Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / NoHier / Genocide /
@ K. 2004 07 20

I’m just watching Polanski’s The Pianist: Warsaw, 1939, etc. So many movies have been made about Nazi atrocities — good to great; plenty not so good. By the time some adult consciousness started entering my boyhood, Nazi business was pretty well known. The genocide that first got under my skin though was that of the Armenians: for the simple reason that I loved reading William Soroyan. At first I didn’t know why his characters all stood around so stricken, then I began to get a few clues.

The Jews have gotten lots of press for their Holocaust. (It strikes me as disgraceful that there’s so little accompanying talk about the gypsies, the queers, the many others that the Nazis also detained, abused, sequestered, lined up … shot, gassed … However numerous, the murdered Jews were in that case again, still, a minority: six millions Jews; twelve million others: not counting military killings: eighteen million civilian murders.) (All estimates, of course: you can’t count numbers like those: just as the “four million” Vietnamese killed by American actions is an estimate: just like Professor R.J. Rummel’s estimate of one hundred sixty-two million civilians murdered by governments in the twentieth century! estimates all.) (And we’re damn lucky to have any that are even half-way so probable!)

Genocide: People recoil at any explanation,
because they confuse explanation with excuses.

Jared Diamond

The closest thing to responsible-looking numbers and lists I’ve seen with regard to genocide were published by Jared Diamond in his The Third Chimpanzee [New York, 1992] and, by God, I’ve got to mirror his charts.

Some Genocides, 1492-1900

from Jared Diamond,
The Third Chimpanze [New York, 1992]
page 284 in my paperback

1. xx Aleuts Russians Aleutian Islands 1745-1770
2. x Beothuk Indians French, Micmacs Newfoundland 1497-1829
3. xxxx Indians Americans U.S.A. 1620-1890
4. xxxx Caribbean Indians Spaniards West Indies 1492-1600
5. xxxx Indians Spaniards Central & South America 1498-1824
6. xx Araucanian Indians Argentinians Argentina 1870s
7. xx Protestants Catholics France 1572
8. xx Bushmen, Hottentots Boers South Africa 1652-1795
9. xxx Aborigines Australians Australia 1788-1928
10. x Tasmanians Australians Tasmania 1800-1876
11. x Morioris Maoris Chatham Islands 1835

Key: x = less than 10,000; xx = 10,000 or more; xxx = 100,000 or more; xxxx = 1,000,000 or more; xxxxx = 10,000,000 or more

Some Genocides, 1900-1950

from Jared Diamond,
The Third Chimpanze [New York, 1992]
page 285 in my paperback

1. xxxxx Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russians Nazis Occupied Europe 1939-1945
2. xxx Serbs Croats Yugoslavia 1941-1945
3. xx Polish Officers Russians Katyn 1940
4. xx Jews Ukrainians Ukraine 1917-1920
5. xxxxx Political opponents Russians Russia 1929-1939
6. xxx Ethnic minorities Russians Russia 1943-1946
7. xxxx Armenians Turks Armenia 1915
8. xx Hereros Germans Southwest Africa 1904
9. xxx Hindus, Moslems Moslems, Hindus India, Pakistan 1947

Key: x = less than 10,000; xx = 10,000 or more; xxx = 100,000 or more; xxxx = 1,000,000 or more; xxxxx = 10,000,000 or more

Some Genocides, 1950-1990

from Jared Diamond,
The Third Chimpanze [New York, 1992]
page 286 in my paperback

1. xx Indians Brazilians Brazil 1957-1968
2. x Aché Indians Paraguayans Paraguay 1970s
3. xx Argentine civilians Argentine army Argentinia 1976-1983
4. xx Moslems, Christians Christians, Moslems Lebanon 1975-1990
5. x Ibos North Nigerians Nigeria 1966
6. xx Opponents Dictator Equatorial Guinea 1977-1979
7. x Opponents Emperor Central African Republic 1978-1979
8. xxx South Sudanese North Sudanese Sudan 1955-1972
9. xxx Ugandans Idi Amin Uganda 1971-1979
10. xx Tutsi Hutu Rwanda 1962-1963
11. xxx Hutu Tutsi Burundi 1972-1973
12. x Arabs Blacks Zanzibar 1964
13. x Tamils, Sinhalese Sinhalese, Tamils Sri Lanka 1985
14. xxxx Bengalis Pakistani army Bangladesh 1971
15. xxxx Cambodians Khmer Rouge Cambodia 1975-1979
16. xxx Communists and Chinese Indonesians Indonesia 1965-1967
17. xx Timorese Indonesians East Timor 1975-1976

Key: x = less than 10,000; xx = 10,000 or more; xxx = 100,000 or more; xxxx = 1,000,000 or more; xxxxx = 10,000,000 or more

The harm that comes to others has a savor,
and men are ever ready to look on.

