Wars have a destructive impact on society. The violence in the first case is domicide, in the second urbicide, in the third genocide, and in the fourth, the book introduces a neologism, sociocide, the killing of society. Through the lens of this neologism, Keith Doubt provides persuasive evidence of the social, political, and human consequences of today’s wars in countries such as Bosnia and Iraq. Sociocide: Reflections on Today’s Wars rigorously formulates, develops, and applies the notion of sociocide as a Weberian ideal type to contemporary wars. Drawing upon sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and literature, Doubt analyzes war crimes, scapegoating, and torture and concludes by examining capitalism in the face of the coronavirus pandemic as a sociocidal force. Embedded in the humanistic tradition and informed by empirical science, this book provides a clear conceptual account of today’s wars, one that is objective and moral, critical and humanistic.
Keith Doubt is professor emeritus at Wittenberg University.
Chapter One On Sociocide
Chapter Two Sociocide and the US Invasion of Iraq
Chapter Three The Ethical Requirement of Burial, Humanity, and its Transgression: Classical Anthropology Applied
Chapter Four The Iron Cage of Surreality: A Foucaultian Critique of the Dayton Accords
Chapter Five Social Order Without Scapegoating: A Critique of René Girard
Chapter Six The Reality of Torture and Sociocide
Chapter Seven The Lure of the Pariah: Hannah Arendt, W. E. B. DuBois, and Franz Fanon
Chapter Eight The Spirit of Capitalism in the Face of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Chapter Nine How an Apology Works: Exit from Sociocide
The individual chapters in Sociocide are interdisciplinary in nature and cover a wide range of topics including the anthropology of burials, scapegoating, torture, pariahs, apologies, and the Coronavirus pandemic, taking the wars in Iraq and Bosnia and their consequences as persistent reference points. This reviewer found all the chapters fascinating, informative, and highly thought provoking, and is sure that other readers will too. The final chapter, based on the classical trinity of Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, and Max Weber, will be particularly illuminating for sociologists. Given Doubt's theoretical preferences, Weber's anxiety, inducing consideration of charismatic "authority," perhaps holds the most relevance, especially considering the last US president and his "sociocidal" propensities.... [R]eading this book should be a highly fruitful and rewarding exercise for a great many people. Recommended.
Keith Doubt's Sociocide is an important book that diagnoses the deep and worsening trouble the world is in. It is original, serious, well-informed, and clearly written--a tribute to an author who has not only read widely but lived seriously and spent time in one of the world's most troubled places. This is a must read not just for students and their teachers but for anyone who is willing to think about how much trouble the world is in.
Georg Simmel once asked, 'How is society possible?' Keith Doubt flips the question on its head, turning to the dark side to investigate how society is undone, how it unravels. He does so in a far-ranging, interdisciplinary inquiry into the phenomenon he calls 'sociocide.' The book insightfully and humanely examines such varied topics as the meaning of the burial, the failure of the Dayton Accords, along with inquiries into the destructiveness of war, torture, scapegoating and pandemics. By focusing on society’s fragility, Doubt offers a timely reminder of its value.
Keith Doubt has given us an all too rare 'theory' book so filled with humanity that one can be distracted by the beauty and artfulness of the narrative's trail. In Sociocide, Doubt suggests that humanity’s most egregious, yet most common practice—war--destroys the very social fabric that gives meaning to human beings: our collective construction of mutual support, empathy, culture, emotional and material sustenance. Capitalism, as the author then reminds us, is itself an economic system based on the same sociocidal principles of war—conquering and extraction, exploitation, production for the sake of destruction and waste. As Doubt charts us through this increasingly nightmarish landscape, we finally reach the stunning vista that he promised from the outset: the vision of an alternative social framework based on a human-centered value, principle, and practice. The future of society rests in our own hands, and Doubt has given us an intellectual and analytical compass to carry with us as we seek a stronger human purpose and walk through these hard moral times.