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Thursday, September 27, 20071190946654

Globalizaiton and Genocide

My friend Jason of SDP emailed me yesterday, asking about genocide, globalization, and ideology. Specifically, considering that neither race nor society are going away, does globalization have a chance to end genocide?

My answer: Yes.

Genocide -- purposefully killing a large fraction of your own population -- only works when you can get away with it. This means that it has to be either profitable or at least not terribly costly. In Rwanda, for instance, the massacred Tutsis didn't just leave bodies behind -- they also had farmland that needed to be disposed of. (In parts of Rwanda where there were no Tutsis, the Hutu hordes helpfully killed fellow Hutus, accomplishing the same land reform without the ethnic overtones).

Likewise, the German attacks against the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s were enabled by the disintegrating world economy that allowed Germany to "go it alone" away from the discipline of international capital markets. In the first phase, the Nazi regime confiscated wealth from the Jewish upper-class to fund a growing welfare state. (If 1990s Rwanda was "land reform," then 1930s Germany was "capital reform.") After the War had started, Hitler's regime faced roughly equal costs in interning Jews and killing them. They chose the latter.

Certainly there are genocides -- mass butchery -- today. In Darfur, a nasty party of the nasty non-integration gap --- people kill each other as they have for the past few thousand years. In much of the western world, late-term abortion puts Herod to shame. But a Darfuri and an infant a month from birth have the same economic value to you -- zero -- so they aren't protected by the globalized order.

Comments

Not fond of the word "genocide" myself. As you point out, mass killing is sometimes, at least superficially, motivated by racial prejudice, but in the end, the real driver is almost always economic -- whatever resource that be.

Posted by: David Hallowell | Saturday, September 29, 2007

I think it's better to say it's an interaction of economics and ideology - an ideology that gets "them" gone with an economic system that doesn't punish such butchery.

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, September 29, 2007

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