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Old 12-13-2011, 12:11 PM
Florian Florian is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,118
Default Re: Science Saturday: Civilized Violence (Maggie Koerth-Baker & Jessa Gamble)

Originally Posted by bsw View Post
When pressed on this, she basically responded with, 'yes, but if Pinker is right, that would mean that those cultures are more violent, and that really WOULD be worse, so therefore it must not be allowed to be considered true.' Actually, many cultures, including that of Western Europe, *have* glorified violence (at least 'violence for a good cause'). Gamble, in contrast, had no problem assuming that *of course* one should agree that violence is a bad thing.

Even as Whiggish and Western a triumphalist as Theodore Roosevelt would have disagreed with her, saying that war allows nations to renew their manly virtues, and to prevent themselves from growing soft and decadent. That Gamble, one century later, didn't even entertain that kind of position, seems to augur well for Pinker's argument.
There were probably as many peace-loving, pacifist Europeans and Americans in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century as there are today (socialists for example). Did they outnumber the many chest-thumping Theodore Roosevelts and his war-mongering European counterparts? I don't know, but their numbers certainly didn't prevent two world wars.

If the existence of people like Gamble lends support to Pinker's argument, their powerlessness to prevent wars considerably weakens it. After all, G W. Bush was able to convince the majority of Americans that war with Iraq was necessary. In the final analysis, it is states that make war; and until there is a world state, or a world federation of states, I really cannot imagine why anyone could think that war is a thing of the past.
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