanism by which they are chosen, and the pressures the come to bear on them. To wit: democratic decision makers go through a long, torturous process of election or appointment, usually at different levels, as they gradually ascend to president, senator, representative, cabinet member, or judge. In the process, they become acculturated to negotiating differences, conceding some issues, and tolerating differences. Once they are elected or appointed, their electoral or official power depends on staying close to the beliefs and values of those who put them in power, and the expectations of the larger public. Any domestic democide is out of the question, for news of it could not be contained, and it would be the most extreme violation of democratic culture. Any such action, if validated, would assure a unanimous impeachment and certain imprisonment.
Compare this to dictators who seize power through coups, revolutions or assassinations. Their power depends on their guns, and how they maneuver against possible opponents. The only restraint on them is the loyalty of those commanding their palace guards and troops. If such dictators are ruthless enough, they can make all those around them quake in so much fear that no one would dare even think of raising a finger against them. Then, as a Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot, they can order their troops and secret police to murder anyone, no matter whom or how many.
What is the answer to democide, then? It is a system of government that puts its leaders through successive tests of their values and beliefs and a process of acculturation until they reach the top, and then makes their power beholden to the people and that culture. This is democracy. Seeing the above should make it easy to understand why liberal democracies (in which the culture of negotiation, compromise, and tolerance is most deeply imbedded) do not murder their own subjects.
So then, how can I emotionally handle all the genocides, massacres, politicides, atrocities, and mass murder I constantly deal with? Why is it I am not near suicide or in deep depression? The answer is because I see the solution to this. And, I see all the data I have collected and their objective analysis as proof that we have the correct solution. Now, with all of this data collected and their analyses behind me, I now see a world democide of 262,000,000 in the last century as a flag on which is written in blood, “Dictatorships are a bloody crime against humanity.” With this belief, any new democide I come across, as horrible as it is, as emotionally wrenching as it might be, are more sprays of blood on this flag.
All that is needed now is for this bloody flag to be seen, waved, and carried into nonviolent battle against those who enslave, starve, impoverish, and murder our fellow human beings. This is the fight of our era, our time, and how we fight this is what our century will be remembered for.
Let freedom ring. ,