R.J. Rummel (1932 – 2014) | Victims of Communism

Victims of Communism — Memorial Foundation

R.J. Rummel (1932 – 2014)

Dr. Rudolph Joseph Rummel, a member of VOC’s Advisory Council since 1993, passed away March 2, 2014. The Board of Directors and staff members of VOC are profoundly grateful for Dr. Rummel’s lifetime of important scholarship and his service on our advisory council.

Dr. Rummel was born on October 21, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio. After receiving his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Hawaii, Rummel earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from Northwestern University in 1963. He taught at Indiana University and Yale University before returning to his alma mater in 1966 where he taught until retirement.

The author of twenty-four scholarly books and over one hundred articles and essays, Rummel spent the majority of his career dedicated to understanding the causes of collective violence. Through years of comparative research, he demonstrated that the more democratic a regime, the less likely it is to commit foreign violence, genocide, and mass murder.

Consequently, he sought solutions to eliminate the conditions of collective violence and war. He concluded that, “To eliminate war, to restrain violence, to nurture universal peace and justice, [it is necessary] to foster liberal democracy.”

Dr. Rummel’s magnum opus, Power Kills: Democracy as a Method of Nonviolence, was first published in 1997. Other notable works by include, Lethal Politics: Soviet Genocides and Mass Murders 1917-1987 (1990); China’s Bloody Century: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900 (1991); Democide: Nazi Genocide and Mass Murder (1992); Death by Government (1994); and a series of alternative history novels called Never Again. He is best known for coining the term “democide,” meaning a whole scale murder of a people by government; the concept of democide continues to guide studies of communism and other genocidal totalitarianisms.

Dr. Rummel is survived by daughters Dawn Akemi Rummel and Lei Sanae Rummel Wilmoth, and sister JoAnn Marie Tenorio.