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R.J. Rummel

University of Hawaii
Spring Semester 1992

In this century governments have killed in cold blood around 170,000,000 men, women, and children, more than four times the total battle-dead in all this century's international and domestic wars and revolutions.

While there has been a growing concern over social justice, world order, and the environment, the focus of political science and peace research has been and remains on war in all its various forms (international war, civil war, revolution, guerrilla war, and the like). The aim is quite clearly to understand enough about the causes and conditions of war to resolve it, and hopefully make it an obsolete social pattern. The reason for this focus has also been clear. With the 9,000,000 killed in battle in World War I, the 15,000,000 in World War II, and the potential for hundreds of millions to die in a nuclear war, peace researchers have seen war as the last great plague for science to conquer. Simply put, the horror of all that intentional killing and all the untold associated pain and suffering, and the belief that it was the foremost form of institutional killing, has emotionally driven research on war and peace.

Yet, this near universal assumption in peace research that war is mankind's foremost, purposely operated, killing machine, is wrong. While war in its various forms does kill in the millions, a much bloodier human meat grinder has been government itself, particularly absolutist governments. Although all international and civil wars have killed 36,000,000 combatants in this century, absolutist and authoritarian governments, have probably massacred over 150,000,000 Russian, Chinese, Ukrainian, Cambodian, Armenian, Jew, Gypsy, Polish, Greek, Japanese, Ugandan, Indonesian, Serb, Croatian, German, Bengali, Kurd, Burundian, Tibetan, Iranian, Baltic, and Vietnamese, among others, unarmed and helpless men, women, and children. And I am still counting.


Following is the list of texts and articles to be read in whole or part for this class.

Chalk, Frank and Kurt Jonassohn. THE HISTORY AND SOCIOLOGY OF GENOCIDE: ANALYSIS AND CASE STUDIES. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

Elliot, Gil. TWENTIETH CENTURY BOOK OF THE DEAD. London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1972.

Fein, Helen. "Scenarios of Genocide: Models of Genocide and Critical Responses," in Israel W. Charny (Ed.) TOWARD THE UNDERSTANDING AND PREVENTION OF GENOCIDE: PROCEEDINGS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE HOLOCAUST AND GENOCIDE. Boulder: Westview Press, 1984, pp. 3-31.

Glaser, Kurt and Stefan T. Possony. VICTIMS OF POLITICS: THE STATE OF HUMAN RIGHTS. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.

Harff, Barbara and Ted Robert Gurr. "Toward Empirical Theory of Genocides and Politicides: Identification and Measurement of Cases since 1945." INTERNATIONAL STUDIES QUARTERLY 32 (1988):359-371.

Harff, Barbara. GENOCIDE AND HUMAN RIGHTS: INTERNATIONAL LEGAL AND POLITICAL ISSUES. Monograph Series in World Affairs, Vol. 20, Book 3. Denver, Colorado: Graduate School in International Studies, University of Denver, 1984.

Harff, Barbara. "The Etiology of Genocides," in Isidor Wallimann and Michael N. Dobkowski (eds.). GENOCIDE AND THE MODERN AGE: ETIOLOGY AND CASE STUDIES OF MASS DEATH. NY: Greenwood Press, 1987, pp. 41-59.

Horowitz, Irving Louis. TAKING LIVES: GENOCIDE AND STATE POWER. Third augmented edition: New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1982.

Kuper, Leo. GENOCIDE: ITS POLITICAL USE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.

Porter, Jack Nusan. "Introduction: What is Genocide? Notes toward a Definition," in Jack Nusan Porter. GENOCIDE AND HUMAN RIGHTS: A GLOBAL ANTHOLOGY. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1982, pp. 2-32.

Rummel, R. J. UNDERSTANDING CONFLICT AND WAR: VOL. 5: THE JUST PEACE. Beverly Hills, California: Sage Publications, 1981.

__________. "Deadlier than War." IPA REVIEW (Institute of Public Affairs Limited, Australia) 41 (August-October 1987): 24-30.

__________. "The politics of cold blood." SOCIETY 27 (November/December 1989): 32-40.[Now renamed as "The democratic idea: a new idea?"]

__________. LETHAL POLITICS: SOVIET GENOCIDE AND MASS MURDER. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1990.


__________. "The rule of law: towards eliminating war and genocide." Speech to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security, Washington, D.C., October 10-11, 1991.

__________. CHINA'S BLOODY CENTURY: GENOCIDE AND MASS MURDER SINCE 1900. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1991.

__________. "Megamurders." SOCIETY (Summer 1992), forthcoming.

__________. DEMOCIDE: NAZI GENOCIDE AND MASS MURDER. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1992.

__________. DEATH BY GOVERNMENT: New Brunswick, N>J>: Transaction Publishers, 1994

Stohl, Michael. "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends: States, Genocide, Mass Killing and the Role of Bystanders." JOURNAL OF PEACE RESEARCH 24 (1987), pp. 151-166.

Zenner, Walter P. "Middleman Minorities and Genocide." in Isidor Wallimann and Michael N. Dobkowski (eds.). GENOCIDE AND THE MODERN AGE: ETIOLOGY AND CASE STUDIES OF MASS DEATH. NY: Greenwood Press, 1987, pp. 253-281.


Two papers are required for this course:

  • Each paper is to be on a separate case or aspect of government democide (genocide, politicide, or mass killing) in this century. Your proposed topic for each paper is to be presented to the class and subsequently approved by the instructor.
  • Each paper is to be a RESEARCH PAPER, with references and footnotes, as necessary. It is to cover who did what to whom, when, how, and why.
  • Each paper is to be typed, double-spaced. No hand written papers will be accepted.
  • The first paper should be no longer than ten, double spaced pages, exclusive of tables, figures, reference or bibliography. It is due by class time, March 5. You will be expected to present your paper to the class before you hand it in.
  • The second paper can be any length you deem necessary to adequately cover your topic (a topic different from that of the your first paper). You also will be expected to present this paper to the class. It is due no later than 2:30PM, Tuesday, May 12.


This will be taught Socratically and as a seminar. This means that you will be expected to present your ideas and research, and discuss those of others. I will, of course, talk on some related topic for perhaps ten or twenty minutes, but the purpose will be to present background material, fill in some missing topics in your text, or comment on something said in class. You are expected to add comments of your own or to question what is unclear or doubtful, or that you disagree with.

Class activities will involve:

  • two or three seminar members summarizing the assigned reading for each meeting (those to do so will be selected the week before);
  • student presentation of preliminary paper topics;
  • student presentations of the research on their papers (to be presented at least one week before the paper is due). .

Grades will be based on class preparation, presentations and involvement, and of course, your two written papers


The schedule of class reading is attached.

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