” People suspicious of coercive power have been on the defensive recently—or, more accurately, their opponents want them to be on the defensive. The latest argument spouted by fans of a government potent enough to give you all you could want and give it to you good and hard is that any eyebrows raised at the prospect of such an expansive state are evidence of racism.
Don’t try to follow the logic; you might trip over the twists and turns it takes.
But here’s the honest truth: Not just skepticism toward state power, but a strong antigovernment sentiment, are natural and logical results of taking a close look at the state and its works—its bloody, heavy-handed works.
Let’s start with a number: 262 million. That’s the number of unarmed people the late Prof. R. J. Rummel estimated governments murdered in mass killings he termed “democide” during the 20th century. “This democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century,” he wrote.
Unsurprisingly, the bloodiest body count was run up by totalitarian regimes, though authoritarians were busy stacking up the corpses, too, if in smaller piles. Democracies were also responsible for unjustifiable deaths, especially in subduing resistance in their colonial possessions (think: Belgian Congo) and in indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets during wars (think: Hiroshima), but to a far lesser degree than Communists, Nazis, and overdecorated generalissimos.
Rummel’s 1997 book, Power Kills, stated his case most strongly, but he nicely summarized the argument on his website:
It is true that democratic freedom is an engine of national and individual wealth and prosperity. Hardly known, however, is that freedom also saves millions of lives from famine, disease, war, collective violence, and democide (genocide and mass murder). That is, the more freedom, the greater the human security and the less the violence. Conversely, the more power governments have, the more human insecurity and violence. In short: to our realization that power impoverishes we must also add that power kills.”
Read it all from Reason