Some of you may have read my essay on achieving peace between nations. Rudy Rummel, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii, spent his career refining the idea of Democratic Peace. This is the idea that democracies don’t go to war with each other. Thus, once all countries are democratic, world peace will finally be at hand.
That is great news, of course. The bad news is that we are not there yet, and this means two things. First, wars will continue to occur. And second, as long as there are dictators and authoritarian regimes around, “democide” will often accompany them.
Democide is murder by the state. Professor Rummel has spent years documenting this. He has been refining estimates of how bad things have been in the past. This is important because it helps show how critical it is to achieve democracy in countries around the world.
I received an email today from Professor Rummel (as did many others, I am sure). Regarding China since 1923, Rummel has for years estimated 39 million people had been murdered by the government of China. However, he now has made a major revision to his estimates of the number of people murdered in China via democide. Here is a quote from his email:
Now, I have to change all the world democide totals that populate my websites, blogs, and publications. The total for the communist democide before and after Mao took over the mainland is thus 3,446,000 + 35,226,000 + 38,000,000 = 76,692,000, or to round off, 77,000,000 murdered. This is now in line with the 65 million toll estimated for China in the Black Book of Communism, and Chang and Halliday’s estimate of “well over 70 million.”
This exceeds the 61,911,000 murdered by the Soviet Union 1917-1987, with Hitler far behind at 20,946,000 wiped out 1933-1945.
For perspective on Mao’s most bloody rule, all wars 1900-1987 cost in combat dead 34,021,000 — including WWI and II, Vietnam, Korea, and the Mexican and Russian Revolutions. Mao alone murdered over twice as many as were killed in combat in all these wars.
Mao, whose picture still hangs in Tiananmen Square, was the greatest mass murderer in history. It is simply immoral to celebrate a mass murderer, as the Chinese government apparently wants its citizens to do. China is an odd place today - it has gone straight from communism to fascism. But at least the current government is not visibly committing democide. So there is some progress, even if the only freedoms allowed so far are a dose of economic freedom and the freedom to travel abroad. But, regarding future wars, the only way to assure China will ultimately be at peace with its neighbors (and us!) is for China to become truly democratic.
Update: Professor Rummel also has a blogsite.