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Guest Post: The Great Pacification

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by John Aziz of Azizonomics,

Since the end of the Second World War, the major powers of the world have lived in relative peace. While there have been wars and conflicts  — Vietnam, Afghanistan (twice), Iraq (twice), the Congo, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, the Iran-Iraq war, the Mexican and Colombian drug wars, the Lebanese civil war — these have been localised and at a much smaller scale than the violence that ripped the world apart during the Second World War.

The recent downward trend is clear:


Many thinkers believe that this trend of pacification is unstoppable. Steven Pinker, for example, claims:

Violence has been in decline for thousands of years, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in the existence of our species.


The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth. It has not brought violence down to zero, and it is not guaranteed to continue. But it is a persistent historical development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from the waging of wars to the spanking of children.

While the relative decline of violence and the growth of global commerce is a cause for celebration, those who want to proclaim that the dawn of the 21st Century is the dawn of a new long-lasting era of global peace may be overly optimistic. It is possible that we are on the edge of a precipice and that this era of relative peace is merely a calm before a new global storm. Militarism and the military-industrial complex never really went away — the military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world. Weapons contractors are still gorging on multi-trillion dollar military spending.

Let’s consider another Great Moderation — the moderation of the financial system previous to the bursting of the bubble in 2008.

One of the most striking features of the economic landscape over the past twenty years or so has been a substantial decline in macroeconomic volatility.

Ben Bernanke (2004)

Bernanke attributed this outgrowth of macroeconomic stability to policy — that through macroeconomic engineering, governments had created a new era of financial and economic stability. Of course, Bernanke was wrong — in fact those tools of macroeconomic stabilisation were at that very moment inflating housing and securitisation bubbles, which burst in 2008 ushering in a new 1930s-style depression.

It is more than possible that we are in a similar peace bubble that might soon burst.

Pinker highlights some possible underlying causes for this decline in violent conflict:

The most obvious of these pacifying forces has been the state, with its monopoly on the legitimate use of force. A disinterested judiciary and police can defuse the temptation of exploitative attack, inhibit the impulse for revenge and circumvent the self-serving biases that make all parties to a dispute believe that they are on the side of the angels.


We see evidence of the pacifying effects of government in the way that rates of killing declined following the expansion and consolidation of states in tribal societies and in medieval Europe. And we can watch the movie in reverse when violence erupts in zones of anarchy, such as the Wild West, failed states and neighborhoods controlled by mafias and street gangs, who can’t call 911 or file a lawsuit to resolve their disputes but have to administer their own rough justice.

Really? The state is the pacifying force? This is an astonishing claim. Sixty years ago, states across the world mobilised to engage in mass-killing the like of which the world had never seen — industrial slaughter of astonishing efficiency. The concentration of power in the state has at times led to more violence, not less. World War 2 left sixty million dead. Communist nations slaughtered almost 100 million in the pursuit of communism. Statism has a bloody history, and the power of the state to wage total destruction has only increased in the intervening years.

Pinker continues:

Another pacifying force has been commerce, a game in which everybody can win. As technological progress allows the exchange of goods and ideas over longer distances and among larger groups of trading partners, other people become more valuable alive than dead. They switch from being targets of demonization and dehumanization to potential partners in reciprocal altruism.


For example, though the relationship today between America and China is far from warm, we are unlikely to declare war on them or vice versa. Morality aside, they make too much of our stuff, and we owe them too much money.


A third peacemaker has been cosmopolitanism—the expansion of people’s parochial little worlds through literacy, mobility, education, science, history, journalism and mass media. These forms of virtual reality can prompt people to take the perspective of people unlike themselves and to expand their circle of sympathy to embrace them.

Commerce has been an extremely effective incentive toward peace. But commerce may not be enough. Globalisation and mass commerce became a reality a century ago, just prior to the first global war. The world was linked together by new technologies that made it possible to ship products cheaply from one side of the globe to the other, to communicate virtually instantaneously over huge distances, and a new culture of cosmopolitanism. Yet the world still went to war.

