Who Are The Mortacracies? Part V

December 8, 2008

[first published May 8, 2006] I lied. I wrote that this would be the concluding part of this series on defining the world’s mortacracies, with my identification of the final list and what to do about them. But, I came across the Fund For Peace webste on failed states with beautiful data for my purpose here. So, never one to let good data rest in peace, I will exploit them to further define mortacracies.

The data comprise the 12 indicators of a state’s failure listed below:

1 – Mounting Demographic Pressures,
2 – Massive Movement of Refugees and DPs,
3 – Legacy of Vengeance – Seeking Group Grievance,
4 – Chronic and Sustained Human Flight,
5 – Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines,
6 – Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline,
7 – Criminalization or Delegitimization of the State,
8 – Progressive Deterioration of Public Services,
9 – Widespread Volition of Human Rights,
10 – Security Apparatus as “State within a State,”
11 – Rise of Factionalized Elites,
12 – Intervention of Other States or External Actors.

The definitions of each of these variables is here, and the methodology for scoring nations in a range from 0 for least intensity on an indicator to 10 for the highest intensity—greatest failure—is here. The actual scoring is done though special software, which:

“indexed and scanned tens of thousands of open-source articles and reports using Boolean logic. The data are electronically gathered using Thomson Dialog, a powerful data-collection system that includes international and local media reports and other public documents, including U.S. State Department reports, independent studies, and even corporate financial filings. The data used in each index are collected from May to December of the preceding year. The software calculates the number of positive and negative ‘hits’ for the 12 indicators. Internal and external experts then review the scores as well as the articles themselves, when necessary, to confirm the scores and ensure accuracy.”

Before going on, I have to clarify a possible confusion of terms. In line with my source, I will have to use the term “state” for the sovereign nations or countries of the world. In previous parts, I have been using the term “country,” which is a more general term for both a state and the non-sovereign territories of a state, although by context it should have been clear that I meant states. Sometimes, because of my background in international relations, I also may unthinkingly use the term “nation” for state, or “nation state.”

Now, keeping in mind that I am not focused on defining failed states in order to assess the risk of conflict, as is The Fund For Peace, but on defining mortacracies, not all 12 indicators are relevant t this purpose. So, I excluded indicators 1, 5, 11, and 12, and recalculated the total sum of the remaining eight indicators. The maximum possible failure is a total sum of 80 on these eight indicators, and the minimum is 0. The worst failure, then, is Sudan with a total of 74.6, and the least failure is Norway with 9.8 (these are the same lowest and highest failures on all 12 indicators). The U.S. is at 21, just above the U.K., which is 20.7. The average is 45.9, with a median of 50.3 and a standard deviation of 16.7.

The next step is to standardize these totals to get a relative picture of what nations are high in failure and to plot the result. The plot is shown below (if the plot is unclear or does not show, see here:

The distribution of states is a uniform curve that is nearly perfectly fitted (correlation squared = .998!) by a fourth degree polynomial. There are two inflection points on the curve, one approximately at a standard score of 1.00 (which means the states at this level states are about one-standard deviation above the mean = 0), and the other at about the mean itself. The implication of this is that a good list of mortacracies would be those at or above one standard deviation on the total for the eight indicators.

These comprise the 21 states shown below (if the list is unclear or does not show, see here):

This is quite a list. Unlike some of the other lists of possible mortacracies, this one has virtually all the states I would have included intuitively, especially the top ones. Even North Korea and Burma are captured by these indicators.

Now, from all I have done, it is time to choose a final list of mortacracies. I promise.

Two lovers sent back to 1906 to foster democracy wage war on a rogue time policeman from the far future who is contriving to do the same for communism. His advanced weapons and teleportation capability make for a shocking lethal confrontation. Free download in pdf

Who Are The Mortacracies? Part III

December 7, 2008

[First published on May8, 2006] In Part II, I used a people’s life expectancy from birth (LE) as an indicator of whether they were ruled by a mortacracy or not. But is LE enough?

Perhaps, in addition to LE, I should consider a wider measure of human development that takes into account LE’s social and economic context, and its high and low. We have this from the UN’s Human Development Report for 2005 It used a human development index (HDI) based on a people’s income, education and health. Its purpose is not to give a complete picture of human development, but to provide a measure of human well-being (see here for the indices involved, and their calculations). This is precisely what is impacted by mortacracies.

The report also provides a Life Expectancy Index (LEI), which among other indices goes into calculating the HDI. It is:

(a country’s life expectancy minus the world low) / (world high minus world low).
Thus, the lowest LEI would be 0, and the high would be 1.0. As to calculating the HDI, each of the indices that go into it is determined as is LEI above, and HDI is an average of them all. Thus, HDI also varies from a low of 0 to a high of 1.0. The 2003 HDI plotted against LEI is shown in the chart below (If it is unclear or does not show, click here)

Since LEI is a linear transformation of LE, the same curve would obtain even if LE were used in place of LEI.

