The Best of Times?
David Berlinski examines the claim that violence has declined. He finds it wanting.
This week in the Cosmopolitan Globalist, my father, David Berlinski, examines the claim, popularized by Steven Pinker, that we live in the most peaceful time in history.
The Better Angels of Our Nature was published in 2011. It took the world by storm, soon becoming an orthodoxy and then a truism. “Violence vanquished.” “Humans are less violent than ever.” “The decline of violence: Be skeptical of claims that we live in an ever more dangerous world.” “We enjoy the most peaceful period on earth ever.” “Be thankful that you live in the most peaceful era in human history.” “Studies demonstrate the world is becoming less violent” “War and violence on the decline in modern times.” “Research shows we’re living in the most peaceful time in human history.” “The decline and fall of violence: The world is a more peaceful place today that at any time in history—by a long, long shot.” “Things seem bad, but this is actually the most peaceful time in human history.”
We regret to tell you that this is nonsense.
“Pinker,” writes Clive Cookson in the Financial Times, “argues convincingly that the 20th century does not deserve its terrible reputation.”
Oh no he doesn’t. Oh yes it does.
US-Taiwan contacts spark China war threat. “China’s top envoy in US threatens ‘military conflict’ as US Vice-President Kamala Harris speaks with Taiwan counterpart in Honduras.”