No, I don't see this the same way that you do. I do not think that economic violence is preferable to physical violence. It's better to deal with a problem when it's obvious than when it's obscure.
All I can say to that is....wow. Good luck convincing the world of that one. Especially when the physical violence used to be so often used as a primary method of enforcing economic "violence" (have to put it in quotes because it's really only metaphorical violence) But that's sort of a another topic as this thread was supposed to be about gun violence, you know, the physical kind where you shoot people.
In addition to physical safety, what about quality of life?
"Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short."
-Thomas Hobbes, 1651
And that was during the age of enlightement. The middle ages were much, much, much worse.
I'd rather have a meaningful life for a shorter period of greater freedom and risking physical safety than to be removed from such danger and challenge at the cost of my life being dull and perfunctory, lived according to endless rules that can eliminate violence only in proportion to their elimination of freedom. See "A Clockwork Orange" (1971) film by Kubrick or novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess.
Well in the middle ages, since you asked, there was neither longer life, nor greater freedom. You would, in the west anyways, have lived under an absolute theocratic autocracy with zero freedom of thought in a society where knife fights often broke out at dinner tables and murder/assasination was still the primary form of governmental change.
Regarding "Alex", I just got through readind a section in the book today that spefically talks about him in a chapter Gladwell calles, "Women's Rights And The Decline of Rape and Battering". During the 1960's in America, we experience a counter-humanitarian revolution. "Civilization" was critiqued and there was a romanticization of our "natural" instincts. Clockwork Orange was certainly part of that national dialogue. It glorified rape and, it should be pointed out, during the "peace and love" era of the 60's, violence in America went up. Our overall trend has still been down but the Kubrik argument kind of fell out of fashion after more and more people (especially women) started noticing that the one's who were really "risking physical safety" in the name of freedom were mostly battered women.
Maybe there is a trend more obvious to you from reading your book, but I don't think it's conclusive in this simple comparison of Vietnam to Afghanistan.
Yes, the trend is less causulties from ALL wars. It's not a simple straight line down. There are spikes here and there. The overall trend has been actually to have more intense, shorter wars. More deaths/day but fewer deaths overall.
I'm interested in your book, but at the moment my attitude is that society is too complex for me to agree with all of your conclusions about the meaning of lower unnatural death rates, war casualty rates, etc.
Well that is where the discussion is. That people are dying violent deaths far less than ever before is an objective fact. Why that is and what it means about our society is entirely open to debate.
But like I said, I do think there's a strong correlation with increased literacy to a reduction in violence among some people, unfortunately not those with power to avoid war.
Interesting you should say that. That was Gladwell's argument too. He says outright that the "why" is hard to say but his theory is that the great humanitarian revolution was kicked off by the creation of non-religious books starting to spead around the world. The act of reading fiction inculcates empathy by putting you in the shoes of someone else. It creates a habit of seeing the world from someone elses point of view and therefore, blurs the "us/them" paradigm. It makes it harder to see "them" as simple less than human monsters. It's an interesting theory.