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R. J. Rummel

Rudolph J. Rummel (born October 21, 1932) is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii. He has spent the latter part of his career assembling data on wars, conflicts, and alleged governmental murder, for which he has coined the term democide. References to Rummel often cite his allegations as referring to mass murder, but his definition is not so limited.

Among Rummel's more startling claims is that the death toll from government murder is far greater than the death toll from war. After studying some 8,193 reports of government killing, Rummel estimates that there have been 169,198,000 victims of democide in the last century, as against some 38,000,000 killed in war: according to his figures, four times as many people have been murdered by people working for governments than have died in battle. The high number of deaths outside of war circumstances is in part attributable to starvation and other causes arising from governments' flagrant disregard of human needs.

Rummel claims that his research reveals strong correlations between peace, freedom, and democracy. According to his estimates, of 353 wars since 1816, none have been waged between democracies. "We have a solution for war," Rummel says, "It is to expand the sphere of liberty."

There is also a correlation, Rummel says, between political power and democide. Political mass murder - far more deadly than war - grows increasingly common as political power becomes unconstrained, he claims: at the other end of the scale, where power is diffuse, checked, and balanced, political violence is a rarity. According to Rummel, "The more power a regime has, the more likely people will be killed. This is a major reason for promoting freedom."

Rummel concludes that "Concentrated political power is the most dangerous thing on earth."


Rummel's conclusions have been criticized for not considering the number of deaths due to anarchy and the lack of government, through mechanisms such as civil conflict, the breakdown of society, and foreign invasion. Some have found the data that he uses to be questionable.

In January, 2001, Rummel published a new book, Saving Lives, Enriching Life on his website. This book aims at popularizing his findings.

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