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Tom Palven
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The Decline of Violence
Nov 12th, 2017 at 7:25am
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The Better Angels of Our Nature:  Why Violence Has Declined

Canadian Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, proves with an exhaustive array of facts and figures that small anarchic communities are much more violent and murder a very much larger percentage of their inhabitants, amounting to a much larger total number killed, than do conflicts between large nation-states, even when we factor in such things as the tens of millions of people killed in WW II.

But, while he endorses large nation-states, he also speaks highly of classical liberalism, free enterprise, and individualism.

He concludes chapter 9, pages 699 and 670, with long passages from Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759, and begins the last chapter, chapter 10, with this quote from Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man, 1874:

As man advances in civilization, small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.

Pinker states that "This book grew out of an answer to the question 'What are you optimistic about' and I hope that the numbers I have marshalled have lifted your assessment of the state of the world from lugubrious (gloomy) conventional wisdom...
In this final chapter...I will look for common threads in the Pacification Process... We should not expect these forces to fall out of a grand unified theory...
THE ESCALATOR OF REASON
..Throughout this book we have seen the beneficial consequences of an application of reason to human affairs..
...carefully reasoned briefs against slavery, despotism, torture, religious persecution, cruelty to animals, harshness to children, violence against women, frivolous wars, and the persecution of homosexuals were not just hot air but entered into the decisions of people and institutions who attended to the arguments and implemented reforms..." achieving a boost to empathy...

...The forces of modernity,-reason, science, humanism, individuals rights- have not, of course, pushed steadily in one direction; nor will they ever bring about a utopia or end the frictions and hurts that come from being human. But on top of all the benefits that modernity has brought us in health, experience, and knowledge, we can add its role in the reduction of violence."

While this book did not create a Road to Damascus conversion, it did mollify my hatred for big government/nation states, and it's nice to see a case for optimism.

Available used from Amazon, for cheapskates such as myself.
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Jeff
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Re: The Decline of Violence
Reply #1 - Nov 12th, 2017 at 7:30am
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Good post Tom.

Various people at the Reason Foundation and the Cato Institute have also done work on how the same values have made our world much better... classical liberalism, free enterprise, and individualism

But all the would be tyrants can focus on is violence and discord, and they blame it all on the very factors that have made the world better.
  
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Don_G
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Re: The Decline of Violence
Reply #2 - Nov 12th, 2017 at 12:06pm
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Tom Palven wrote on Nov 12th, 2017 at 7:25am:
The Better Angels of Our Nature:  Why Violence Has Declined

Canadian Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, proves with an exhaustive array of facts and figures that small anarchic communities are much more violent and murder a very much larger percentage of their inhabitants, amounting to a much larger total number killed, than do conflicts between large nation-states, even when we factor in such things as the tens of millions of people killed in WW II.

But, while he endorses large nation-states, he also speaks highly of classical liberalism, free enterprise, and individualism.

He concludes chapter 9, pages 699 and 670, with long passages from Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759, and begins the last chapter, chapter 10, with this quote from Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man, 1874:

As man advances in civilization, small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.

Pinker states that "This book grew out of an answer to the question 'What are you optimistic about' and I hope that the numbers I have marshalled have lifted your assessment of the state of the world from lugubrious (gloomy) conventional wisdom...
In this final chapter...I will look for common threads in the Pacification Process... We should not expect these forces to fall out of a grand unified theory...
THE ESCALATOR OF REASON
..Throughout this book we have seen the beneficial consequences of an application of reason to human affairs..
...carefully reasoned briefs against slavery, despotism, torture, religious persecution, cruelty to animals, harshness to children, violence against women, frivolous wars, and the persecution of homosexuals were not just hot air but entered into the decisions of people and institutions who attended to the arguments and implemented reforms..." achieving a boost to empathy...

...The forces of modernity,-reason, science, humanism, individuals rights- have not, of course, pushed steadily in one direction; nor will they ever bring about a utopia or end the frictions and hurts that come from being human. But on top of all the benefits that modernity has brought us in health, experience, and knowledge, we can add its role in the reduction of violence."

While this book did not create a Road to Damascus conversion, it did mollify my hatred for big government/nation states, and it's nice to see a case for optimism.

Available used from Amazon, for cheapskates such as myself.
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Thanks for that Tom. The mention of cruelty to animals rang a bell for me immediately because I've seen it happening with some people with their dogs. Very sad thing for me personally.

But the story has helped to widen my understanding in other areas too now. Besides those, I also started to think on so many people's need to kill small animals with their guns.

So I'll try to get the book from my library and if not then perhaps second hand from Amazon. Looking forward to a more detailed discussion later on.

I didn't know you were interested in smaller government but it's pleasing to hear the book gave you a better understanding of what they're really on about! Not just the rational need for, but the extremist.

edit: library has it in stock and I've requested it. Looking forward to a discussion later.
  
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Tom Palven
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Re: The Decline of Violence
Reply #3 - Nov 12th, 2017 at 10:03pm
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Don_G wrote on Nov 12th, 2017 at 12:06pm:
Thanks for that Tom. The mention of cruelty to animals rang a bell for me immediately because I've seen it happening with some people with their dogs. Very sad thing for me personally.

But the story has helped to widen my understanding in other areas too now. Besides those, I also started to think on so many people's need to kill small animals with their guns.

So I'll try to get the book from my library and if not then perhaps second hand from Amazon. Looking forward to a more detailed discussion later on.

I didn't know you were interested in smaller government but it's pleasing to hear the book gave you a better understanding of what they're really on about! Not just the rational need for, but the extremist.

edit: library has it in stock and I've requested it. Looking forward to a discussion later.


Peace!   Smiley
  
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ahhell
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Re: The Decline of Violence
Reply #4 - Nov 13th, 2017 at 10:33am
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One of my many pet peeves is that most people seem to think that violence and crime are worse now than in the past.  This belief seems impervious to facts.

Excellent reference Tom.
  
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Don_G
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Re: The Decline of Violence
Reply #5 - Nov 13th, 2017 at 12:23pm
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ahhell wrote on Nov 13th, 2017 at 10:33am:
One of my many pet peeves is that most people seem to think that violence and crime are worse now than in the past.  This belief seems impervious to facts.

Excellent reference Tom.


Stay within the context of the message. Militaries of the world have much more capability than ever before in history to carry out violence. Never before, except with the atomic bombs on Japan, has the military of the US slaughtered as many so quickly as in Iraq.

Back to the references on what the book is really talking about.
  
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