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Author(s): Mark Levene Source: Journal of World History, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Fall, 2000), pp. 305-336 Published by: University of Hawai'i Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20078852 . Accessed: 28/04/2011 17:32
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Why Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide?
MARK University LEVENE ofWarwick
a statistical one at that: 187 million has become almost a platitude, now more or less accepted wisdom for the number It is the figure, the of human beings killed as a result of political violence?Zbigniew uses the unlovely term megadeaths?in Brzezinski this, our bloody century.1 More killing than at any other time in history. And yet at the as it passes across the its relentlessness, end of the twentieth century screens of those of us seemingly blessed with immunity from television to daze and bewil its catastrophic continues reality and consequences,
For the historian, him or herself inured to centuries if not millen nia of mass atrocity, this picture of a special era of death and destruc tion invites, indeed demands further probing and analysis. Is "the Twentieth in scope Book of the Dead" really so very different Century or scale from previous ones?2 It has been argued that the effects of the in China from 410 reduced its population Taiping and other rebellions a couple in 1850 to 350 million in 1873.3 In southern Africa million of decades of Shaka's Zulu nation and the ensu earlier, the emergence or "great crushing" produced results ing Mfecane equally horrendous relative to the population of the region. Go back a few centuries and
1Eric Hobsbawn, (London, igi4~iggi Age of Extremes, The Short Twentieth Century 1994), p. 12. 2The work by Gil Eliot, Twentieth Century title of the path-breaking Book of the Dead (London, 1972). 3 John King Fairbank, The Great Chinese Revolution (New York, 1986), p. 81. i8oo-ig85
Journal ofWorld History, Vol. 11, No. 2 ?2000 of Hawai'i Press by University
3o6 the devastation the Near Asia,
to Central that the Mongol conqueror Timur wrought and Northern India impelled modern historian East, to note that this exterminatory Arnold of twenty-four span Toynbee to the one hundred 1379 and 1403) was comparable years (between and twenty of the last five Assyrian kings.4 If this seems to be an argument, albeit a cynical one, for saying plus as ?a change, plus cest lam?me chose, the very use of the term genocide, time suddenly stumbled upon a ifwe have in our current self-centered different order of things, is equally problematic. How do we find a sep arate niche for this exterminatory modus operandi when we are already civil war, revolution, with the idea of massacre, man-made total war, and indeed the potentiality for nuclear obliteration? famine, The signposting of the scholars is, to say the least, contradictory. The international jurist Raphael Lemkin, who both coined the term "geno cide" and was founding mover for its study, saw in it not so much as a reversion or regression to past "barbarisms." If he per modernity was not in the destruction a difference our century in it of peo ceived familiar per se but in the ability of international society, with ples or nations it. international law as its right arm, to outlaw and ultimately prevent In spite of the catastrophe which overwhelmed his own family in the Lemkin was essentially about a modern Holocaust, optimistic global The civilization founded on western 1948 enlightenment principles. on Genocide is his great legacy.5 Convention United Nations Convention the Genocide has been Yet, Kosovo notwithstanding, more honored stream in the breach than in the practice. A considerable Lemkin's would of current empirical thought, moreover, challenge for instance, has not only forcefully basic premise. Zygmunt Bauman, some "irrational that the Holocaust the notion rejected represented eradicated residues of pre-modern barbar outflow of the not-yet-fully . . . rational concern but on the contrary "arose out of a genuinely ity" by a bureaucracy generated this quintessential genocide true to it form and purpose." For Bauman, was a product of a planned, scientifically and technically coordinated, informed, expert, efficiently managed, resourced society like our own. Indeed, just in case anyone was in doubt was a as to his meaning, that the Holocaust he not only reiterated in the house of modernity and could not be "at resident legitimate
4 in Leo Kuper, Quoted 1981), p. 12. 5 For more on Lemkin's Lemkin, Raphael UN Convention, cide (New Haven
in the 20th Century
to Genocide; seminal role, see Kuper's introductory chapter Axis Rule inOccupied DC, Europe (Washington, 1944). For the text of the see Frank Chalk The History and Sociology of Geno and Kurt Jonassohn, and London, 1990), pp. 44-49.
we seem to be back with Lemkin's barbarism. this why this century might in itself offers a conclusive article would submit that neither argument case. 17. whether perpetrated by a or a relatively advanced like Germany unde society technologically still requires the active mobilization of hun veloped one like Rwanda. caust (London. 91. industrialized albeit with a grand vision at its conveyer end "of a better. Except that recent studies. and messy vicious. The short hand for killing thus might read: "gas chambers": routinized.8 By a different of the Peloponnesian that nei route. 1989). 6 . The Rwanda Crisis. remind us that provocatively like that. 1995). belt killings. Modernity Zygmunt (Oxford. Ordinary Germans and theHolo Jonah Goldhagen. telegraphs and trains in the Ittihadist destruction nians or the provision of index registers of the Rwandese population as a basis for the selection of Tutsi and other victims in 1994 equally seem to point the finger at a type of social organization in which vic as depersonalized or numbers tims can be characterized and freight as pen pushers or technical their perpetrators operators who conve or psychologically find themselves "distanced" from niently physically the act of murder. If then. and that in consequence perpetrators in action can be every bit as passionate. is something society. such as Goldhagen on the Holocaust. genocide as the massacres or Punic wars. 88."6 seem to offer very different perspectives on If Bauman and Lemkin be considered the century of genocide. and radically different. much of as Michael Freeman would assert. Gerard Prunier.. 1996).Le vene: Why home Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 307 between in any other house" but that there was an "elective affinity" it "and modern civilization. or Prunier on Rwanda. p. History ig5g-igg4 of a Genocide (London. All well and good."7 There in this theme. both have the added danger of being reduced to dis Bauman the form genocidal takes. pp. frontation between and victims. 89. Except nor Greeks saw themselves as barbarians but rather ther the Romans as the most advanced and sophisticated societies of their time. 7 Ibid. the argument cannot be about mod se but only about civilization and if we were to pursue this ernity per train of thought further by tracing in the classical and pre-modern it is not and the Holocaust Bauman. dreds of thousands of their "ordinary" citizens to pull triggers or wield that this involves not a spatial removal but a direct con machetes. 8 Daniel Hitlers Willing Executioners. Implicitly. systematized. that genocide. If gas chambers suggest a 1940's state-of compelling the-art technology for the accomplishment of a particular type of mass cussions about of the Arme murder.
but a guide to and indeed cipher for its own dys is closely should this be? The answer. to put it another way. "Genocide. by which must vidual genocide which tell us a special and unique necessarily story but rather the macrohistorical record. (Boulder and London. Israel W. Or. where geno relationship cide and the twentieth century?9 in response that form is not the primary This article would contend issue whereas is." The British Journal of Soci civilization Michael Freeman. front But that functional system. p. nature. 136. development. genocide notes Anthony in domestic isolation. circumvent. . "only exist in systemic relations with other nation-states. 1985). ology 46 (i995): 10 The Nation-State and Violence Giddens. system and is indeed an intrinsic and crucial part of it. 207-23. on one level.3o8 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. framework most definitely we cannot begin to understand genocide without grappling with his context is implied not only the historical of each indi tory. its first is that the origins of something which we specifically call proposition and prevalence of this phenom followed by the persistence genocide. totalitarian. Anthony 11Ron in Toward the "Societal madness: power and genocide. 1984). Charny Holocaust and Genocide. China. These may be which are the result of ethnic division of genocide. FALL 2000 of societies?despite their usually politically dif record the capability nature?to fused and decentralized whole pop deport or exterminate is our case for a particular between ulations. Burundi?have can be But none of these examples been particularly prone. Impotence. Genocide as they attempt a by-product of particular national trajectories only or possibly con state building in order to operate within."10 states which we now take for granted Yet the global system of nation is thus not has only come to full fruition in this last century. Turkey. and stratification. may tell us also something Russia. why or neo-Marxist enmeshed with what Marxist analysis would call "the of uneven the interna historical Thus. 4. Nation understood states. the broad and moving canvas in which we might chart and hopefully analyze the emergence of the current international and development system. If this emerging cannot be simply cordoned is correct then genocide line of argument too ideo off as an aberration which afflicts states which have become to war. Cambodia. Rwanda. purely Giddens. on the and Prevention of Genocide: Proceedings of the International Conference Understanding ed. (Cambridge. Indeed. logical. Indonesia. And features and important determinants they significant about why certain countries?Germany. p." Aronson. or internal conflicts prone to revolution. enon into the contemporary is intrinsically bound up with that world."11 dynamics 9 and modernity.