It is complacent to assume that interdependency will necessitate peace. The relationship between China and the United States today is superficially similar to that between Great Britain and Germany in 1914. Germany and China — the rising industrial behemoths, fiercely nationalistic and determined to establish themselves and their currencies on the world stage. Great Britain and the United States  — the overstretched global superpowers intent on retaining their primacy and reserve currency status even in spite of huge and growing debt and military overstretch.

In fact, a high degree of interdependency can breed resentment and hatred. Interconnected debt between nations can lead to war, as creditors seek their pound of flesh, and debtors seek to renege on their debts. Chinese officials have claimed to have felt that the United States is forcing them to support American deficits by buying treasuries; in fact the United States has proven so desperate to keep China buying treasury debt that it upgraded the People’s Bank of China to Primary Dealer status, allowing them to purchase treasuries directly from the Treasury and cutting Wall Street out of the loop.

Who is to say that China might not view the prize of Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines as worthy of transforming their giant manufacturing base into a giant war machine and writing down their treasury bonds? Who is to say that the United States might not risk antagonising Russia and China and disrupting global trade by attacking Iran? There are plenty of other potential flash-points too — Afghanistan, Pakistan, Venezuela, Egypt, South Africa, Georgia, Syria and more.

Commerce and cosmopolitanism may have provided incentives for peace, but the Great Pacification has been built upon a bedrock of nuclear warheads. Mutually assured destruction is by far the largest force that has kept the nuclear-armed nations at peace for the past sixty seven years. Yet can it last? Would the United States really have launched a first-strike had the Soviet Union invaded Western Europe during the Cold War, for example? If so, the global economy and population would have been devastated. If not, mutually assured destruction would have lost credibility. Mutually assured destruction can only act as a check on expansionism if it is credible. So far, no nation has really tested this credibility. 

Nuclear-armed powers have already engaged in proxy wars, such as Vietnam. How far can the limits be pushed? Would the United States launch a first-strike on China if China were to invade and occupy Taiwan and Japan, for example? Would the United States try to launch a counter-invasion? Or would they back down? Similarly, would Russia and China launch a first-strike on the United States if the United States invades and occupies Iran? Launching a first-strike is highly unlikely in all cases — mutually assured destruction will remain an effective deterrent to nuclear war. But perhaps not to conventional war and territorial expansionism.

With the world mired in the greatest economic depression since the 1930s, it becomes increasingly likely that states — especially those with high unemployment, weak growth, incompetent leadership and angry, disaffected youth —  will (just as they did during the last global depression in the 1930s) turn to expansionism, nationalism, trade war and even physical war. Already, the brittle peace between China and Japan is rupturing, and the old war rhetoric is back. These are the kinds of demonstrations that the Communist Party are now sanctioning:


And already, America and Israel are moving to attack Iran, even in spite of warnings by Chinese and Pakistani officials that this could risk global disruption.

Hopefully, the threat of mutually assured destruction and the promise of commerce will continue to be an effective deterrent, and prevent any kind of global war from breaking out. Hopefully, states can work out their differences peacefully. Hopefully nations can keep war profiteers and those who advocate crisis initiation in check. Nothing would be more wonderful than the continuing spread of peace. Yet we must be guarded against complacency. Sixty years of relative peace is not the end of history.


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Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:13 | 2868894 Mr Lennon Hendrix
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War is the health of the State

Whatever that means....

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:25 | 2868930 redpill
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So from a Keynesian perspective basically there is massive pent up demand for catastrophic civilian loss of life, we just need the animal spirits to take over and deliver the world the thermonuclear product it's asking for, and it will be a roaring economy from then on.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:32 | 2868938 CommunityStandard
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The atomic bomb is the pacifying force... until it isn't.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 17:13 | 2869137 Popo
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Let's not forget that historically wars are fought to cull internal populations of angry, unemployed males. Focus the population on an external enemy, and the elites survive. Fail to do so, and well...

Let's also not forget that due to China's one child policy, they have tens of millions of "extra" unmarried, very angry men. China needs a war badly. The situation is beyond volatile.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 17:35 | 2869190 Overfed
Overfed's picture

Or, at least an introduction to polyandy and/or line marriage.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 19:49 | 2869462 The Alarmist
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Meh! It was nice while it lasted, but we need to do something with these millions of relatively unskilled youth who are roaming around and causing nothing but trouble.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:14 | 2868899 TooBearish
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i'll have some of what John Aziz is smoking....