Owen Parry’s Abel Jones novels

Max Beckmann, Night

Max Beckmann, Night, 1918

Beckmann has been on my mind recently. But his Night was shoved between my eyes just last evening by Leonard Shlain, his Sex, Power, Time quoting a thumbnail of it most appositely: in the context of why humans can be so devoted to sustained cruelty while wearing one hat while being so devotedly kind while wearing another. There are any number of parallels between Diamond’s great books and this masterpiece of Shlain’s. Indeed, it’s being tangential to Diamond was how correspondent Billy Mac recommended the Shlain book to me.

Genocide Notes
2004 07 19

Maybe the Jews were snotty.

But then were the Armenians also snotty? The Indians? The Christians? …

Lenny Bruce, apropos of nothing, the comedian standing before a crowd said, “Bobby Franks was snotty.” Cruelty as comedy. Of course Lenny was satirizing rationalizations, not critiquing the murdered kidnap victim Bobby Franks. Then again I don’t doubt that Lenny Bruce could also be truly cruel.

Hamlet said “I must be cruel in order to be kind.” pk wowed a Shakespeare prof (his boss, the department chairman) by pointing out that not only was it a zowie oxymoron, but that Shakespeare may additionally have been suggesting the species with his diction: kind / mankind: I must be cruel in order to be human. Catholics will tell you about Original Sin. Catholics will also tell you that Jesus paid that debt: it’s true, but don’t worry: just believe, just light your candles. It seems to me that the murder of Jesus is good evidence that Original Sin, if there is such a thing, is still very much in force.

I was brought up to believe we were nice. I grew up believing that I am nice. Now I’m not at all sure. I’ve never been handed the power of life and death. Who knows what I’d do with it if I were. Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin might come to look puny compared to pk’s potential devastations. If I did it at all, I’d want to kill in the billions. Genocide the genocides.

But, at it is, look at those charts. Notice what looks to this non-statistician as an upward curve? I’ll now want to digest the charts into one chronological chart for the whole period and see what patterns emerge.

Realize, Diamond’s charts don’t claim to be complete. They only cover 1492 to 1990. What have we done in the fourteen years since then?

2005 02 16 Whoa! Does Diamond’s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed [NY, 2005] ever answer that question! The Hutu and Tutsi genomurders were not done after the ’60s and 70s. They were just getting warmed up. Will our future make us long for Dachau as an age of innocence? Or might there be some humans left to wonder how their ancestors ever could have been so gross?

Diamond also reports that Homo sapiens is not unique in this behavior. Chimps also kill. Chimp groups also kill other chimp groups. Looks like we were born genocides.

Speaking of patterns, there are sure some beauties here: lots of peripety. 1962 to 1963 the Hutu kill the Tutsis; a decade later the Tutsi kill the Hutu: going them ninety thousand or so deaths better. Patterns are so pretty.

Has mankind ever seen anything more beautiful than the bomb? The awesome mushroom. More beautiful than God.

Back when I was in graduate school my wife’s step-father, economics professor at Columbia Graduate Business School, was looking into some Princeton-centered group that hawked a solution to world politics: kill all the communists and everything will come up roses. I characterized the group as intent on killing half of the people in the world. “Oh, no,” the professor protested: “they don’t want to kill anybody.” Not kill anybody? Don’t they want to kill all the communists? Isn’t that “half” the population?

Oh. Communists. They don’t count. Just like Jews don’t count. Injuns. …

I’d like to kill everyone who is or ever has been a racist. I’d like to kill everyone who is or ever has been a religious bigot.

I know, I know: then I’d have to kill myself too.

That’s OK. I’d do it.

Stalin uttered the cliché “You can’t make an omelete without breaking eggs.” A fellow communist said to Stalin, “I see the broken eggs; where’s the omelete?”

As pk says, one shouldn’t say that the end justifies the means without realizing that

the means are fossilized in the ends.

Another way of putting it, closer to the Stalin story:

The end justifies the means only if the ends are in fact met.

I interrupted my viewing of The Pianist to create this section, only getting back to the now overdue rental last night, 04 07 23. Very good movie, especially the last third. Music diminishes in other media, almost disappears on TV. Movies can do it OK on the big screen if the equipment is good. Live piano for the silents used to be very good with the right pianist. For the bulk of the film, protagonist Spielman’s playing is OK as movie music goes; but his solo while starving, for the Nazi who discovers him, is as good as music gets in a movie. And, was ever a musical performance better rewarded? The Nazi gives him bread!