14 Giddens. and the United to acknowledge have to be westernocentric this problematic reality or thrust of Immanuel Wallerstein's the essential thesis developmental core surrounded western in terms of a dominant by semi-peripheral himself would be the first to and peripheral zones. Nation-State. 1979) and The . fell by the wayside while others. the disgorging This or forcible of Jews and Moriscos. as are. not primarily relations been co-eval with the origins of the have "international only nation-state" but this process from its eighteenth-century origins was the fortunes of its leading players. nevertheless. Was it. Similar integration early modern trends are perhaps to be found in the destruction of Albigensians and that its expansion 12 Giddens. and then the New World mainland Caribbean. such as Spain. Their the system's ground rules and ensured determined political ascendancy would be carried forward and reg and development in their own hegemonic interests. As a result. the example? Aspects are horribly suggestive. The Capitalist World-Economy (New York. remain the enduring features of the system as globalized. in the Spanish and Portuguese domestic frames. or nineteenth ferent from that of the late eighteenth centuries. nor that this development acknowledge to lead to the permanent it have of specific states. 5.14 between and an emerging international genocide relationship the avant-garde further scrutiny.Le vene: Why tional Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 309 system was not created all of a piece but was primed and taken economic and forward by a small coterie of western polities. 13 Immanuel Wallerstein. ascendancy it was the outcome of a long series of inter-European Rather.12 We do not ourselves notably Britain. in which struggles fought increasingly modern states. France. Nation-State. p. notably Prussia and Russia. while also ensuring the continuing hege broader but still relatively small group of states mony of a somewhat institutions and corporations also now (with a number of key western even though the relative position of these may be quite dif involved). to have something If all this had and continues of a social Darwinian did "the intersection of capitalism. system demands or latter states who committed in their drive for hegemony. 4. 3 vols. 1974-88). (Cambridge.13 Yet Wallerstein was not naturally preordained. power some proto in a global arena. industrial quality about it. Modern World System." which were the primary ingredients enabling western state supremacy in the first place. genocide it was. came into frame as serious contenders for primacy. ism and the nation-state. p. for instance. where do we locate our first And whichever day contenders? modern of the Iberian thrust to the Canaries. most upon peculiarly dependent ulated States.
notably Argentina.16 Even were we to put aside this and which ings are genocides ethically grounded restraint. p. and viable description of the processes lack even a coherent and ently circumstances implied by the term genocide." it has been asserted. contrasts with a contention from an entirely different quarter which to pick and choose between which mass kill protests at any attempt are not. 1986) for the Reynauld source of this controversy. it constitutes A ed.. to death by other people."15 this killing other Frenchmen Interestingly. no less than others. xiii. unsubdued closely not to say in Latin American countries. 17 11 (1986): a functional Toward Alternatives Ward Churchill. Charny. 1988). Here we can observe a premeditated. 16 of genocide: "Unless definition Israel Charny's ultra-inclusivist See. genocide. Genocide. that perpetrator and victim groups outlined diversity of the situations so far confronts this writer. But if the Vendee a type of mass murder which has become par important signpost for in the twentieth its inclu and persistent century."17 And this despite enor main 15 La Vend?e-Venge Secher. If the corelation is the critical issue. particularly Yet while not only equals but arguably Americas. FALL 2000 Anabaptists of French consolidation and German later still in the English or Anglo-Scottish state-religious to "clear" Catholic Irish and Gaelic Highlanders from their campaigns frontier hinterlands." Review Critical Bibliographical (London. a large number of people are put can be reasonably self-defense clear-cut proven." 403.3io JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. onslaught if albeit geographically limited attempt at people-destruc systematic. "Genocide: definition. replicated in the Russian anti-Circassian drive to consolidate the Caucasus firmly en route to the native peoples and massacres within the Czarist empire. 1. the American expulsions. subjugations. a possibly more system ship to the emerging authentic first contender might be the 1793-94 revolutionary Jacobin on the Vend?e region. ticularly prevalent sion as a case study has to contend with objections that Frenchmen cannot be "genocide. in the case of the the scale of these killings. . The process could be said to have been carried on the forward in a still wider global frame with the British onslaught unities and of Australasia. whenever in Israel W. for instance. instances of twentieth-century the specificity of "geno cide" cannot be confirmed or denied from this litany. with the obstinate is it that we are discussing? question: what exactly "we pres "At the most fundamental level. tion closely linked to rapid nation-state the context of building within a much is an broader crisis of interstate relations. Le genocide franco-fran?ais. vol. of their remaining Indian nations. the bewildering perfectly understandable. surpasses sixteenth-century mass murder. (Paris.
by definition. Genocide: 19 Helen A Sociological Fein. which. he says. Each is different. much about the self-perception a recourse to war tells us Additionally. no basis for developing "a general boot. at least in terms of history but which a coherent can be viewed as having study. involv or coercive measures. Helen based on either or the Gulag Archipelago as a single archetype which the Holocaust assume there is one mechanically recurring script are bound to be mis 19Fein is correct. "genocide.Le vene: Why mous work Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 311 onomies and continuing efforts by sociologists and etiologies of the phenomenon it. Though has been conducted states. can be com strategy. that is. of draconian ing all manner ranging from the of a group at one end of the spectrum through to forcible assimilation in murder at the other. But formulation. Yet war. The problem is leading. her very refer knowing what falls within ence to the Gulag being an interesting we example of how potentially might obscure rather than clarify our focus. probably theory of geno Fein warns that "comparisons cide. Nevertheless. as in a type of state-organized Lemkin's modern warfare." of which there is a great deal more. identity. terms of reference it is possible not only that with appropriate Kuper. "Genocide. "no single despairing. 38 (1990): 56. to then it is rarely sustained to an attempted is perhaps This completion. not all warfare in history this statement requires elucidation. ideologically state's interests or agendas by these means. does not have to culminate necessarily physical a program of systematic people-annihilation. Leo Kuper. to in contradistinction this argument type. high-risk 18Leo Its Political Use Kuper."18 Similarly. sounds almost genocidal process" and." genocide the rubric in the first place. is a even where carefully prepared." Even tax and jurists to provide not to say a legal frame of its study. the ability of a state to wage war is both by a prime indicator of its power vis-?-vis other states and of its relation unfolding academic ship to its domestic populace. revolves around the two obviously interlinked ques My approach tions: "what is genocide" and "why does it occur" ?The first might be sense by proposing in a preliminary answered that genocide is. Current Sociology Perspective. one reason why the Holocaust remains so central to our vision of what as if in terms we had found our "ideal" constitutes Weberian genocide. . Fein's example also high to conflate the act of "genocide" with "geno lights a general tendency cidal process. to discern a pattern of genocide which in some way is relatable to the of contemporary also. of a state leadership and of its willing or otherwise." 1981). in the 20th Century (New Haven. doyen for criminalizing There is. The latter. contends. to pursue what it views as motivated ness.
no less "crimes against humanity" or Treblinka. is conducted modern often Indeed. Genocide and Total War (Boulder. The Genocidal Mentality: Robert See. and capital. opposing warfare as "genocidal" but to discern similar psychological. in this type of war there remains. for ization" of these interstate struggles. gious inputs of manpower. than Auschwitz They of either traditionally also suggest the obsolescence grounded or more are supposed to codes of military conduct which formulated recently act as brakes on unlimited warfare between combatants. state-organized genocide or in parallel with them. It also requires prodi demolished prehensively by contingent If the war fails these resources.312 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. however. This may sound paradoxical with psychological regard to but is in fact as true for it as for the two other main types of genocide war. The bombing observation of means of Dresden and Hiro the creation and active mobilization of shima. acts against another eign state. or for that matter are arguably. however. to the nation state's place within have a common types relationship the broader international system. Nevertheless. however residually. one thinks of the British versus the Boer states at the turn of 20 and Eric Markusen. sov is between and usually powerful Type One warfare recognized states within the system. adversaries have indiscrimi millions of the noncombatants of the nately targeted and murdered has led some writers not only to describe this type of side. successful war may result in great material and benefits. FALL 2000 events. The same is not true of the second type of warfare. 1990). Jay Lifton and David Kopf." less the second state is much perceives Usually powerful. of the may be lost in part or entirety to the great if not fatal detriment state. Alternatively. technolog at work as those which inform genocide. a Clause witzian notion that the struggle is fought between adver "legitimate" saries and that at the end of the day negotiation rather than extermi nation will determine of both victor and vanquished the position within the postwar world order. often a powerful to be "illegitimate. Eric Markusen in the 20th Century Holocaust and Strategic Bombing. San Francisco. of producing nuclear arsenals capable global annihilation. repugnance and ends. In the twentieth the "total century ereign in the way that. Equally all three simultaneously importantly.20 ical. The and Nuclear Holocaust Threat Nazi (New York. and even where one side demands the unconditional surrender of the other. . This a sover in which characterized type is particularly by circumstances state which it one. particularly instance during the Second World War. for example. Oxford 1995). and political processes is to confuse the issue of moral with the This.
