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All told, governments killed more than 262 million people in the 20th century outside of wars, according to University of Hawaii political science professor R.J. Rummel. Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5', then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century. Finally, given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century

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   Other Democratic Peace Documents On This Site Nontechnical: What is the "democratic peace"?
"Waging denuclearization and social justice through democracy"
"The rule of law: towards eliminating war"
"Convocation Speech"
Freeman Interview
City Times Interview

Professional: Bibliography on Democracy and War
Q & A On Democracies Not Making War on Each Other
But What About...?
"The democratic peace: a new idea?"

Statistical: "Libertarianism and International Violence"
"Libertarianism, Violence Within States, and the Polarity Principle"
"Libertarian Propositions on Violence Within and Between Nations: A Test Against Published Research Results"
"Democracies ARE less warlike than other regimes"

Books: Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (see Chapter 35)
Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (see e.g., Propositions 16.11 and 16.27
Statistics of Democide
The Miracle That Is Freedom
Power Kills

Newspaper editors hardly have to be told about the importance of press freedom. Nor do they need to be lectured on the virtues of peace. But surprisingly, few editors seem to be aware of or articulate the strong connection between the two. Quite simply, a free press promotes peace; creating a universally free press would promote universal peace. The bridge between the two is democracy.
Only to academics is democracy a complex term requiring elaborate definition. To most people, correctly I argue, democracy is easily defined by certain rights: that of voting and the secret ballot, of being able to run for any political office, including the highest, and of freedom of speech. And the latter, of course, means not only the freedom to publish criticism of the government, but even to advocate revolution. Except in a time of war, censorship and democracy are not only seen as incompatible--they are incompatible.
This is clear from a survey of governments around the world. For all countries, without exception, as shown by the latest Freedom House survey of freedom (Freedom at Issue, January/February, 1989), the most democratic have the freest media; the least democratic have the least free media. Indeed, it is inconceivable that it could be otherwise. Plainly, a free press is essential to democracy, but I would put this even in stronger terms: promoting freedom of the press also promotes democracy--a way to democracy is by working to create a free press. I think that most newsmen would agree with this.
Now, on the other side of the coin, research on war and peace has shown the following results. First, democracies do not make war on each other. There has been no war and virtually no threat of violence between two countries that are democratic. The most war occurs between the least free countries. Note that there are 167 sovereign nations in the world today, 60 of them democracies. Not only has there been or is there no war between them, but there is not even the threat of war; none of these democracies arm against each other. Not one. In its long, bloody history, for example, Western Europe is finally at peace. There is not even the expectation of war among these countries. And, it is no accident that Western Europe is also totally democratic.
Second, democracies tend to have the least internal violence (riots, revolutions, guerrilla warfare, civil war); those countries with the least freedom tend to have the most.
Finally, democratic governments just do not kill their own citizens for any but the most reprehensible civil crimes, such as executions for murder; the least free tend to kill their citizens by the millions for political, religious, or racial reasons. In many parts of the world, genocide and totalitarianism are almost synonymous. Consider that in this century alone, aside from foreign or domestic wars, totalitarian governments have killed in cold blood more than 115,000,000 people, over three times the number killed in battle in all wars in this century, including the two world wars.
The major perpetuators are well known; disagreement now only exists about the numbers: Hitler may have slaughtered as many as 14,000,000 people, including near 5,000,000 Jews; Stalin surely outdid him by murdering well over 20,000,000; Mao Tse-tung possibly liquidated even more; Pol Pot in Cambodia exterminated around 2,000,000 Cambodians; the Young Turks killed over 1,000,000 Armenians during World War I. And then there were the assorted butcheries in Ethiopia, Vietnam, Syria, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Indonesia, East Pakistan, and elsewhere.
A twentieth century, global blood bath of over 100,000,000; over 140,000,000 people when battle-deaths in foreign and domestic wars are included. But not one of these millions were killed in a war or violence between democracies; few, if any, citizen of a democracy have been killed by their own government for other than civil crimes like murder (the number of criminals executed in the whole history of the United State by federal and local authorities up to 1982 is 13,630).
It should be clear that democracies are a way to nonviolence. In fact, promoting democracy is promoting world peace. For were democracy universalized, the lesson of history and contemporary events is that international war would be eliminated, domestic violence minimized, and genocide and governmental mass murder of its citizens ended.
The conclusion is now manifest. Since advancing freedom of the press furthers democracy, spreading freedom of the press promotes world peace. And the reverse logic is also true. Without democracies, there will be war; without freedom of the press, democracies cannot exist. Newsmen everywhere should realize this simple equation, then. To foster peace, foster freedom of the press.

* From the pre-publisher edited manuscript of R.J. Rummel, "Freedom of the press--a way to peace," ASNE Bulletin (February 1989): 27. ASNE stands for the American Association

Since the late nineteenth century, most intellectuals have embraced the illusion that government could somehow be tamed. They promoted a vast expansion of government power supposedly to do good. But the twentieth century turned out to be the bloodiest in human history, confirming the worst fears of classical liberals who had always warned about government power

Rudolph Rummel
Talks About the Miracle
of Liberty and Peace*

Since the late nineteenth century, most intellectuals have embraced the illusion that government could somehow be tamed. They promoted a vast expansion of government power supposedly to do good. But the twentieth century turned out to be the bloodiest in human history, confirming the worst fears of classical liberals who had always warned about government power. Perhaps nobody has done a better job documenting its horrors than University of Hawaii political science professor emeritus Rudolph J. Rummel. Little known outside the academic community, he suddenly received much attention when he wrote Death by Government (Transaction, 1994). In the book, Rummel analyzed 8,193 estimates of government killings and reported that throughout history governments have killed more than 300 million people--with more than half, or 170 million, killed during the twentieth century. These numbers don't include war deaths!

Other Democratic Peace Documents On This Site Nontechnical: What is the "democratic peace"?
"Waging denuclearization and social justice through democracy"
"The rule of law: towards eliminating war"
"Freedom of the press--A Way to Global Peace"
"Convocation Speech"
City Times Interview

Professional: Bibliography on Democracy and War
Q & A On Democracies Not Making War on Each Other
But What About...?
"The democratic peace: a new idea?"