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 16:42 | 2869086 max2205
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It's true. The more capitalistic nations, the less war. But crap, financial blowups happen regardless

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 17:10 | 2869139 overmedicatedun...
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when we run out of sociopathic leaders we will run out of nation state wars. things are not looking good for that to happen..major wars will be over in hours..the clean up will be much longer. got ron paul?

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:16 | 2868904 pazmaker
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For while they are saying , "Peace and Safety, Sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains upon a woman with child and they will not escape. I Thess. 5:3

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:17 | 2868909 spastic_colon
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".....the decibels of disenchanting discourse...."

Music trivia...anyone.....anyone, internet search doesn't count!

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 18:57 | 2869345 bank guy in Brussels
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The music band Live, whose 'White, Discussion' song from Live's 'Throwing Copper' album from 1994, are the source of those words, seems to fit with the image of John Aziz

One ZeroHedge commentator, after watching Aziz in his video, labelled Aziz as a 'British kid in a t-shirt'

Music from his formative childhood years

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:24 | 2868916 hedgeless_horseman
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Oceania has always been at war with Oceania Eurasia Eastasia Southeastasia Arabia MENA Persia...

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:23 | 2868924 RiverRoad
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Who knew WW3 would be a financial war?  If you don't think the world is going through a "war" right now, better think again. 

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:26 | 2868933 hedgeless_horseman
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Agreed.  As I have written several times, Bernanke and Geithner will be considered early American heros of The Great Resource Wars.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:30 | 2868940 CommunityStandard
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Every war has always been about wealth/resources.  Always will be.  And the victor gets to write the history.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 17:18 | 2869153 Popo
Popo's picture

Ding ding ding. Someone here understands history.

Amazing how many people actually believe that wars are fought for things like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Populations need to be "sold" wars, and so the propaganda machine always finds a casus belli.

But the reality is always economics, energy and the continued rule of the ruling class.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 20:05 | 2869486 Fukushima Sam
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We are still in the prologue.  Most wars start as economic wars then escalate to military action.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:25 | 2868929 libertarian_neocon
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As someone who has looked at the VIX alot, when things are the calmest are when you should worry the most.


Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:25 | 2868931 George Orwell
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In a post about war, you did not have the words "oil" or "water" anywhere in your article. You really need to think clearly before posting.

There will be more resource wars in the future because oil has peaked. The current conflict between China and Japan is all about what's underneath those uninhabited islands in the ocean, not what's on those rocks.

And the decline in the number of wars fought post WWII is directly related to the rise of oil and oil based agriculture. Increasing crop yields allowed us to feed more people. With more people your deaths per capita number goes down. It's that simple.

And with the decline in oil production, crop production will go down as well. Hungry people means more wars over oil and water. It's that simple. Keep your analysis simple John. You can do better.


George Orwell

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 17:13 | 2869141 hoos bin pharteen
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Most wars, to use a broader definition or "massive attack on a people or nation" are about some combination of "control" and "annihilation."  Massacres that occurred in the USSR, China, Cambodia, etc. while not technically "wars" had insane casualty counts and were about control of resources, elimination of resistance, etc. 

With a few exceptions, the West has had enormous success relative to its predecessors in casualties inflicted per unit of control extracted.  At the same time, it has been relentless when the objective is annihilation.

In any case, the West also has had moments when things got out of hand on all sides and the dance of control quickly turned into huge wars of annihilation (WWI).  This scenario is the greatest danger of our times.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:27 | 2868937 dick cheneys ghost
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One must view the world thru the 3rd world, not the first world

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 20:26 | 2869515 potlatch
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population divided by resources times technology works better.  3rd world has a very dirty lens.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:35 | 2868952 lolmao500
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Violence has been going down because of nuclear weapons.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:55 | 2868995 earleflorida
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waht's a 'dead zone'? in inches

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 16:21 | 2869042 Argonaught
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I think 14 would probably split 'er in two...

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:36 | 2868957 GoingLoonie
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Interesting how all the superpowers have been "peaceful" except the US.  We have started every war in the last 60 years, and there have been a lot of them.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:45 | 2868976 tom a taxpayer
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Will Hillary get the Nobel Peace prize this year?

