Why Not Kill Them All?: The Logic and Prevention of Mass Political Murder

Why Not Kill Them All?: The Logic and Prevention of Mass Political Murder

by Daniel Chirot, Clark McCauley
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691092966

ISBN-13: 9780691092966

Pub. Date: 07/17/2006

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Genocide, mass murder, massacres. The words themselves are chilling, evoking images of the slaughter of countless innocents. What dark impulses lurk in our minds that even today can justify the eradication of thousands and even millions of unarmed human beings caught in the crossfire of political, cultural, or ethnic hostilities? This question lies at the heart of

Overview

Genocide, mass murder, massacres. The words themselves are chilling, evoking images of the slaughter of countless innocents. What dark impulses lurk in our minds that even today can justify the eradication of thousands and even millions of unarmed human beings caught in the crossfire of political, cultural, or ethnic hostilities? This question lies at the heart of Why Not Kill Them All? Cowritten by historical sociologist Daniel Chirot and psychologist Clark McCauley, the book goes beyond exploring the motives that have provided the psychological underpinnings for genocidal killings. It offers a historical and comparative context that adds up to a causal taxonomy of genocidal events.

Rather than suggesting that such horrors are the product of abnormal or criminal minds, the authors emphasize the normality of these horrors: killing by category has occurred on every continent and in every century. But genocide is much less common than the imbalance of power that makes it possible. Throughout history human societies have developed techniques aimed at limiting intergroup violence. Incorporating ethnographic, historical, and current political evidence, this book examines the mechanisms of constraint that human societies have employed to temper partisan passions and reduce carnage.

Might an understanding of these mechanisms lead the world of the twenty-first century away from mass murder? Why Not Kill Them All? makes clear that there are no simple solutions, but that progress is most likely to be made through a combination of international pressures, new institutions and laws, and education. If genocide is to become a grisly relic of the past, we must fully comprehend the complex history of violent conflict and the struggle between hatred and tolerance that is waged in the human heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691092966
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/17/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

INTRODUCTION: Are We Killers or Peacemakers? 1

CHAPTER ONE: Why Genocides? Are They Different Now Than in the Past? 11

The Four Main Motives Leading to Mass Political Murder 19

Are Modern Genocides and Ethnic Cleansings Different? Retribalization and the Modern State 45

CHAPTER TWO: The Psychological Foundations of Genocidal Killing 51

How to Get Ordinary People to Become Butchers 52

Organization 57

Emotional Appeals: Leaders and Followers 58

Essentializing Others 81

The Dangerous Similar Others 87

The Conditions of Genocide 90

CHAPTER THREE: Why Is Limited Warfare More Common Than Genocide? 95

Weighing the Costs of Genocidal Conflicts 97

Limiting the Damage of Warfare 99

Exogamy: Making the Enemy Part of the Family 103

Establishing Codes of Warfare and Exchange to Limit Violence 111

Are Rules of Exogamy, Codes of Honor, and Potlatching Still Relevant? 116

The Mercantile Compulsion 121

Morality and Modesty: Rejecting Certitude 134

Yearning for Solutions 147

CHAPTER FOUR: Strategies to Decrease the Chances of Mass Political Murder in Our Time 149

State Policies That Reduce Hostility between Groups 155

Limiting Demands for Justice and Revenge 180

Modest Solutions and Small-Scale Changes to Promote Tolerance 187

The Crucial Role of States in Promoting Peaceful Exchanges 199

Individual Rights and Pluralist Histories 203

CONCLUSION: Our Question Answered 211

References 219

Index 249

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