Statistical: "Libertarianism and International Violence"
"Libertarianism, Violence Within States, and the Polarity Principle"
"Libertarian Propositions on Violence Within and Between Nations: A Test Against Published Research Results"
"Democracies ARE less warlike than other regimes"

Books: Vol. 2: The Conflict Helix (see Chapter 35)
Vol. 4: War, Power, Peace (see e.g., Propositions 16.11 and 16.27
Statistics of Democide
The Miracle That Is Freedom
Power Kills Rummel went on to identify keys for peace, noting which kinds of governments engaged in wars during the past 200 years. In his latest books, Power Kills (Transaction, 1997) and The Miracle That Is Freedom (Martin Institute, University of Idaho, 1997), he reported his finding that liberal democracies are far less warlike than authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. Indeed, he could not find a single case of a war between two liberal democracies. He presented compelling evidence that the most effective way to secure peace is to secure liberty by limiting government power. Last year he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. To be sure, classical liberals always knew that liberty and peace go together. Classical liberalism blossomed after centuries of brutal war. Mindful of how casually kings had launched so many senseless wars, America's Founders gave the war-making power to Congress, not to the chief executive. Peace was a primary passion of Richard Cobden and John Bright as they launched the successful movement for free trade. By giving people on both sides of a border easy access to resources, they believed free trade would eliminate major provocations for war and strengthen the self-interest of nations to get along. The international movement for liberty was a peace movement. But during the late nineteenth century, statists relentlessly attacked classical liberalism, promoted a vast expansion of government power and imperialism and blamed escalating conflicts on capitalism. The dynamic link between liberty and peace was forgotten. Rummel's personal experience led him to explore these great themes. Born in Cleveland, he endured parents who never seemed to get along. This experience, he says, "made me hate conflict--the bickering, the emotion, the yelling, the irrationality." He joined the army during the Korean War as a way of escaping the slums. He was stationed in Japan, he saw firsthand the horrifying destruction of war, and he found the Japanese friendly. It led him to ask why we had made war on each other and to study war later when he went to college. Meanwhile, he recalls, "I became thoroughly captured by science fiction. It occupied my free time, being to me what rock, movies, and television are to contemporary youth. I got my hands on whatever science fiction pulp magazines or books I could find to read; and unbeknownst to me at the time, not only got something of an education in basic science, but also developed scientific norms. I simply fell in love with science and took it as axiomatic that truth came from science, and that to be a scientist one had to learn mathematics." After the Korean War, Rummel enrolled at Ohio State University--even though he hadn't been to high school. A year later he transferred to the University of Hawaii because he had become fascinated with Asian culture. "There I discovered that I could actually, as a student and later as a professor, study war. I was elated. From that time on, I never had any doubt this was what I must do."
He earned his master's degree at Hawaii, then went to Northwestern University. After teaching stints at Indiana University and Yale University, he returned to Hawaii, where he has been ever since.
During the 1960s, he wrote articles for Peace Research Society Papers, Journal of Conflict Resolution, American Political Science Review, World Politics, Orbis, and other journals, and he contributed chapters to many edited books. He wrote the five-volume Understanding Conflict and War (1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981). Then came In the Minds of Men: Principles Toward Understanding and Waging Peace (1984), Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocide and Mass Murders 1917-1987 (1990), The Conflict Helix: Principles and Practices of Interpersonal, Social, and International Conflict and Cooperation (1991), China's Bloody Century: Genocide and Mass Murder since 1900 (1991), and Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder (1992).
Despite his voluminous writings, Rummel's findings were ignored because, among other things, they posed an unacceptable challenge to statist dogmas that dominated the intellectual world. But after the collapse of so many communist regimes, he could no longer be denied.
Now retired from teaching, Rummel works mostly at his Kaneohe, Hawaii, home, which is filled with books and Asian art. Recently we talked with him about war, peace, and liberty, issues which thinkers have grappled with for thousands of years.

The Freeman: Could you tell us what your research has revealed about government power? Rummel: Concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth.
During this century's wars, there were some 38 million battle deaths, but almost four times more people--at least 170 million--were killed by governments for ethnic, racial, tribal, religious, or political reasons. I call this phenomenon democide, and it means that authoritarian and totalitarian governments are more deadly than war.
Many people are aware that some 60 million people died during World War II. What's much less well known is that only about 16 million of the World War II deaths involved combatants. [Most of the remaining dead were killed in cold blood by one government or another. The Soviet Union alone murdered about 10 million of its citizens during the war.]
When you have a very powerful dictatorship, it doesn't follow automatically that a country will be violent. But I find the most violent countries are authoritarian or totalitarian. Lord Acton insisted government officials be judged by the same moral standards you apply to ordinary people, and I do that, often to the discomfort of my political science colleagues. For instance, at one conference where I delivered a paper, I could see people wince when I referred to the late North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung as a murderer. He [probably] was responsible for about 1.7 million deaths. A lot of us can talk about an individual killer as a murderer--somebody like "Jack the Ripper," who killed about a half-dozen people--but in polite society you don't usually hear a famous "statesman" described as a murderer.

The Freeman: Who were the biggest murderers of the twentieth century? Rummel: Soviet Communists top the list, having killed almost 62 million of their own people and foreign subjects. I figure Stalin was responsible for nearly 43 million deaths. Most of them, about 33 million, were the consequence of lethal forced labor in the gulag.
Chinese Communists were next, murdering about 35 million of their people. More than a million died during Chairman Mao's "Cultural Revolution" alone. In addition to all these killed, 27 million died from the famine resulting from Chairman Mao's insane economic policies.
Percentage-wise, communist Cambodia was the worst. Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge murdered about 2 million people, almost a third of the population, between 1975 and 1979. They murdered Muslim Chains, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Buddhist Monks, military officers, anybody who was fluent in a foreign language, anybody who had a college education or professional training, and certainly anybody who violated their regulations. The odds of an average Cambodian surviving Pol Pot's regime were about 2 to 1.
Millions more people were murdered by communist regimes in Afghanistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, East Germany, Hungary, Laos, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Poland, Romania, Vietnam, and Yugoslavia. All told, I estimate communist regimes murdered more than 110 million people.
Another 30 million people died during wars and rebellions provoked by communist regimes.
There were plenty of other murderous twentieth-century regimes, too. Between 1900 and 1920, Mexico murdered about a million poor Indians and peasants. After World War II, the Polish government expelled ethnic Germans, murdering about a million. Pakistan murdered about a million Bengalis and Hindus in 1971, Japanese militarists murdered about 6 million Chinese, Indonesians, Koreans, Filipinos, and others during World War II. Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Chinese murdered nearly 10 million people between 1928 and 1949.
Although most people have heard that Hitler murdered almost 6 million Jews, few people seem to be aware that Hitler murdered a total of 20 million people--including gypsies, homosexuals, Dutchmen, Italians, Frenchmen, Balts, Slavs, Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians, and others.

