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The Freeman: A Property-Rights Theory of Mass Murder

In the study of mass murder by governments, R. J. Rummel stands tall. His theory, which focuses on the role of the state, is a giant step forward from previous theories that examined cultural-ethnic differences, outgroup conflict, misperception, frustration-aggression, relative deprivation, ideological imperatives, dehumanization, resource competition, etc. Oversimplifying somewhat for now, I characterize his theory as a regime-type theory: at one extreme, totalitarian dictatorships are the most deadly; authoritarian regimes are still deadly but less so; and, at the other extreme, democracies are the least deadly…. In this article I present an alternative theoretical approach, a property-rights theory, for understanding how governments came to slaughter unarmed civilians by the millions and tens of millions. The questions that Rummel and I are trying to answer are: First, how does a government gain the capability to murder millions of civilians? And second, what, if anything, can be done to prevent such monstrous crimes? More . . .

A NEW article by Stephen Carson

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