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:47 | 2868978 DeliciousSteak
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There are always periods of relative peace. Pax Britannica is a recent example, Pax Romana ancient. Globalized world brings globalized periods of pax and chaos. This one will end, too.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 15:52 | 2868989 earleflorida
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absolutely brilliant post, mr. aziz

man, you're good at giving the flaccid grey-matter a neurotransmission workout...




Mon, 10/08/2012 - 16:01 | 2869005 q99x2
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Pinker. Sounds like Hammy Wanger's real name. Fucker's psycho.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 16:04 | 2869011 midtowng
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China isn't going after Japan. They never have and they never will. The only reason they would go to war with Japan is if they felt Japan was encroaching on their turf.

Taiwan is a whole 'nuther story. China views them as a renegade province. They are going to try to take Taiwan back one day. Sooner or later.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 18:30 | 2869297 NaN
NaN's picture

One scenario is that China makes a deal to not dump US Treasuries in exchange for Taiwan, but that offer won't be made until the US is weaker.  

In general, China has a defensive miliary with spending at 2% of GDP which is average.  The US spends 4.7% of GDP (not including externalities due to ongoing wars):

The top 5 spenders by % of GDP are:

20.9% Erirea 

10.1% Saudi Arabia

 9.7% Oman

 6.9% UAE

 6.5% Isreal

(Erirea split off from Ethiopia in 1991.  Iraq comes in at 5.7%, but the US spending there isn't counted in their GDP (do pallets of $100 bills count?).  Afganistan and North Korea are not listed in ref. below.)

While % of GDP indiates affordability/bankruptability or capacity to increase spending, per capita spending on miliary is a way to measure a nation's focus w.r.t. number of lives being protected (or over-protected).  Top spenders in US$/year per capita:

$2653  UAE

$2141  US

$1882  Isreal

$1593  Singapore

$1558  Saudi Arabia

(Greece is at $1230; perhaps they could trim that.)



Mon, 10/08/2012 - 16:05 | 2869013 toros
toros's picture

All we are saying...

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 16:38 | 2869079 tom a taxpayer
tom a taxpayer's picture give war a chance.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 17:14 | 2869147 QEsceptic
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Can it be that war has simply become too expensive?  It is surprising there is no reference to the cost of war in the article.  When one considers that the U.S. spent over a trillion dollars in direct outlays to fight third tier adversaries to a standstill, Iraq and Afghanistan, cost has become a major limitation.  If the world's largest economy struggles to pay for "limited" wars, smaller countries with less means can hardly afford any kind of warfare.  Even the relatively affluent European economies increasingly reject the demands for annual defense spending. War increasingly has become sensible only to the desperate using unconventional (cheaper) means who must also calculate they have limited wealth to lose and much to gain.  Put another way, for any country of average income or better the cost/benefit analysis of war is already poor and deteriorating.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 17:20 | 2869157 LawsofPhysics
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So global theft has gotten a lot safer then?  Fuckers.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 17:38 | 2869201 css1971
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Saudi just got caught with their pants down, weapons bought by the Saudi forces shipped directly to syrian rebels. They left the stickers on. Doh.

Looks like a bigger war on it's way to perk up that chart.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 19:03 | 2869358 bank guy in Brussels
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Saudi Arabia's rulers ... installed and supported in the Middle East by British-US intelligence organisations, to help create the global mess we have today ... The Saudi rulers, propped up to rule Arabia and spread an extremist version of Islam, as part of their 'duties' ... and it seems even to help kill their fellow Muslims.

The ruling family of Saudi Arabia was put in power by the British after the Ottoman Empire collapse in World War I. The British pushed out the Hashemites who had held sway over the Muslim holy cities for centuries (exiling part of the family to become monarchs of what is now Jordan).