The best fitting curvilinear function for the plot is the natural logarithmic one shown, with a correlation R^2=.82. It accounts for 82 percent of the variance between HDI and LEI. As the well being of a people increases as measure by HDI, there is an increasingly close relationship between this well being and their life expectancy. This is clear from the chart, where along the fitted log curve, the distribution of countries (blue dots) around the curve tightens into a cone at the highest level. I would argue that something is causing the wide distribution of countries at the low end of HDI and LEI, most likely the mortacracies.

Now, through inadequate health services, forced impoverishment, and extensive violence, thug regimes repress their subjects’ well being such that they die at an early age. That is, HDI and LEI should both be low. This can be determined by averaging them together (since one-third of HDI is calculated from the LEI, averaging LEI and HDI means that 50 percent of the average is owed to LEI). When this is done, the ten countries with the lowest averages are shown below (If the table is unclear or does not show, click here):

<img src=” http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/AVG.HDI_LEI.2003.GIF&#8221;
Clearly, a study of such countries would show corrupt, and in many cases tyrannical regimes, run by leaders who give to their relatives, tribesmen, henchmen and sycophants the best businesses, and the millions from exports and international aid they receive. Little is left over for the welfare of  their people. Little is left over for the welfare of its people.

This raises the question as to the overall relationship of freedom to the average HDI & LEI. To answer I will use the Freedom House ratings for 2003 on the political rights (rated 1-7) and civil liberties (also rated 1-7) of all countries. When I add these two ratings together, the result ranges from a “2” for the freest to a 14 for the most unfree. When I plot these ratings against the average HDI & LEI, I get the plot below (If it is does not show, click here):

<img src=” http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/HDI_LEI_FREE.GIF
The linear fit is, as a freedomist would predict, inclined downward. That is, the greater the decrease in a people’s freedom, the greater the decrease in their well being. The correlation is r =.50 (r^2=.248), and although this is a good correlation, it accounts for only 25 percent of the variance, the cutoff for what I consider a meaningful social science correlation.

A study of the plot shows that the average HDI & LEI tends to rise at free and not free ends, but less at the latter, and thus creating a dip in the middle. This is a lopsided U-distribution (one side is lower than the other) and suggests a third degree polynomial regression would best fit the points. The best fitting one is shown in the plot. It increases the correlation considerably to R=.61 (R^2 = .367), or 37 percent of the variance.

This is fascinating. For taken at face value, the worst mortacracies are in the middle range between free countries and not free ones. How can this be? Research on democide shows well that the tendency of a regime to commit democide increases as the freedom of its people decreases. While this also shows for mortality (the dipping straight line), the relationship is not as tight as for democide.

I believe the reason for this is totalitarian control over the statistics submitted to the UN. From a variety of memoirs, media stories, UN reports and refugee reports, and those of human rights organizations, we know that life in Sudan, North Korea, Burma, Libya, Ethiopia, and other such countries is dismal, not only with widespread democide, but with high mortality as well. Yet, this is not shown in their average HDI & LEI. To see this, consider the worst of the worst dictatorships, the most totalitarian ones, as rated by Freedom House (If it is unclear or does not show, click here):

<img src=” http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOT_FREE.HDI.LE.GIF&#8221;
I am using LE, rather than LEI, since the former is simply how many years from birth that people live on the average, it is easier to understand. As can be seen, some of the HDI and LE are surprisingly high. For comparison, I provide the HDI and LE for different groups of countries, and for the world (If it is unclear or does not show, click here):

<img src=” http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/WORLD_HDI_LE.GIF&#8221;
That for the U.S. is .94 and 77.4, respectively.

So far, based on LE alone I have defined a potential group of mortacracies, which however included two liberal democracies. I have refined this by selecting the lowest average HDI & LEI, none of which were free. But the problem with this group is that it did not include what we know to be among the worst mortacracies, such as North Korea, Sudan, and Burma.

Perhaps another approach will work better, such as the change in LE over time, and I will analyze this in Part IV.

A novel about two lovers who travel in time back to 1906 to foster the democratic peace and prevent the world wars and mass democide.
Free download in pdf

Who Are The Mortacracies? Part II

December 6, 2008

[First published May 2, 2005] RETRACTION: In case you read it in yesterday’s Part I, before I edited it out: I lost my cool at the end of the blog and called for the democracies to make war on these bloody mortacracies (a thanks to Walter W. Cox for questioning it). I retract that as an irrational and dangerous thrashing about. I had just seen the previous night the A&E “Flight 93” and 9/11 recap, and then stupidly wrote my Part I about the bloody mortacracies. But the question as to what to do about these mortacracies has to be answered sensibly, and as a last part in this series, I will try to write a more nuanced, practical, and rational blog on what the democracies can do about these mortacracies.

Now, in Part I, I defined the gang of democide committing mortacracies. But what about those regimes whose actions create such life threatening conditions as to unintentionally cause the mass death of their people?


