ⓘ Classicide


ⓘ Classicide

Classicide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of a social class through persecution and violence. The term "classicide" was termed by sociologist Michael Mann as a term that is similar but distinct from the term genocide. Examples includes Joseph Stalins mass killing of the affluent middle-class peasant Kulaks who were identified as "class enemies" by the Soviet Union. Similar classicide has been committed by China during the Great Leap Forward, by North Vietnam as part of the Land Reform, and by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.


1. Definition

Classicide is a term first used by Frederick Schwarz in his book The Three Faces of Revolution. It was used later by Michael Mann as a well defined term. Classicide has since been used by sociologists to describe the unique forms of genocide that pertains to the annihilation of a class through murder or displacement and the destruction of the upper class to form an equal working class.


2.1. History Classicide of Kulaks

In 1929, at the beginning of his dictatorship, Joseph Stalin demanded the "liquidation of kulaks as a class". The Kulaks were peasants who were deemed "wealthy" by Stalin in 1929. The idea for dekulakization first arose in 1918 from Vladamir Lenin, who claimed that the Kulaks were "freeloaders". The oppression of kulaks didnt end until 1932, throughout this time Kulaks were being evicted from their homes, having their land confiscated, shot, imprisoned, deported, or being sent to local work camps. Although the term classicide was never formally used to describe Stalins destruction of the kulaks, Stalin did say that they had ". gone over from a policy of limiting the exploiting tendencies of the kulak to a policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class."


2.2. History China

In 1947, during the Chinese Civil War, three years before the Peoples Republic of China, Mao Zedong won the hearts of the Communist Party and the peasant class by introducing a new land reform. This land reform encouraged the mass murder of landlords and well-off peasants in order to redistribute the land to the peasant class and other landless workers. The idea of killing landlords was first outlined by Kang Sheng, expert in terror tactics, in 1947. The reform was an open door for violence when Mao insisted that the peasants themselves should do the killing. Landlords were tortured. They were dismembered, buried alive, strangled, shot, etc. There is no way to know exactly how many people were killed but the numbers range anywhere from one million to 28 million.


2.3. History Cambodia

In 1969 in the midst of the Vietnam war, President Nixon staged massive attacks on Cambodian soil due to his belief that the Viet Cong were hiding communist base camps, supplies and infantry in Cambodia. Nixon also believed the Viet Cong enemy was bombing US soldiers from bases established in Cambodia as well. Cambodias then-president Lon Nol was initially unaware and did not address any of the Nixon bombings so they lasted from 1969–1975.

Victims of the US attacks saw the American enemy as rich and upper-class and they also believed that Lon Nol possessed the same characteristics as Nixon - he was rich and powerful. Pol Pot recognized the Cambodian peoples fear and hatred of the upper classes and exploited this hostile environment as a tactic in order to gain control of both the lower and upper classes so the Khmer Rouge could rise to power.

To enforce their rule of Cambodia and transform it into an agrarian socialist society, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge believed they needed to cleanse Cambodia by killing everyone who they considered members of its upper classes’, including all members of its rich and educated Khmer minority’ who shared cultures with the former leader, Nol. Supporters of Nol were primarily rich, upper-class elite. Therefore, Pol Pot targeted these individuals. Anyone who was educated including doctors, lawyers, and teachers were murdered. Following the bombings, by Americans, Pol Pot persuaded victims of the bombings to join the Khmer Rouge by playing on their fearful state of mind. Anyone who would not cooperate was simply murdered.

Pol Pots actions eventually led to displacement and created refugees. He soon abolished civil and political rights which enabled his genocidal policies to go unchecked. Although the majority of the people who the Khmer Rouge massacred were Vietnamese immigrants and members of Cambodias Cham minority, over 2 million Khmer people were also murdered. Children were ripped from their families and their parents were killed in cold blood, soldiers and speakers of foreign languages were also killed. Pol Pot continued his raids by attacking Vietnamese border towns, which eventually led the Vietnamese to invade Cambodia and put an end to his reign. Many Cambodians believe that if the Vietnamese army had not fought back, the Khmer Rouges raids and killings would have continued for a longer period of time.


2.4. History North Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh, the former leader of North Vietnam, instituted land reform in the 1950s in order to redistribute land from the holdings of landlords to the peasantry. The landlords in North Vietnam became targets of smear campaigns which were launched against them by the government, in the hope that the peasantry would revolt against the countrys upper classes. Stories of rape, murder, and exploitation of the peasantry by landlords were told in order to gain the lower classess support. The government purged landlords as a class. Most of them were executed by firing squads, stoning, and starvation and the rest of them were imprisoned in reeducation camps. The number of landlords killed during the years of the land reform ranges from 5.000 to 50.000. While the term classicide hasnt been used to distinguish the event, the term "class genocide" appears in Michael Linds book, Vietnam: The Necessary War.