How Community Explains Genocide

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 12 2012 @ 6:09pm

by Zack Beauchamp

Daniel Solomon gleans lessons about mass atrocities from the show's most recent episode, a Ken Burns documentary parody:

At its core, the Pillowtown/Blanketsburg civil war is a localized land conflict, characterized by short, brutal squabbles over small classrooms, former common areas, and stretches of hallway. Its root causes lay in the contested, yet transient identity conflicts between politicized Pillow advocates and Blanket enthusiasts.

At the same time, Greendale’s ethnicized conflict is reliant on an international structure of political, economic, and social incentives. The Dean’s obsession with the Guinness record appears to be a sideshow, a system of political objectives imposed by meddling, predatory third parties. However, as the episode’s conclusion indicates, the international element of civil conflict was relevant to individual and collective motives for violence. Elites–Troy and Abed–continue to squabble, but their ability to mobilize civilian communities was highly dependent on the international political economy of warfare.