October 20, 2011


The writers democide figures are off. Most likely because new information has surfaced since this piece was written in 1993. Nevertheless, the writer did a great job explaining these terms. I've only shared one section. If you would like to read the entire piece, please click the link below.

written by R.J. Rummel

Democide: The murder of any person or people by a government.

Mortacracy: A type of political system that habitually and systematically murders large numbers of its own citizens.

Megamurderer: A government that has murdered 1,000,000 people or more.

Note that I completed this study in the summer of 1993 while still engaged in collecting democide data. Not all the democide totals I give here are complete, therefore. For final figures, see my summary Table 1.2 in my Death By Government.


There is much confusion about what is meant by totalitarian in the literature, including the denial that such systems even exist. I define a totalitarian state as one with a system of government that is unlimited constitutionally or by countervailing powers in society (such as by a church, rural gentry, labor unions, or regional powers); is not held responsible to the public by periodic secret and competitive elections; and employs its unlimited power to control all aspects of society, including the family, religion, education, business, private property, and social relationships.

Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was thus totalitarian, as was Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Hitler's Germany, and U Ne Win's Burma. Totalitarianism is then a political ideology for which a totalitarian government is the agency for realizing its ends. Thus, totalitarianism characterizes such ideologies as state socialism (as in Burma), Marxism-Leninism as in former East Germany, and Nazism. Even revolutionary Moslem Iran since the overthrow of the Shaw in 1978-79 has been totalitarian--here totalitarianism was married to Moslem fundamentalism.

In short, totalitarianism is the ideology of absolute power. State socialism, communism, Nazism, fascism, and Moslem fundamentalism have been some of its recent raiments. Totalitarian governments have been its agency.

The state, with its international legal sovereignty and independence, has been its base. As will be pointed out, mortacracy is the result. Totalitarian governments are the contemporary embodiment of absolute Power [1], as classically understood. And Power is a continuum, with limited and responsible power at one end, and absolute Power--totalitarian governments--at the other end.

In the middle are authoritarian governments, that is monarchies or dictatorships that leave social, economic, and cultural affairs and institutions largely free, but squash political opponents or critics (for example, in South Korean and Taiwan until recently, or Thailand and Greece under various military dictatorships). This then gives us a simple summary of relevant findings in the literature. The more unlimited the power of a government, the more likely it will kill. This can be put as a principle:

Power kills, absolute Power kills absolutely.

This Power Principle is the message emerging from research on the causes of war and current, comparative study of democide in this century. The more power a government has, the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the elite, the more it will make war on others and murder its foreign and domestic subjects.

The more constrained the power of governments, the more it is diffused, checked and balanced, the less it will aggress on others and commit democide. At the extremes of Power, totalitarian governments have slaughtered their people by the tens of millions, while many democracies can barely bring themselves to execute even serial murderers.

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