These examples draw our attention to the issue of genocidal ideology. This is only implicit in the Convention, in the sense that racism is regarded as an inhuman and anti-scientific doctrine. However it is important to recognise that genocide is generally characterized by pseudo-scientific, irrational and fantastical beliefs . Groups identified as enemies in the minds of perpetrators often comprise of people who do not recognise themselves as a community, and whose imputed power bears little relationship to reality. Thus the 1 47
Nazis defined 'the Jews' as a 'powerful' enemy, although they included among them many people of only part Jewish ancestry who were assimilated in German society and whose wealth and power, such as it was, was hardly connected to Jewishness. Stalin defined kulaks as an enemy of the state, designating certain peasants as 'rich peasants' although they often lived amidst other people described as 'poor peasants' and were often as close to the breadline as the latter. The Rwandan génocidaires defined 'Tutsi' as enemies although the social distinction from 'Hutus' was often blurred, and its enforcement depended on the identity card system. Many genocides have involved schemes of social classification, embedded in fantastical belief-systems, which themselves mutate rapidly according to the exigencies of the political struggles in which the perpetrators were involved. A form of war The many similarities between war and genocide are hardly coincidences. Most genocides take place during or around interstate and/or civil wars. Table 2.3 shows selected major episodes of genocide in the twentieth century. It includes a number of cases that would not qualify as genocide on the conventional international definition, because they were not directed against 'a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such'. These are Stalin's 'liquidation of the kulaks', the Nazis' euthanasia programme against the mentally handicapped, Mao's 'Great Leap Forward' and the Indonesian army's massacre of the Communists. It also includes the Cambodian genocide, which would only partially qualify (because it was only partially directed against such groups). [Table 2.3 near here] The table shows the social groups against which genocide was committed, and that in 1 47
most cases there are three central connections to the state and war: 1. The genocidal episode was organized by a state, or a power centre within a state, that can be regarded as the primary perpetrator; 2. The principal organ which carried out the genocide was the army in conjunction with other state organizations such as police, as well as party organizations and paramilitary groups; 3. The genocide took place in the context of a war between the perpetrator-state and organized, armed enemies (often but not always other states).
- Winter '12
- History, Stalin, Homework, War