Most social theorists in the past believed that war had declined in human history, or that it was currently declining, or that it was about to decline. This liberal optimism has recently re-appeared in the writings of Stephen Pinker, John Mueller, and Azar Gat who have argued that war and violence in general have been have been declining ever since the first emergence of human  societies. Mann will dispute this principally by rejecting the statistics of war they – and especially Pinker – produce, but also by pointing to the most recent trends in warfare. On violence within societies as measured by homicide rates they are broadly correct, with the important exception of civil war, and the most developed societies are internally largely pacified.  But the types of violence in  wars has changed fundamentally over the last two or three centuries from ferocious – the direct hacking of human bodies – to callous – long-range violence in which the killer may not even see his/her victims. These two trends, of homicide rates and increasing callous violence in wars, are what give the misleading impression that wars are declining. Unfortunately, they are not.

 

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