Power Kills
by R. J. Rummel

Empirical evidence shows that democratic states kill fewer people than authoritarian and totalitarian states. Several times more people were killed in the 20th century by democide (genocide and mass murder) by governments than died in warfare. (ix)

The first half of the book consists of the statistical data to support the findings. This is the better part of the book. The second half of the book consists of his theory to explain the findings. In his theory he prefers to use terminology that makes the book sound like typical sociological clap-trap. He talks of social fields, social antifields, and conflict helixes. This has the effect of making his simple and basically correct theory almost unintelligible.

However, he develops an interesting political triangle whose corners are libertarian, communist, and monarchical or exchange society, coercive society, and authoritarian society. He makes the mistake of using democracy rather than liberty most often as the name for the apex of the triangle. (121)

Findings

Democracies do not fight among themselves.
The more two nations are democracies, the less likely war or lesser violence between them.
The more a nation is democratic, the less severe its overall foreign violence.
The more democratic a nation, the less likely it will have domestic collective violence.
The more democratic a nation, the less likely its democide.

Theory

An exchange-based order produces a culture of exchange, that is norms of negotiation, accommodation, concessions, tolerance, and a willingness to accept less than one wants. (7)
"At the most fundamental level, then, we have an opposition between Freedom and Power. It is an opposition between the spontaneous society and the society turned into a hierarchical organization. (8)
This blurs the distinction between voluntary and coercive organization and promotes anarchy in both its meanings.

During the cold war and the administration of Ronald Reagan many social scientists looked upon any statements of the value of democracy as right-wing, anti-communist propaganda. (31)

An oligarchic republic is ruled by a minority that have equal democratic rights among themselves, but deny this to at least two-thirds of the population. (41) The ruling minority learns to negotiate and bargain among themselves and to accept losing peacefully. They see other oligarchic republics as of their own kind, as members of their moral universe. (140)

Hitler's Nazi party was self-consciously socialist: Nazi stood for The National Socialist German Worker's party. (115)

Totalitarian regimes aim at some utopian ideal, authoritarian regimes try to preserve traditions, and democratic regimes do neither. (120)

Year Read: 1999


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