The Freeman: Your research ought to give one renewed appreciation for the greater peace of the nineteenth century, the heyday of classical liberalism. Rummel: Yes. During earlier eras, whenever power has been unlimited, savagery was horrifying.
Ancient histories abound with accounts of cities being sacked and all inhabitants slaughtered. In 1099 A.D., Christian Crusaders seized Jerusalem and massacred between 40,000 and 70,000 men, women, and children. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Sultan of Delhi reportedly murdered hundreds of thousands of his subjects. The Turkic conqueror Tamerlane slaughtered some 100,000 people near Delhi.
Mongols were the most monstrous murderers before the modern era. In 1221, a Mongol army captured Merv and slaughtered some 1.3 million inhabitants. That same year, the Mongol Tului slaughtered as many as 1.3 million more in Meru Chahjan. Soon afterward, Jinghiz Khan slaughtered about 1.6 million around Herat. To acquire and maintain his political power, Khubilai Khan reportedly slaughtered as many as 18 million people. I estimate Mongols slaughtered [in total] about 30 million Arabs, Chinese, Persians, Russians, and others.
China has been bathed in blood. During the eight years (221-207 B.C.) that the Qin dynasty struggled for supremacy, the estimated population of China dropped from 20 million to 10 million. In the Three Kingdom period (222-589 A.D.) the population dropped from something like 50 million to about 7 million. After the Ming emperor Chang Hsien-chung conquered Szechwan province, he ordered scholars, merchants, officials, wives, and concubines murdered. He had their feet cut off and gathered into huge piles. In 1681, following the Triad Rebellion, an estimated 700,000 people were executed in one province alone. The great peace of the nineteenth century didn't touch China where, during the 15-year Teiping Rebellion, perhaps 600 cities were reportedly ruined, and as many as 40 million people were killed. Moslem rebellions in Yunnan province resulted in some 5 million deaths.
There were atrocities in Western Europe. Jews were blamed for the Black Death of 1347-1352, and thousands were slaughtered. The Spanish Inquisition killed between 100,000 and 200,000 people who were branded "heretics." Fanatical Protestants killed perhaps 100,000 women as "witches" during the Reformation. On August 24, 1572--St. Bartholomew's Day--the French King Charles IX or his officials ordered assaults on French Calvinists, and an estimated 35,000 were killed. During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), perhaps 7.5 million people were killed. An estimated 137,000 people were murdered during the French Revolution and the ensuing civil war.
And, yes, there were horrors in the Americas. Aztecs killed people as part of their religious rituals, and Spanish conquistadors claimed to have counted 136,000 skulls outside Tenochtitlan. The Incas killed thousands for their religion, too. Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, an estimated 1.5 million slaves died while they were being transported across the Atlantic. Between 10,000 and 25,000 North American Indians were killed as the United States expanded westward.
These are just some of the worst horrors. Before the twentieth century, I estimate that governments were responsible for at least 89 million deaths and possibly as many as 260 million. My best guess is around 133 million.
Again, these numbers don't count battle deaths. I estimate that before the twentieth century, those amounted to some 40 million.
I want to caution readers about the misleading precision of these numbers. They represent the totals [consolidation] of many estimates. I analyzed the estimates as best I could. Obviously, the farther back one goes in history, it's harder to verify numbers. Which is why I tried to establish a range and then indicate a magnitude which seems best supported by evidence. Although the numbers shouldn't be taken literally, I believe they do help identify the worst murderers and the circumstances.
I conclude that nobody can be trusted with unlimited power. The more power a regime has, the more likely people will be killed. This is a major reason for promoting freedom.

The Freeman: What were the biggest surprises to emerge from your research? Rummel: First of all, the unprecedented magnitude of mass murder. Nobody had tried to estimate it before. We have many books about demographics, like total population, the number of people who own telephones and cars. There's data on the number of people who die from heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and accidents. But until recently, there hasn't been any reliable information on the number of people killed by governments. Even though many of us were aware that governments were major killers, the numbers still come as a shock.
During the twentieth century, 14 regimes murdered over a million people [each], and it would be hard to find a scholar who could name half these regimes.
I was shocked to find that governments kill people to fill a quota. For instance, in the Soviet Union under Stalin and China under Mao, the government would set execution quotas. They would decree that perhaps 5 percent of the people are counterrevolutionaries, so kill 5 percent of the people. Writers, entrepreneurs, you name it--kill 5 percent. In retrospect, I can see that murder by quota was the natural thing for these regimes to do, because they had central planners direct production of iron, steel, wheat, pigs, and almost everything else by quota.
I was shocked to discover how officials at the highest levels of government planned mass murder. The killing they would delegate to humble cadres. So much for the notion of government benevolence. Powerful governments can be like gangs, stealing, raping, torturing, and killing on a whim.
Another shocking thing, for me as a political scientist, was to see how political scientists almost everywhere have promoted the expansion of government power. They have functioned as the clergy of oppression.

The Freeman: What was difficult about estimating the magnitude of government killing? Rummel: There's a vast literature, but it's widely scattered, it comes in many different forms, and it isn't indexed or otherwise organized. There are only a few scholarly books, such as Robert Conquest's work on Stalin's Great Terror, estimating the number of people murdered by government. It took me about eight years to go through all the relevant books, reports, articles, chapters, clippings, and the like and sort the information I found.
I then determined the lowest estimates and the highest estimates of democide, and arrived at what I call a "prudent" figure depending on various factors. I concluded that during the twentieth century governments killed at least 80 million people and possibly as many as 300 million, but the most likely number is about 170 million.
Even if it turned out that the low estimates were correct, it's more than twice as many people as have been killed in all the wars before the twentieth century.
From a moral standpoint, I doubt it matters much whether the number is 80 million or 170 million or 300 million. It's an unprecedented human and moral catastrophe.

The Freeman: Since authoritarian and totalitarian regimes suppress their records, how did you develop estimates for their murders? Rummel: Well, among the principal sources, there are usually those sympathetic to a regime and those hostile to it.
The low estimate for twentieth-century mass murders, 80 million, comes mainly from sources sympathetic to the regimes carrying out the murders!
In a few cases, regimes have publicized their murders, often to intimidate people. For instance, Communist Chinese government newspapers would report speeches by officials in which one might boast, "We killed 2 million bandits in the 10th region between November and January." The term "bandit" was standard lingo for presumed "counterrevolutionaries."
After Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979, the Vietnamese justified the invasion by releasing data about Cambodian mass murders. They let Westerners see evidence of Khmer Rouge horrors.
Many people who escaped totalitarian regimes brought data about mass murders. They were unsympathetic sources, of course. For instance, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's volumes documenting the murderous Soviet gulag. I might add that he had an enormous impact undermining the moral claims of socialism. Many intellectuals, especially in Europe, remained socialists, but they turned against Soviet communism--and the Soviet Union, remember, was long touted as the place where socialism had achieved industrial power and social justice.

The Freeman: Tell us about your findings on peace. Rummel: First, long [well]-established democracies don't wage war on each other, and they rarely commit other kinds of violence against each other, either.
Second, the more democratic two countries are, the less likely they will go to war against [have intense violence with] each other.
Third, the more democratic a country is, the lower the level of violence when there's a conflict with another country.
Fourth, the more democratic a country, the less likely it will have domestic political violence.
Fifth, the bottom line: democratic freedom is a method of nonviolence.

The Freeman: What do you mean by "democratic"? Rummel: People have equal rights before the law. Fundamental civil liberties like freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of association. Free markets. Constitutional limitations on government power. Policies and leaders are determined through open, competitive elections where at least two-thirds of adult males have the franchise. Countries like the United States, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The Freeman: Tell us about your evidence that freedom promotes peace. Rummel: I reviewed the evidence and historical studies going back to the classical Greeks.
For example, if one counts as a war any conflict in which 1,000 or more people were killed since 1816, the end of the Napoleonic wars, then there were . . . [no wars] between two democracies. There were 155 pairs [such as the Great Britain versus Germany, the U.S. versus Japan].involving a democracy versus a non-democracy and 198 pairings of two non-democracies [such as Japan versus China, Germany versus the U.S.S.R.].
The period between 1946 and 1986 involved the largest number of democracies--the toughest test for the link between democracy and peace. During this period, 45 countries qualified as democracies, and 109 as non-democracies. Consequently, these countries could be paired 6,876 ways, of which 990 were democracy-democracy combinations. Without going into detail, I applied the binomial theorem to show that the odds were 100 to 1 against the absence of war occurring by chance.
When you analyze other periods, qualify countries with various definitions of democracy, and estimate the impact of other factors such as geographic distance, economic development, military alliances, trade, and so on, democracy always comes out as the best explanation for the absence of war.
This is an incredible finding. It's like discovering a cure for cancer. We have a solution for war. It is to expand the sphere of liberty.

