The myth of declining violence: Liberal evolutionism and violent complexity

Lewis, J and Lewis, B 2018, 'The myth of declining violence: Liberal evolutionism and violent complexity', International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 225-241.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title The myth of declining violence: Liberal evolutionism and violent complexity
Author(s) Lewis, J
Lewis, B
Year 2018
Journal name International Journal of Cultural Studies
Volume number 21
Issue number 3
Start page 225
End page 241
Total pages 17
Publisher Sage
Abstract The publication of Steven Pinkers Better Angels of Our Nature popularized an emerging orthodoxy in political and social science that is, that violence and warfare have been declining over the past century, particularly since the end of the Second World War. Invoking the scientific and political neutrality of their data and evidence, Pinker and other declinists insist that powerful, liberal democratic states have subdued humans evolutionary disposition to violence. This article analyses the heuristic validity and political framework of these claims. The article examines, in particular, the declinists interpretation and use of demographic, archaeological, anthropological and historical evidence. The article argues that the declinists arguments are embedded in a utopian liberalism that has its own deep roots in the cultural volition and history of human violence. The article concludes that the declinists have either misunderstood or misrepresented the evidence in order to promote their own neoliberal political interests and ideologies.
Subject Cultural Studies not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) cultural consciousness
declining violence
violent complexity
violent liberalism
war epidemiology
DOI - identifier 10.1177/1367877916682108
Copyright notice © The Author(s) 2017
ISSN 1367-8779
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Created: Tue, 23 Oct 2018, 16:00:00 EST by Catalyst Administrator
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