firms this judgmental verdict. scorched bombardment. or subject states. or the Nazi post-1941 of China. genocide cases where a sovereign variant of Type Three. therefore. of the "legitimate" agenda. Type Two is also much closer to Type Three in terms of its justification. Very unusually. no the enemy is Type Two warfare becomes Type Three warfare when state but a perceived "illegitimate" longer a perceived "illegitimate" or imperial framework of within the territorial definition community as in the case of the Holocaust. Austria 1914. or indeed existence. earth." or "bandits" incapable of fighting conventional. state. mass people-killing. as well as repeated retributive or discipli environmental devastation." the adversary populace." who are accused of cul for the perpetrator's "war of self-defense" and responsibility pability as a result. or. Strictly speaking. actions and belief "they. "civilized" war. or two decades its onslaught later still. however. which. the resorting vicious and punc struggle against the Irish. all "necessary" measures are allowable: mass aerial for the liquidation of resistance mass deportation. vis-?-vis the Nigerians secessionist Biafra. has to be fought ? la outrance and without mercy. counterinsurgency. be included were relatively states in question ones." "saboteurs. even though the perceived ille also. Nevertheless. For instance. by their misguided systems. the The Japanese post-1937 invasion United States versus North Vietnam.Levene: Why Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 313 in the century. at the gitimate powerful a briefly other end of the "power" spectrum. invariably con In the circumstances. invasion of the Soviet Union might in this list. These to features of indiscriminate warfare inevitably bear close resemblance warfare Type Three which often (though not always) involves geno cide. Worse. whose they are succored by a native population cultural and social level is beneath Racism contempt. The French inde struggle against the Algerian British . It is. without nary massacre regard to the age or gender of victims. Nazi Germany against Serbia in August on Poland a global war later. while undoubtedly never spilled over into tuated by atrocity at its crisis stage in 1919-21. Interestingly. the perpetrator to embrace population this can be extended groups within allied. not to say their atrocities against "us. given that in many state assaults elements of its own subject population or citizenry it does so without to total warfare against them. the "enemy" in its resistance and obdurate unwill to threaten the integrity of the ingness to submit being perceived state. The diversity of these examples warns us that too much can be made of their common features. the nature is characterized of the Type Two warfare the supposedly by "legiti mate" side dispensing in entirety with Geneva Convention-informed are little more than "ter restraints on the grounds that the opposition rorists. arguably. vas is only a sal.
FALL 2000 in the 1950s and early '60s. The Nazi post-1939 of Poland arguably went over it. elimination of that aggre or until it is no longer perceived to represent a threat. pendence movement. only to Polish national resistance. Having assessed unwilling it opted to find another. where the recognized govern ment's of violence has been for much of the period of con monopoly in practice its administrative flict far from absolute. are also highly to the study these examples relevant Nevertheless."22 gate. Yet not to say bewildering. is predi research this proposed state-communal equation. teetered on its brink. frustrated by their inability to defeat increasingly have lurched towards more these insurgencies.314 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. as they point to a sequence of events in which of genocide inasmuch the states in question. mology: A New Focus. in there is something perplexing. components and Emilio Viano MA. 4: 123. or manpower may be limited by lack of military and/or by capabilities the strength of the communal "enemy. Israel Drapkin 22 "Is the Holocaust of Genocide?" Patterns of Mark Levene. diplo that the enemy could not be defeated. I Thus solutions culminating. in Victi "The structural-functional of genocide" Dadrian. simply another example 10." The struggles in the southern the Karen and other hill tribe regions of Burma. in toto. Iraqi Kurdistan. eds. radical all-embracing as in some of these cases. At stake here is what Vahakn response access to over has referred to as the issue of "preponderant Dadrian of power. avoidance the state is weak the ability to deliver genocide but possibly resistant to recognizing it. (Lexington. Sudan. occurs where a state. or the northern Tamil part of Sri Lanka. in genocide. has been limited to the major towns as opposed all pro vide contemporary illustration of this point. matic involve a degree of compromise and the strategy which would In other instances where of catastrophe. 1975). not occupation in its extermination of the country's but in its Jews and Roma."21 Whitehall may never have contemplated the Irish not only because of inherent institutional against genocide restraints and humanitarian it was ultimately but because sensibilities to commit major resources to the struggle. and where hold to countryside. it cannot be con genocide sense between two armed in the normally understood sidered warfare an matched be?but combatants?however may they unequally clearly entirely one-sided affair in which a group of absolute perpetrators all resources 21Vahakn N. Genocide that whatever cated on the proposition is. perceiving the integrity of argue that "genocide its agenda to be threatened by an aggregate population?defined by or communal to remedy the situ state in collective terms?seeks the en masse physical ation by the systematic. Prejudice 28 (1994): .
p. entirely Thus.23 defenseless. or to make of real ones petrators than they actually are. violence. for example. not to say innocent men. twentieth-century time scale. to conjure up or imagine enemies. and children. wells have been sunk. women. Take. behave rationally Yet there is already a second conundrum here. Two war like races have been exterminated.Levene: Why Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 315 and unremitting massacre against apply instruments of terror. do not necessarily look askance or in horror on those who have. 23. new water holes discovered. Those who do not or at least have not done so in a commit genocide. or even sovereignty. this Yet. an actual threat?where This discrepancy it exists at all? between and what the perpetrator claims to be a threat is at the very heart of what one might call the genocide conundrum. recent Serbian witness with behavior by the claim?as regard to it is defending itself against an imminent Kosovo?that danger to its national security. Indeed itmay be ing the conundrum that it can only be found in the intersection this dark?and between of the human condition and the level essentially unquantifiable?side are assumed of state and interstate to relations where leaderships in the best interests of their polities and societies. this statement by a British observer of the first authentic 1904-05? twentieth-century example committed?in and Nama in South West against the Herero by the Germans people Africa "There can be no doubt. territorial integrity. where a state goes down this path it is invariably accompanied Indeed. while at the same time it is going to inordinate the evi lengths not only to conceal dence for mass murder but to deny that it has killed anyone. paradoxically. that the war has (Namibia): to the German been of an almost unmixed benefit colony. to ascribe threat from the people who are mass murdered appears as a two-sided not simply to define genocide dynamic relationship a state and an element between of its population but to potentially actions are both legitimate infer that the perpetrator's and justifiable. the country mapped and covered with telegraph 23 See Chalk and Jonassohn's definition. something much more terrifying and dangerous a clearly cultural and/or psychological to the dimension represents Iwill return later. is the very reason that the perpetrator's claims cannot simply be dis missed out of hand but requires very careful examination and evalua tion not only in the forensic sense of proving whether mass killing did or did not occur but equally a necessary in providing importantly The repeated tendency by per insight into the perpetrator's mindset. . I think. But crack and one to which genocide phenomenon cannot be achieved in isolation. in History.
At the accusation." ed. True. pp.. 26 and State Power (Brunswick. has to bring its perpetrators or even who either look the other way. J. of course. in The in Totalitarian States: Mortacracies R. Kuper highest. Time after time. which seeks it. A Critical Bibliographical Review Circle of Genocide. 217. 1999). open. and Penny Roberts eds. not to say circumspect. and that consequently and infrastructural izing development. polities nation that before 1900 had already experienced prolonged in their that were well advanced and state building. Genocide Irving Louis Horowitz. 161. Widening (New Brunswick and London.. . Nor level of international relations."25 about the quite schizophrenic something to genocide. tend considered the most heinous they to be much more selective. vol. is in the process of creating There is. 1980). 1994). Rummel. 3 of Genocide. and legislative branches. thus. p. and involve a Yet these assumptions democratic do not commit genocide.. Taking Lives. Mark Levene (Oxford.Charny.26 Thus. "Demoeide and Megamurders. before leveling the is this simply a case of narrow state interest. periods of industrial felt rea 24 of all Parts of the in Tdman "A Certain Treatment Rigorous Quoted Dedering. signed by a majority on those who to outlaw of its states. clearly bunal to book. pours opprobrium a permanent tri commit international it. to commit genocide. liberal traditions. Genocide. JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. J. FALL 2000 amount of capital and an enormous tenor of this comment unmistakably upbeat has been stands laid out. societies which are tolerant. 25 p. notably R. and above all. Rummel in western of genocide the argument that the avoidance have posited societies the separation of lies in the strength of their civic institutions.. and yet. as an integral part of its sov right ereignty . In practice. in German of the Herero South West Africa. Kuper."24 The contrast in marked to the language of the United Nations in which genocide Convention is reviled as an "odious scourge. I. and Irving Louis Horowitz. NJ. or condone powerful members it be then. in their demo their executive cratic." in The Mas sacre inHistory. at the same time. 3-39. Could actively states that have not committed the last one hundred genocide within see in those that have too close a reflection of their years nevertheless former selves? Some scholars. that support incidents of it." In principle. supposedly most moral asserts "that for all practical purposes" the United Nations defends the of "the sovereign territorial state .3i6 lines. leading politi cians stand shoulder to shoulder alongside human rights activists and is of what in the popular mind leaders in their condemnation religious of crimes. Nation: The Annihilation 1904. however. and more contemporary remarkable historical sleight of hand. On the one hand it international response community's treats it with repugnance and has a Convention.