The Freeman: Why do you think liberal democracies tend to be peaceful? Rummel: Power is dispersed through many different families, churches, schools, universities, corporations, partnerships, business associations, scientific societies, unions, clubs, and myriad other associations. There's plenty of competition, and people have overlapping interests. The social order isn't controlled by anybody--it evolves spontaneously.
Democracy is a culture of political compromise, free exchange, peaceful negotiation, toleration of differences. Because time is needed for a democratic culture to develop and gain widespread acceptance, I stress that a peace dividend is achieved as a democracy becomes well-established.
Even though there might be a lot of government interference in daily life through minimum-wage laws, environmental laws, drug prohibition, government schools, and other policies, as long as a democratic culture remains strong, government officials must still negotiate with each other as well as with private interests.
By contrast, as Hayek explained in The Road to Serfdom--in his famous chapter "Why the worst get on top"--centralized government power attracts aggressive, domineering personalities. They are the most likely to gain power. And the more power they have, naturally the less subject they are to restraint. The greater the likelihood such a country will pursue aggressive policies. The highest risks of war occur when two dictators face each other. There's likely to be a struggle for supremacy.
Another important reason why democracies tend to be peaceful is that people have a say in whether their government goes to war. They don't want to die, they don't want to see their children become casualties, they don't want the higher taxes, regimentation, inflation, and everything else that comes with war.
When democracies do enter a war for reasons other than self-defense, politicians often find it necessary to deceive the public. In 1916, this was the case when Woodrow Wilson campaigned on a promise to keep the United States out of World War I, then maneuvered the country into it. And again in 1940, Franklin Roosevelt campaigned on a promise to keep out of World War II, then conducted foreign policy not as a neutral but as an ally of Great Britain and an enemy of Germany. My point is that in the United States, a liberal democracy, there was considerable popular opposition to entering foreign wars, and both presidents deceived the public, which wanted to remain at peace.

The Freeman: Some people suggest there are big exceptions to your claim that democracies don't make war against each other, like the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. Rummel: The War of 1812, of course, was between the United States and Great Britain, but the franchise in Great Britain was then severely limited. Parliament was dominated by members from "rotten boroughs," districts that aristocrats controlled. Booming regions like Manchester had little, if any, representation. Serious electoral reforms didn't begin to come until 1832, and major extensions of the franchise came decades later.
As for the Civil War, I don't consider the South a sovereign democracy. Only about 35 percent or 40 percent of the electorate--free males--had the franchise. President Jefferson Davis was appointed by representatives of the Confederate states, not elected. There was an election in 1861, but he didn't face any opposition....
There are other possible exceptions people sometimes mention, but none of them involve established democracies.

The Freeman: If democracies tend not to wage war against each other, they sometimes promote coups, assassinations, and other forms of violence abroad. Rummel: Such violence tends to be the work of covert agencies like the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which have considerable discretionary power and aren't subject to detailed scrutiny by democratically elected representatives.

The Freeman: What about Western colonialism, which involved violence? Rummel: Democracies committed less violence than other types of governments.
For example, compare the way the United States and Britain treated their colonial subjects with what Imperial Germany did. In Africa, the Germans conducted a murderous campaign against the Hereros tribe, and some 65,000 people were murdered. Far worse was the Soviet Union which murdered millions of people in territories it conquered.
Democracies have given up their colonies with less violence than authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. Recall how the British gave independence to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The most tragic fighting was between local rivals such as Moslems and Hindus. Hawaii, which the United States acquired by force, voted overwhelmingly to become a state, and Puerto Rico voted to remain a U.S. territory.
It's true some democracies did worse. France waged long wars in Indochina and Algeria. But the exceptional situation for democracies is the norm for authoritarian and totalitarian regimes like militarist Japan, fascist Italy, the Soviet Union, and Communist China.

The Freeman: Some people might say that although the United States is a liberal democracy, there's plenty of domestic violence. Rummel: It's true the United States has the highest murder rate among Western democracies, but there's decidedly more violence in other countries like Brazil, Burundi, Colombia, India, Peru, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. The United States is well below the world average in domestic violence.
More to the point, I'm talking about how to minimize political violence. While it certainly isn't the only source of violence, it's the worst. I say that securing liberty is the only reliable way of minimizing political violence--revolution, assassination, civil war, military coups, guerrilla war, violent antigovernment riots, and so on.

The Freeman: Did your research influence your personal views? Rummel: It helped convert me from socialist to libertarian.
If somebody had given a speech three decades ago, saying freedom is what promotes peace, and tyranny promotes violence, I would have said that was a simplistic explanation which couldn't possibly hold up. Much of my career, I had believed that complex social behavior requires many variables to explain and a complex theory. The surprise was that when I did the research, freedom came out as the single most important factor for peace and nonviolence. That freedom so preserves and secures life I now call the miracle of freedom.

The Freeman: What's your outlook for liberty and peace? Rummel: Our challenge is to extend the sphere of liberty which, in turn, will extend the sphere of peace.
There has been some heartening progress in recent decades. For instance, while there are many disputes in Western Europe, where democracy is securely established, they're routinely handled through diplomatic channels, the European Community, or other peaceful means. France and Germany even have been considering a common army. This would have been inconceivable to people during the 1930s.
Closer to home, there's the border between the United States and Canada. It's one of the world's longest borders, and it's unarmed. People in North America take it for granted, but it's quite an amazing phenomenon when you consider all the wars still being fought over territory. These examples involve liberal democracies, and peace is the norm.
Markets are strong influences for democracy. For instance, foreign direct investment, which now exceeds $1.5 trillion, transfers technology to host countries. It provides jobs. It trains local people in business. It helps nations develop their resources and human capital. Most important, foreign direct investment promotes economic development and a civil society independent of government, and this promotes democracy. America should cut its own trade barriers and encourage freer trade everywhere.
America should apply nonviolent pressure aimed at persuading nondemocratic elites to improve the human rights of their people and gradually move toward democracy. I envision a nonviolent crusade by the democracies, the most important one since the great crusade against slavery.

The Freeman: Thank you very much.


