Statistics of Democide
Chapter 1: Summary and Conclusions [Why Democide?...]
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Such genocide, massacre, and human slaughter; pillage, rape, and torture have been more common than war and revolution.
Even close to our time people have been murdered in the millions, as in the Teiping Rebellion in China in the mid-18th century. Of all pre-twentieth century killing--massacres, infanticide, executions, genocides, sacrifices, burnings, deaths by mistreatment, and the like--that for which corpses have been counted or estimated, surely but a fraction, add up to a range of near 89,000,000 to slightly over 260,000,000 million men, women, and children dead. An appropriate mid-democide estimate might be around 133,000,000 killed.
Tables 2.1A and 2.1B list the estimates, sources and calculations for this pre-20th century democide. I will not go into detail on these estimates and calculations as I will do subsequently for the 20th century tables. This is not a comprehensive or exhaustive collection, nor is it even thorough for many of the cases covered, such as the Mongol massacres. It mainly consists of estimates that I have come across while doing research on 20th century democide, or those for democides that I was particularly interested in because of their infamy or mortality, such as the inquisition (lines 13 to 37 in table 2.1A), slavery (lines 39 to 92), witch hunts (lines 119 to 125), murder of Indians (lines 137 to 212), and Mongol mass killing (in Table 2.1B lines 441 to 535). Even for these cases, the estimates are only exemplary. Moreover, the estimates are clearly biased toward the later centuries. Estimates for democide by ancient empires and civilizations are not easily available, although historians insist that the Assyrians, among others, wiped out whole peoples.
In some cases I have dared to make my own estimates, almost always a democide minimum. Such was the case for those natives who died from forced labor by the colonial powers (line 4). I estimate this toll as at least 10,000,000 dead. While this may seem high at first, it would amount to only slightly over 4,700 natives dying or killed per year in forced labor for each of seven European colonial powers, or an annual death rate of almost 5 percent per 100,000 forced laborers. This estimate is surely too low for the 17th to 19th centuries, given the lethal conditions for much of this labor and an annual death rate that in some cases may have exceeded 20 percent. Indeed, even in the early years of our century, for example, the death rate of forced laborers on some plantations in the German African colonies may have been as high as 25 percent.
There is also a strong bias toward events that historians consider important or significant. The democide estimates are usually episodic, therefore. But most killing really takes place in an everyday manner, such as by a human sacrifice every Friday, commoners killed at the desire of nobles or Kings, an unwanted infant legally strangled, the assassination of a royal opponent, or the death of slaves or prisoners from mistreatment or overwork. Yet across empires and nations and centuries such everyday killing must have accumulated to much more than the total here. Simply consider this. If from the rule of the first of the Roman Emperors (Augustus Octavian) in 27 B.C to the last (Romulus Augustulus) who ruled until 476 A.D., only 100 galley slaves died annually from overwork and mistreatment, then this alone would add up to a democide of 50,300 people. Now say that on the average for the whole empire the Romans killed a not unreasonable annual total of 10,000 infants, slaves, prisoners, Christians, inhabitants of defeated tribes and nations, and dissidents and opponents. Then for the reign of Roman emperors this would add up to a democide of over 5,000,000 people--just for this one empire. Therefore, the 89,158,000 to 260,424,000 range of total people killed I get in table 2.1B (line 747) for all pre-20th Century democide of all civilizations, empires, nations, and tribes, should be viewed as but a small part of the real total.
But how small? To get some sense for this, see table 2.2. Based on the range of 20th century democide determined in table 16A.1 and the estimated world population for each century since the 30th century B.C. (near in time to the development of Egyptian hieroglyphics and the unification of Egypt under Menes), I calculated the hypothetical democide for each century. Alternatively, I started the democide calculations for the century having the earliest estimates of mass murder in Tables 2.1A and 2.1B, which is the 5th century B.C. (the time of Socrates, Pericles, and the Peloponnesian Wars).
The results of adding up these century-by-century calculations are shown in table 2.2 (lines 50 and 51). For both alternative calculations the high is over a billion people killed; the lows are near a third of a billion people; and the mid-values near two-thirds or a half of a billion. For comparison I also repeat (line 52) the sum of the estimates and calculations in table 2.1B. Focusing on the mid-values the actual total (line 52) is about one-fifth of the tallied murders since the age of hieroglyphics; about one-fourth since the age of Pericles.
For a final comparison I took the actual amount of democide determined for the 20th century (table 16A.1) and extrapolated it for the full century, with the result shown in table 2.2 (line 53). Note that the full 20th century mid-value democide is comparatively high--over a third of the calculated democide during twenty-four centuries, 5 B.C. through 19 A.D.(line 51). Since the actual 20th century democide rate was used to calculate the previous per-century democide, the surprising closeness of the 20th century to the total pre-20th century toll is due to the sharp drop-off of world population as one moves back towards the most ancient centuries. For example, it took thirty-six centuries--from 30 B.C. until 6 A.D. for the global population to reach just 200 million people. It did not achieve a billion until 1850.
Comparisons to the deadliness of international wars can also be made. Now the war related deaths tabulated per century in table 2.2 no doubt include war related democide (as tabulations of the civilian toll during World War II usually do). Even with this swelling of the war dead totals, the accumulated pre-20 century war related deaths (lines 50 and 51) is only about 6 to 7 percent of the mid-value democide. For just those historical democide estimates I have been able to find or make here, pre-20th century democide has been around 16 to 17 times more lethal than war.
* From the pre-publisher edited manuscript of Chapter 2 in R.J. Rummel, Statistics of Democide, 1997. For full reference to Statistics of Democide, the list of its contents, figures, and tables, and the text of its preface, click book.
1. German African Possessions (Late) (1969, No. 114, p. 23).
2. The World Almanac and Book of Facts (1992, p. 503).