Genocides: A World History by Norman M. Naimark–Chapter 6

What school did Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin come from? These crackpots were absolutely nuts and completely divorced from reality. I really wonder if the propaganda and the desperation of the people that they ruled were so strong that they [the people] lost their bullshit detector. And I know that that’s a hasty generalization but that’s how I feel at first glance.

Both Mao and Stalin were overwhelmingly paranoid. They believed that the famines caused by the Great Leap Forward and the Five-Year Plan, respectively, in which the government commandeered all of the agricultural land into communes in which peasant farmers worked, were the result of spectacles crafted by the opposition to ensure that Chinese and Soviet citizens turned on the policy, so they upped quotas in order to punish people, which caused even more starvation and suffering.  This is angering to hear about because Mao and Stalin deny a basic human necessity for a reason, that is completely un-based in reality and perpetrated only to support their egos. For this reason, I feel as though this is the worst use of famine as a strategy. And when I see the pictures from the Holocaust or from Yemen of people starving from famine, I know that the existence of these men, women, and children has to be miserable and I can’t imagine these people and their feelings as they go from day to day in the form of a skeleton, working or waiting for death and I just feel so sad.

I am still ambivalent about the inclusion of political opposition groups and economic classes in the definition of genocide. The word genocide comes from the Greek word genos, meaning race or tribe, and –cide, meaning killing, and I am not exactly sure if political and economic groups fit into that definition. At most I would call it a cultural genocide because the killing of opposition stifles the ability of a culture to flourish and progress with new ideas, but I know that’s a stretch and I may be stepping on my own argument, but I just felt as though I had to say something.

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