Interesting, detail-filled article ... despite the oft-scorned website patron, one of America's odder political figures

The House of Saud:
British-Programmed Killer of Muslims

by Ramtanu Maitra

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 18:17 | 2869261 R_J
R_J's picture

Ha Ha, uhm Oh well.....and stuff,
-But Instead of aZiZ blurb on the fantasy on a DECLINE in VIOLENCE: -a better read would be, and IS: THE 39,000-word critique of Steven Pinker’s 2011 book, by  Edward S. Herman and David Peterson  -Reality Denial: Steven Pinker’s Apologetics for Western-Imperial Violence

-or a PDF from ColdType:

  -also on:

*but dont stop there, check out their other excellent wordings @
and of course @


Mon, 10/08/2012 - 20:36 | 2869539 Totentänzerlied
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Many thanks for the link, reading it now.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 23:05 | 2869800 Totentänzerlied
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Rather surprised, this critique is a hyper-leftist diatribe which while very effectively pulverizing statist shill Pinker's silly book engages in any number of the same fallacies, manipulations, misrepresentations, and rhetorical techniques designed to obscure, for example generously citing this quote:

"The general collapse [was] so severe that even monstrous Stalin [was] remembered with some appreciation: more than half of Russians ‘believe Stalin’s role in Russian history was positive, while only a third disagreed’, polls indicated in early 2003.”

Wow. They also toss about labels like Marxism, communism, and capitalism with zero care for their relevance or meaning - when it suits their agenda, but then viciously attack similar if not identical uses of such labels by Pinker. Similarly they unquestioningly cite statistics for death tolls in communist states while devoting at least 10 pages to ripping apart the death-tolls cited by Pinker.

The hyperleftist shenanigans and hypocrisy are simply too much to bear by page 62.

"Sen and Drèze [...] do not regard the Mao-era famine in China as a case of deliberate mass killing, and contend that deaths in India under the “endemic undernutrition and deprivation” of its capitalist system greatly exceeded China’s famine deaths."

They jest that: "attributing indirect, non-combat-related deaths to a deliberate plan requires no imaginative leap at all—the communists are maximally guilty for all of them" but then do precisely the same thing for all so-called capitalist regimes repeatedly.

Their best work, though revealing little-to-nothing nothing new for people who are familiar with anti-imperialist and anti-war literature, is simply in chronicling Pinker's misrepresentations and distortions of Western actions throughout the 20th century - work of which Noam Chomsky and others have already done quite a solid job.

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 00:28 | 2869898 morpheus000
morpheus000's picture

well cant you see how the two trends are related?

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 16:38 | 2872501 NaN
NaN's picture

The critique is certainly quite emotional.  I saw Steven Pinker talk on this topic last night and he fully acknowledges these basic disagreements with the premise of his thesis:  

  1. Any violence at all is too much and cannot be compared to population size (unmeasurable infinities)
  2. No one knows what the future holds (nuclear war is not impossible, tail risk)

His conclusions hold even if famine caused by a threat of violence is included as violence. Spikes in violence like WWII fit the decreasing trend if the data is smoothed out.  It only makes sense that the granularity must be broad when discrete events are analyzed across history.

There certainly might be other ways to model and analyze violence over time, but using softer measures like incidence of coercion would increase uncertainty and make it hard to draw conclusions.  

A broad historical analysis does not excuse or apologize for violence, but it certainly attracts such claims like a lightning rod.  Pinker has a lot of courage and stamina.


Mon, 10/08/2012 - 19:08 | 2869374 Bicycle Repairman
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I wonder what the chart looked like circa July, 1914.

Definite downward trend.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 20:23 | 2869512 potlatch
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everyone knows that the US military is just an oversight.  Serves no purpose.  Has no real function in how things have worked for decades.  All those floating armies and air forces, each the size of any war you would care to throw at it?


An oversight.  Once someone notices this in the budget, theree are gonna be a lot of sheepish faces in general accounting.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 22:44 | 2869765 brown_hornet
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Another pacifying force has been commerce, a game in which everybody can win. As technological progress allows the exchange of goods and ideas over longer distances and among larger groups of trading partners, other people become more valuable alive than dead. They switch from being targets of demonization and dehumanization to potential partners in reciprocal altruism.


Seventy years ago, Japanese men were trying to kill my father. Today, the sons of those men provide the means for very gainful employment for my wife. All we had to do was nuke 'em and then be nice to them.

