Thursday, October 28, 2010

Medieval Mentality

From a review of Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin:

Perhaps we need a new word, one that is broader than the current definition of genocide and means, simply, “mass murder carried out for political reasons.”
My first thought on reading this sentence was, "Isn't all war 'mass murder carried out for political reasons'?" If the international community is to allow war but criminalize some mass murders, what makes the criminal ones criminal?

My second thought (and now you're going to laugh) is that the difference between war and criminal war is . . . chivalry.

2 comments:

Jonathan said...

Here's an interesting article. It argues that the American tendency toward war has been influenced by fewer and fewer government officials taking part in war. They choose war, the author argues, because they don't know what it's really like.

http://chronicle.com/article/Warrior-Nation/125020/

Pirate Jimmy said...

I can see your point.
One might look at an analogy, perhaps? "War" is to "mass murder" as "duel" is to "murder"? The only difference between war and a duel, and between mass murder and a murder, is scale.