These recourse to war. have been much But in order to arrive at this happy condition. cutthroat business?no this dominant rather. some states were able to do so by finding for 27 The 4. social. which under today's international rule book?created largely out of western Enlightenment thought and prac tice?would be considered dubious if not downright illegal. "All Fall Down. themselves vis-? finding vis the frontrunners. The ensuing cultural. to find ways and means of staying afloat within political economy. however. 31 March term is borrowed from Misha Glenny's BBC broadcast. but a "new world pecking order. True. Thus. repeated these states with practices. the only way states military. polities system of nation tively within which were latecomers to it. were crucial in providing to capital accumulation. and infrastructural aspects. Its regulators and supervisors?the system. Not only was this the beginning of position a new world order. by the mid logical cutting edge and industrial revolutions to late-nineteenth century. less likely candidates. including potentially very powerful ones at a disadvantage like Russia and Germany. however. But being funda and coherently according and dynamically fueled by capitalism?by its very nature a mentally new state could afford to stand still and had. superficially seemed forward. once acknowledged the turally it. One of the key dilemmas for such late nation to borrow from a cul states. included and above all slavery." in which these These set the tune and everybody to dance to it. had to consider how best they could make up lost or unwillingly ground. was not simply the requirement as players within alien template but. the leading modernizing states certainly did commit. conquest. had assured for them an entirely hege monic around the globe. how to keep up with an implicit leader states?demanded of new candidates undertaking that they would transform themselves into polities which would oper ate effectively to its rules. for committing it. Willingly taking on board much of the leaders' administrative. . turn fueled their techno in shortcuts which and which. at the very least." Radio 1995. or are heavily engaged or are redefining or refor in the process of state and nation building.Le vene: Why Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 317 a wider geo-strategic context sonably secure of their position within since then.27 else was expected This would suggest that the twentieth century practice of genocide has more in common with states which are new. and institutional set in motion the most profound of econ reformulation borrowings omies and societies. proto-genocides as well as a number of other practices. in order to operate more autonomously themselves and effec mulating an international states.
sometimes while by dint of their aegis of the leading nations. the system's "liberal. circumstance distinction between those mod of and the generality genocide all such polities have the poten for require us to offer explanation basis of circumstance. Still other later niche by acting as trading intermediaries were able to trade on newcomers." Ziya Gok?lp . or imperium. The range of this group in terms of wealth communality. (the USSR). Undoubt But is it sufficient? A final thrust posit that what all our genocidal of the deterministic approach might acute anxiety about the wide states share is a particularly practitioner leaders themselves and the global and ever-increasing gap between to their special in relationship within the international system but or even mythic. have been the ones most prone to support leaderships who also have this anger and resentment. edly." inclusivist ground challenged in the poem. FALL 2000 or geo-political a secondary position under the economic themselves a few. particularly postcolonial and underdevelopment their poverty Western aid. To restate a list of some of the main genocide perpetrators the Ottoman Russia of this century?Germany. Pakistan. Destani. ought to believe.3i8 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. both in regard to their own societies and/or arena. These. (later Turkey). tradition of premodern coherence. interestingly. a relatively found for themselves comfortable position. in authority. Ethiopia. were to commit genocide. Iraq. Rwanda. to radicalize their domestic been the ones mostly arrangements likely or as well as foreign policies in ways that consciously contravened rules. sense of a historic. system which they be theirs. Cambodia. consequently. articulated and. included to become major of recipients a number of states which This deterministic framework clearly has its limits and explanatory limitations. arrivals. to obvious Burundi?is sia. states who have committed ernizing those who have not? To argue that tiality is all well and good but would on the essentially specific instances is a crucial factor. hardly an invitation and power. where do we find the Moreover. geographic or entrep?ts. represents a major disin or totali to suggest ideological centive while any attempt proclivities the tarian systems as the connecting thread would either be stretching to the ridiculous or demanding with other ideologi comparison point or authoritarian prone regimes who have not been cally hard-line notable offenders. "Esnaf is perhaps best encapsulated This state of mind soon written by the famous Turkish nationalist. Bangladesh. Thus. empire Indone China. a broader regional or continental states/soci genocide com eties have been the ones with the strongest and most persistent a position within the inter plexes about having been blocked off from on past historic national record. not to say political and cultural background.
Foundations 1950). of the genocide it still falls closer to the wellsprings phenomenon. progress will set our We shall skip five hundred And not stand still. The Life and Teachings of Ziya Gok?lp . composition on toxic? The Ottoman for instance. Turkey at the time of Gok?lp's writing. p. 28 Uriel (London. We On shall learn his skill. steal his methods. If this gets us a little circumventing. of Turkish Nationalism. in Gok?lp 's message appears to be the West. despite global war later when its repeated Type Two mass atrocities and other against the Chinese Asian century since this is because peoples. Wilhelmine this formula without obvious Ger in its 1914 bid for "Weltmacht oder Niedergang"?world many power or collapse?did not unleash its fury at this point against the Jews. notwithstanding its early-seventeenth no ethnic. or social grouping who could fulfill an its now tiny "enemy. we because we were we shall adopt heart. or force-paced aimed at accelerated social and economic agendas or in the interests of "catching up" or alternatively change avoiding.Le vene: Why Is the Twentieth Century Ottoman the Century defeats of Genocide? in Tripolitania 319 and the Balkan after a series of catastrophic wars: We were defeated To take revenge. Thus. was historically. Heyd. 79. note that other states at various times have adopted this juncture also recourse to genocide. rapid infra structural overhaul and military industrialization should logically have geared Ottoman Turkey only toward Type One warfare as the route to at break out from the system's perceived And we might straightjacket. enemy's science. a in my understanding Nor of the term did Japan commit genocide it attempted its own dramatic breakout. however. As a result. somewhat short of explaining frustrations why and how state/societal are unleashed on specific domestic After all.28 The years in other words. if the specificity of genocide over and above a drive to rapid nation building is also bound up with the social and at what point does this ethnic of a state's population. Little time is left. the rules of the system leaders. is closely linked with genocidal mentality. become Empire. Perhaps of its Christians. contained obvious role as inside and isolated northern earlier times?Japan's rather era perpetra its contemporary Ainu in much population?subdued unusual national makes homogeneity tion of genocide unlikely. the so backward. cannot be said of Ottoman The same. near-extirpation Japan religious." Indeed. the enemy populations.
with the early liberal universalist French and The major weakness was that what and what models they they proclaimed Anglo-Saxon actually did in practice were quite at variance with one another. most it came to their colonial black populations. By a religious these somewhat different route. blatantly the ilk sought to scrutinize of the Gok?lp thus. on a is his emphasis poem alarming?in Gok?lp's esting?and ethnic compo exclusive "we." that is. by followed.320 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. while at least in part. the explosion gence of modernity onto the wider world. aspirants nineteenth-century both universalist ferent to its Jews (and Catholics). what once again. thanks to the events of 1789. what into and powerful unity. there was no of the French nation-state model reason why the Sublime Porte should not have been able to particular its diverse ethnographic and religious elements refashion along these citizens. for instance. embracing people of dif and ethnic origins under the rubric of citizenship. Even with the emer and. states. there were no given blue or guidelines as to what constituted Even Gok?lp's the nation. entity. did not exclude his half Turkish community "imagined" presumably in nation the first eighteenth-century Kurdish self. After lines into good Ottoman all. for a genuinely internationalist supposedly provided principles which and all-embracing color-blind citizenship. which Gok?lp and other national France and the United States?to in principle ist theoreticians would have looked for inspiration?were print and highly assimilationist. code for all thus became the recognized Inclusive citizenship to sovereignty.man. by founding circumvent the national itself on issue. Japan. was fortunate with regard Germany post-1871 least on paper?by that matter?at to state proposed Soviet the post-1917 (countersystem) geneity. teenth-century in starting out from a base line of people-homo seen. Another recognition as we have entrant into the nation-state system. Gok?lp was hardly alone Europe. FALL 2000 a rather successful multi-ethnic the whole. scholars and academicians Across in the . Indeed. a hybrid British "nation" also followed contours. latter-day ideologues source of western state advantage and to adapt the recipe for their own they most readily latched onto was not the or technological innovation per se but the abil modernizing impulses a supposedly to mobilize ethnos? national distinct ity people?the a coherent inter ismost In retrospect. and for an Ottoman state desirous of inter late-nine of its territorial national integrity. those "authentic" thoroughly in the past nents of the Ottoman which had supposedly population reassem the empire great and glorious and which made consciously return it to greatness would bled as a tool for national regeneration societies' benefit. nineteenth-century in his leading search for national ur. when When.
