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806 pages, Paperback
First published October 4, 2010
The point is not that we have entered an Age of Aquarius in which every last earthling has been pacified forever. It is that substantial reductions in violence have taken place, and it is important to understand them.
Would the world be more peaceful if women were in charge? The question is just as interesting if the tense and mood are changed. Has the world become more peaceful because more women are in charge? And will the world become more peaceful when women are even more in charge? The answer to all three, I think, is a qualified yes.
The other half of the sanity check is to ask whether our recent ancestors can really be considered morally retarded. The answer, I am prepared to argue, is yes. Though they were surely decent people with perfectly functioning brains, the collective moral sophistication of the culture in which they lived was as primitive by modern standards as their mineral spas and patent medicines are by the medical standards of today. Many of their beliefs can be considered not just monstrous but, in a very real sense, stupid.
The age distribution of a population changes slowly, as each demographic pig makes its way through the population python.
Recall the mathematical law that a variable will fall into a power-law distribution…
Recall from chapter 3 that the number of political units in Europe shrank…
Recall that there were two counter-Enlightenments…
Recall that the statistics of deadly quarrels show no signature of war-weariness.
…and recall that duelling was eventually laughed into extinction.
Recall that the chance that two people in a room of fifty-seven will share a birthday is ninety-nine out of a hundred.
England and the United States, recall, had prepared the ground for their democracies…
Recall that for half a millennium the wealthy countries of Europe were constantly at each other's throats.
Cronin, recall, showed that terrorist organizations drop like flies over time…
And recall the global Gallup survey that showed…
Recall that narcissism can trigger violence…
Recall that the insula lights up when people feel they have been shortchanged…
Patients with orbital damage, recall, are impulsive…
Recall from chapter 3 the theory of crime…
The theory that religion is a force for peace, often heard among the religious right and its allies today, does not fit the facts of history.Later, he writes,
The world has far too much morality.Very true indeed.
To find anything that softens the opposition of Israeli and Palestinian fanatics to what the rest of the world recognizes as the only viable solution to their conflict is something close to a miracle.It all has to do with the symbolic framing of a peace agreement.
Ho Chi Minh was correct when he prophesied, "Kill ten of our men and we will kill one of yours. In the end, it is you who will tire." The American democracy was willing to sacrifice a tiny fraction of the lives that the North Vietnamese dictator was willing to forfeit (no one asked the proverbial ten men how they felt about this), and the United States eventually conceded the war of attrition despite having every other advantage. (p. 309)(my italics)
The overriding principle was that animals exist for the benefit of humans. In the Hebrew Bible, God's first words to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28 are "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (p. 458)
From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, this almost mystical and seemingly irreducible moral imperative is the output of a mental mechanism with a straightforward adaptive function: to reckon justice and administer punishment by a calculus which ensures that violators reap no advantage from their misdeeds. The enormous volume of mystico-religious bafflegab about atonement and penance and divine justice and the like is the attribution to higher detached authority of what is actually a mundane, pragmatic matter: discouraging self-interested competitive acts by reducing their profitability to nil.
During the transition to modernity, people did not fully appreciate that they were undergoing changes aimed at reducing violence, and once the changes were entrenched, the process was forgotten. When Europeans were mastering norms of self-control, they felt like they were becoming more civilized and courteous, not that they were part of a campaign to drive the homicide statistics downward. Today we give little thought to the rationale behind the customs left behind by that change.... ...(A) civilizing offensive can leave a culture with a legacy of puzzling customs, peccadilloes, and taboos. ... The code of etiquette bequeathed by this and other Rights Revolutions is pervasive enough to have acquired a name. We call it political correctness.
In early 2011, as this book was going to press, a swelling protest movement deposed the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and was threatening the regimes in Jordan, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. The outcome is unpredictable, but the protesters have been almost entirely non-violent and non-Islamist, and are animated by a desire for democracy, good governance, and economic vitality rather than global jihad, the restoration of the caliphate, or death to infidels. Even with all these winds of change, it is conceivable that an Islamist tyrant or radical revolutionary group could drag an unwilling populace into a cataclysmic war. But it seems more probable that "the coming war with Islam" will never come. Islamic nations are unlikely to unite and challenge the West: they are too diverse, and they have no civilization-wide animus against us. (p443)
But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.
--The Federalist, No. 51, James Madison
1) The Pacification Process—our evolution from hunter/gatherers into political, agrarian societies.
2) The Civilizing Process—included the consolidation of feudal economies into larger kingdoms and empires with central authority, trade and economic specialization.
3) The Humanitarian Revolution—17th and 18th century that marked the that included the Age of Reason and the European Enlightenment
4) The Long Peace—a result of a Kantian trifecta of 1) Democracy, 2) Trade and 3) International organizations
5) The New Peace—arising out of a U.S. led post-cold war globalized world
6) The Rights Revolutions—exhibited a more finely filtered intolerance of violence on smaller scales that included violence against minorities, women, children, and animals.
1) The Leviathan—this includes a Hobbesian social contract which grants to the state a full monopoly on the use of violence from within
2) Gentle Commerce—closely connected to #4 this force increases economic incentives for cooperation
3) Feminization—results in a decline of authoritarian/patriarchal based societies and the empowerment of women as intellectual equals who tend to be more risk-averse and less violent
4) The Expanding Circle—from a mixture of globalization, commerce, and increased access to information this purportedly increases sympathy and helped usher in the Rights revolution that even extended to animals
5) The Escalator of Reason—leading to higher levels of intelligence and emotional empathy in conjunction with more sophisticated foundation for managing moralized concerns in favor of the flourishing of all humanity
1) Communal Sharing—the most basic tribal foundation for moral reasoning emphasizing in-group loyalty, also includes sacred or pure values that are shared within a group and reinforced through rituals and periodic but specific contextual references.
2) Authority Ranking—e.g., military, paternalistic, totalitarian/fascist, divine right etc.
3) Equality Matching—gifts, tit-for-tat, first relational moralized norm to recognize individual autonomy, fairness, and reciprocal altruism
4) Market Pricing/Rational-legal—much more complex relational model of morality that incorporates universal ethical principles, a high level of individual rights, rule-of-law, social contract orientation, and requires a high level of literacy and numeracy along with a grasp of information technology and access to data on price, costs, benefits, risks, alternatives, etc.