Consider Zimbabwe, for example. The Marxist policies of the Robert Mugabe gang that rules the country by force (the country is rated not free by Freedom House), have caused a country that had a relatively high standard of living for Africa before Mugabe’s rule to deteriorate into being among its poorest. It has an unemployment rate of over 70 percent, and the world’s highest inflation rate at 900% (a roll of toilet paper now costs $145,750 Zimbabwean dollars). There is a crisis food shortage that without outside aid will turn into a famine, and fuel is hard to get. Its economy has collapsed by about 40 percent, dragging down the country’s standard of living such that the people now have among the shortest lives in Africa. Their life expectancy (LE) at birth is 36.7 years, and continues to fall. Compare this to 82 years for Japan, the highest among sovereign countries, and 77.1 years for the United States. The chart below shows the six-year movement in Zimbabwe’s LE (If the chart does not show, click here)


Moreover, Mugabe suppresses speech, curtails and controls civil organizations, and corruption is widespread among officials. He has set his army on opposition supporters, using rape as a preferred weapon. And he continues to expropriate land owned by Whites. The 2005 Human Development Report gives Zimbabwe a human development index (HDI) of .50, while for comparison it is .94 for the U.S., .91 for Israel, and an average of .74 for the world.


What bothers me most about this is how young, by my standards, people are on the average when they die in Zimbabwe and other such thug regimes. Many of us were just getting started in life at that age these people die. And to die from the conditions you are forced to live under though no fault of your own, conditions created or allowed to continue by the gang that rules, such as massive corruption, hyper-inflation, extensive personal and mass violence, high unemployment, illiteracy, food shortages, malnutrition, and very poor medical services and facilities. While the resulting early deaths are not democide, since unintended by the regime, the regime still should be held responsible for them in my view.

The question is how to characterize these deadly conditions, if such ready terms such as genocide, politicide, and democide are inapplicable. First, I suggest that the term mortacracy, that I have applied to mass murdering regimes, be extended to regimes like Mugabe’s. That is, they commit mortality—they cause their people to die. Mortacracies mortalize their people.

Of course, one obvious way of defining such mortacracies is by the life expectancy (LE) of a country’s people at birth. Then, those countries near or at the bottom might comprise our best list of mortacracies.

To my knowledge, this is a new line of research, and there is no guidance but intuition in judging what is a low enough LE to reflect a true mortacracy at work. The 2003 life expectancies from birth (LE) for all countries, except notably for North Korea, are listed in the UN Human Development Report 2005. I plot them below (If the chart does not show, click here):


Each blue dot is a country’s LE, which tend to merge for all countries into a curving line. This is an incredibly uniform plot, as shown by the trend line—the best fitting third degree polynomial regression and its virtually perfect correlation R^2 of .99. The LEs begin to dip down at the low end, with two breaks, one a little below an LE of 60, and the other at an LE of 50. Breaks of this sort in an otherwise smooth plot indicate that there is something working on the very low LEs to cause the break and steeper decline in the trend line. This could be the greater mortality caused by mortacracies at this level, and reflected in their LEs. Below, I list all 28 countries that are below the break in LEs at 50 years, and include their freedom rating and scores (If the chart does not show, click here).



Among the 28, 5 are free, 13 are partly free, and 10 are not free. South Africa, which is rated free, is recovering from the years during which the Whites’ policy of apartheid segregated the near 80 percent Black population in the impoverished, undeveloped, and ill-nourished areas of the country, with few health services. Even though the present liberal democratic government is trying to develop and improve the conditions of the largely Black areas, the LE has only increased slowly due to the overwhelming task of improving in the short run the conditions of life and education for 35 million Blacks.


Near the bottom of LEs is Lesotho, which became free one year before. And it is still is recovering from a military coup, violence, assassinations, three years of poor harvests, corruption, and a sharp rise in HIV/AIDS cases. In other words, democracy has not had time to influence the death rate. As to Botswana, which is a stable and long running democracy, it has been ravaged by an AIDS/AIDS epidemic that infects about one-third of the population and which has caused economic problems, including 40 percent unemployment.

Namibia and Mali are also free countries below the cut-off LE of 50. Until its independence in 1990, Namibia was ruled by South Africa and its 87 percent Blacks also suffered under the apartheid system. In addition, under South African control Namibians violently intervened in the Angola civil war, besides being plagued with its own guerrilla war. Since independence, the democratic government has undertaken economic development, fair land reform, and a huge power development program. It now provides encouragement to extensive foreign investment. As for Mali, it is still recovering from 30 years of corrupt and rapacious military or corrupt one-party rule. This ended in 1992 with a fair and open democratic election, but it left the country terribly impoverished. Nonetheless, there has been steady improvement in the economy, much of which has yet to reach most of the people.

Then there are the remaining countries, such as the Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia, which have been ruled by corrupt and violent tyrants, treating their countries as their own preserve, raping the resources for their own benefit and that of their relatives and tribesmen, killing and murdering to keep power, and showing virtually no interest in the well being of their people. Their abysmally low LEs reflect this.

