Stanton's eight stages

N. Lygeros

Translated from the Greek by Evi Charitidou

Stanton’s analysis is aiming at deepening the notion of genocide. Stanton’s eight stages offer a dynamic view of genocide; the latter thus becoming more comprehensible. The terminology used is the following: Classification, Symbolization, Dehumanization, Organization, Polarization, Preparation, Extermination, Denial. This theory’s general framework creates conditions of timelessness. It explains in a way that a genocide cannot take place in couple days; it needs time to be organized and become a system. For, genocide is not only a crime against few tenths of people; it is a systematic crime, a crime against humanity. Consequently, the Classification stage is time-consuming. The Symbolization stage needs special conditions indirectly provoking unreasonable hatred. In other words, it results in creating a doctrine to prepare the Dehumanization stage as well. The fanatics’ idea is that the victims are not humans, but animals and in this sense they have every right to extinguish them. The organization itself of genocide bears all the characteristics of a planned strategy, a coordinated tactics and a supply chain. Genocide is not an act of passion only; it has a destructive structure. Polarization displays the context of racial discrimination through propaganda and rumors tools. It’s all victims' fault ; whereas, the barbarians must do their duty. Preparation is very cruel, because it constitutes the actual implementation of the strategic doctrine. Usually, at this stage state or institutional bodies are involved, as well. It is here also what we find the actual system with its relevant jurisprudence. What is the culmination point of this whole planning is Extermination. It has the characteristics of a nameless mass. However, committing a crime does not happen by chance. Crime strikes every locked target by any barbarian means. The Humans are not anymore individuals, animals, victims. They are simply targets; and only that; and the Extermination is a mission. Whoever resists in executing it, opposes the system. At the Extermination stage executing humans means executing a mission. Thus, it is not a spontaneous movement in state of wrath. And it does not have to do with property assets. The target is the human. The work is homicide. The crime is against humanity. The last stage of Stanton’s classification is Denial of culpability. Denying culpability is a natural sequel of the whole procedure. And we may call this stage ‘genocide of the memory’. Victims’ resistance taking place through survivors causes side effects to the whole system. Consequently, the system organizes itself again to avoid recognizing its crimes. Memory is the only one capable of transcending death. Thus, it becomes the system’s next target. Stanton’s eight stages prove that the term ‘genocide’ cannot be implemented where we want, but where it is due.

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