Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Like peace and quiet? Hate violence? Thank government.

Steven Pinker's new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined has a one-two interpretive punch.  First, he demonstrates that we are probably living in the least-violent period of human history.  Second, the most important cause of this decline is the "pacifying force" of the modern nation-state, with its "monopoly on the use of force."  That makes it particularly alarming that a cluster of forces, from the Tea Party to the billionaires' clubs (Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity) to the NRA and its fellow travelers, are working so assiduously to cripple or kill government--to "reduce it to the size where [they] can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub," as Grover Norquist to piquantly put it.

More on Pinker here (Wall Street Journal) and here (TED talk)..

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