But is the raw LE the best measure of mortacracies? LE is only one indicator of a regime’s effect on life. Perhaps I should consider, in addition to an index to LE, a wider measure of human underdevelopment that takes into account LE’s social and economic context. Such is the Human Development Index, which I will look at in Part III in order to refine my definition of the world’s mortacracies.

NOTE: The Brookings Institute recently held a forum on US policy options for
Darfur. It included presentations by the United States Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Displaced Persons Francis Deng, among others. A full pdf transcript is available here. Otherwise, C-Span has the entire event on video, which can be seen here (real player needed).



Link of Note



“4 million dead in Congo” December 22, 2004:

” THE WORLD’S biggest war may be its most invisible. In 10 years, an estimated 4 million have died in eastern Congo. A maelstrom of invading forces, local militia, a central army and United Nations peacekeepers shoot their way across the landscape…. In general, the Congo war is a scattershot conflict based on ethnicity and survival. The death rate, according to a relief group, the International Rescue Committee, runs at 1,000 people a day. These deaths, like the millions before, stem from hunger and disease, both preventable by peace.” 

“Counting the dead” April 10, 2003:

“So now we know: up to 4.7 million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s four-and-a-half-year civil war. The figure was announced this week by the International Rescue Committee, an American aid agency. Its lower estimate was 3.1 million….” 

“Mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo: a nationwide survey” January 7, 2006 (free registration required):

” Commencing in 1998, the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a humanitarian disaster, but has drawn little response from the international community. To document rates and trends in mortality and provide recommendations for political and humanitarian interventions, we did a nationwide mortality survey during April–July, 2004…. Total death toll from the conflict (1998–2004) was estimated to be 3·9 million. Mortality rate was higher in unstable eastern provinces, showing the effect of insecurity. Most deaths were from easily preventable and treatable illnesses rather than violence. Regression analysis suggested that if the effects of violence were removed, all-cause mortality could fall to almost normal rates.” 

RJR: Can there be any doubt that the Congo (Kinshasa, or former Zaire), classified as not free by Freedom House, is a mortacracy?



Freedom’s Moral Goods

Who Are The Mortacracies? Part I

December 6, 2008

[First published May 1, 2005] I have used the term democide for murder by government, where murder is understood as it is defined in civil law. This is clear enough. And, I have used the term mortacracy for a regime that commits mass democide, such as Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, communist China, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, among others. The key understanding of democide is that it is intentional. Yet what about those regimes that unintentionally cause the deaths of their citizens as a natural consequence of their actions, or their lack of action?. One example might be a regime where corruption has become so pervasive and destructive of a people’s welfare that it threatens their daily lives and reduces their life expectancy.

This blog is Part I of an exploration in the measurement and identification of mortacracies—those political regimes that murder or cause the death of their citizens by the tens of thousands.

Here, I will focus on the identification of mortacracies in 2005 by their domestic democide—their outright murder of their own citizens—and for this the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2005 will be my primary source. I am impressed by the well organized detail and thoroughness of the report. I have compared it to other human rights reports, such as those published by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and find it the best for my purpose. I will consult these other sources as necessary for additional information.

Using the Country Reports, then, I was able to define democide of four kinds:

Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life, as in (1) the government or its agents committing politically motivated killings, and/or (2) security forces unlawfully killing people.

Disappearances of people caused by the government, its agents, or security forces.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions that caused, or were so life threatening to assume to have caused, the death of inmates.

Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts, or what I will call “war crimes.” It includes indiscriminate, nonselective killings arising from excessive use of force, or by the shelling of villages.

From the sources I mentioned above, I was able to assess the democide of each country in the world for 2005, and create the following list of mortacracies for 2005—those political regimes responsible for the mass murder of tens of thousands of their people. (If the table doesn’t show, see here)

The full table of democide data for all regimes is too big to show here. It is on my website. The list of mortacracies above comes from democide level 3 in the linked table. If you have any difficulty reading these tables, please let me know so that I can improve their legibility.

A word on how I determined the level of democide. First, any democide (a “yes” for any of the democide classifications in the table) earns at least a democide level of “1”. If a careful reading of the Country Report, and other sources, then suggested the level of killing was 1,000 or more, in 2005 or in previous years, I gave it a level “2”; and if at least 10,000, I gave it a level “3”.

What does “or in previous years” mean? The number a regime murdered in previous years counts toward its level of democide for 2005 if its freedom level is unchanged or it dropped (such as from partly free to not free). However, if its level of freedom improved such that it went from not free to partly free, then I did not count any democide before the change. Moreover, if a country went through a political system change, as occurred when Pol Pot was defeated in 1979, and Vietnam established a puppet Cambodian regime, or when Afghanistan’s Taliban were defeated by the American coalition, then even though the freedom level remained the same, I did not count the previous democide. However, simply a change in who rules through a coup, revolution, or natural succession, as happened in Syria, North Korea, and China, does not wash away the previous democide.