But they arguably played or were to play more prominent states roles among political elites in latecomer who perceived their national weakness and who sought radical keenly to overcome or transcend their limitations. however. namely Marxism. would no coincidence. anxieties were a common These fin-de-si?cle feature of the western or western-orientated world at large. One policies tendency we health have already noted with regard to these elites is the extreme lengths to which we these goals. 12. disciplines drawn the contours for the study of the remote "national" past. that the primary frontrunner and moreover. . able to construct the genuinely universal modern man?the for homo sovie?cus?on the basis of a scientific examination prototype of man's from his natural history. archaeology. can be located in European. perhaps for these lines of enquiry should be that nineteenth-century state par excellence. Nor that it should be Ger many again which would most strikingly appropriate new racial lines in this national of thought quest. already not only for its own sake but as an instrument to "mobilize by which in the future. Nevertheless. received wisdoms which. philology. In particular." Fears of communal weakness and febrility thus became associ ated with anxieties that "foreign bodies" operating from within the or contaminate undermine the physical and mental might body-politic of the nation. the crystallization of this tendency Again from the late nineteenth informed wisdoms and early scientifically centuries. Nation-State. p. threatened model but which. Another they have gone in order to achieve 29 Giddens. was that they all implicitly exemplar latecomer not only would not fit the prescribed which groupings population to contaminate in some critical sense. All ascendance these historical and prehis were not only highly reinventions torical but often utterly selective them from becoming this did not prevent spurious.Levene: Why new Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 321 and literature had of history. medical twentieth science's of "discovery" bacteria and bacilli not only coincided with mass epi death-dealing in the new urban and metropolitan centers but also with new demics and obsessive Social Darwinian discourses about the "survival of the fittest. adopted and adapted by the elites or would serve radical agendas. informed but leading in turn to further medically on how to protect or improve value-free prognostications supposedly the national stock by eugenics or other programs of social engineering. be elites of other "latecomer" It is states."29 Even that most forceful nineteenth-century change to the national to be counterblast claimed thesis. it. construc and indeed antinational The flip side to these national assumed the existence of tions. Germany.
culminating in crises of Ottoman extermination the Indonesian military's the Balkan wars of 1912-13. FALL 2000 to blame supposedly is the tendency internal corrupting these strategies go wrong. "foreign bodies" whenever in the sense that by their very effort connected indeed.322 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. "Connecting in Genocide: of Contemporary Pattern Genocide. The two aspects. crisis of revolution and civil war ist extermination state and society in 1918-19. regime 1959-64. example. The Threads: this argument. supposedly ruption or sabotage of its transformative-salvationist agenda." Ukrainian and against to 1933. the Ittihad in 1915-16. 1999). Early Warning on . By the the "kulaks. or adversaries. in some historic context the regime locating Again" syndrome applies: a communal intent on the dis adversary.30 one might wish to draw from this picture An obvious conclusion or authoritar are stridently of genocide that perpetrators ideological is major example of genocide is the Cambodian Khmer 30 For more Holocaust Understanding. the Stalinist drive from other "ethnic" peasantries. whose full-scale implementation began dur example. groupings cat to a quite extraordinary of immediately sequence preceding points as the grist added to the Khmer Rouge mill. not only to increased frustration but with it the leading should that this must be the result of the insider enemy further rationalization or enemies' conscious of the state's heroic not to say Her sabotaging in crisis scenarios culean efforts. Smith and Prevention. has to be set against the 1929 note between 1917 and 1921. life and death struggle with the Soviet ing an early stage of the Nazis' in 1941. notable prequel being perpetrated without and political destruction of ethnic Rouge an example which from 1975 through nevertheless 1979. pp. movement communist of the countrywide (the PKI) in 1965 against to nationalist PKI challenge rule in 1948. Thus. makes no sense without Union reference back to the previ ous major crisis of German Jews qua Jews popular consent. 27-64. of the Armenians against the repeated state from 1878 through the 1890s. (Williamsburg. Roger W. Even with this astrophes is here termed the perpetrators' "Never what however. either of its own or that committed by the Holocaust. the Rwan the attempted in 1994 against of the Tutsi the dese "Hutu Power" extermination efforts to destabilize and destroy the of counterrevolutionary backdrop new postcolonial in the period the only Indeed. are intimately to attain what is usually unattainable such state strategies are likely to come unstuck. Rwanda. The classic ure. in which by were held to be responsible. and The see Mark Levene. same token." Essays Towards ed. genocide regularly crystallize a regime's conscious situations in which effort at break out from its fetters encounters fail obstacles which recall some previous perceived a predecessor.
dicta psychopathic tors. include Atat?rk. including. and mystical anarchists of theMiddle tionary milleniarians Demons: An Inquiry Inspired by the Great Witch-Hunt and Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy The Pursuit of theMilknium: Revolu (London. Warrant for Genocide. as just cause for and raving about Jewish world conspiracy ranting are their actions would behavior suggest that worst cases of genocidal not simply deeply irrational but completely mad. In this way. the Protocols of the Elders ofZion (London. an extended not easily verifiable list which for instance. problem with while the alleged "madness" of the above genocide is First. this line of reasoning. Inner . and the contamination. to support the generality of this assumption. as for example in the case of the "kulaks. minority status Jewry. Norman Cohn positions provoca some thirty years ago the manner in which fan tively demonstrated tasies reminiscent times took strong hold of a significant of medieval German of post-1918 indeed especially. In fact. must itself at least in part be mobi ited or narrow that may be?which in the perpetration lized as accomplices of genocide. debilitation of virile volk by races of Jewish or consequent it could be argued." the construction of a coherent and identifiable adver in the heads of the Stalinist sary took place leadership and bore no to social realities. Europe's (New York. hardpressed even where states are totalitarian and heavily Second. and mental The 31 See Norman The Cohn. and history of persecution. visceral cultural. Nazi investigation. paranoia. instigators one way or the other. only people of the spread of disease. or Pol Pot only reinforce the sense that their actions against "imagined" enemies are essentially of extreme and projec symptoms delusion. despite was actually spearheading an international. the notion that worldwide its dispersal. Saddam Hussein. tion. even cosmic conspiracy to emasculate and ultimately wipe out not the German but all western civilization. The very fact that in some instances. or alternatively is act that the leadership believes in the best interests of polity and people. 1967). is threefold.31 Fears of sexual. as the factured by the Nazis but simply echoed and then amplified instincts of a vox populi. Ages 1970). proportion society. did not so much have to be manu gypsy antimen. might. the two ing rationally are not necessarily irreconcilable. only adds to the view that our subject relationship is one primarily for clinical psychological Indeed. Popular portrayals of Hitler. genocidal are founded on a domestic lim base?however support they policed. a healthy. however. and Milosevic would be Mao. Itmust therefore follow that either this support base is itself suffering from similar delu sions as its leaders. it could be further argued. in the form of amongst many highly educated and professional people. Stalin. 1975).Levene: Why Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 323 ian regimes more often than not led by unhinged.
This provides "mad" or "evil" regimes alone for genocide will not suffice if blaming in which those regimes this fails to take heed of the circumstances German arise. Goldhagen's ative research in its implicit demand for further consideration of the as well as stepping stones between interconnections genocidal popular ismissing culture and state-building from Goldhagen agendas.or post-Versailles a streamlined in their efforts to socially engineer people both for its own sake and also for this wider purpose. "revisionist" circumvent. What is the context. twentieth-century catastrophe ones which collapsed. toward anything simply that they were impelled of Jews by an eliminationist often sadistic killing anti-Semitism. accident that the first great wave of contemporary out of the actuality of that great and aftermath in and watershed. the terms of either the pre. or were defeated. What transcend And all. genocides or to these domestic in their enabling. or in the sense that they sought to challenge. is actually constructed genocide from hate models societal pho grass-roots provided by in which is. the First World War. coherence. the well-known position Goldhagen is plausible because it is deeply embedded within the cultural genocide of a society. were . to resist or put the brakes on new masters in their inability possibly with their programs for a radical reshaping of society. But Goldhagen does not conclude from his archetypes in the Holocaust of ordinary German that they were study participants other than normal. of course. Ordinary people did not initiate the But the manner which were sometimes of their consequent. Traditional anti-Semitism within large sections of the into something population crystallized utterly toxic only dur in other words in quite extraordinary circumstances of ing 1918-19. This thesis is important for the issue of compar Undoubtedly. world order. It is surely no comes genocides thus emerges from the period 1914 to 1945 is a pattern of or overthrow is closely of which linked to the supercession genocide. were critical to response these outcomes. or which particular states?the were most obviously embittered by the war and postwar outcome? not least by the post-1929 economic and aftershock?were also the ones which the received wisdoms of the liberal increasingly discarded "second" or "third" ways to system in favor of alternative capitalist and ultimate progress triumph. or bankrupt and their replacement discredited traditional regimes by at least in part popularly radical ones with maximalist agen legitimized All these regimes were das for social and/or national regeneration. FALL 2000 not from the top down. either convulsions. a third reason why mass trauma and disorientation.324 state organized but bottom-up bias. JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY.
