R.J. Rummel, R.I.P.

I recently learned through J.D. Tuccille’s post at the Reason blog that R.J. Rummel died back in March. Rummel was the foremost scholar on the topic of democide, the murder of people by the government that allegedly represents them. His website was full of disconcerting but important numbers, numbers that no scholar of the 20th century can afford to be ignorant of.

His death of is interest not only to me as a social scientist and libertarian. Back in 2004 when Catallarchy’s Jonathan Wilde first brought us the idea of using May 1 as a memorial day for the victims of communist regimes, part of why we thought this was important was R.J. Rummel’s research. Bad government is not just about stifling economic growth or stunting the development of culture. Bad government, at its worst, is about murder, murder on a scale so staggering it’s impossible really to wrap one’s head around. According to Rummel, 174,000,000 people were killed by their own governments in the 20th century. After the first couple of successful May Day events, we at Catallarchy were very proud to have landed a guest post from the man himself for our third event. I never met him personally, but his research was important for my own development as a social scientist.


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