A few people have asked about me the assertion I made about the decline in violence over time. This doesn’t seem to pass the smell test for many moderns. In particular, I think the objection about the magnitude of modern wars is a valid one…but the main issue to remember is to focus on the proportions of those who died. So, the key metric would be the fraction of Germans who died from 1940-1945 and the fraction who died during the worst five year interval of the Thirty Years War. I’ll leave it to readers to dig further (you actually engage in a lit search rather than offer up more opinions), but here are two arguments. First, Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime:
Research on the history of crime from the thirteenth century until the end of the twentieth has burgeoned and has greatly increased understanding of historical trends in crime and crime control. Serious interpersonal violence decreased remarkably in Europe between the mid-sixteenth and the early twentieth centuries. Different long-term trajectories in the decline of homicide can be distinguished between various European regions. Age and sex patterns in serious violent offending, however, have changed very little over several centuries. The long-term decline in homicide rates seems to go along with a disproportionate decline in elite homicide and a drop in male-to-male conﬂicts in public space. A range of theoretical explanations for the longterm decline have been offered, including the effects of the civilizing process, strengthening state powers, the Protestant Reformation, and modern individualism, but most theorizing has been post hoc.
And Steven Pinker’s essay A History of Violence.
Do note that an “open thread” means you can talk about other things as well.
Update: BHTV of note.