Chain the Killer
by William Norman Grigg

Death by Government,
by R.J. Rummel, London: Transaction Publishers, 1994, 496 pages, hardcover, $50.00.

In his 1992 Time magazine essay "The Birth of the Global Nation," Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott declared that "it has taken the events in our own wondrous and terrible century to clinch the case for world government." As R.J. Rummel documents in Death by Government, the case for global government rests entirely upon an essentially superstitious belief in the benevolence of government as an institution.

John Locke warned centuries ago that "he that thinks absolute power purifies men's blood, and corrects the baseness of human nature, need read the history of this, or any other age, to be convinced to the contrary." The history of this spectacularly bloody century offers a definitive rebuke to those who believe that a world government would be a blessing.

Rummel, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, is perhaps the world's foremost authority on the phenomenon of "democide" — the systematic murder of human beings by governments. "Democide is committed by absolute Power; its agency is government," Rummel declares, and the death toll of democide is nearly incomprehensible: "In total, during the first eighty-eight years of this century, almost 170 million men, women, and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed, or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted deaths on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners. The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people."

Lethal Peace

Although "the common and fundamental justification for government [is] that it exists to protect citizens against the anarchic jungle that would otherwise threaten their lives and property," in this century of the total state, "government has been truly a cold-blooded mass murderer, a global plague of man' s own making." The standard academic depiction of government as a benign institution, Rum-mel concludes, ignores a "preeminent fact about government" — namely, "that some of them murder millions in cold blood. This is where absolute power reigns."

One of the most important insights offered by Rummel is that peace under a tyrannical government is actually more lethal than war. "Putting the human cost of war and democide together, Power has killed over 203 million people in this century," Rummel points out. However, "Even if all to be said about absolute Power was that it causes war and the attendant slaughter of the young and most capable ... this would be enough. But much worse [is the fact that] even without the excuse of combat, Power also massacres in cold blood those helpless people it controls — in fact, several times more of them."

The century's "megamurderers" — 15 states which killed at least one million people during "peacetime" -- slaughtered over 151 million victims, "almost four times the almost 38,500,000 battle dead from all this century's international and civil wars up to 1987." One hundred twenty eight million were liquidated by the most absolute tyrannies in history — Soviet Russia, Communist China, Khmer Rouge-dominated Cambodia, Vietnam, Titoite Yugoslavia, and Nazi Germany.

Dogmatic globalists of Strobe Talbott's ilk contend that the advent of nuclear weaponry presents humanity with two stark alternatives: World government, or universal nuclear annihilation. Rummel neatly dispenses with this set of false alternatives. Although "library stacks have been written on the possible nature and consequences of nuclear war and how it might be avoided," there is little recognition of the fact that "in the life of some still living we have already experienced in the toll from democide (and related destruction and misery among the survivors) the equivalent of a nuclear war...."

As John Locke reminds us, govern-ment-sponsored barbarism is hardly a recent development. Rummel does offer a repellently fascinating account of "Pre-Twentieth Century Democide," which describes the demonic achievements of such ancient warlords as King Sargon of Assyria and the depredations of pagan societies like that of the Aztecs. But even the most energetic tyrants of antiquity cannot compare with the collectivist despots of our age.

"Power Without Limit"

Rummel observes that the Bolshevik coup of 1917, which inaugurated the totalitarian era, "was not just a seizure of power and change of leadership but a revolutionary transformation in the very nature and worldview of governance. It was the creation of a unique reason-of-state and the institution of an utterly cold-blooded social engineering view of the state's power over its people."

Rummel quotes Lenin's description of the theoretical foundation of his terror state: "The scientific concept of dictatorship means nothing else but this — Power without limit, resting directly upon force, restrained by no laws, absolutely unrestrained by rules." It was in Soviet Russia and its kindred despotisms that democide was perfected. Irving Louis Horowitz points out in his foreword to Death by Government that "of the two supreme systemic horrors of the century, the communist regimes hold a measurable edge over the fascist regimes in their life-taking propensities." This is something to bear in mind as "ex-communists" are rehabilitated as "peace partners" with the West in a UN-supervised new world order.

In light of the reality of democide, Rummel contends, "What is needed is a reconceptualization of government .... New concepts have to be invented, old ones realigned...." Actually, what is desperately needed is a rediscovery of the wisdom which guided the framers of the Constitution. America's Founders created institutions designed to abate the destructive potential of political power, and render it subservient to law. The rehabilitation of America's institutions of limited government must be the immediate priority of those who understand the realities of this bloody century.




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