About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pinker on the historical decline of violence

This has been around for some time, but is worth having a look at to keep some things in perspective. Not that it helps much if you live in some hell-hole where order has broken down or your freedom is suppressed ... and not that Western countries are magically immune to turning into hell-holes. It takes work, and a commitment to the values of peace and tolerance.

For all that, some things have been improving over time.

Steven Pinker is one of my favourite writers, and he's also a very good speaker.

H/T Kenneth Lipp


Gordon Campbell said...

This is one of my favourites, too. Very well argued--and something that really needs to be said. So many people take it as axiomatic that modern civilisation has spread pain, indifference and cruelty throughout the world.

Kenneth Lipp said...

Russell, I am just coming across this, and an appropriate time given your words.
Growing up in the American South, Martin Luther King, Jr is a large part of the the cultural ethos (and,in Birmingham, the pathos especially). Your post brings to mind:
"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968)

You may be aware, today is a national holiday in the States (I suppose not today yet, but today here in England) in observance of his birthday, yesterday.