Monday, October 03, 2011

Ain't Gonna Study War No More

I have long been of the opinion that the world is becoming less violent. Now some others are joining me.

Steven Pinker has a book coming out on the subject, that I intend to read. Doug Saunders adds some of his thoughts.

Joshua Goldstein has a piece in Foreign Policy pulling together some of the arguments.

I've been reading a lot of history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century lately, the period just before and during the first World War. The system of European monarchy at that time was brutal to the subjects and nonchalant about war. A little squabble with the cousins that just happened to kill hundreds of thousands of people. Daily life was much more brutal: evident poverty, the exploitation of workers, including children, maltreatment of horses in the street. We now find such things unacceptable. Or most of us, those not in the Tea Party or pulling down hundreds of millions of dollars a year, find such things unacceptable.

That's been one of my sources of feeling that the world is becoming less violent. Another is that the potentially world-destroying rivalry between the United States and Russia has ended. There are some on both sides who would like to stoke it up again, but they've been unsuccessful for twenty years now.

There are still wars in progress. Although we're going to have to sort out the legality of drone strikes, they kill a lot fewer people than previous methods of war. There is a horrendous war in the Congo that Americans and Europeans hardly hear about.

We need to become more conscious of this movement away from war, so that we can look at the wars we've still got, the wars that might happen, and why some people still are content with daily brutality and national violence, to see how we can change all that.

1 comment:

Barry Freed said...

I think I agree that the world is becoming less violent and look forward to the time, not likely in my lifetime but soon after I think, where war will be looked upon morally the same way we look upon slavery (i.e. not just wrong but aberrant and unnatural and soooo last century); but I don't foresee anytime in the near future where military interventions by the US and partners cease.

Also, I haven't read the Pinker (and am not likely to either, I have a disliking for much that calls itself evolutionary psychology) but does he address such things as war-caused famines?

PS Hi Cheryl, over here from Jamie's twitter feed.