Nicholas Kristof is saddened by “The Pain of the G-8’s Big Shrug” in the New York Times (09/07/08). He points out that genocide cannot be measured by adding the number of people killed, and just comparing that sum to other causes of death.

The hierarchy of values is the deepest problem in philosophy, and the most influential for future behavior. Morality, deep down, is the set of all behaviors that (are supposed to) work. Morality evolves. The Aztecs and a few thousands other anthropophagic cultures thought it was the apex of morality to eat other people. Closer to us, the Qur’an recommends to ingratiate oneself with God by killing unbelievers. This guideline explains why killing Israelis is often OK with Muslim opinion makers, and why the genocide in Darfur is of little import to them. Indeed, it is not so clear that the non Arab Muslims of Darfur are not really unbelievers. Although they claim to be Muslim, after all, they are fighting Arabs, and the Holly Qur’an was written in Arabic for some good reason, best known to God. The Qur’an never warns us enough against people who claim to believe in God, but are not really believers.

“Genocide” is the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group (this is an abstract of the UN 1948 definition).

Thus the group destroyed in a genocide is selected according to criterions that are so superficial that the group is a priori innocent, per the very superficiality of these criterions, which are basically just pronounced enough to define the group. So it’s truly mere existence that has become a crime.

Accepting genocide is accepting the ultimate nihilism, the making of entire human groups into a big fat zeroes, for no good reason whatsoever. Moreover, generally, the individuals in the group have not chosen to belong to it, they happen to belong to it. So the existence of individual choices is denied. The individuals massacred are typically totally innocent, and genocide claims that does no matter, either, they deserve death, and, or, torture. One just does not like their face, so let them die.

Hence accepting genocide is accepting that some people have the right to decide to exterminate people for completely superficial values, overriding all of basic positive human values and considerations. Since all the positive human values are overridden, by definition, we are left only with the values of the Dark Side. Cruelty, oppression, the will to exterminate, are made into the only divinities worth worshipping. (Not that these compulsions do not have an evolutionary justification: see the addendum; the point is that now we control evolution, lest we disappear.)

In other words, when big powers accept “genocide”, they recognize the right to the reign of the Dark Side. Roughly, they accept that the Devil makes an acceptable God, to be respected by being left alone. And maybe they admit that they are a bit afraid, so why should not other killers notice this, get together, and profit by setting up their own genocide, too?

Because genocide is always profitable: once people have been killed, their property, their land, can be stolen. This was the main practical reason why the Nazis killed the Jews. This is also why, after the Black Death (that killed about half of Europe), survivors were much richer, and the economy bounded up. As the killers pile up the riches ever higher, they always want more, and foster criminality as the ultimate career. To forget their own monstrosity, they inebriate themselves by valuing ever higher their evil values.

So genocide tends to grow. And it’s a metastatic process. It cannot be stopped by flowers or lenifying discourses. The Dark Side lives by killing and terror. Nothing is stronger. Genocide knows goodness cannot stop it. Once goodness is dead, it’s the end of its story. So, in the end, genocide ultimately has to be opposed by a more advanced civilization (being more advanced, its balance of good and bad, will be more tilted on the good side). Genocide can only be stopped by the same method that give it strength, namely raw violence. Thus, the earlier genocide is stopped, the cheaper, morally and in all other ways.

Patrice Ayme

Technical addenda:
1) I suggested (June 30, 2008 ), that the present judicial set up of the UN (International Criminal Court and the International Court Of Justice) is insufficient, because it cannot suggest new laws. The UN needs advice from an Ultimate Crime Directorate, that would suggest various remedies and new international and global laws. That was the role of the Roman Senate relative to the assembly of the Roman People.

The UN has a general assembly (made of nations), but no equivalent of a senate (made of individuals). Indeed, although some cases of genocide are legally straightforward (Nazism, Khmers Rouges), others are not. For example, the case of Darfur is very complicated; similarly in Rwanda. In complicated cases, there have been legitimate grievances on both sides. To cut the vicious circle is, or was, not obvious. For example, the French military intervened unilaterally and massively in Rwanda (“Operation Turquoise”), and cut the circle of vice. Retribution was stopped, saving hundreds of thousands of lives, say some French leaders. That saved the lives of many Hutus (80% of the population) but of course the winners, a minority, accused France to have come to rescue the bad guys. Now French special forces have died in combat in Darfur, inside Sudan, and it would be better if the UN could determine once and for all what is precisely going on there, besides genocide. To determine causation in case of genocide should be a priority, and thus should be made independent of sanctions.

2) Genocide played a crucial role in human evolution. Literally dozens of species of various hominids were exterminated to make way for its majesty Homo Sapiens Sapiens. It is actually probable that genocide was such an advantage, and a necessity, that it was evolutionary selected as an inheritable sociobiological tendency. Indeed, the ultimate crime is not the extermination of other people, but the extermination of the environment. The later leads to the former, but not conversely (because, in the pre thermonuclear context, the killers survive). People hate in groups, because it helped the environment, and it was the only solution. But no more now.

In any case the probable sociobiological evolutionary selection of genocide makes it a formidable enemy, all too natural.

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