Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing

By James Waller | Go to book overview

9
Conclusion
Can We Be Delivered from Extraordinary Evil?

Without evil goodness would not be possible either. … Without the forever-lurking inclination to selfishness and discord, there can be no ethical ideal and practice.

Eliezer Berkovits, God, Man, and History

IS THERE ANY HOPE THAT the twentieth-century's “Age of Genocide” will be supplanted by an increase in cooperative, caring, nonviolent relations between countries and the people in them? Unfortunately, most futurists and scholars in genocide studies think not. Current trends suggest that there will be escalating conditions of extreme hardship, even disaster, in many parts of the world throughout the twenty-first century. These trends include a combination of environmental damage, loss of agricultural lands, dwindling of food and fuel resources, and a doubling of population to between 8.5 and 9.5 billion by 2025. Disconcertingly, the most volatile areas of social instability, mainly in the Third World, are the very places where much of the genocide since 1945 already has taken place.

How well have the lessons of the past century been learned by the international community? Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that most states lack the political will to enlarge their definition of national interest to include the prevention, stopping, or punishing of genocide and mass killing. In the words of journalist William Shawcross, “We want more to be put right, but we are prepared to sacrifice less.” 1 Political leaders typically recoil when faced with the reality that intervention cannot always be cost- or riskfree. When states do intervene, the determinants of “national interest” are more often money and practical politics, rather than moral outrage or humanitarian concern. To overcome the problem of political will, it is neces

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Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface - I Couldn't Do This to Someone ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Contents xix
  • I - What Are the Origins of Extraordinary Human Evil? 1
  • Introduction: A Place Called Mauthausen 3
  • 1 - The Nature of Extraordinary Human Evil 9
  • Nits Make Lice 23
  • 2 - Groups, Ideology, and Extraordinary Evil 29
  • Dovey's Story 50
  • 3 - Psychopathology, Personality, and Extraordinary Evil 55
  • The Massacre at Babi Yar 88
  • 4 - The Dead End of Demonization 94
  • The Invasion of Dili 124
  • II - Beyond Demonization: How Ordinary People Commit Extraordinary Evil 131
  • A Model of Extraordinary Human Evil 133
  • 5 - Our Ancestral Shadow 136
  • The Tonle Sap Massacre 169
  • 6 - Identities of the Perpetrators 175
  • Death of a Guatemalan Village 197
  • 7 - A Culture of Cruelty 202
  • The Church of Ntamara 230
  • 8 - Social Death of the Victims 236
  • The “safe Area” of Srebrenica 258
  • III - What Have We Learned and Why Does It Matter? 265
  • 9 - Can We Be Delivered from Extraordinary Evil? 267
  • Note 281
  • Selected Bibliography 303
  • Index 311
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