Power gradually extirpates for
the mind every humane and gentle virtue.
----Edmund Burke. A Vindication of Natural Society Power, like a desolating pestilence,
Pollutes whate'er it touches.
----Shelley. Queen Mab III
Power tends to corrupt;
absolute power corrupts absolutely.
---- Lord Acton. Letter to Bishop Creighton

Power kills, absolute Power kills absolutely. This new Power Principle is the message emerging from my previous work on the causes of war1 and this book on genocide and government mass murder--what I call democide--in this century. The more power a government has, the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the elite, the more it will make war on others and murder its foreign and domestic subjects. The more constrained the power of governments, the more it is diffused, checked and balanced, the less it will aggress on others and commit democide. At the extremes of Power2, totalitarian communist governments slaughter their people by the tens of millions, while many democracies can barely bring themselves to execute even serial murderers.
These assertions are extreme and categorical, but so is the evidence accumulated in this book, Death By Government, and its complement Statistics of Democide. Consider first war. Table 1.1 shows the occurrence of war between nations since 1816. In no case has there been a war involving violent military action between stable democracies3, although they have fought, as everyone knows, non-democracies. Most wars are between nondemocracies. Indeed, we have here a general principle that is gaining acceptance among students of international relations and war. That is that democracies don't make war on each other. To this I would add that the less democratic two states the more likely that they will fight each other.
This belligerence of unrestrained Power is not an artifact of either a small number of democracies nor of our era. For one thing the number of democratic states in 1993 number around seventy-five, or also taking into account forty-eight related territories, about one-fourth of the world's population.4 Yet we have had no war--none--among them. Nor is there any threat of war. They create an oasis of peace.
Moreover, this is historically true of democracies as well. If one relaxes the definition of democracy to mean simply the restraint on Power by the participation of middle and lower classes in the determination of power holders and policy making, then there have been many democracies throughout history. And whether considering the classical Greek democracies, the forest democracies of medieval Switzerland, or modern democracies, they did or do not fight each other (depending on how war and democracy is defined, some might prefer to say that they rarely fought or fight each other).5 Moreover, once those states that had been mortal enemies, that had frequently gone to war (as have France and Germany in recent centuries), became democratic, war ceased between them.6 Paradigmatic of this is Western Europe since 1945. The cauldron of our most disastrous wars for many centuries, in 1945 one would not find an expert so foolhardy as to predict not only forty-five years of peace, but that at the end of that time there would be a European community with central government institutions, moves toward a joint European military force by France and Germany, and zero expectation of violence between any of these formerly hostile states. Yet such has happened. All because they are all democracies. Even among primitive tribes, it seems, where Power is divided and limited, war is less likely.7 Were all to be said about absolute and arbitrary Power is that it causes war and the attendant slaughter of the young and most capable of our species, this would be enough. But much worse, as the case studies in this book will more than attest, even without the excuse of combat Power also massacres in cold blood those helpless people it controls. Several times more of them. Consider table 1.2 and figure 1.1, the list and its graph of this century's megamurderers--those states killing in cold blood, aside from warfare, 1,000,000 or more men, women, and children. These fifteen megamurderers have wiped out over 151,000,000 people, almost four times the almost 38,500,000 battle-dead for all this century's international and civil wars up to 1987.8 The most absolute Power, that is the communist U.S.S.R., China and preceding Mao guerrillas, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Vietnam, and Yugoslavia, as well fascist Nazi Germany, account for near 128,000,000 of them, or 84 percent.
Table 1.2 also shows the annual percentage democide rate (the percent of its population that a regime murders per year) for each megamurderer and figure 1.1 graphically overlays the plot of this on the total murdered. However, such massive megamurderers as the Soviet Union and communist China had huge populations with a resulting small annual democide rate. For their populations as a whole some less than megamurderers were far more lethal.
Table 1.3 lists the fifteen most lethal regimes and figure 1.2 bar graphs them. As can be seen, no other megamurderer comes even close to the lethality of the communist Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during 1975 through 1978. As described in Chapter 9 of Death By Government, in less than four years of governing they exterminated over 31 percent of their men, women, and children; the odds of any Cambodian surviving these four long years was only about 2.2 to 1.
Then there are the kilomurderers, or those states that have killed innocents by the tens or hundreds of thousands, such as the top five listed in table 1.2: China Warlords (1917-1949), AtatŸrk's Turkey (1919-1923), the United Kingdom (primarily due to the 1914-1919 food blockade of the Central Powers in and after World War I, and the 1940-45 indiscriminate bombing of German cities), Portugal (1926-1982), and Indonesia (1965-87). Some lesser kilomurderers were communist Afghanistan, Angola, Albania, Rumania, and Ethiopia, as well as authoritarian Hungary, Burundi, Croatia (1941-44), Czechoslovakia (1945-46), Indonesia, Iraq, Russia, and Uganda. For its indiscriminate bombing of German and Japanese civilians, the United States must also be added to this list (see Statistics of Democide). These and other kilomurderers add almost 15,000,000 people killed to the democide for this century, as shown in table 1.2.
Of course, saying that a state or regime is a murderer is a convenient personification of an abstraction. Regimes are in reality people with the power to command a whole society. It is these people that have committed the kilo and megamurders of our century and we must not lose their identity under the abstraction of "state," "regime," "government," or "communist." Table 1.4 lists those men most notorious and singularly responsible for the megamurders of this century. Stalin, by far, leads the list. He ordered the death of millions, knowingly set in train events leading to the death of millions of others, and as the ultimate dictator, was responsible for the death of still millions more killed by his henchman. It may come as a surprise to find Mao Tse-tung is next in line as this century's greatest murderers, but this would only be because the full extent of communist killing in China under his leadership has not been widely known in the West. Hitler and Pol Pot are of course among these bloody tyrants and as for the others whose names may appear strange, their megamurders are described in detail in Death By Governments. The monstrous bloodletting of at least these nine men should be entered into a Hall of Infamy. Their names should forever warn us of the deadly potential of Power.
The major and better known episodes and institutions for which these and other murderers were responsible are listed in table 1.5. Far above all is gulag--the Soviet slave--labor system created by Lenin and built up under Stalin. In some 70 years it likely chewed up almost 40,000,000 lives, over twice as many as probably died in some 400 years of the African slave trade, from capture to sale in an Arab, Oriental, or New World market.9
In total, during the first eighty-eight years of this century, almost 170,000,000 men, women, and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; or buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed, or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens or foreigners. The dead even could conceivably be near 360,000,000 people. This is as though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power and not germs.
The souls of this monstrous pile of dead have created a new land, a new nation, among us. Let in Shakespeare's word's "This Land be calle'd The field of Golgotha, and dead men's Skulls"10 As clear from the megamurderers listed in table 1.2 alone, this land is multicultural and multiethnic, its inhabitants believed in all the world's religions and spoke all its languages. Its demography has yet to be precisely measured and only two rough censuses, the most recent constituting Death By Government, have so far been taken.11 But this last census does allow us to rank this land of the murdered sixth in population among the nations of the living, as shown in figure 1.3.
This census and the estimates of explorers also enables us to estimate Golgotha's racial and ethnic composition, which is pictured in figure 1.4. Chinese make up 30 percent of its souls, with Russians next at 24 percent. Then there is a much lower percentage of Ukrainians (6 percent), Germans (4 percent), Poles (4 percent), and Cambodians (2 percent). The remaining 30 percent is made up of a diverse Koreans, Mexicans, Pakistanis (largely ethnic Bengalis and Hindus), Turk subjects, and Vietnamese.
But still, is Golgotha dominantly Asian? European? What region did most of its dead souls come from. Figure 1.5 displays two different ways of looking at this: the percent of Golgothians from a particular region and also the percent of a region's 1987 population in Golgotha. While most, some 40 percent, are from Asia and the Middle East, the highest proportion of any region's population in Golgotha, around 22 percent, is from the territory of the former Soviet Union. In other words, Asians are the largest group while the former Soviet Union has contributed the most of its population. Note that 18 percent of Golgothians are former Europeans, including those from all of Eastern Europe except the former USSR; Europe has contributed 6 percent of its population to this land of the murdered.