But what brings mention of the movie back to this genocide section today, the 24, is my desire to comment on how well The Pianist portrays the Nazi’s marshalling the Jews, recruiting some to police the others for them. The Nazis select certain Jews to be better treated, fed better, so long as they’ll take up night sticks against the Jews who had been their fellows moments before.

Isn’t it true throughout kleptocratic society? The poor Spaniard wants to be employed: the only employment is with Franco. So the poor Spaniard becomes a cop, puts on a uniform: takes the night stick … In the US depression, those who wanted to be allowed to eat became cops, teachers … sought government licences, subsidies …

The Poles stood there while the Jews were robbed, sequestered. Then it was an easy step for the Poles to stand there while other Poles are led away, robbed, murdered … till Warsaw is empty of everybody: except wretched Spielman.

I’ll expand these ideas soon in any of the modules where they’re already founded. Society rehearses us in believing that groups have the right as well as the power to take from one and give to another: freedom, their own children, money, property …

In another good movie I just rented, Changing Lanes, Samuel L. Jackson is told that there’s been an accident, that his sons are hurt. Jackson rushes to the boys’ school which has just been warned by the same prankster that Jackson would try to kidnap his sons. He’s wrestled to the ground, handcuffed: by folks working for the state: the real kidnapper. Could Jackson’s wife have kidnapped Jackson’s sons from him without the connivance of the state? The group owns everything: including your children. Until the Nazis come: and then a different group owns everything. (Until the Russians come.)

2005 10 14

Our knowledge is so shallow: and our deeper knowledge is still shallow. Only today did it occur to me to become curious about the etymology of the term Hindu Kush. Geologists these days have been avoiding parochial terminology for things we now pretend are secular, cross-cultural, objective … Ah Ha! It’s a Muslim brag about a Hindu genocide of theirs! Imagine! As though Poland had been renamed Jew Kill by a victorious Hitler, or the whole US Dead Injun!

I’ll take this occasion further to remind us (or, inform us, in case you didn’t know) how shallow our etymological probes can be. Recently scholars thought of Latin as “ancient,” Egyptian as even more ancient. Recently scholars thought Hebrew was The Original Language! Now Semitic turns out not even to be a middle-eastern language, but north-African. I’ll bet that the phonemes “ma,” meaning mother, are older than the modern species, older than say 50,000 years: just the way control of fire is older than Homo sapiens, older than a million years: by quite a bit. Even as scholars build better and older Indo European language maps I remind us how recent ALL of that is. There’s hardly a word (other than ma) that might not mean Here’s where we ate the Neanderthal’s eyes.

2006 05 01 I was just a kid when the rumors of Hitler’s Holocaust were filtering around. When I saw photos of the starved bodies I didn’t react to them much differently from much of the other crap on the candy story magazine rack: porn, horror comics … I knew that ugliness sold, couldn’t be sure what was “news,” what was staged …

No, the genocide that affected me emotionally the earliest in my life was that which crept up on me through William Soroyan’s stories of Armenians in California: their relatives slaughter by the Turks was the dark cloud, only dimly perceived by young me, behind the characters’ angst. I loved the characters, the survivors first (thanks to Soroyan), became conscious of, and enraged by, the genocide that those few had survived only later. Still, it predated my rage at Hitler. (My childhood rage came merely from the propaganda against him.)

Anyhow, I’m about to watch a film on the subject: Ararat. (We’ve got Holocaust movies up the kazambe; here’s one for the Armenians.)

2006 09 01 I just read a couple of disturbing reports at on the Armenian genocide of WW I days. One account affirmed it, another account accused the affirmation of propaganda-inspired simplisticity: the Armenians, though they indeed were being killed in numbers, were in a complex political situation, with Russia, the British, etc. as well as the Turks involved, and the Armenians themselves were simply passive victims. In other words, though there were killings galore, the situation was sticky, and mere “genocide” is misleadingly simple.

The critic claimed that the issue was complicated by the West’s lazy hatred of Turks. I plead guilty there. There’s no one who hasn’t been muddied by propaganda.

In other words, if the bad Nazis beat up on the peace-loving Jews on their way to temple, that’s bad, but is different from the bad Nazi’s beating up on the Jews who are stockpiling firebombs to use on the Nazis. The claim is that the Armenians were in more than one or two cases engaged in their own political skulduggeries at the time.

Specifically the counter claim claimed that some Armenians were murdering Turks left and right, hoping that the West would step in and give them an independent Armenia.

Makes sense. ? Could have been. ?

One thing is clear: history is a mess.

