Kit's Reviews > We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Ou... by Philip Gourevitch
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's review
Mar 17, 10

Read from March 14 to 17, 2010

Considering the unit is about diplomacy, I needed to do a 'diplomatic' reading for this book. But in the end I just read, like Leontius who shouted at the sight of corpses tempting him not to look, admitting his defeat, that in the end, one has to look, and look closely (I can't talk I sped through this book).

Genocide is a social phenomenon that is both terrifying and fascinating. What compelled the thousands and thousands (tens or hundreds of thousands) of Hutus to hack off the bodies of their neighbours, in the most efficient mass killing since Hitler's holocaust? Why did the Tutsis, knowing their inevitable death, did not fight back as one is supposed to in their last breath of air? What is the enigmatic Rwandan Patriotic Front?

I never really believed in the Hobbesian theory of a 'state of nature', where in an absence of authority, the people resorts to violence. The way Haitians took law into their own hands after the earthquakes, punishing unpunished criminals, shook my beliefs. I've always thought that one cannot reach the 'state of nature', as the need of laws and things would automatically appear, to prevent the people resorting into violence.

Nonetheless, this argument is not accurate. It is not the question of whether human beings are violent in their nature or cooperative, because these two things are not polar opposites. The Tutsi genocide is one of the most notorious genocides in history not because of a lack of authority, or a lack of cooperation from the people. The Hobbesian argument of the state of nature is out of place here.

The genocide was as notorious as it was because it was a well-planned event, and some rules were established prior to the killings, which simply put is 'Kill All Tutsis'. And what's more, although violence reigned, those who participated, and those who died, co-operated during the course of the genocide. There was one anecdote of a family who couldn't fit all the members in one minivan, that member being the frail grandmother. The family then accepted their fate and resorted to die, so as not to leave anybody behind. Most of the victims accepted their deaths as they practically did not rebel.

I'm trying to figure out a pattern, finding none; a solution, finding even less; answers, which left me dry. But no. I'll remain a Leontius, looking at brutality in the eye and ponder upon it.


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