The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing

A new theory of ethnic cleansing based on the most terrible cases (colonial genocides, Armenia, the Nazi Holocaust, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda) and cases of lesser violence (early modern Europe, contemporary India, and Indonesia). Murderous cleansing is modern, ‘the dark side of democracy’. It results where the demos (democracy) is confused with the ethnos (the ethnic group). Danger arises where two rival ethno-national movements each claims ‘its own’ state over the same territory. Conflict escalates where either the weaker side fights because of aid from outside, or the stronger side believes it can deploy sudden, overwhelming force. Escalation is not simply the work of ‘evil elites’ or ‘primitive peoples.’ It results from complex interactions between leaders, militants, and ‘core constituencies’ of ethno-nationalism. Understanding this complex process helps us devise policies to avoid ethnic cleansing in the future.

• Provocative view of ethnic cleansing as essentially modern • Vivid blow-by-blow accounts of how ethnic conflict can escalate into mass murder • Most comprehensive treatment of ethnic cleansing, past and present


1. The argument; 2. Ethnic cleansing in former times; 3. Two versions of ‘we, the people’; 4. Genocidal democracies in the New World; 5. Armenia, I: into the danger zone; 6. Armenia, II: genocide; 7. Nazis, I: radicalization; 8. Nazis, II: fifteen hundred perpetrators; 9. Nazis, III: genocidal careers; 10. Germany’s allies and auxiliaries; 11. Communist cleansing: Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot; 12. Yugoslavia, I: into the danger zone; 13. Yugoslavia, II: murderous cleansing; 14. Rwanda, I: into the danger zone; 15. Rwanda, II: genocide; 16. Counterfactual cases: India and Indonesia; 17. Combating ethnic cleansing in the world today.


\'The Dark Side of Democracy … is a formidable and in some ways successful attempt to produce a sociological grand theory to explain these terrible events. … Mann‘s work represents contemporary historical sociology at its best - well informed, relevant, well evidenced and interesting - and all readers must have great respect for his conclusions …\' Times Higher Education Supplement

\'Mann\'s volume provides a valuable contribution to the study of murderous ethnic cleansing. The ability to gather such a wide range of perspectives and experience makes his effort both worthwhile and timely, and it will therefore be very useful for anyone working and dealing with ethnic conflicts. An additional merit is that Mann has written this book at a level that is going to satisfy the inquisitiveness of both his peers and students, which ensures (and inspires) additional enquiries into its topic.\' Southeast European Politics

\'The Dark Side\'s theses are enormously suggestive, clearly have considerable purchase on the cases and inform rich interpretations that set new standards of analytical complexity in historical sociology.\' Sociology

\'This is a very important book … Mann has provided a powerful analysis which will give much food for thought. … This book should be read by everybody with a concern for the ethnic cleansing that now forms a staple part of our media diet.\' British Society of Criminology

‘Michael Mann’s impressive The Dark Side of Democracy makes a giant step toward specifying the concrete social studies and circumstances that produce such results … It is a major achievement.’ New Left Review