Modernity’s declining violence

“A common misconception often quoted by media, politicians, activists is that violence is on the rise and has historically been much lower. Similarly, the trend in post-colonial anthropology has been to regard historically indigenous and tribal societies as more peaceful than contemporary Western society. handshake However, archaeological evidence shows that previous societies had very high level of violence. Likewise, modern tribal societies typically too have extremely high rates of violence, with more than half of deaths being violence related in some cases. Ancient and medieval empires had lower rates of violence, and the violence decreased further as empires became more organized. Modern societies saw still lower rates of violence from the medieval period onwards, with significant decreases after World War II. This trend is general across all categories of violence, from large-scale warfare to murder and animal cruelty, and the trend is discernible on both millennium, century and decade scale, making modern societies the most peaceful the world has even seen.” (Source and references here.)

Take that, shades of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx. And props to the Capitalist Peace and Democratic Peace theses. We are making progress.

4 thoughts on “Modernity’s declining violence

  • August 7, 2013 at 1:55 am
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    Whenever we have a particularly egregious incident of violence in my hometown of Toronto, and the perpetrator is caught, the first thing I do is look for the public housing project they’re from. Too often they’re from one or another: they’re crime farms.

    Spoke with an older professional man who told me the projects were erected with great fanfare and hope: it was to be the wave of the future. “Then” he said, “we began to hear stories…” The tone of his voice made it clear they were not pleasant ones.

    But over all I think ours is a safer city and I believe the stats bear this out. Racial tensions have also ebbed dramatically: everyone seems to be trying. Particularly among most young race is virtually a non-issue.

  • August 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm
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    One possible factor is the use of stannous fluoride in drinking water. A waste product, this was used by Stalin at first in the gulags, when it was discovered that — somehow — its introduction reduced violent emotions. Its use gradually spread over the world, along with other oil-based waste products used in pharmaceuticals.

  • August 21, 2013 at 3:10 pm
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    You’re making me suspicious, Stephen, of my acquaintances who only drink bottled spring water.

  • August 23, 2013 at 10:47 am
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    Best is distilled water, unless one is a jogger — it reduces electrolytes. Many alcoholics enjoy good “health” because they drink only distilled — er — “beverages.” Distilled water leaches out many adverse chemicals, poisons, additives, and the like, which are expelled through bladder, bowels, lungs. Moreover, you use less coffee or tea for the same brew, as distilled water gets more out of the medium. Plus, its uses in your steam iron, car battery, or as a general solvent to clean spots from ties.

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