Modern Tyrants

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Along with its much vaunted progress in scientific and economic realms, our century has witnessed the rise of the most brutal and oppressive regimes in the history of mankind. Even with the collapse of Marxism, current references to “ethnic cleansing” remind us that tyranny persists in our own age and shows no sign of abating. Daniel Chirot offers an important and timely study of modern tyrants, both revealing the forces which allow them to come to power and helping us to predict where they may arise in the future.

Tyrannical rule typically begins in an economically depressed and unstable society with no real tradition of democratic government. Under such circumstances, a self-pitying nationalism often arises along with a widespread popular perception among the citizenry that grave injustices have been committed against them. When a charismatic leader is able to exploit this situation, he may sanction unspeakable atrocities while claiming to uphold cherished national myths.

Chriot analyzes the careers and characters of notorious dictators such as Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Saddam, as well as lesser known tyrants such as Kim II Sung of North Korea, Ne Win of Burma, Argentina’s Peron, the Dominican Republic’s Trujillo, Pol Pot, Duvalier, and others. He demonstrates how they can survive the rise and fall of particular ideologies and reveals the frightening new marriages between nationalism and a host of local concerns. The lesson drawn is stark and disturbing: the age of modern tyranny is upon us, and unlikely to fade soon.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Feb 7, 1994
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Pages
496
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ISBN
9781439105917
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Genocide, mass murder, massacres. The words themselves are chilling, evoking images of the slaughter of countless innocents. What dark impulses lurk in our minds that even today can justify the eradication of thousands and even millions of unarmed human beings caught in the crossfire of political, cultural, or ethnic hostilities? This question lies at the heart of Why Not Kill Them All? Cowritten by historical sociologist Daniel Chirot and psychologist Clark McCauley, the book goes beyond exploring the motives that have provided the psychological underpinnings for genocidal killings. It offers a historical and comparative context that adds up to a causal taxonomy of genocidal events.

Rather than suggesting that such horrors are the product of abnormal or criminal minds, the authors emphasize the normality of these horrors: killing by category has occurred on every continent and in every century. But genocide is much less common than the imbalance of power that makes it possible. Throughout history human societies have developed techniques aimed at limiting intergroup violence. Incorporating ethnographic, historical, and current political evidence, this book examines the mechanisms of constraint that human societies have employed to temper partisan passions and reduce carnage.


Might an understanding of these mechanisms lead the world of the twenty-first century away from mass murder? Why Not Kill Them All? makes clear that there are no simple solutions, but that progress is most likely to be made through a combination of international pressures, new institutions and laws, and education. If genocide is to become a grisly relic of the past, we must fully comprehend the complex history of violent conflict and the struggle between hatred and tolerance that is waged in the human heart.


In a new preface, the authors discuss recent mass violence and reaffirm the importance of education and understanding in the prevention of future genocides.

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