If you have difficulty with this, think of my purpose, which is to define a mortacracy. If a regime murdered hundreds of thousands of its people since it gained power, as did the Iranian theocracy, but while the same regime was in power in 2005 it only murdered a few, then it seems misleading and unreasonable to say that the regime was mortacratic during those previous years when it murdered so many, but it is not a mortacracy in 2005. By mortacracy, I mean a quality of a regime, as in being a dictatorship or democracy, and not its policy or actions in a particular year.

There you have it in the above table. The worst mass murdering thug regimes of the last year, all but one also depriving their people of all human rights, which is to say, enslaving them.

Related link

“QUANTIFYING GENOCIDE IN DARFUR: April 28, 2006 (Part 1)” By Eric Reeves:

” Currently extant data, in aggregate, strongly suggest that total excess mortality in Darfur, over the course of more than three years of deadly conflict, now significantly exceeds 450,000. As Rwanda marks a grim twelfth anniversary, we must accept that while vast human destruction in Darfur has unfolded plainly before us, we have again done little more than watch, offering only unprotected humanitarian assistance while some 450,000 people have perished as a result of violence, as well as consequent malnutrition and disease. Human destruction to date, however, certainly does not mark the conclusion of the world’s moral failure in responding to genocide in Darfur—on the contrary, this massive previous destruction is our best measure of what is impending.

Far [more] terrifyingly, all current evidence suggests that hundreds of thousands of human beings will die in the coming months from these same causes.”

RJR: This democide is so overt and public as to draw such attention to it. But thanks to the hopeless UN, the disinterest of the democracies, and Sudan’s supportive Arab Muslim countries, even then not much is being done about it. But for many of the mortacracies—like North Korea, which is a border to border concentration/labor camp—the day-by-day death and summary execution of its people is not so public, and thus hardly mentioned in the media. Even then, as evidenced by Sudan, nothing much would be done.

A murdered Darfur child

The Monstrous, Hidden Mao Tse-tung

November 26, 2008



[First published Novmber 21, 2005]The Monstrous, Hidden Mao Tse-tung In a previous blog, wrote that I was convinced by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s <I>Mao</I> that China’s Great Famine was a democide, and that this raised the communist democide 1923 to 1987 to 73,000,000, exceeding by over 10,000,000 the democide total for the Soviet Union 1917-1987. There is much more in this book and its predecessor, Chang’s <i>Wild Swans</I> that I will reveal here.


I should note that I’m not doing book reviews, although I need to give some background from the books. My interest is only in what I learned from the books that are new and surprising. First, as to the <I>Wild Swans</I>, this is a story of the lives of three Chinese women, Chang’s grandmother who had her feet bound, and became a concubine; her mother who along with Chang’s father became high officials in the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), and Chang herself who became a CCP member, a Red Guard, and was tortured, incarcerated, persecuted, underwent forced labor, and finally with Mao’s death was able to get a university education and be awarded one of the first foreign fellowships, this to England. What is so absorbing about this is what is revealed about China’s history through its effect on this one family. This includes the downfall of the Manchu Dynasty, China’s brief flirtation with democracy, the warlord years, Chiang Kai-shek’s rise to power, Mao’s gradual seizure of power over the communists, the civil war, Japanese invasion and occupation, the post-war battle against Chiang for China, Mao’s takeover of China, and the various bloody campaigns to solidify Mao’s rule and impose communism, the Great Leap Forward, the Great Famine, the Cultural Revolution, and aftermath. 


Here the perspective is bottom up. The top down perspective, that is of Mao and those around them, is given in <I>Mao</I>. These books are essential to each other and I strongly recommend that anyone interested in China today or its recent history, in pure evil, in communism, in totalitarianism, or in how mass murder and torture can become a routine operation of government, must read these books.


With that as background, what have I learned?


1. Some of the highest CCP members were dedicated to improving the lives of the people, but they soon became disillusioned by the killing, and corruption that infected the whole CCP, even at the top where the lust for power and fear of Mao determined almost every policy. They soon became cynical and were executed. 


While the people’s welfare deteriorated year by year, those at the top ate the best of meals, lived in the best of resorts, mansions, and homes, and even took over what had been public parks for private strolling and relaxation. By the end of Mao’s regime, the people lived in hovels, wore rags, some having to go naked, and were always on the verge of starvation, or so weakened that an ordinary cold meant death. At great expense, Mao had huge mansions built all over China for his private use, sometime spending no more than a few days in one, and had special food brought to him from remote areas. Moreover, he had his guards or cadre secure pretty young women for his sexual pleasure


The total income of China’s government was Mao’s to spend as he wished. All public property was his. All CCP members and government officials, military and police, was his to command.


2. The 1933-1934 Long March of 368 days over about 5,600 miles that you have read about, that “heroic march” of 87,000 communist soldiers from Yuda, Hangxi, led by Mao through much of China, “winning battle after battle against Chiang’s forces,” until finally only 10,000 reached security in Wuqi, Ningxia (Yenan came later). This is almost all a lie, perpetuated by Mao’s propaganda machine and Edgar Snow’s <i>Red Star Over China</I>. This popular and influential book established a favorable impression of Mao in the West. Snow was a communist sympathizer and the book was practically all dictated by Mao.


