Re: Pies in the face (was Re: PDAs are searchable was Re: blah blah blah)

From: James Rogers (
Date: Thu Feb 08 2001 - 15:11:41 MST

At 12:02 PM 2/8/2001 +0000, Charlie Stross wrote:

>Believe it or not, the world is becoming a *less* violent place over
>time. There are exceptions, but just about anywhere in the developed
>world -- yes, including gun-ridden and jail-crowded America -- you're
>less likely to be assaulted or murdered than you would have been fifty
>or a hundred years ago.

How so? Current levels of violent crime in Europe are at highs that
haven't been touched in a very long time. The murder rates in many
European countries are higher than they were a century ago. And several of
the largest government killing sprees ever have happened within the last
four or five decades.

>My general point, however, is that you are *safe*. The chances of an
>army marching through your town, raping the women and stealing the cattle
>and burning a few houses for fun, are about zip. The same goes for me,

I would agree with this currently, but this could change in the period of a
decade or two. While I don't believe global warfare is as likely as it was
in previous generations, there has still frequently been about one war per
generation since the beginning of history for most of the world's
populations. The last half-century has been no exception. We've fought
the "Last War" an awful lot of times, and generally, people actually
believe it; U.S. military history is full of embarrassing examples of this

>Again: go back to the 1830's and English upper-class types went
>armed in public because there was a very real probability of violence
>if they didn't. The fact that the British government *can* ban handguns
>is a pointer to the level of social change, and the marginalization of
>violence in private life.

This is not an accurate representation. The crime/murder rates in England
dropped sharply from the 1830s to the 1890s. In fact, the murder/violence
rate in England at the end of the 19th century was substantially lower than
it is at the end of the 20th century. Gun control laws did not go into
effect until after the first World War, mostly due to fears of civil
unrest. The last half-century in England has been quite violent by
historical standards.

I don't want to get into a debate over this, but violent crime dropped
sharply after the English started going out armed as a matter of habit
during the first half of the 19th century in response to the high crime
rate. Violent crime then increased substantially after WW1 when the
English government forbade and controlled weapon possession. Maybe an
armed society *is* a polite society.

-James Rogers

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