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October 2011
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Våldsspiralen

Äntligen stod Pinkers bok på bokhandelshyllan! Ända sedan jag såg honom presentera sin tes att “Våldet har minskat genom historien” har jag velat få hela uppbackningen, alla siffror. Och nu är det dags; nu finns den att köpa. Sam Harris har påpassligt intervjuat Pinker på sin egen blogg. Där kan man bland annat läsa följande:

Harris: I suspect that when most people hear the thesis of your book—that human violence has steadily declined—they are skeptical: Wasn’t the 20th century the most violent in history?

Pinker: Probably not. Data from previous centuries are far less complete, but the existing estimates of death tolls, when calculated as a proportion of the world’s population at the time, show at least nine atrocities before the 20th century (that we know of) which may have been worse than World War II. They arose from collapsing empires, horse tribe invasions, the slave trade, and the annihilation of native peoples, with wars of religion close behind. World War I doesn’t even make the top ten.

Also, a century comprises a hundred years, not just fifty, and the second half of the 20th century was host to a Long Peace among great powers and developed nations (the subject of one of the book’s chapters) and more recently, to a New Peace in the rest of the world (the subject of another chapter), with unusually low rates of warfare.

Harris: Need I remind you that the “atheist regimes” of the 20th century killed tens of millions of people?

Pinker: This is a popular argument among theoconservatives and critics of the new atheism, but for many reasons it is historically inaccurate.

First, the premise that Nazism and Communism were “atheist” ideologies makes sense only within a religiocentric worldview that divides political systems into those that are based on Judaeo-Christian ideology and those that are not. In fact, 20th-century totalitarian movements were no more defined by a rejection of Judaeo-Christianity than they were defined by a rejection of astrology, alchemy, Confucianism, Scientology, or any of hundreds of other belief systems. They were based on the ideas of Hitler and Marx, not David Hume and Bertrand Russell, and the horrors they inflicted are no more a vindication of Judeao-Christianity than they are of astrology or alchemy or Scientology.

Second, Nazism and Fascism were not atheistic in the first place. Hitler thought he was carrying out a divine plan. Nazism received extensive support from many German churches, and no opposition from the Vatican. Fascism happily coexisted with Catholicism in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Croatia.

Third, according to the most recent compendium of history’s worst atrocities, Matthew White’s Great Big Book of Horrible Things (Norton, 2011), religions have been responsible for 13 of the 100 worst mass killings in history, resulting in 47 million deaths. Communism has been responsible for 6 mass killings and 67 million deaths. If defenders of religion want to crow, “We were only responsible for 47 million murders—Communism was worse!”, they are welcome to do so, but it is not an impressive argument.

Fourth, many religious massacres took place in centuries in which the world’s population was far smaller. Crusaders, for example, killed 1 million people in world of 400 million, for a genocide rate that exceeds that of the Nazi Holocaust. The death toll from the Thirty Years War was proportionally double that of World War I and in the range of World War II in Europe.

When it comes to the history of violence, the significant distinction is not one between theistic and atheistic regimes. It’s the one between regimes that were based on demonizing, utopian ideologies (including Marxism, Nazism, and militant religions) and secular liberal democracies that are based on the ideal of human rights. I present data from the political scientist Rudolph Rummel showing that democracies are vastly less murderous than alternative forms of government.

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Kommentarer

Kommentar från Asebeia
Tid: 5 October 2011, 20:39

Fast en jämn kurva från låt oss säga paleolitikum med sjunkande våld tills idag är det inte frågan om. Det pendlar upp och ner rätt bra med längre perioder av “bra” liv även förr. Och sen är det ju geografiskt enorma skillnader från olika platser. Man kan liksom inte säga rakt av att en tidsperiod är bättre än en annan. Den där utjämningsstatistiken som han kör med missar ju det. Att 30% av befolkningen försvann i Vitryssland under WW2 är fortfarande ett faktum även om folk samtidigt i Sverige tex hade det rätt så fint och bättre än låt oss säga 100 år tidigare. Gör man en global utjämning så missar man ju totalt vilka enorma katastrofer vissa saker är lokalt. Jag tror nog de flesta drabbade av 1900talets elände kan hålla sig för skratt när folk påstår att 1900talet var bra – för globala siffror är ju rätt så ointressanta. Det är bättre att se hur en region har haft det genom tiderna. Då är 1900talet ingen höjdartid för öst-europa – egalt var den var globalt.

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