Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Comparing Genocides and other Category Killings

A question that recurs in genocide studies is whether or not the crimes of Stalin and Mao can be classed as genocides. In the strictest sense, it would be difficult to justify such a classification, because the millions of victims murdered by these regimes were chosen on political and economic grounds, not ethnic or racial in most cases. However, a continuity between these killings and genocide can be found in the theme of pollution. I have already applied this concept to the Nazis here and to the Khmer Rouge here.

As Eric Weitz has noted, the revolutionary, utopian nature of Stalinism and Maoism, and their ultimate origins in world wars, made them prone to seek cleansing missions. Whilst such cleansing did not seek partial or total biological extermination in the Nazi sense, it had the potential to be unlimited in its effects, as occurred ultimately with the Khmer Rouge. I would argue that exploring these connections may be more fruitful than confining the field to events that fit a definition of genocide.


Ian Thal said...

Political scientist R.J. Rummel coined the term "democide" which he uses as an all inclusive term for governmental mass murders that might not fit under the definition of genocide.

On a side note: CODOH is basing its whole argument on whether or not 82-year-old Elie Wiesel is wiling to roll up his sleeves for a photograph. And if there is a tattoo? The CODOH-heads will surely claim that it isn't real.

Jonathan Harrison said...

Ian, you are correct, and someone at CODOH has already worked this out:

"What's to stop him from getting a tattoo today and claiming he had it for 60 years?

You would need a clear picture of Elie 30 years ago with the tattoo along with the negative and some type of proof that the picture and negative are 30+ years old. This still would not be proof since someone could use old film and photopaper. The only real proof would be a clear picture of him and his arms without the tattoo today.

This will end up looking like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute. With Codoh and the revisionists looking like Charlie Brown laying on his back. This sounds like a set-up."

Ian Thal said...

That's the thing with these CODOH-types. They ignore the preponderance of the evidence and instead try to find one little thing that can serve as an archimedian point on which to leverage everything-- just so they can say "Oh look! It's not real!"

There are enough 30, 40, 50, and 60 year old photos documenting tattoos on not-so-famous survivors that this shouldn't be an issue, but the deniers are fixated on Professor Wiesel.

No matter what, they will find an excuse to not pay out the $700 if somebody takes them up on the offer. So the Peanuts analogy is more apt with the deniers in the role of Lucy-- they just can't find anyone foolish enough to play Charlie Brown.

Anyway: This is far off topic.

kayef said...

Per Ota Kraus and Erich Kulka's "The Death Factory", a 1966 Auschwitz study, 30,000 inmates were brought into the camp in 1944 without tatooing. The number may or may not be accurate but the deniers are, as usual, full of BS, making their usual hollowm straw-man arguments.

Ruslan Amirkhanov said...

Here's a helpful guide to understanding genocide under Communists.

If a person dies due to economic conditions, via starvation or disease, under a socialist regime, it is as if the government put a bullet in his or her head. It is genocide, democide, whatever.

If the same thing happens under non-Communist regimes(indeed it does happen constantly), it is unfortunate and tragic but the natural order.