So much for Golgotha and a summary overview of its statistics. As I already have made clear, Golgotha owes its existence to Power. I can now be more specific about this. Table 1.6 summarizes the most prudent democide results and contrasts them to this century's battle-dead. Figure 1.6 gives a bar chart of these totals.12 Note immediately in the figure that the human cost of democide is far greater than war for authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, while although for democracies they suffer fewer battle-dead than other regimes, this total is still greater than democratic domestic and foreign democide. In evaluating the battle-dead for democracies keep in mind that most of these dead were the result of wars that democracies fought against authoritarian or totalitarian aggression, particularly World War I and II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars.13
Putting the human cost of war and democide together, Power has killed over 203,000,000 people in this century. If one were to sit at a table and have this many people come in one door, walk at three miles per hour across the room with three feet between them (assume generously that each person is also one foot thick, naval to spine), and exit an opposite door, it would take over five years and nine months for them all to pass, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. If all these dead were laid out head to toe, and assuming each is an average 5 feet tall, they would reach from Honolulu, Hawaii, across the vast Pacific and then the huge continental United States to Washington D.C. on the East coast, and then back again almost twenty times.14 Were each of these people also an average of two-feet wide, then to bury them side-to-side and head-to-toe would take fifty-five square miles. Even digging up every foot of all of San Marino, Monaco, and Vatican city to bury these democide and war battle-dead would not be sufficient to bury half of them.
Now, as shown in table 1.6 and figure 1.6, democracies themselves are responsible for some of the democide. Almost all of this is foreign democide during war, and mainly those enemy civilians killed in indiscriminate urban bombing, as of Germany and Japan in World War II.15 It also includes the large scale massacres of Filipinos during the bloody American colonization of the Philippines at the beginning of this century, deaths in British concentration camps in South Africa during the Boar War, civilian deaths due to starvation during the British blockade of Germany in and after World War I, the rape and murder of helpless Chinese in and around Peking in 1900, the atrocities committed by Americans in Vietnam, the murder of helpless Algerians during the Algerian War by the French, and the unnatural deaths of German prisoners of war in French and American POW camps after World War II.16
All this killing of foreigners by democracies may seem to violate the Power Principle, but really underlines it. For in each case, the killing was carried out in secret, behind a conscious cover of lies and deceit by those agencies and power-holders involved. All were shielded by tight censorship of the press and control of journalists. Even the indiscriminate bombing of German cities by the British was disguised before the House of Commons and in press releases as attacks on German military targets. That the general strategic bombing policy was to attack working men's homes was kept secret still long after the war.
Finally, with the summary statistics on democide and war shown in table 1.6, we now can display the role of Power. Figures 1.7A-D illustrate the power curves for the total democide and battle-dead (figures 1.7A-B); and for the intensity of democide and battle-dead, both measured as a percent of a regime's population killed (figures 1.7C-D). In each case, as the arbitrary power of a regime increases massively, that is, as we move from democratic through authoritarian to totalitarian regimes, the amount of killing jumps by huge multiples.
Two more figures will exhibit the sheer lethality of Power. Figure 1.8 shows the proportion of war and democide dead accounted for by authoritarian or totalitarian power together and compares this to the democratic dead. For all this killing in this century, democide and war by democracies contributes only 1 and 2.2 percent, respectively to the total.
And in figure 1.9, one of the most important comparisons on democide and power in Death By Government, the range of democide estimates for each regime-level of power is shown. As mentioned in the preface, I have collected over 8,100 estimates of democide from over a thousand sources to arrive at an absolute low and high for democide committed by 219 regimes or groups. It is highly improbable that the actual democide would be below or above this range. The totals that have been displayed in previous figures have been the sum of conservatively determined mid-totals in this range, and are shown in the figure. Now, what figure 1.9 presents for each type of regime, such as the authoritarian, is the range resulting from the sum of all the lows and highs for all the democide of all regimes of that type. The difference between the three resulting ranges drawn in the figure can only be understood in terms of Power. As the arbitrary power of regimes increase left to right in the figure, the range of their democide jumps accordingly and to such a great extent that the low democide for the authoritarian regime is above the democratic high, and the authoritarian high is below the totalitarian low.
So Power kills and absolute Power kills absolutely. What then can be said of those alleged causes or factors in war, genocide, and mass murder favored by students of genocide. What about cultural-ethnic differences, outgroup conflict, misperception, frustration-aggression, relative deprivation, ideological imperatives, dehumanization, resource competition, etc.? At one time or another, for one regime or another, one or more of these factors play an important role in democide. Some are essential for understanding some genocides, as of the Jews or Armenians; some politicide, as of "enemies of the people," bourgeoisie, and clergy; some massacres, as of competing religious-ethnic groups; or some atrocities, as of those committed against poor and helpless villagers by victorious soldiers. But then neighbors in the service of Power have killed neighbor, fathers have killed their sons, faceless and unknown people have been killed by quota. One is hard put to find a race, religion, culture, or distinct ethnic group whose regime has not murdered its own or others.
These specific causes or factors accelerate the likelihood of war or democide once some trigger event occurs and absolute or near absolute Power is present. That is, Power is a necessary cause for war or democide. When the elite have absolute power, war or democide follows a common process (which I call "the conflict helix"17).
In any society, including the international one, relations between individuals and groups is structured by social contracts determined by previous conflicts, accommodations, and adjustments among them. These social contracts define a structure of expectations that guide and regulate the social order, including Power. And this structure is based on a particular balance of powers (understood as an equilibrium of interests, capabilities, and wills) among individuals and groups. That is, previous conflict and possibly violence determine a balance of powers between competing individuals and groups and a congruent structure of expectations (as for example, war or revolution ends in a new balance of powers between nations or groups and an associated peace treaty or constitution). This structure of expectations often consists of new laws and norms defining a social order more consistent with the underlying distribution of relative power.
However, relative power never remains constant. It shifts as the interests, capabilities, and wills of the parties change. The death of a charismatic leader, the outrage of significant groups, the loss of foreign support by outgroups, the entry into war and the resulting freedom of the elite to use force under the guise of war-time necessity, and so on, can significantly alter the balance of power between groups. Where such a shift in power is in favor of the governing elite, Power can now achieve its potential. Where also the elite have built up frustrations regarding those who have lost power or nonetheless feel threatened by them, where they see them as outside the moral universe, where they have dehumanized them, where the outgroup is culturally or ethnically distinct and the elite perceive them as inferior, or where any other such factors are present, Power will achieve its murderous potential. It simply waits for an excuse, an event of some sort, an assassination, a massacre in a neighboring country, an attempted coup, a famine, or a natural disaster, that will justify beginning the murder en masse. Most democides occur under the cover of war, revolution, or guerrilla war or in their aftermath.
The result of such violence will be a new balance of powers and attendant social contract. In some cases this may end the democide, as by the elimination of the "inferior" group (as of the Armenians by the Turks). In many cases this will subdue and cower the survivors (as of the Ukrainians who lived through Stalin's collectivization campaign and intentional famine). In some cases, this establishes a new balance of power so skewed toward the elite that they may throughout their reign continue to murder at will. Murder as public policy becomes part of the new structure of expectations, of the new social order. Consider the social orders of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and their henchmen.
As should be clear from all this, I believe that war and democide can be understood within a common framework. It is part of the same social process, a balancing of powers, where Power is supreme.
It is not apparent, however, why among states where Power is limited and accountable, war and significant democide do not take place. Two concepts explain this: that of cross pressures and of the associated political culture. Where Power is diffused, checked, accountable, society is riven by myriad independent groups, disparate institutions, and multiple interests. These overlap and contend; they section loyalties and divide desires and wants. Churches, unions, corporations, government bureaucracies, political parties, the media, special interest groups, and such, fight for and protect their interests. Individuals and the elite are pushed and pulled by their membership in several such groups and institutions. And it is difficult for any one driving interest to form. Interests are divided, weak, ambivalent; they are cross-pressured. And for the elite to sufficiently coalesce to commit itself to murdering its own citizens, there must be a near fanatical, driving interest. But even were such present among a few, the diversity of interests across the political elite and associated bureaucracies, the freedom of the media to dig out what is being planned or done, and the ever present potential leaks and fear of such leaks of disaffected elite to the media, brake such tendencies.