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 00:29 | 2869900 morpheus000
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i think you mean commerce here in a very superficial sense

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 22:51 | 2869776 AurorusBorealus
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A inexorable movement toward peace throughout human history?  What a load of complete nonsense.  Steven Pinker should leave thinking about history to people who have actually studied some history.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 23:52 | 2869856 noname
noname's picture

God damn you kidding me you call that Viet Nam era pretty much peaceful.I dont know how old this author is but was your head up your ass from 1962-1973 peaceful my ass,or relatively peaceful my ass.

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 23:57 | 2869859 jonjon831983
jonjon831983's picture

Funny, a few weeks ago my friend asked me this question if we are more violent today than in the past.  I said things are probably the same as before, just the methods have changed... but then again I guess the scale is different now too...


Maybe "violence" has just been taking a break and getting ready for its next big show time.





"In times of peace prepare for war."


... and many nations haven't been geared up yet since the post-cold war budget cuts, probably big coming money in arms still... tis my thesis.

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 00:22 | 2869891 noname
noname's picture

My Dad a WW2 vet who spent 7 years fighting a war in many European countries,purple heart,bronze star and stated two months before he died "Thank God I havent got many years left because the violence and lack of respect for all aspects of life leaves the future generations with very little hope" something he always preached to me that we have such great hope it was hurtful to hear those words from him.So I take his word for it that the world now is more violent.

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 00:41 | 2869904 Radical Marijuana
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My comment, and a reply, that I posted under the recent Aziz article, put up on Zero Hedge on October 7:

about the apparently insane rhetoric from the Iranian regime, also applies to this Aziz article above. However, the article above is more general and philosophical, and I will attempt a comment of the same kind.

I agreed with almost all of this article, as statements regarding human history during the time that I have been alive, namely the about last 60 years. I believe that this apparent relative pacification was due to fundamental factors. I also believe that those factors have only transformed and/or deferred the death control systems into the future, which is still very uncertain!

The most important changes were due to the culture of human minds developing their mental models to be able to understand and harness INANIMATE ENERGY, and thereby, to effectively animate that.

Broadly, I see three major phases to the evolution of human beings, after our ancestors evolved to run on two legs, and became much more able to carry and use tools.

The first phase was the Paleolithic era, the old stone tools period, that lasted millions of years. That was the long time when the energy generated inside human bodies made everything happen. We picked up rocks, and changed them for our purposes, and we began the long process of harnessing chemical energies by the use of fire.

The second phase was the Neolithic era, the time of new stone tools. The most important aspect of that was the development of agriculture. It was the time when our mastery of chemical energy in nature became expressed in metallurgy, creating the iron age of tools, and their consequences. During that time we began to change nature more than ever before, by domesticating plants, and animals, and especially by domesticating ourselves, as animals, to live inside of civilizations. That time saw the develop of social pyramid systems, which organized bigger and bigger societies on the basis of huge lies, backed by violence. That is STILL the era we are in NOW! The industrial revolution massively amplified Neolithic civiliztion, BUT, it was yet based on chemical power. Society was STILL being organized by physical writing, on paper, and the results of the history of swords, and the gunpowder rifles, and gold and silver, were still the products of advancing applications of chemical energy, through the bodies of human beings.

The third phase, that we manifestly entered after the Second World War, is what I call the Translithic era. That is going beyond stone tools!

This is the time when we did things like crack the DNA code. This is the time when writing became electronic, and able to beamed by satellites around the world. Most importantly, this is the time when chemical energy was surpassed by atomic energy!

Everything else we did before was through understanding and applying chemical energies. The chemical energies in plants, and animals, including ourselves. Those abilities all advanced prodigiously. However, NOTHING in the realm of chemical energy compares to atomic energy. Atomic energy is orders of magnitude more! Chemical energy is simply changing chemicals, from one combination into another, catalyzed by the flow of chemical energy. Atomic energy transforms the matter of the chemical elements into energy itself.

The Paleolithic and Neolithic eras were still about channelling chemical energy, through tools. The iron age, and industrial revolution, etc., were still doing that, until the development of atomic energy. Atomic energy symbolizes the transformations into a Translithic era, that is orders of magnitude DIFFERENT! There is NOTHING in human history to compare that to!