Virtually none of the well-known battles were fought. They were almost all lies. Chiang was not trying to destroy the communists but preserve them (his beloved son was a captive of Stalin), and guide them to where he could use their presence to overcome warlords that opposed him. 


Mao used the march as a means to gain more power against his rivals, even killing or leading their communist soldiers into ambushes or hopeless battles with Chiang. He thus led to destruction a whole Army. So, the most notable battles on the march were the defeats he set up to insure his power. He could do this because of his spies close to Chiang who kept Mao informed of all Chiang’s plans and military movements.


During and after the march, Mao carried out purges of communists, including many young people who joined the communists out of dedication to helping the people. Once they saw what Mao’s communism was like, they tried to escape. When caught they were usually executed by being buried alive.


3. Perhaps one of the most influential acts of any communist mole was that of a general in charge of Chiang’s army around Shanghai. When the Japanese invaded China from the north, they were not interested in a war or taking over all of indigestible China, but in reaching some kind of agreement with Chiang. However, at Mao’s command the mole had his troops attack the Japanese in Shanghai against Chiang’s orders. It became a great battle and the Japanese won. This attack on Japanese forces was to the Japanese a cause for war, for it communicated that Chiang was not interested in an agreement, and since they had secured Shanghai as a sea base, they decided to move into the rest of China and on a full scale war. This is what Mao wanted. He never really fought the Japanese, but used the war to attack Chiang and prepare for the postwar struggle against him. 


When I was in Japan during the Korean War a former Japanese soldier who had fought in China described how he and other soldiers would sit on a hill and watch Mao’s and Chiang’s soldiers fight each other. Chiang did not want these battles, Mao did.


4. In the post war struggle, Chiang had virtually defeated communist troops in Manchuria, when the US intervened. President Truman saw Mao as a peasant reformer and sent General George Marshall to arrange a cease-fire, and seek accommodations between Mao and Chiang. Neither Truman nor Marshall had any idea of Mao’s nature and aims. Under threat of the withdrawal of American aid, Marshall made Chiang stop fighting Mao for four months, during which he was to arrange a meeting between both sides. It didn’t happen, but the delay saved Mao’s army. Over the four months, it was massively reinforced by Stalin, and trained by Soviet officers. It was then almost a match for Chiang’s battle hardened forces. 


But, Chiang had three generals high in his command that were communist sleepers. In western, central, and Northern China including Manchuria they kept Mao informed of their movements, while maneuvering for the defeat of forces under their command. Chiang was not only a poor judge of those leading his forces, he refused to take any action against those he suspected of communist leanings. Mao never had such a problem. He killed anyone of whom he had slightest suspicion, and even those who might be so disposed by class background, friendships, family, and previous occupation.


So, Moa won China with the help of communist propaganda, communist moles, sleepers high up in Chiang’s regime and army, Stalin, Truman, and Chiang himself.


4. I need not go into the bloody land reform, and successive movements all dedicated to increasing communist, and thus Mao’s power. I should mention the Korean War, however. Mao was not satisfied with his power over China, he wanted it over the world. He thus tried to use all China’s resources to build up China’s industrial capacity and military capability. He tried to woo Stalin to help him build the atomic bomb, a huge navy, including 50 submarines, and the factories to produce tanks, cannons, airplanes, and so on. American power, however, stood in his way. But, he thought he knew how to weaken it. He wanted a Korean War in order to chew up American forces by the hundreds of thousands with is own. He therefore persuaded Stalin to give Kim Il-sung the go ahead to launch an invasion of the South, which would surely result in the United States getting involved. 


This is a remarkable revelation. It had become axiomatic in strategic studies that when in early 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson gave his famous Aleutians speech in which he excluded South Korea from the US Pacific “defense line” or “defensive perimeter,” it encourage Stalin to support Kim’s desire to launch the invasion. This lead to the national security principle: well define who you will defend, but otherwise keep your enemy guessing at to what you will do and how. There has been virtually no appreciation of the Korean War being on Mao’s initiative, or that the Acheson speech had nothing to do with it. Mao believed that American forces would be involved, and indeed, it was to draw them into mass slaughter that he wanted the war.


5. I mentioned in yesterday’s blog about Mao’s taking food out of the mouths of his people, condemning 38,000,000 to death, in his insatiable drive for power. And those close to him in power, finally regardless of the risk, turning on him to end the famine. He later got his revenge by the Cultural Revolution. He created a force of young high school and college students who had been so brainwashed as to love Mao as a god. He gave these Red Guards free reign (police and army were ordered not to interfere) to seek out capitalist roaders, spies, rightists, anti-Maoists, and anyone they suspected of counter-revolutionary beliefs, to thus to cleanse the CCP and government no matter how high the officials. 