suffer genocide petrators' irrationality. They as the group or groups accused of actively or polluting the disrupting state's drive to transcend its limitations."32 In other words. Bauman in Nazism and most particularly and Stalinism. p. has no relationship On the contrary. another as a has described state. attempts and then North Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s. Yet spirit on the Roma. or almost coincidentally. examples ian affair" of 1933. 33 Ronald Aronson. what he argues is as an instrument that in situations where modernity is harnessed for the realization of impossible goals what you end up with is a dialecti cal set of tensions between power and impotence. ception sees in these strivings. 136." that regime finds that its only recourse violence. Ron Aronson. and other Jewry. Modernity. But the actual attempt at implementation. is likely to result in a crisis in which. The Dialectics 3< Ibid. . that this extreme and seemingly irra only in instances of genocide can occur. Their victims did not ultimately because did not "fit" a regime's perception of people simply they aegis. expressions of modernity.Levene: Why Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 325 to greater or lesser degrees ready to reject or abandon former policies or assimilating aimed at integrating ethnic. again under Nazi when we look at the Nazi onslaught extermination Romania's of its Bessarabian and Bukovinan or Stalin's genocidal of Tatar. to obliterate first much of North Korea in the early 1950s. In a critical sense the gargantuan nature of a regime's agenda may indi cate in advance the degree to which it has already lost touch with real "the realization of the ity. A Preface toHope (London. not to say the rest of Indochina. or social group "fit" into the state's organic con ings which did not easily or obviously of itself. Chechen. Mussolini's of extirpation one cannot but be struck by their per the hill peoples of Cyrenaica. an between speaks volumes about the contradictions and the actuality of its inability to apparently all-powerful hegemon in its own assured image. to modernity. States. or. are back with or hyperinflated We the massive imaginings of the acute observer. religious. deportations or lesser known such as the Iraqi "Assyr minority peoples. of Disaster. the itself into a corner from which it is unable ing boxed is in "reshaping what resists."33 However. p. 1983). as he calls it.34 Aronson is. massive suggests that it is not Interestingly. which Aronson does not propose that this "rupture with reality. at them suffered it because the finger was pointed homogeneity. hav unrealizable" to retreat. 169. 93. a highly rational project. The United tional behavior in its for instance. p. reason and madness. The discrepancy reorder the world between 32 Bauman. "the most uninhibited of the consistent.
Jongman (The Hague. Albert]. . recently Quarterly from 1945 to 1995. to carry through such a maleficence. Attempted breakout 1914 attempted aggressive Type One warfare. 50. somewhat conviction of the malevolence of forces "out there" that have con not only to frustrate the realization of their agenda but to harm spired and even possibly physically their own people. and more their "Victims 32 (1988): 359-71. 1990 invasion of Kuwait or. 33-58. Germany's or Iraq's Type Two from perceived for instance. p. international system leaders should have been crystal-clear signals from the newcomer states that its perpetration by 35 in Uriel Tal. Stiglmayer 37 See Barbara Harff and Ted Robert of Genocides "Toward Empirical Gurr. "Open Wounds. especially are at this very minute the genocide of all Serbs" preparing are hardly exclusive to the era of Stal suggests that such projections inism and fascism. as a latter day extension of either of these tra a scenario?bar of nuclear weapons. However. "On the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide. 36 on the in Paul Parin." in Contemporary Genocides: and Group Repression Politicides Causes." International of Cases Studies and Measurement Identification and Politicides: of the State: Genocides. in Former Yugoslavia. nor necessarily scape crisis resolution could as easily be in the form of an goat. The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Rights Genocide Convention. the the unleashing different of World War Two?nar sequence culminating to date. rowly avoided is the state leaderships' all these scenarios share in common What jectories. Reflections Quoted Ethnopsychoanalytical inMass Rape.35 example confirming thoroughgoing in the Serbian parliament in 1991 that "the But the statement made Croats. pp. Cases." Wars ed. the examples of genocide to suggest notable for the complete evidence absence of any concrete a communal that let alone ability. FALL 2000 of a recog hubris and humiliation does not have to be the prerogative nized genocide taken out on a communal state. encirclement. the inauguration on Human it both its Charter and and with United Nations. This does not eradicate these anxieties have some grain of truth in rule out instances where are those most extraordinary them.36 since the of genocide the persistence and prevalence Indeed.326 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. Alexandra and London. with ese war criminals at Nuremberg of the and Tokyo. ethnic the truth is (my italics) that all non-Serb groups. ed. 1996). The Nazi assertion that "the Jew is the German the enemy" perhaps represents people's most dangerous most Aronson's rupture thesis." Yad Vashem Quoted Studies 13 (1979): 7-52. (Lincoln 1994). Theory since 1945. to an average of almost one case a destruction of Nazism?running lead one to further ponder what motor contin year since 1945?must ues to drive this seemingly immediate after irresistible lunacy?37 The its trials of German and Japan math of the Second World War. group qua group has the intention. Consequences.
rarely quite The name of the game in these instances has been that of former Zia's "develop or perish. quite different human rights were being put on a frozen pedestal of abstract principle for the foreseeable future in order to enable states created or recreated to get on with the creation of social conditions in a postwar context to their rapid modernization and consolidation. ? la Bauman. Superficially. so one dimensional. that genocide would imperatives new state leaderships be committed for perfectly rational reasons. these very same leaders at this very same time to acquiesce or even officially or allies such as the Czechs sponsor. were deemed obstacles These would suggest. tures. . Pakistan. it was the willingness of or condone. not to say of continuance the Soviet Union's of its prewar reordering of communal which seemed to offer a populations primarily by mass deportation. p. (New Delhi and Lon Civil-Military don." in other words. fear of being left behind quences. The integrated political in the interwar years was most associ which very fact that genocide. ated with new or newly remodeled in the post-1945 became a global phenomenon ebb of the European or neo-imperial to this line of tide must give some credence imperial for instance.Levene: Why would Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 327 not be tolerated. suggest a wholly developmental logic. or those who. But even in these largely "off the map" instances of contemporary such logic has been genocide. 1991). President the Bangladeshi courses in rapid modernization. ber of South American countries and South Asian tribal peo against and integrate rich forest and ples. the or difficult population of troublesome removal or dissipation groups. Bangladesh Relations and India. whatever the conse in the global race for position. in their efforts to reach out. pursuit of crash The 38The Zia of Bangladesh. former wartime the Poles in their sub-genocidal ethnic cleansings of millions of Ger mans and other unwanted peoples from their territories. states in Europe and the Near East. perhaps because of their "primitive" and "backward" cul in the path of progress. 164. and hardly subliminal It was as if countermessage. appropriate to be that it was expected that the practical the message seemed achievement of these goals would involve ethnic standardization. onslaught Chittagong in South Asia. Indeed. connect. resources of geographically other extractive for peripheral hinterlands the benefit of their already advancing metropolitan would economies. coinciding with rallying cry of President on the the onset of the genocidal Hill Tracts.38 or much worse. being forced back into a thus perpetual dependency. by to operate and compete associated with their developmental blueprints within an increasingly international economy. Yet. in the late 1970s. See Veena Kukreja. paradoxically. the genocidal of a num behavior thought.
" not only were specific ethnic in Cambodia. to lie down and die quietly but instead organize and fashion Papua) in order to more into modern "fourth world" identities themselves resist state encroachment. for genocide. were tainted by their association with western . mission intent on denying the state its own. Tagging whole flown thick and fast with devastating popula in the Indonesia of 1965. recognizing primitive. iting territories designated or Bangladeshi in the eyes of notably Brazilian. On the contrary." branding of these examples. The ensuing Rouge Khmer who would "super enjoy the fruits of the country's projected slated for perpetual hard labor great leap forward" and "new" people that the latter. Indonesian. however. and preferably passive type who. That native peoples have particularly been the casual ties in this process. has not been a case simply of their inhab or hydroelectric for roads. provides a potent clue both as to effectively technocrats. In the most extreme "stooge of US imperialism. and probable death. in the Soviet Union. In the post-1945 world conspiracies towards have international such accusations of Cold War-dominated politics. but literally anyone who had vulnerable particularly to have been living or seeking refuge in the US-backed the misfortune zone around Phnom it fell to the Khmer Penh when government into "true" of society. minority populations to such charges. for transmigratory or Papuans in Irian Jaya (West the jumma in Bangladesh instance. and Muslim Vietnamese. the refusal of. self-directed den power and genuine unfettered integrity seemingly independence us back yet again toward an explanation in the for genocide gravitates mindsets where the perpetrator much murkier waters of psychological sees international in everything.328 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. division in April 1975. results. to some preconceived it has been their failure to behave their barbarous. or hid or agents of a much more malevolent but dissembled stooges. FALL 2000 era something has always had in the contemporary of an air of desper ation about it. mines. Rather. China. or as "cosmopolitan. East Timor a decade tions as "communist" state justification of the early 1980s provided later. would consequently and allotted or as soon as the first bulldozers fade away into oblivion conveniently settlers appeared. station in the great scheme of things. developmental This notion that the targeted victim group are really the proxies. But so too. of the genocidal upon them and the per onslaughts that behind them must be some other justification petrators' repeated more organized force directing their sabotage of the state outside the intensification agenda. the Khmer Rouge regime Chams of Chinese." "Soviet diverse did revisionist. dams. or the Guatemala and Cambodia. was founded on the assumption however fleetingly.