The impact of atomic energy on human civilization has been parked in surreal holding pattern, so far ...

As Aziz wrote in his article above:

Mutually assured destruction can only act as a check on expansionism if it is credible. So far, no nation has really tested this credibility.

During the last 60 or so years, the world has developed an overwhelming abundance of weapons of mass destruction, able to destroy civilization many, many times over and over again! Atomic energy is orders of magnitude greater than chemical energy. Atomic bombs make ALL of the chemically powered weapons, throughout ALL of human history before, become relatively trivial in total. All the violence done by all the weapons used during World War Two, up until the first use of atomic bombs, would be practically nothing compared to the existing atomic bombs. ... And, of course, the chemical and biological weapons have also been advanced, and we are on the edge of automated nanotechnology weapons, etc.!

Therefore, what has actually happened is that the whole of Neolithic civilization has become totally INSANE! Our social pyramid systems, based on organized lies, backed by organized violence, operating frauds and robberies, have become literally PSYCHOTIC.  They are NOT connected to reality. Most of all, they are NOT connected to the Translithic realities of atomic bombs.

Human ecology and political economy still operate in ways that are profoundly unscientific. They are the oxymoronic achievement of a "scientific dictatorship" which is profoundly unsceintific about itself, since it is based on the triumph of dishonesty, which requires hiding the truth, not communicating it! Human ecology and political economy continue to be based on the triumph of deceits, backed by destruction, that was the basis the evolution of Neolithic civilization.

The recent decades of RELATIVE peace and prosperity, which are obviously facts, depend upon the surreal ability to ignore the realities of atomic energy, and thereby to continue to organized society in similar ways, based upon established social habits and psychological attitudes, that evolved during the previous thousands of years, when atomic energy was not being harnessed.

The RELATIVE peace and prosperity were based upon being able to discover and use more chemical energy than ever before. That was especially true with respect to oil, as the leading symbol of those trends. The discover of new oil fields peaked in the 1960s. Indeed, there are many statistics to show that the best things ever got was in the 1960s. However, since the 1970s, there are many statistics to show that the FUNDAMENTAL FACTORS have been getting worse, faster. Everything that is important to Neolithic civilization is paradoxically destroying itself at an exponentially accelerating rate, since everything we are doing is based on strip-mining the whole planet, and turning natural resources into garbage and pollution as fast as possible. All of the peace and prosperity that we are used to now is based on that eroding foundation.

Oil industries symbolized everything else that enabled the human population to continue growing at an exponential rate, since it was possible to keep on finding more oil reserves, and developing them. Oil industries symbolized globalized Neolithic civilization, based on the triumph of deceits and destruction, powered by chemical energy. The vast majority of our civilization is now powered by oil, etc. ... While there are plenty of creative alternatives, NONE of them could keep endless exponential growth going forever.

Meanwhile, the militarism that backed up the money system, that organized our global human ecology and political economy, became based on the utter madness of an abundance of weapons of mass destruction to threaten each other with! The terror of that MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, system has barely managed to keep it in abeyance, so far ...

However, the days of being easily able to continue to strip mine a fresh planet Earth are drawing to a close. The ancient imperatives of evolving an ecology are therefore reappearing with a vengeance. We are at that moment in history NOW.

That is why I always talk about the imperatives for paradigm shifts in militarism, to look at the death controls and the murder system in profoundly different ways. That is why I say there are no possible "monetary reforms" that could be enough. There must be a profound monetary revolution, which is a radical transformation of the combined money/murder systems.

Of course, I am well aware of the objective problems that the overwhelming majority of human beings today act like brain dead sheep, looking backwards, being led into the future by vicious wolves, who specialize in lying, and whose plans are primarily to benefit their class, as seen according their own kinds of social habits.  I do not see any easy way forward through those real problems. But nevertheless, the THEORY is that progress in science and technology, based on profound paradigm shifts in physics and biology, imperatively MUST be applied to political science. We NEED to change the fundamental ways that we think about militarism, in order to run our murder systems, doing our death controls, in radically different ways.

