Pre-capitalist genocides (Was Constitutional Longevity

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Wed Jun 17 15:49:52 PDT 1998

Dan Lazare writes (replying to Barkley Rosser:

> One (small) point in your favor. Obviously, I was referring to the modern
> era. Human history before that abounds in catastrophic massacres...

I agree with the parenthesis (the point is small). I think it would be worthwhile to pursue the question of continuity and discontinuity between pre-capitalist and capitalist genocides. Something like self-conscious bad faith seems quite consistently to characterize the latter but not the former (as is also the case in respect to capitalist and pre-capitalist slavery). The ancient Greeks, for example, seemed to have felt no particular need to "justify" either genocide or slavery. "The only good Indian is a dead Indian," however, carries with it something to salve the moralistic American consciousness. And in the last year (though I have not kept them) there have been both columns and letters to the editor in the WSJ which seriously argued that since Indians committed atrocities there was no need for Americans to feel apologetic about that genocide (not called that of course.) And *certainly* the ancient Athenians would not have labored for 70 years (as the Turkish ruling class has) to deny that any genocide took place. The announcement of intent to commit genocide as reported in Thycydides is almost jocular.


P.S. Could not posters more often change the Subject line when it ceases completely to reflect the content of a thread?

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list