It has long been argued that war and violence are declining, and there has been a recent revival of such optimism in the work of Azar Gat, John Mueller, Joshua Goldstein, and Steven Pinker. They perceive a long-term decline in war and violence, speeding up in the post-1945 period. Critiquing Pinker’s statistics on war fatalities, I show that the overall pattern is not decline, but substantial variation between periods and places; whole current trends are slightly in the opposite direction. The conventional view is that civil wars in the global South have replaced interstate wars in the North, but this ignores the involvement by Northern powers in most Southern civil wars. Homicide has declined in the long-term, though not everywhere, while war by the North has shifted from being »ferocious« to »callous«. This renders war less visible and less central to Northern culture, which gives the false impression of pacifism. Globally, war and violence are not declining, but being tranformed.
Prof. Michael Mann, Soziologe; Distinguished Research Professor an der University of California Los Angeles
Begrüßung: Prof. Dr. Jan Philipp Reemtsma
Laudatio: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Knöbl