Four Reasons For The Long Term Decline In Violence

Regarding Pinker’s new book on the decline in violence in the world over time.

I would argue that there are the following reasons for the worldwide decline in violence.

1. The Abstraction Of Property
Stated by an unnamed commenter on The Economist: Odd that no mention is made of the most obvious point: that when one can abstract wealth (for example, into bank accounts and physical property) violence declines proportionately. In some parts of Africa where wealth is largely a function of how many cattle one has, violence is quite prevalent. This is because wealth can be captured by violent means – the risk/reward ratio is favorable. But in the West, what can a mugger hope to get? A few pounds or euros or dollars. The victim’s wealth is largely inaccesible. So only the most desperate resort to violence – far better to become a Wall Street banker and steal billions quite legally without needing to use any physical force at all. The correlation between violence and the abstraction of wealth is well understood so the omission of this fact is quite surprising.

2. Increases In the Likelihood of Punishment.
Contrary to liberal desires, it turns out that longer, and harsher sentences are in fact a deterrent. That’s the data. That’s the fact. Plain and simple.

3. Increasing real wealth
Obviously a deterrent.

4. Cheap Entertainment
A bored male is a dangerous thing.

Leave a Reply