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

Daniel Chirot and Clark McCauley

Princeton University Press, 2010

  • : pbk

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Originally published: 2006

With a new preface by the authors - t.p

Formerly CIP Uk

Includes bibliographical references (p. [217]-248) and index



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. In a new preface, the authors discuss recent mass violence and reaffirm the importance of education and understanding in the prevention of future genocides.


Preface to the Paperback Edition ix Acknowledgments xv 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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