Rule. or social tags for them as con 39 Ben don. War go much deeper than any set in motion simply by Cold to have denied The historic the enemy perceived ideologies. however. Axis p. When it came to legalizing discrimination against phenomenon. the list of "enemies" shifted and impossible further still to embrace anyone that the regime deemed for expanded we come face to face with anxi Here. as the regime's closed Utopian experiment imperialism. munist Vietnam Yet in that year the genocidal reached trajectory of the Khmer Rouge eties which both its apogee and nemesis when practically the whole population of its Eastern Zone were provided with blue scarves for their deportation on the collective and then extermination indictment that their Khmer were occupied minds. eign or inauthentic. nothing state perpetrators exterminate of people because groups they perceive them as a threat and find racial. Kiernan. See Race. By the same token. instead of as the prod ucts?often the perpetrators' imaginary ones?of entirely assemblage of social reality. or political or the actuality of sys of human rights abuse and persecution process" tematic liquidation. 24. 408.40 But how ing to deny their biological this group of people it does so at all.Levene: Why Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 329 Even then."39 by "Vietnamese The episode of the blue scarves ought to throw doubt on arguments treat genocidal as in some Lin victim groups as fixed entities which naean system of plant and animal classification. p. p. Com in 1978. a halt and began disintegrating under the weight of the ground to tasks it had set itself. Power and Genocide in "Genocide. of them as a "race" proved to have Jews the Nazis' conceptualization no empirical or juridical foundation." Fein's definition Sociological . religious. (New Haven A and Lon Per 1996). 40 Lemkin. venient for this purpose. Himmler's to isolate the authen of academics and special institutes engagement tic Roma achieved but contradictory In the end. messages. Lemkin's formulation of genocide based on genos (race) to our well-rounded in this sense is a disservice of the comprehension bodies Lemkin's focus on the destruction of the Certainly. was correct and appropri structure" of a communal group "biological ate inasmuch as a distinctiveness of genocide lies in the mass murder of women of all ages equally and without discrimination from the men who are their blood relatives and with the purpose of denying or seek as well as social reproduction. Khmer their rightful greatness were the neighboring Vietnamese. The Pol Pot Regime. in eth identifies itself. spective. or whether terms is immaterial to either a "genocidal nic. of course. ethnic. was supposed to be a fraternal ally. 79.
(London. but the fact that represented mortal dangers to their respective elites of each have sought a more pluralistic framework of significant it against the grain of centralist-minded state. a thorn One can note many similar cases where a people have become in the side of a regime not so much for their "ethnic" or "national" characteristics but for what they socially or even morally represented. and unaware? "albeit wayward pean civilization in the shape of the Nazis. 219. Of the Kurds Iraq. 41-42."42 them. of its own best hopes. but because hard. legitimacy. may to this a historic association of these groups with former imperial rulers and one can begin to itemize common pro ingredients which might in Saddam's recipe. the threat of a bad example. Kanan notes than others not that they "suffered more Makiya specifically because they resisted and fought back they were Kurds. in Bangladesh. Tyranny. to be victimized."41 Not all Kurds. Tibetans onslaught a territorial which their bid to reassert their autonomy represented vide to the People's Republic but a cultural one to its hegemonic challenge In other words. The jumma Sudan." When Europe. Cruelty and Silence: War. FALL 2000 that a group need necessarily does not mean be a This. Some were considered though. or an autonomy within have been enough for them to be viewed as such. that of the significant fought in the Chinese it was perhaps not only of 1959. that power and resources might be shared the idea. "loyal" and on the Ba'athist In another side. pp. 42 in Bluebird's Castle Steiner. Add agendas. what most that impels them and. ety need not be homogenous at the world. for instance. that soci between different communal tendencies. groups or political or perhaps but diverse and multicultural. 1971). to know is important is What tabula rasa waiting or appears in the perpetra what it is about "the group" that challenges tor state's mind to challenge its authority. George theArab World (Lon . it was thus not only a form of "self-muti carri retribution" against the "inextinguishable for a genocidal All this surely brings us back less to the victim groups and more to it is commit what the nature of the driven regimes which genocide. simply Steiner to extirpate attempted lation" but a "lunatic ers of the ideal. however. case. or integrity. as a necessary corollary them.330 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. Dinka and Nuer Karen in Rwanda may not have objectively Kurds in Iraq. or Tutsi states. to that. Uprising and Makiya. George that there are other ways of looking context of Christianity and Euro has spoken of the Jews in the as the incarnation. in southern in Burma. Our argument has rested on the proposition frightens or haunts 41Kanan don. and monolithic wisdom. 1993). p.
And good communists?in But ultimately what so desper their own eyes?too. agenda as both peculiarly on a narrow and unwavering Utopian. Western for Indonesia's of course. returning in a matter of years. The era of Cold and of bipolar. as the United States covertly did with in Tibet in the 1950s. innate power would the necessary springboard from which Cambodia's to its twelfth-cen be dramatically the country unleashed. nuclear-armed. Yet if on one level this marks out tury glory days not to say the Khmer Rouge's Salvationist. also directly affected Supporting nic insurgencies. Iraqi state fears that but stark examples of a state?Indonesia?being given the to extirpate the following the marxisant-led and newly green light year of liberated Portuguese colony of East Timor to the tune of one-third its million-strong inhabitants. inherent "Enemies within" were communist up by both hard-pressed conjured regularly ple" or geographically sensitive oppo regimes and their most vehement nents in the "free world" camp as justification for the extirpation of or other elements to stand as in the population ethnic perceived to their monodirectional obstacles paths to progress. tive. undermining of ordinary Tibetans and Kurds to genocide. . In so doing they assumed that this would provide were. By clearing non-Cambodian debris the Khmer Rouge aimed to begin again. struggle including potentially to the toxic potential gave an added edge and intensity undoubtedly or "enemies of the peo in this condition. or the Kurdish Tsogdu regard to the Mimang or in the 1970s.Levene: Why that Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 331 marked War the drive to genocide or latent tendency is a function of states with a particularly to dispute the discrepancy between the way the world is and the way they think that it ought to be. as well as unusually dependent set of ideological to arrive at this transcendent in order assumptions in reading too much into this perspec there is a danger destination. as it from scratch. contrast to the simultaneous. Competition to given in their support or opposition the superpowers. Of all twentieth-century genocidal in many in its nature of late-1970s Cambodia demonstrates respects extreme to be deemed away everything crystallization. eth states. for instance. Likewise. Ideological Pol Pot and his followers certainly were. provided one communism. perceived febrility. marked and utterly autarkic self-willed to overcome drive by the Khmer Rouge the limitations of Cambodia's of the most that scenarios. not only seemed to make tangible Chinese pesh merga international there really were plots aimed at in so doing vastly increased the vulnerability them. stands in backing advantage. US geo-strate as to the imminence to of South East Asia's obsessions gic collapse in the wake of Phnom Penh's fall in 1975. between some of these outcomes.
came after the collapse of the Cold War and in an era in genocide to American the ideological guru Francis Fukuyama. who had planned the assassination of in Sarajevo. the Archduke Franz Ferdinand survived the Great Cubrilovic at the University of Belgrade.43 to Fukuyama in Kosovo Events there surely confirm that contrary as strong for genocide does remain one great ideological underpinning now. 1992). alongside Gavrilo Princip. In one such paper for the this extirpatory theme. Vaso Cubrilovic icymaker who had much was one of the group of young terrorists. Indeed. Cubrilovic systematic regretted that there had not been a more 43 Francis Fukuyama. where quasi-scien in in particular. . state terrorism to get rid Kosovo's ethnic Albanians. brazen would get them there and more ideology which reassertion We have more recent man happily their Hutu in of the same functional pragmatism something While Serbia's Milosevic and Croatia's Tudj genocides. in effect. a respected historian to become War where he wrote policy papers for the ing. Kosovo should remind us that these from the pre-1914 never can perhaps be tendencies away. The End of History and the Last Man (London. one might posit that the emergence states out of multi-ethnic in the wake of of new nation Yugoslavia communist demise both there and more generally.332 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. One might go fur ther and say that what mattered most to the Khmer Rouge was less the a simple. Their continuity truly went to a Serbian opinion-former and pol illustrated best by brief reference to say on the Kosovo issue. Unlike however. must surely give us pause. Princip. which. to eliminate for power sharing with former Tutsi exiles by attempting all perceived this latter great end-of-the-century That opponents. according to liberal capitalism had been comprehensively alternatives trashed on the slag heap of history. reiterated office. Club. and bloody world. the Serbian Cultural Club and the general staff initiated by the government tific discussions. at the onset of the twenty-first century as it was at the end of the nineteenth: nationalism. Rwandese roads to war and subgenocide leaders sought to defy regional pressure and international accords of Wille seen zu Macht. hostile. FALL 2000 ately impelled them was an intense Khmer patriotism which demanded state against of an ancient not to say mythic Khmer their revitalization the grain of an unjust. the 1930s. the most represents in world historical reassertion marked of toxic tendencies develop ment record. in Belgrade. advocat government Yugoslav and of the country's Muslims He also regularly attended. on to arch-nationalist spots from communist changed in Bosnia and beyond.
