What causes genocide? Through an examination of four modern genocides - the Native Americans, the Armenians, the Jews and the Rwandan Tutsis - Sabby Sagal formulates a theoretical framework for understanding some of the darkest hours of humanity.
Drawing on the scholarship of a range of Marxist psychoanalysts, from the Frankfurt School to Wilhelm Reich, shows how genocides are enacted by social classes or communities that have experienced isolation and denial of human needs, prostration and humiliation at the hands of major historical defeats, or powerlessness.
These denials or degradations produce severe reactions: hatred, destructiveness and an impotent rage, which is often projected onto a perceived 'other'.
Through close analysis and theorising of the commonalities and differences between recent genocides, Sagal hopes to produce greater understanding of the socio-psychological rationale behind atrocities, in order to prevent recurrences.