The alternatives to those kinds of transformations are that Neolithic civilization commits collective suicide, through almost totally omnicidal wars. All of the peace and prosperity that the advancements in science and technology have made possible can only be saved and sustained IF we transform Neolithic civilization into Translithic civilization. We will be forced to struggle through those transformations, in one way or another, sooner or later, and time seems to be running out, so that that appears to be becoming sooner, rather than later.

If we fail to up-date our human ecology and political economy, by changing the basic paradigms of political science, and all other human sciences, to keep pace with the progress in physics and biology, etc., then the psychotic disconnection between human civilization, and its technology will result in mad self-destruction. If we fail to change our political science as much as we have changed our other sciences, then we will have only deferred the violence from the past onto future generations. At the present time, that is what we look like we were really doing. We were having a fantastic party, trashing the planet, and leaving the consequences of that to our children and children's children to have to cope with. If we fail to transform our militarism as much as other sciences have been transformed, then we have merely stored up all the violent destruction for decades, and kicked that can along into the future to explode on an astronomically amplified scale. The ONLY way to keep the peace and prosperity that science made possible is to change the oldest and best developed of social sciences, namely warfare, as much as the other sciences were changed.

Given that the real Neolithic civilization that exists today operates a system whereby about 99% of the people always act like political idiots, being controlled by about 1% of the people who specialize in being dishonest and destructive, I do not see any practical and realistic ways in the foreseeable future to succeed at transforming ourselves into the Translithic era, that adapts to the realities and meanings of things like atomic energy. However, at the same time, I see no way that we can prevent or stop that imperative transformation from being forced to happen ...

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 04:27 | 2869986 Monk
Monk's picture

A larger perspective shows that the number of casualties due to war in numbers and per capita was higher during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries than in previous ones.


Tue, 10/09/2012 - 07:35 | 2870041 falak pema
falak pema's picture

Having worked in corporate world in the 70s and 80s, I can vouch to the fact that ALL multinational leaders of the big US corporates saw themselves doing God's work of bringing peace to the world; especially third world, by their Transnational activites based on commerce; even the Arms merchants as the Oil majors sang peace in our times! It was their Zeitgeist to show they were not doomers n gloomers in Watergate-Iranista downside. 

Disguising their rip off of third world RM riches as acts of UNIFYING progress to make the world a better place like in a Michael Jackson song! Imagine.... was a very fashionable corporate theme; that relegated dirty neo-colonial wars to the back scene like refuse in the kitchen sink. 

In fact it was all a scam and the creation of surrogate corrupt oligarchies in these countries, the very opposite to democracy, accountability and progress! 

Kissinger's detente and Trilateralism to make a unifed world, like a modern Castlereigh-Metternich, was the mantra that accompanied this corporate rip-off; as in Chile. The bogey man was the other "red" team, and the strategy was to defeat them through soft diplomacy and hard hands-on negotaition. As the US corporates had the cutting edge of industrial civilization.

And it worked, until it morphed to NWO hubris and financialisation make-belief; now the cat is out of the bag. 

The world is once against a fragile place, even for the first world scions of uber-civilization.

Castlereigh-Metternich gave the European world a peaceful order in 1814-1815, (the fighting was in the colonies, excluding franco-german stand off in Alsace/Lorraine), until 1914! 

The wheel of society keeps spinning in all too familiar fashion. 

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 07:07 | 2870115 Element
Element's picture

The Cold War was the most the most dangerous period in all of human history ... somehow that graph does not capture this fact.

We are even more likely to have a nuclear exchange in the current environment, and going forwards from here.

The bottom line is; we're still here due to pure luck alone.

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 07:36 | 2870172 toomanyfakecons...
toomanyfakeconservatives's picture

Yeah battle deaths are down because MODERN WARS ARE WON BY BOMBING CIVILIANS! From Dresden to Hiroshima to Vietnam to present day conclicts and drone warfare, it's not about opposing armies meeting on the battlefield, it's all about bombing and starving your enemies civilian population.

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 12:15 | 2871402 expatincentam
expatincentam's picture

"Drone warfare" (the ultimate weapon in collateral damage limitation and precise targeting) equates to "bombing and starving your enemies (sic) civilian population" a la Dresden and Hiroshima!  LOL (times infinity)!  Often the Zero Hedge comment threads on foreign policy issues contain some real comedy gold.

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