bailewen wrote:It turns out though, that over the past few hundred years, violence has plummeted, ... In pretty much every category of violence that we can measure.
Physical violence is a subset of all violence. You have listed categories of physical violence that are readily measurable, but there are other kinds of physical violence. For example, during the Industrial Revolution it was necessary from the point of view of the powerful, such as factory owners to make it simple, they needed workers but the people were living in an agrarian lifestyle. Did the factory owners simply offer them jobs that would be mutually beneficial to both parties? No, those in power used violence to force/coerce people off the land and into the horrible, disgusting, disease-ridden, crowded cities, where they would be forced, at the threat of starvation, to work 16 hour days, their wives or children substituting for them any time they were physically unable to drag themselves into the factory. We've all read Dickens.
Economic violence was used against these people by free trade that brought crops from other countries, without protective tariffs to prevent devaluing of local goods, brought them into the local markets in order to drive down normal prices of the crops until it put the farmers out of business and forced them into the factory towns. Do you acknowledge economic violence? Does your book measure this kind of economic violence?
There is a conflict between those who hold power and those who are ruled, it is a violent conflict that takes many forms, many physical forms and many non-physical. The most obvious physical form is the brutal, overt Orwellian type of Nineteen Eighty-four
, but this also includes covert surveillance, which is violence against the individual's right to privacy, without which there can be no individuals as we have come to understand the concept in the USA. The next kind of violence against the individual by the state is coercion described by Huxley in Brave New World
, which he explained in his famous Berkeley lecture of 1958 as a pharmaceutical and genetic engineering model of a scientific dictatorship that could be used to cause slaves to love their servitude when, by all normal measures, they should abhor it.
In other words, violence can come in the form of coercion so technologically advanced that it is not physically obvious and difficult to measure objectively, but it is still violence by the powerful minority against the individual for the purpose of total control of society. Along the path toward a scientific dictatorship described in detail by Huxley, society would be expected to become less and less physically violent because the individual capacity for violence of the masses would be effectively eliminated by the superior and more technologically advanced violence of the state.
What I have written does not invalidate the conclusions you've taken from your book because I have said that violence is only eliminated by reaching a higher level of understanding, which I do think has occurred in the time period you've mentioned since the Middle Ages, rightly stating this coincides with the availability of books, implying I think, whether you intended to say or not, that literacy does reduce violence. I think it does, but there are some people who pursue knowledge solely in order to increase their capacity for violence in order to remain in the ruling minority.
The book includes every violent conflict on the entire planet. Genocides in Africa and that, honestly, most non-violent war in American history, Afghanistan. Consider this:
estimated death toll for Afghanistan civilians: 15,000-20,000
estimated death toll for Vietnamese civilians: roughly 2,000,000
The connection between these two wars and their different casualty rates must be framed in the context of the purpose of the war and the intentions of those who conducted it. If they had the exact same plans and goals for both, such as goals for casualty rates of civilians, but were somehow morally inhibited from killing as many civilians in Afghanistan, that would support the theory. Does the book offer something about this?
The more you love, the more you live.