The Red Guards, young boys and girls, beat and tortured their victims, incarcerated them, had them transported to remote and inhospitable regions to do forced labor, publicly humiliated them, and murdered them. Red Guards formed factions and fought, tortured, and killed each other as to who were the truer Moaists. Even army units got involved either directly in the fighting or by supplying their favorite faction with weapons. 


China fell into chaos. All schools were closed for years, and factory production ceased in some areas. Although the impoverished peasants were left undisturbed in most areas, without any additional food or help, they still had to take care of those sent to their area for hard labor or incarceration. No high official, except Mao, and a few closest to him, such as his wife Jiang Qing and Premier and Foreign Minister Chou En-lai, were exempt.


6. The Cultural Revolution was not just a cleansing of the CCP, it also wiped the culture clean of that which Mao did not approve. Classical books and art were destroyed, classical theater was forbidden, as was dancing, and only movies extolling the CCP or Mao were allowed. Anything cultural from the West was trashed. Normal forms of recreation were all but denied. About 80 percent of ancient monuments were eliminated. China’s priceless heritage was gone as Mao turned China into a cultural desert.


7. Until I read <i>Wild Swans</I>, I knew about the brainwashing of China’s people, but I had no feel for it nor did I know how thorough it was. Regardless of Mao’s monstrous evil, the people seemed to generally love him. He was deified. He was “the great savior of China,” the “great helmsman,” the “great provider.” “He loved his people, and had fought for them.” “Everything he did was for the good of the people.” He was China with all its virtues, and none of its faults. The brainwashing was such that people simply could not have negative thoughts about him. What was happening to them was due to Western agents and Chiang’s spies, rightists, and capitalist roaders, or bad people high in the CCP. Mao was as much a victim as they were.


8. In effectiveness, the way Mao controlled information, and deceived and lied to his people, went far beyond what Hitler and Stalin had achieved. It is worthy of close study as to how Mao so controlled information and communications. I believe it was by fear, the trembling fear resulting from systematic and deadly purges. No one could know when he or she would be the next one arrested and tortured to divulge their alleged plotting and counter revolutionary contacts. One might even fall under a quota to be arrested, as Mao dictated that between 1 and 10 percent of all intellectuals had to be arrested. In one province, the army was told that a third to a quarter of all class enemies were to be put to death by bludgeoning or stoning — about 100,000 were thus killed. This method of killing was chosen because it would instill fear and terror in survivors. People were thus turned into obedient robots.


9. Chou En Lai was the face of Mao to the world. He was handsome, a good conversationalist, cultured, and an accomplished diplomat. Mao used him to deal with visiting dignitaries, and he did much to mislead the world about Mao’s aims and character. He was also Mao’s hatchet man and supported Mao’s deadly policies and mass murder. How could this man who so impressed diplomats, and especially Americans do this. He was blackmailed. Mao held him under tight control by threatening to reveal anti-CCP statements he had once made, which would have meant torture and a miserable death.


10. Ho Chi Minh was under Mao’s influence and in some ways control. It was Mao that directed Vietnam’s bloody land reform, with all the same techniques and horror he had inflicted on his own peasants. I had thought that Ho alone was responsible, and only relied on the Chinese for advice. 


11. Pol Pot was equally under Mao’s influence, and the story that Chou En Lai tried to get Pol Pot to moderate his revolution and killing is not true. Mao encouraged it.


12. Then there was the United States as represented by Henry Kissinger and President Nixon. Everyone knows about the famous Nixon visits to China, but what is not known is what was involved. Mao’s ability to catapult China into superpower status was stymied by conflict with the Soviets. He feared a Soviet invasion from Mongolia that could easily seize Beijing. He then looked to the U.S. for protection and for help to achieve his superpower goal.


Nixon saw China as a balance against the Soviets, and declared that we would help defend China if it were attacked, as Mao wanted. Even in the case of weapons Nixo provided help. It was against the law to export weapons and related products to China. Nonetheless, Nixon did so by applying pressure to American allies, like Britain, to do the exporting instead. 


13. I remember well this time of the Kissinger and Nixon visits. It is sickening in retrospect how this monstrously evil man was extolled, toasted, complemented, and helped by Nixon, Kissinger, and the Western media in their train. This went beyond the real politics of an enemy of my enemy is my friend. It was a virtually a love fest.


To understand this is to understand the pro-Mao propaganda that had infected Americans and American leaders over the previous five decades. Much of this was due to outright gushing treatment of Mao, as by the aforementioned <i>Red Star Over China</i>. But it was also due to the dominance of China studies by fellow travelers, those who hated the Chiang Nationalist regime (and their was much to hate), and were thus sympathetic to Mao; or those experts who rarely tried to look beneath the information they were getting on China. When I wrote my book on China, even some of the anti-communists I read did not realize how some of what they believed was propaganda, as for example on the Great Famine, or Long March.


Anyway, Mao’s reputation had been failing and he was losing favor in the Third World when Nixon “played his China card.” The Nixon visits were just what Mao wanted. They boosted his worldwide reputation, including in the U.S.


