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Francoamerican
11-15-2009, 08:40 AM
Interesting New Yorker article on murder in the US:


http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2009/11/09/091109crat_atlarge_lepore

bjkeefe
11-15-2009, 10:14 AM
Interesting New Yorker article on murder in the US:


http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2009/11/09/091109crat_atlarge_lepore

Yes, it was interesting. Thanks for the link.

This bit in particular, while I'm not sure if I accept it, is at least food for thought:

Spierenburg speculates that democracy came too soon to the United States. By the time European states became democracies, the populace had accepted the authority of the state. But the American Revolution happened before Americans had got used to the idea of a state monopoly on force. Americans therefore preserved for themselves not only the right to bear arms—rather than yielding that right to a strong central government—but also medieval manners: impulsiveness, crudeness, and fidelity to a culture of honor.

Minor aside: It was good to see Mark Kleiman mentioned in the article.

Francoamerican
11-15-2009, 01:30 PM
Yes, it was interesting. Thanks for the link.

This bit in particular, while I'm not sure if I accept it, is at least food for thought:

Minor aside: It was good to see Mark Kleiman mentioned in the article.

One thing is certain: by the 19th century the policing power of the state in France and Britain (as well as the German principalities and the Austro-Hungarian Empire) was much greater than in the US. That didn't prevent outbursts of political violence, but it did reduce interpersonal violence.

claymisher
11-15-2009, 01:50 PM
Franco, are you fan of Tocqueville? I've never read him. I did just get Elster's book on Tocqueville though.

Francoamerican
11-15-2009, 02:01 PM
Franco, are you fan of Tocqueville? I've never read him. I did just get Elster's book on Tocqueville though.

Indeed I am. If you want to understand democracy in general and American democracy in particular I can think of few books that match Tocqueville's two volumes....even if a lot has changed since he wrote. His double perspective--the US and France (to some extent Britain as well)--made him an especially acute analyst of democratic manners and morals (moeurs).

I once read Elster. Sour Grapes, I think it was called. Amusing. I didn't know he had written on Tocqueville. I thought Marx was his darling.

claymisher
11-15-2009, 02:11 PM
Indeed I am. If you want to understand democracy in general and American democracy in particular I can think of few books that match Tocqueville's two volumes....even if a lot has changed since he wrote. His double perspective--the US and France (to some extent Britain as well)--made him an especially acute analyst of democratic manners and morals (moeurs).

I once read Elster. Sour Grapes, I think it was called. Amusing. I didn't know he had written on Tocqueville. I thought Marx was his darling.

Hey, I read Sour Grapes too! Elster's a well-regarded interpreter of Marx, but I think his main man is your countryman Paul Veyne. Elster's Tocqueville book gives him his due as a social scientist.

Francoamerican
11-15-2009, 02:28 PM
Hey, I read Sour Grapes too! Elster's a well-regarded interpreter of Marx, but I think his main man is your countryman Paul Veyne. Elster's Tocqueville book gives him his due as a social scientist.

Really? I didn't know that. Veyne is a brilliant and, shall we say, rather eccentric classicist. He was also a friend and interpreter of Foucault.

I just recently read his Quand notre monde est devenu chrétien (312-394), about the emperor Constantine and his conversion to Christianity. If American fundies ever found out how "our world became Christian...." but perish the thought!

claymisher
11-15-2009, 05:27 PM
I like this topic because there's lots of data. Let's check the numbers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

Homicides per 100,000 population is the stat people use. I'll pick some countries people think they know pretty well as a reference point:

Japan 0.5
Germany 0.9
Italy 1.0
Australia 1.2
France 1.6
Canada 1.8
UK 2.0
Finland 2.2
Switzerland 2.3
Argentina 5
USA 5.8
Estonia 7.0
Mexico 10
Russia 17
Brazil 25
South Africa 37

There's historical stats here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate_to_ 1999). There are some surprises: in the 1990s Estonia was as high as 15, Russia peaked at 30, South Africa 60, Northern Ireland 7, Australia 2.

There are some patterns. Countries with social turmoil or in transition have murder rate spikes (SA, Russia, Estonia, Northern Ireland). Countries with more guns have more murder than their peers (Switzerland, Finland).

Alright, now you have a feel for what murder rates look like. Now let's check it out by state (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/murder-rates-1996-2008#MRord):

North Dakota 0.5
NH 1
Utah 1
Oregon 2
Washington St. 2
Montana 2
New York 4
Indiana 5
Florida 6
Texas 6
California 6
New Mexico 7
Missouri 7
Mississippi 8
Maryland 9
Louisiana 12

At the risk of drawing the racists out of their caves, here are the rates disaggregated by race (table 301 (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/law_enforcement_courts_prisons/crimes_and_crime_rates.html)):
white 3.3
black 20.6
other 2.5

I'd chalk this up to, oh, I dunno, 400 years of slavery, terror, oppression, discrimination, inequality, and exclusion. Note that the white murder rate is twice the average in Europe. Oppression afflicts the victimizers too.

Come to think of it, Utah is our most European state, in the sense of ethnic and religious homogeneity.