As to the possibility of war between democracies, diversity and resulting cross-pressures operate as well. Not only is it very difficult for the elite to unify public interests and opinion sufficiently to make war, but there are usually diverse, economic, social, and political bonds between democracies that tie them together and oppose violence.
But there is more to these restraints on Power in a democracy. Cross-pressures is a social force that operates wherever individual and group freedom predominates. It is natural to a spontaneous social field. But human behavior is not only a matter of social forces, but also depends on the meanings, values, and norms that things have. That is, democratic culture is also essential. When Power is checked and accountable, when cross-pressures limit the operation of Power, a particular democratic culture develops. This culture involves debate, demonstrations, protests, but also negotiation, compromise, and tolerance. It involves the arts of conflict resolution and the acceptance of democratic procedures at all levels of society. The ballot replaces the bullet, and particularly, people and groups come to accept a loss on this or that interest as only an unfortunate outcome of the way the legitimate game is played. "Lose today, win tomorrow."
That democratic political elite would kill opponents or commit genocide for some public policy is unthinkable (although such may occur in the isolated and secret corners of government where Power can still lurk). Even publicly insulting and dehumanizing outgroups in modern democracies has become a social and political evil. Witness the current potency of such allegations as "racism" or "sexism." Of course, the culture of democracy operates between democracies as well. Diplomacy, negotiating a middle-way, seeking common interests, is part of the operating medium among democracies. A detailed political history of the growth of the European Community would well display this. Since each democracy takes the legitimacy of the other and their interests for granted, conflict then is only a process of non-violent learning and adjustment between them. Conferences, not war, is the instrumentality for settling disputes.
In sum, then, where absolute Power exists, interests become polarized, a culture of violence develops, and war and democide follow. In this century alone, by current count, absolute-totalitarian-Power has murdered near 138,000,000 people (table 1.6). Over 14,000,000 more of its subjects have died from battle in their wars. Where among states Power is limited and accountable, interests are cross-pressured and a culture of nonviolence develops, no wars have occurred and comparatively few citizens have been murdered by the governing elite, and even most of those killed is questionable. About 90 percent of the citizens killed by democracies have been by marginally democratic Spain (during its 1936-1939 Civil War and by Republicans after the war), India, and Peru (during its struggle against the communist Shining Path guerrillas).
This picture of Power and its human costs is new. Few are aware of the sheer democide that has been inflicted on our fellow human beings. That Hitler murdered millions of Jews is common knowledge. That he murdered overall near 21,000,000 Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals, Frenchmen, Balts, Czechs, and others, is virtually unknown. Similarly, that Stalin murdered tens of millions is becoming generally appreciated; but that Stalin, Lenin, and their successors murdered almost 62,000,000 Soviet citizens and foreigners is little comprehended outside of the Soviet Union (where similar figures are now being widely published). Then there is Mao Tse-tung's China, Chiang Kai-shek's China, the militarist's Japan, Yahya Khan's Pakistan, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and the others listed in table 1.4, who have murdered in the millions. Even those students of genocide who have tried to tabulate such killing around the world have grossly underestimated the toll. The best, most recent such accounting came up with no more than 16,000,000 killed in genocide and politicide since World War II.18 But this estimate does not even cover half of the some 35,000,000 people likely murdered by just the Communist Party of China from 1949 to 1987 (table 1.2).
Moreover, even the toll of war itself is not well understood. Many estimate that World War II, for example, killed 40,000,000 to 60,000,000 people. But the problem with such figures is that they include tens of millions killed in democide. Many war-time governments massacred civilians and foreigners, committed atrocities or genocide against them, executed them, and subjected them to reprisals. Aside from battle or military engagements, during the war the Nazis murdered around 20,000,000 civilians and prisoners of war, the Japanese 5,890,000, the Chinese Nationalists 5,907,000, the Chinese communists 250,000, the Nazi satellite Croatians 655,000, the Tito Partisans 600,000, and Stalin 13,053,000 (above the 20,000,000 war-dead and democide by the Nazis of Soviet Jews and Slavs). I also should mention the indiscriminate bombing of civilians by the Allies that killed hundreds of thousands, and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most of these dead are usually included among the war-dead. But those killed in battle versus in democide form distinct conceptual and theoretical categories and should not be confused. That they have been consistently and sometimes intentionally confounded helps raise the toll during World War II to some 60,000,000 people, way above the estimated 15,000,000 killed in battle and military action. And that the almost universally accepted count of genocide during this period also is no more than "6,000,000" Jews, around 13 percent of the total war-time democide, has further muddled our research and thought.19
Even more, our appreciation of the incredible scale of this century's genocide, politicide, and mass murder has been stultified by lack of concepts. Democide is committed by absolute Power, its agency is government. The discipline for studying and analyzing power and government and associated genocide and mass murder is political science. But except for a few specific cases, such as the Holocaust and Armenian genocide, and a precious few more general works, one is hard put to find political science research specifically on this.
Now, one university course I teach is introduction to political science. Each semester I will review several possible introductory texts (the best measure of the discipline) for the course. I often just shake my head at what I find. Given the democide totaled in table 1.2 the concepts and views promoted in these texts appear grossly unrealistic. They just do not fit or explain, or are even contradictory to the existence of a Hell-State like Pol Pot's Cambodia, a Gulag-State like Stalin's Soviet Union, or a Genocide-State like Hitler's Germany.
For instance, one textbook I recently read spends a chapter on describing the functions of government. Among these were law and order, individual security, cultural maintenance, and social welfare. Political scientists are still writing this stuff, when we have numerous examples of governments that kill hundreds of thousands and even millions of their own citizens, enslave the rest, and abolish traditional culture (it took only about a year for the Khmer Rouge to completely suppress Buddhism, which had been the heart and soul of Cambodian culture). A systems approach to politics still dominates the field. Through this lens politics is a matter of inputs and outputs, of citizen inputs, aggregation by political parties, government determining policy, and bureaucracies implementing it. Then there is the common and fundamental justification of government that it exists to protect citizens against the anarchic jungle that would otherwise threaten their lives and property. Such archaic or sterile views show no appreciation of democide's existence and all its related horrors and suffering. They are inconsistent with a regime that stands astride society like a gang of thugs over hikers they have captured in the woods, robbing all, raping some, torturing others for fun, murdering those they don't like, and terrorizing the rest into servile obedience. This exact characterization of many past and present governments, such as Idi Amin's Uganda, hardly squares with conventional political science.
Consider also that library stacks have been written on the possible nature and consequences of nuclear war and how it might be avoided. Yet, in the life of some still living we have experienced in the toll from democide (and related destruction and misery among the survivors) the equivalent of a nuclear war, especially at the high near 360,000,000 end of the estimates. It is as though one had already occurred! Yet to my knowledge, there is only one book dealing with the overall human cost of this "nuclear war"--Gil Elliot's Twentieth Century Book of the Dead.
What is needed is a reconceptualization of government and politics consistent with what we now know about democide and related misery. New concepts have to be invented, old ones realigned to correct--dare I write "modernize"-- our perception of Power. We need to invent concepts for governments that turn their states into a border to border concentration camp, that purposely starve to death millions--millions!--of their citizens, that set up quotas of those that should be killed from one village or town to another (although murder by quota was carried out by the Soviets, Chinese communists, and Vietnamese, I could not find in any introductory or general political science literature even a recognition that governments can be so incredibly inhumane). We have no concept for murder as an aim of public policy, determined by discussion among the governing elite in the highest councils, and imposed through government bureaucracy. Indeed, in virtually no index to any general book on politics and government will one find a reference to genocide, murder, killed, dead, executed, or massacre. Such is not even usually indexed in books on the Soviet Union or China. Most even omit index references to concentration or labor camps or gulag, even though they may have a paragraph or so on them.
A preeminent fact about government is that some murder millions in cold blood. This is where absolute Power reigns. A second fact is that some, usually the same governments, murder tens of thousands more through foreign aggression. Absolute Power again. These two facts alone must be the basis of our reconceptualization and taxonomies. Not, as it is today, only whether states are developed or not, third world or not, militarily powerful or not, or large or not. But also and more important, whether Power is absolute, and whether it has engaged in genocide, politicide, and mass murder.
In any case the empirical and theoretical conclusion is this. The way to end war and virtually eliminate democide appears to be through restricting and checking Power. This means to foster democratic freedom.

