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Law-Abiding Citizens and Violence

             What leads otherwise law abiding people to engage in mass state-prescribed violence?.
             War is seen as one of the most horrible things and crimes on this planet, but the crime of genocide, as Alfred Nobel states, it is the evil twin of it (Alvarez, 2001). Genocide is considered to be one of the most atrocious acts that exists within human society, and although the concept is not new, it has seen a rise within the last century. These massacres and mass state-prescribed violence have increased since the 1960 to a point where they occur so often, that they are seen part of the norm rather than an abnormality (Alvarez, 2001). Mass state-prescribed violence, genocide or massacre is seen as the preferred method of banishing one's nation enemy and the 20th Century has seen a terrific number of such cases, that researchers have considered calling it the century of genocide and total war (Alvarez, 2001). Although we are looking at an age where we are characterized by the process of globalization, it seems that we are more characterized by fatality, whether innocent people are involved or not. These actions of mass state-prescribed violence represent our everyday norm during these last two centuries. Omer Bartov (cited in Alvarez, 2001) argues that "The mechanized, rational, impersonal, and sustained mass destruction of human beings, organized and administered by states, legitimized and set into motion by scientists and jurists, sanctioned and popularized by academics and intellectuals, has become a staple of our civilization, the last, perilous, and often repressed heritage of the millennium" (Omer Bartov cited in Alvarez, 2001:10). In the following essay I will draw upon the reasons behind these acts of mass state-prescribed violence, particularly to what drives law abiding citizens to commit such atrocities, mostly referring to the Rwandan genocide, but also taking into consideration the Holocaust.

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