14. I’ve never counted suicides as democide, but I should have. Families were torn apart; loved ones tortured and persecuted, if not killed; officials, professionals, students were jailed for no reason at all, and many were publicly beaten, dishonored, and humiliated. Suicides were everywhere, but remain uncounted. When you have as many as 100,000,000 persecuted in just the Cultural Revolution, I would guess that the number for all of Mao’s time in power must be in the millions. This would make the democide estimate of 73,000,000 conservative. 


The biography of Mao ends with this Epilogue: <blockquote>Today, Mao’s portrait and his corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square in the heart of the Chinese capital. The current Communist regime declares itself to be Mao’s heir and fiercely perpetuates the myth of Mao. </blockquote>


What is the lesson from all this? Never trust an absolute dictator. Don’t believe a word they say, nor any good or sympathetic thing said about them. Do nothing to increase their credibility or reputation. Diplomacy will not work with such dictators. And if push comes to shove, a war against them is just. It will save lives, and free people from their bloody chains.


Pray tell, my brother,

     Why do dictators kill

         and make war? 

     Is it for glory; for things, 

         for beliefs, for hatred,

         for power?

     Yes, but more, 

         because they can.</pre></blockquote>

20th Century Mortacracies

November 24, 2008

(First published May 11, 2006. Broken links will be recovered as previously published blogs are republished here)

As a result of an 8-year project I concluded some years ago, I defined the major 20th century mortacracies as those listed below.



But, since then I have increased some of the estimates, particularly for Mao’s China and colonialism., but had yet to change the above table. This was done by Jade in New Zealand, and with thanks I show below the table she sent me, with slight revisions I made in its format:



In the last century, governments have murdered 262,000,000 people. And that is not even counting mortacide (as defined in my recent post). With such a near absolute focus on the Holocaust in the media, with near total exclusion of reference to any other of these democides, one must ask how many Jews were murdered. I wrote a book on Nazi democide, and calculated that 5,291,000 Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Along with these Jews, however, the Nazi’s murdered 20,946,000 people, such as Poles, Russians, Czechs, Frenchmen, Italians, Bulgarians, and so on.

But even that horrendous total pales in comparison to the number murdered by communist regimes overall—148,000,000.

Yet, while our library shelves are filled with books on war, and it is a major topic of college political science courses on international relations, there is virtually nothing taught on the world’s democides, and for that matter, virtually nothing printed on it in the major media, including magazines, or journals (you will look in vain in such media as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, The Reader’s Digest, National Review, American Political Science Review, and so on, for an article on such incredible democide). The sheer massive ignorance and denial of the 262,000,000 people murdered by government is revealed by these facts: this total is over 6-times those killed in combat in all domestic and foreign wars (including WWI and WWII, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars) over the last century, and laid head-to-toe the corpses of all these murdered would circle the earth about 10-times.

Consider this. With much horror, and thus stimulating decades of arms control efforts and many huge anti-nuclear demonstrations, strategic experts used to calculate that a Soviet-American nuclear war would cost…gasp…200,000.000 to 300,000,000 dead. But…the number murdered in the last century by governments is in the middle of this range. It is as though the world was devastated by a drawn out nuclear war, but one largely by dictatorships against their subjects.

Let us all weep for these poor souls and their surviving loved ones.

Limited Democratic Peace Glossary

November 23, 2008

This is a glossary of the major concepts I will be using in the following blogs, and a place for reference as I blog along.

Democide:  A governments intentional murder for whatever reason. Genocide is democide, but a democide is not necessarily genocide, as the democide by the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, or by Stalin. Also, governmental assassinations, massacres, atrocities, mass murder, or government caused disappearances involve democide.A HREF=” http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/DBG.CHAP2.HTM”>here

Democracy: Includes two meaning of democracy. One is a procedural democracy involving regular, open and fair competition for leadership, a near universal franchise, and secret ballots. The other meaning is of a procedural democracy that guarantees the human rights of its subjects. This is a liberal democracy.

Democratic peace: The peace within democratically free states and between them. Peace should be understood broadly as the absence of war, minimal violence, and the existence of human security. This not an either-or concept, but a continues one assuming various degrees of a democratic peace. It is best defined here.

Genocide: Government intentional murder of any people because of their race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, or language. It does not include murder by virtue of a people because of their politics, political actions, party membership, or ideology. Murder for this reason is democide.

Government: The institution or person that monopolizes power over a territory and its people. This is not limited to national states, but also includes the governments of gangs, tribes, clans, and some terrorist groups. 

Human rights: Conventionally, and basically, the right to one’s life and liberty. But, also the right to freedom of speech, religion, organization, and legal equality. This will be my meaning here. Others, as has the UN, may add to this sociocultural and economic rights, such as food, employment, and a decent wage.

Human Security: Freedom from social and political violence, as well as the UN’s definition that includes economic security and assured access to food, good health, and safe and protected environment.

Mortacracy:  A government that commits large scale and continuous democide, as did Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

Murder: The intentional taking of a life, except in self-defense, or military combat; or by a fair and open legal and constitutional process, as in a judicial execution.