We forget at our peril that Rwanda had a political coherence and sense of cohesive iden (and Burundi) the colonial since then.W. rather than disap why to have a following and why. era." in The Changing Shape of the Balkans. in the light of the contemporary realities extolled by Fukuyama. p."44 At the end of the Second World War Cubrilovic reappeared as adviser to the Yugo in essence slav communist the same "Albanian" regime. Or to corporations it another way. however inexorable those forces may appear to be.Levene: Why removal Serbian Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 333 as had been practiced in pre-1914 of the "foreign element" state building to the and concluded that the only solution was to make Arnaut them leave the country. perpetuated tity which long preceded albeit in fiercely competing Tutsi and Hutu narratives. T Norris see (Boulder and London. eds.45 Yet it is exactly in this rapid globalizing that we should be able to discern trajectory the Cubrilovices and Milosevices of the world. pp. Of the hundred most economic important in the global political units currently economy. present and future as seen Quote and Muslim through Serb. A Short History (London 1998). T. Albanian eyes. Norris. F. "Kosova and the Kosovans: Past. Global Diasporas (London. put 130 of them have smaller economies than the fifty largest TNCs. 322-23. for Russia to transfer millions of people from one part of to another. Of course one riposte to this illustration might be to argue that. the others are transnational (TNCs). p. One might add that this may well con true for state regimes which because tinue to be particularly they are to compensate the economically faltering may attempt by amplifying national self-esteem message and conversely. For more on Cubrilovic. 284-85. also Noel Malcolm. Or that Milo sevic's bid to create a greater Serbia out of the carcass of Yugoslavia was predicated not only on a Serb self-perception of a special mission of some hundreds 44 from H. 1996). the malevolence of the international system towards them. pearing. 1996). Kosovo. only half of them are nation states. advocating policy. today's are actually yesterday's men peddling nationalisms Cubrilovices that are a redundant irrelevance. fifty or a hundred states will not readily give up their power or their promise Nation to the forces which drive the global economy. consequently. will continue in the near future than it was genocide will in fact be more prevalent years ago. 45Robin Cohen. . 158. a world war will not break out just because the continent of thousands of displaced Arnauts. and Basingstoke. of some 180 nation states in the world. Carter and H. (Albanian) problem to force tens of thousands of the Jews "When it is possible for Germany to emigrate. 15.
Nor. which the US-led against Iraq campaign military is very much it comes to geno like the old when supposedly heralded. True. Cubrilovic's 1930's there is a simple remained accurate until almost the present day. campaigns. impact beyond or even genocide anxiety about human rights violations into international In this let alone action. 1984). nobody censured Democratic for its geno Kampuchea cides despite the fact that by the late 1970s these were already quite well known and documented. hardly assessment inertia has of international sense. high-risk air campaign of the Kosovo 24 March 1999?the day of the opening ?so as such efforts were contained within the territorial confines long or had no noticeable of the state's own sovereignty it. of Mercy." Quoted inWilliam there would have of the governments proportion presently and Modern Conscience Holocaust The Quality Cambodia. . while followers of Pol Pot continued seat at the United hold the Cambodian Nations long after they had ousted. it did respond when Saddam made Anfal the However. 138. international Instead. It could thus be argued that the mistake New World Order. Thus. the Western Iraq been because of fleeing Kurds but only primarily they more its for their NATO ally Turkey?with greatly feared the consequences own "troublesome" it have had to admit Kurdish population?should for millions 46 at the thirty-fourth in September session of the General of the UN. If it were. And international reason hardly system.46 the nation surprising given that for this: state has remained is which sacrosanct. p. the Western-led it was invaded by became with anger when incandescent community to its Vietnamese neighbor. war and genocide repre of state regimes to their inability to achieve sented the crisis-response tore up the their national agendas by other accepted means. in Northern allies set up a "safe haven" cide. FALL 2000 back to the nineteenth century but even further back to some times. of invading oil-rich Kuwait. They system and instead gambled on rad apparent rules of the international to a solution. (London. genocidal Iraq. Serb civilization from medieval supposedly mythic In both Rwandan and Serbian instances. Yet the great irony is that until shortcuts ical. Shawcross. attempted to liquidate its most troublesome Kurds in the notorious public view.334 dating JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. a large to leave. Western delegates is based on the principle and that UN membership has of non-interference Nations charter on the basis of respect for human never been granted or withheld rights. it is the basic building block of the global As a result. translated censure. did the international community complain when another in 1988 in increasingly full Saddam's state. Assembly were out "that the United in pointing successful and ASEAN 1979.
But the fact that this happened of today's Great Powers rather than at the behest of the UN also recalls a more familiar pattern of self-interested in the action international was actually highly far from being universally very past which. or economic to themselves?in other words against very weak states consequence not against. IsWestern action over Kosovo. even of a new era in which beginning? genocide even of a new be finally from the human experience? Undoubtedly. system leaders may act in the future to prevent or halt genocidal threats where they are sure of being able to do so with minimal military. will Or. is rather clear. and Bosnia. the fact that this had been achieved less by . largely a subject of international on the vine. Fears of the impact of millions persons also some role in the very belated postgenocide of the decisions played to act with regard to Rwanda In the latter case. for instance. of the international system leaders. in early the euphoria Despite June 1999. the herald therefore. when Milosevic agreed to the new peace deal and removed his forces from Kosovo. dented Yet even this sobering prediction in the light of post-Kosovo analy sis and assessment may be too optimistic. the willingness expurgated arm NATO. including genocide. or Turkey?all ?but states with for genocide?where Western self-interest significant potential would dictate a strictly hands-off policy. If this pattern reasserts itself. "powers" status as a sovereign state certainly Bosnia's did initially uncertain not help its plight anymore than the earlier case of East Timor. the Western selective. international tribunals on Rwanda and appear. to be its prime movers have demon international system and continue strated not only an ability to live with states who commit genocide but to applaud its successful consequences. whose continued remained?until very recently? by Indonesia subjugation The Kurdish safe haven acquiescence. China. powers where they wish to intervene against actual or would-be per genocidal petrators. Russia.Levene: Why Is the Twentieth Century the Century of Genocide? 335 of displaced the refugees. political. through their military to respond specifically to gross human rights violations sov in another state does represent a remarkable and possibly quite unprece ereign under the auspices departure. Tibet remains off the international withers agenda. Despite court to try crimes against Bosnia and the prospect of a permanent the leading states who constructed the humanity. benign. Thus with the UN and other to the real conduct international institutions marginal of genuinely international Western will be able to pick and choose affairs. carve-up of Bosnia through the Dayton Accords. the international and Milosevic's ethnic community upholds Tudjman itmight The message.
they reciprocated and ultimately relations with Turkey.. 37. It was as if the Armenian the word Armenian. Back in 1923. court. ominous historical example. at the treaty of smashed its way to modern nation-statehood Lausanne. those who commit genocide. Question. two million Armenians. FALL 2000 and more by a deal days of constant NATO seventy-plus bombing reliant on the Russians the strict limits upon Western suggests heavily to pursue. was to be found. dam. massacred. 1986). Milosevic. On the contrary. particularly much Western about the genoci outrage and even plans to try the perpetrators dal fate of the Armenians. neither nor in the final version the word Armenia. 383. Turkey. Genocide ed. Ethnic Con The History Genocide: Quoted of the Armenian to the Caucasus toAnatolia and Oxford. Hovannisian (New Brunswick. and succeeds. was duly recognized into the concert of nations pow by the great Western to this goal. p."48 Translated and other would-be emulators: be bloody minded. Pasha. in Armenian in Perspective. En route "The absolute Turkish protocol: triumph was reflected . the Ittihadist and subsequent Kemalist or ethnically than cleansed many more regimes deported. military in the 1915 destruction said at of the Armenians. prime mover that as long as a nation does the best the time: "I have the conviction the world admires it and thinks it for its own interests. 1878-1923. and letWestern self-interest do the rest.336 JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY. 48 in Vahakn N. let alone punish. Kurds." N] and London. batten down the hatches.. having out of the imperial hulk of the Ottoman Empire. by the treatymakers of the Lausanne in the fact that into a series of long-term by entering diplomatic. willingness A final. There had been Greeks. in earlier years. G. (Providence 1995). flict from the Balkans . Ques to exist. Dadrian. 47 Richard of the Armenian "Historical Dimensions G. But as Richard Hovannisian has noted before an international and welcomed ers."47 In tion or the Armenian themselves had ceased people of the "official" rules of the other words. Talaat commercial. and Assyrians. R. Hovannisian. into the present the message might be to Sad moral. p. Turkey's blatant repudiation geno game in favor of a series of accelerated shortcuts?including were ultimately statehood cide?toward conveniently ignored and even condoned of Lausanne.