Genocide Summary

Genocide Summery, 1492-1990

Here I reorder Jared Diamond’s charts chronologically by beginning year and I substitute rough numbers for his quantitative symbols (simply translating his “x”s) (and hoping I’m introducing no errors).




1492-1600 Caribbean Indians 1,000,000+
1497-1829 Beothuk Indians 10,000-
1498-1824 Indians 1,000,000+
1572 Protestants 10,000+
1620-1890 Indians 1,000,000+
1652-1795 Bushmen, Hottentots 10,000+
1745-1770 Aleuts 10,000+
1788-1928 Aborigines 100,000+
1800-1876 Tasmanians 10,000-
1835 Morioris 10,000-
1870s Araucanian Indians 10,000+
1904 Hereros 10,000+
1915 Armenians 1,000,000+
1917-1920 Jews 10,000+
1929-1939 Political opponents 10,000,000+
1939-1945 Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Russians 10,000,000+
1940 Polish Officers 10,000+
1941-1945 Serbs 100,000+
1943-1946 Ethnic minorities 100,000+
1947 Hindus, Moslems 100,000+
1955-1972 South Sudanese 100,000+
1957-1968 Indians 10,000+
1962-1963 Tutsi 10,000+
1964 Arabs 10,000-
1965-1967 Communists and Chinese 100,000+
1966 Ibos 10,000-
1970s Aché Indians 10,000-
1971 Bengalis 1,000,000+
1971-1979 Ugandans 100,000+
1972-1973 Hutu 100,000+
1975-1976 Timorese 10,000+
1975-1979 Cambodians 1,000,000+
1975-1990 Moslems, Christians 10,000+
1976-1983 Argentine civilians 10,000+
1977-1979 Opponents 10,000+
1978-1979 Opponents 10,000-
1985 Tamils, Sinhalese 10,000-

Obviously the numbers are very rough. 1,000,000+, “more than one million,” could be very much more than one million (but less than ten million, or Diamond would have bumped it to the next grouping. 10,000-, “less than 10,000.” Clearly, it’s still in the thousands. 18,000,000 — Hitler’s number — is entered as 10,000,000+: quite a few more than ten million. What was the number of Armenians killed by the Turks? Here it just goes down as “more than one million.”

Never trust pk’s arithmetic; but you can trust pk’s mathematics to some extent. Thus, if you total rough numbers without taking careful account of what mathematicians call “significant numbers,” you’ll get a misleading number: possibly a highly misleading number. Without totaling here, we see that the numbers are huge. But I’m going to try a rough total anyway:

More than 27,001,000!

But we know it’s more: many millions more.

Notice the megadeaths that are not listed as genocides: the nine million Indians dead immediately after 1492 who never even heard of Europeans: killed by European diseases long before the white man got close to them. Notice that ordinary wars are not included.

2012 05 26
But: but, but, but …
But let me say further: It’s not as though there’s ever been any sane alternative (other than Ivan Illich’s and my offer of unsupervised cybernetic community data-basing, 1970 (Free Learning Exchange). Humans find a rich niche and immediately overpopulate it. We’re incapable of rational planning: so, nature seizes any method, however brute, to roach-spray us. I’m for nature, not for us.

I hope someone will notice dates here: I launched the above in 2004. Got arrested in 2006, censored in 2007: 4000 text files worth, again as many graphic files. Slowly, since 2008 I try to put some back.
Was I arrested for exposing genocide? to the genocides? I joke about revenge, that proves I’m a terrorist: to the kangaroo trial terrorists it does.
The atheists don’t believe in Judgment!
Never mind what I no longer believe; what I still believe in is truth! No one really gets away with anything. We just don’t see the consequences: but blindness is not a reliable form of knowledge.

2013 04 12 The Pope mentioned the Armenian genocide, the Turks got all indignant: there are always Nazis still in power. I’ve been immersed recently in related histories and good creative historical fictions recently: The Masters Golf Tournament is torn between self-worship and double ambiguity perspectives. Many a Masters fan reaches his sixties without ever noticing the racism built into Augusta. Fine: the real southerners aren’t embarrassed: any more than Goebbels was embarrassed by some of the things he said! Todays global news is full of terrorist takeover attempts: in the Middle East, in Asia, in Africa … Xenophobia is an old emotion, exploiting it is like falling off the sofa: easy. I love it when kleptocracies see that their cosmology is thin enough that they have to conococt this and that hypocrisy. Some racist fraternity now has to pretend that they didn’t mean their Nazi rites. When I was a kid we rehearsed genocidal attitudes, slaughter the injuns: foul play is godly …

2016 05 22 To update, see



About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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