Consolidatory Genocide: Final Solutions to Elite Rivalry
Van der Maat, Eelco
In this dissertation, I present and test a political theory of mass indiscriminate violence (i.e. genocide or politicide). Extant scholarship explains mass indiscriminate violence as a counter-guerrilla strategy. Almost half of these episodes, however, occur outside guerrilla conflict and have therefore been explained by unfalsifiable leader ideology or as unique cases only. I argue that leaders under conditions of heightened elite rivalry, adopt genocidal violence against outgroup civilians to coerce ingroup civilians and local leaders into support. This allows leaders to capture state institutions from the bottom up and consolidate their power, while undermining support for elite rivals. These rivals can ultimately be purged from the regime. In my theory, therefore, authoritarian leaders sometimes unleash mass indiscriminate violence on outgroup civilians because they seek to purge regime elites. Based on newly collected original data on elite purges and on the type of genocide for the years 1950-2004, I show that this type of violence, which I call ‘consolidatory genocide,’ is intimately connected to authoritarian consolidation. Within-case analysis further demonstrates that the theory can explain some of the darkest episodes of mass violence, such as the Rwandan Genocide.