JonIrenicus
11-15-2009, 07:41 PM
North Dakota 0.5
NH 1
Utah 1
Oregon 2
Washington St. 2
Montana 2
New York 4
Indiana 5
Florida 6
Texas 6
California 6
New Mexico 7
Missouri 7
Mississippi 8
Maryland 9
Louisiana 12

At the risk of drawing the racists out of their caves, here are the rates disaggregated by race (table 301 (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/law_enforcement_courts_prisons/crimes_and_crime_rates.html)):
white 3.3
black 20.6
other 2.5

I'd chalk this up to, oh, I dunno, 400 years of slavery, terror, oppression, discrimination, inequality, and exclusion. Note that the white murder rate is twice the average in Europe. Oppression afflicts the victimizers too.

Come to think of it, Utah is our most European state, in the sense of ethnic and religious homogeneity.


Interesting theory on the rationale for the higher black murder rate and american vs european murder rate.


To check the first, what is the murder rate breakdown in say, Canada, by comparison to the US? Or the breakdown within France? Seeing as that the lasting damage and impact could be argued to be lower in Canada, one would expect a smaller murder rate among the black population there than the US with its prolonged issues with race, at least by comparison. If there is little difference, or the differences are minute, something else must be going on. So test out your theory with an actual reference point. Not sure if it fits exactly the same way as I don't know if the percentages are the same, but I guess you could try and map a like city in the us to a like city in Canada.


To the larger point of the thread

France = morally superior and enlightened than the US


Tilt the nose down, at least for a moment before it snaps back into its permanent position. This French guy has a bone to pick with the lefts thinking that is common in France, no doubt held and believed by Franco.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9rarc_authorsgoogle-left-in-dark-times_webcam


Preemptive response to - Who is the "left" that is not the left, bla bla bla.

Yes it is, each side has it's members, and the ones discussed there have a greater home on the left side, whether it is acknowledged or not (self deluded craven liars who refuse to own up to their own fellow travelers ideas)

Francoamerican
11-16-2009, 12:50 PM
France = morally superior and enlightened than the US


Tilt the nose down, at least for a moment before it snaps back into its permanent position. This French guy has a bone to pick with the lefts thinking that is common in France, no doubt held and believed by Franco.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9rarc_authorsgoogle-left-in-dark-times_webcam


Preemptive response to - Who is the "left" that is not the left, bla bla bla.

Yes it is, each side has it's members, and the ones discussed there have a greater home on the left side, whether it is acknowledged or not (self deluded craven liars who refuse to own up to their own fellow travelers ideas)

Learn to distinguish between its and it's=it is. And learn to distinguish between criticism and contempt.

I have often asked myself why the US, unlike France and other European countries, is unable to produce critical intellectuals with an audience outside academia. No doubt it is because of people like you--complacent, stuffed with platitudes and always ready to rally around the flag when non-Americans speak (by the way, I have an American passport and vote in US elections).

You might have noted that the article was written by an American and that it was asking questions about murder in your country. NB: asking questions. Why don't you ask yourself a few questions? Better yet, why don't you educate yourself instead of whining about the French left or other foreign critics of the US?

JonIrenicus
11-16-2009, 05:21 PM
... And learn to distinguish between criticism and contempt.


Oh I think the line between those two is very thin with some people. Look at one of the takes given for why America is so comparatively barbarous.


Spierenburg speculates that democracy came too soon to the United States. By the time European states became democracies, the populace had accepted the authority of the state. But the American Revolution happened before Americans had got used to the idea of a state monopoly on force. Americans therefore preserved for themselves not only the right to bear arms—rather than yielding that right to a strong central government—but also medieval manners: impulsiveness, crudeness, and fidelity to a culture of honor. We’re backward, in other words, because we became free before we learned how to control ourselves.



It's the kind of critique you might levy against a reckless teenager about getting a drivers license. Not contemptuous of the people? Maybe, just their attitude, 2nd amendment, culture, and even freedom before the plebs became more enlightened like Europeans are.

Not contemptuous? Uh huh. Even if every argument given there was true, the contempt would still stand.



I have often asked myself why the US, unlike France and other European countries, is unable to produce critical intellectuals with an audience outside academia. No doubt it is because of people like you--complacent, stuffed with platitudes and always ready to rally around the flag when non-Americans speak (by the way, I have an American passport and vote in US elections).

You might have noted that the article was written by an American and that it was asking questions about murder in your country. NB: asking questions. Why don't you ask yourself a few questions? Better yet, why don't you educate yourself instead of whining about the French left or other foreign critics of the US?

I don't care where a critique comes from, I care that it's true. This does not mean I place equal weight on all claims and critiques. No one does. The claim that Americans have a sort of lower character due to being left to their own devices before growing up like Europeans has a higher bar to clear for me than it does for one like you. For you it fits into a narrative that is already believed in, as you already think French/European culture and sensibility is superior to that in the US.

Don't confuse that with being against intellectuals, it is more basic than that, it deals with being resistant to ideas that undermine your own sense of things, and more receptive to ideas that support your world view.

EVERYONE has this. It's alot easier to convince a guy like me to condone the use of force than someone like Wonderment. Agitated at all the extra baggage you have to wade through to get your point taken seriously and adopted? Welcome to the club. We all have that in common.



In the end, I think there are aspects of European culture that are better than the US, and aspects that are worse. Now to test you, the same test I give to apple fanboys.

Is there any aspect of American culture (pcs/windows) that you think is better than French culture(macs)?

Try and come up with something, because if you can't, it exposes you for what anyone who can't answer is, a snob.