The Politics of Genocide

By Edward S. Herman; David Peterson | Go to book overview

Foreword

by Noam Chomsky

Perhaps the most shattering lesson from this powerful inquiry is that the end of the Cold War opened the way to an era of virtual Holocaust denial. As the authors put it, more temperately, “[d]uring the past several decades, the word ‘genocide’ has increased in frequency of use and recklessness of application, so much so that the crime of the 20th Century for which the term originally was coined often appears debased.” Current usage, they show, is an insult to the memory of victims of the Nazis.

It may be useful, however, to recall that the practices are deeply rooted in prevailing intellectual culture, so much so that they will not be easy to eradicate. We can see this by considering the most unambiguous cases of genocide and cases in which the word has been debased, those in which the crime is acknowledged by the perpetrators, and passed over as insignificant or even denied in retrospect by the beneficiaries, right to the present.

Settler colonialism, commonly the most vicious form of imperial conquest, provides striking illustrations. The English colonists in North America had no doubts about what they were doing. Revolutionary War hero General Henry Knox, the first

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The Politics of Genocide
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Reflections on the Politics of Genocide vii
  • Notes xix
  • Foreword 7
  • Introduction 13
  • Constructive Genocides 29
  • Nefarious Genocides 39
  • Some Benign Bloodbaths 69
  • Mythical Bloodbaths 95
  • Concluding Note 103
  • Notes 113
  • Index 151
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