* From the pre-publisher edited manuscript of Chapter 1 in R.J. Rummel, Death By Government, 1994. For full reference to this book, the list of its contents, figures, and tables, and the text of its preface, click book. 1. Rummel (Understanding Conflict and War, "Libertarianism and International Violence", "Libertarian Propositions on Violence Within and Between Nations").
2. Power capitalized stands for government power and its holders (such as Stalin), agencies (such as government departments and bureaucracies), and instruments (such as armies, concentration camps, and propaganda).
3. Since democratic Finland joined Nazi Germany in its war on the Soviet Union during World War II, Great Britain declared war on Finland. No military action apparently took place between Finland and Britain, however.
4. Were it not for India becoming authoritarian, around 40 percent of the world's population would be democratic. This is based on Freedom House's classification of states as free, partially free, or unfree, depending on their civil liberties and political rights. For their latest classification, see Freedom Review 24 (February 1993): 4-41.
5. For some contrary evidence from classical warfare among Greek city states, see Russett 1993, chapter 3.
6. The historian Spencer Weart has studied the history of warfare since ancient times for possible examples of war between democracies. In spite of the many democracies that have existed throughout history, he has found no clear case of such as war [See Spencer Weart, Never At War, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998].
7. Ember, Ember, and Russett (1991).
8. Battle-dead up to 1980 is from Small and Singer's (1982) compilation of wars and battle-dead. That for the remaining years is my estimate.
9. I calculate a mid-estimate of near 17,000,000 Africans killed in the slave trade. See line 92 of Table 2.1A in the Statistics of Democide.
10. William Shakespeare, King Richard II, iv, i, 144.
11. The first was by Elliot (1972).
12. Democide is appropriately compared to international war battle-dead, rather the total international and domestic war battle-dead. Totalitarian regimes use their absolute power to suppress any opposition before it can employ arms against it, and thus come out relatively low on domestic battle-dead (although still higher than democracies). What internal war does occur is usually at the inception of the regime, as for the very bloody civil war after the Bolshevik coup in Russia in 1917, or after a major war when under foreign occupation the opposition is able to arm themselves and organize, as for the guerrillas that fought against Soviet reoccupation of the Baltic States after the Second World War.
13. However one evaluates the rightness or wrongness of American intervention in Vietnam, one fact has become clear from the documents, interviews, and speeches of Vietnamese officials since the end of the war: the Vietnam War was started by communist North Vietnam in order to takeover South Vietnam. Since South Vietnam was recognized by a number of states, including the United States, as a sovereign state, this was an act of international aggression. And it was not until the South was near military collapse that the United States fully intervened with massive force to save her. See chapter 11 of Death By Government.
14. Back and forth, over 4,838 miles one way, near twenty times? This is so incredible that I would not believe the calculation and had to redo it several times.
15. The appropriateness of including this type of killing under democide is discussed with regard to its definition.
16. Democide by the United States, Great Britain, and France is detailed in Statistics of Democide. For the United States, see . See Chapter 14 for France and the United Kingdom.
17. See my The Conflict Helix: Principles and Practices of Interpersonal, Social, and International Conflict and Cooperation, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1991.
18. Barbara Harff and Ted Robert Gurr. "Toward Empirical Theory of Genocides and Politicides: Identification and Measurement of Cases since 1945." International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32 (1988): 359-371.
19. During the war the Soviets committed genocide against at least nine of their distinct ethnic-linguistic sub-nations, including ethnic Germans, ethnic Greeks, Crimean Tatars, and Balkars. Genocides by others include those of the Germans against Slavs, Gypsies, and homosexuals; Croatians against the Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies; the Serbs against Croatians and Moslems; the Hungarians against their Jews; the Serbs, Poles, and Czechs against their ethnic Germans.