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Old June 4 2012, 07:37 PM   #53
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Re: The Dominion War brought out the worst in Starfleet

naverhtrad wrote: View Post
Edit_XYZ wrote:
I DID analyze history in absolute numbers - which do matter.
Agreed there.

Edit_XYZ wrote:
And then I analyzed it in percentage to the total population - which is also highly relevant in establishing the savagery of an era (the chance of being killed by war/etc of a random person; how much humans were willing to kill each other until they said 'That's enough'; etc)
Not so much there. Proportion of the total world's population doesn't matter except on the most obtuse and abstract level. (There's a reason why Pinker's Whiggish hypothesis is characterised by wiser minds as a comfort blanket for the smug, after all.) T'Girl already did a better job than I could have at pointing out the absurdities.
You'll have to come with something better regarding Pinker's book than non-sequiturs with a hint of ad personam.

T'Girl - she confused the percentages I presented with absolute numbers; the only thing she pointed out is her misunderstanding.

About the proportion of the dead relative to the entire population: as said, it is quite important; I already outlined several of the reasons:
The proportion of the entire population that takes part/is affected by war/etc (the number of deaths is a pretty reliably indicator of this, even if it does not give exact numbers), the chance a given person has of dying due to it, how far the death count usually went until war/etc stopped, etc.

I would suggest to you, then, that you are therefore leaving out a critical element of the analysis. As an ethnic Jew whose great-grandparents were lucky enough to have left Europe before the Shoah, I don't think the Germans were any less 'savage' or 'sociopathic' toward my people than, say, the Hutus were to the Tutsis in Rwanda, even though one extermination was with bullets and cyanide and the other extermination was with machetes and clubs. Indeed, I would say they were more so - the machinery of war makes the horror less real to a human being caught up in perpetrating it. That was the point of 'A Taste of Armageddon'. Why do people not react with the same revulsion to drone strikes that wipe out entire innocent families as they would to, say, the massacre at My Lai? Why are people willing to accept an endless 'War on Terror' waged with such tactics when they would not accept that in Vietnam?
As already said, this element of the analysis is less important than absolute numbers or proportion of the population - when comparing how peaceful/not peaceful were the eras.

On one part of the equation are the victims, on the other, the perpetrators (enemy soldiers, killers, etc). Both are important.

Your perspective is the victim's; for her, there's no difference regardless of the method used for killing.

For the characterization of the perpetrator, on the other hand, there is a very large difference:
"Why do people not react with the same revulsion to drone strikes that wipe out entire innocent families as they would to, say, the massacre at My Lai?"
Because it's a LOT easier for a normal human psyche to accept death when it's just abstract numbers - when it's more abstract, less hands-on, in general - than to kill someone in gory detail. As said, the latter indicates a larger level of sociopathy then the former - as per psychology, that is.
Considering you personal history, your distaste for this fact is understandable - but it does not change the fact.

The proportional numbers are bogus for the reasons aforementioned; they don't tell a story at all, except the one that takes place entirely in hindsight. If you're a soldier in the field or even a strategist for a nation at war, the population of the world is probably not a primary factor you're likely to have considered in determining how far to take it.
naverhtrad, we ARE telling the story in hindsight. We're comparing the past, not the future.

On the contrary. I am a statistician, which means I can tell good figures from bogus ones.
In which case you know the numbers I posted are far from bogus.
If you wish to seriously challenge them, you must come with something far more convincing - concrete, that is - than 'don't matter except on the most obtuse and abstract level'.

The raw numbers are helpful, but they don't necessarily tell the whole story.
In this case, they tell a rather large part of it.

Edit_XYZ wrote:
Why don't you take a look at how the concepts of war and peace were viewed before enlightenment philosophy took hold?: war was regarded as the normal state of affairs and peace as an anomaly.
That's simply not true either. To use one example, the Middle Ages in Europe featured some very complex thinking on the nature of war and peace, and war was hardly seen as inevitable (hence the prevalence of just war theory). War was equally distasteful to the Medieval mind as it was to ours - in the High Middle Ages an ecclesiastical movement was developed which called for the control of violence and the protection of non-combatants, which crossed over into the secular obligations of the feudal lords in what came to be called the 'King's Peace'. The Germans of that time regarded with horror and revulsion the idea that war could be pursued anywhere and at any time - it was an insult to both Church and Emperor.
Your links are acient/medieval high-minded 'theory' that was badly contradicted by practice - the practice and frequency of war in those times (including practice of war by the roman empire and war incited by the church).
Some feel-good philosophying and ineffectual measures are not the measure of how war and peace are regarded by the people.
The measure is the practice of war and how it's - inevitably - viewed by the society, the people (as an inescapable part of life). And war WAS a constant part of life during the roman empire or during the X-XIII centuries - and viewed by the people as such, as a constant 'the way things are'.

As closest as historians can tell, there were, in Europe alone, 1,148 conflicts from 900 CE to 1400 CE, and another 1,166 from 1400 CE to the present—about two new conflicts a year for eleven hundred years. The vast majority of these conflicts, including most of the major wars involving great powers, are outside the consciousness of all but the most assiduous historians.

Warring was not just prevalent in practice but accepted in theory. Michael Howard (The lessons of history) notes that among the ruling classes, “Peace was regarded as a brief interval between wars,” and war was “an almost automatic activity, part of the natural order of things.” Evan Luard (War in international society) adds that while many battles in the 15th and 16th centuries had moderately low casualty rates, “even when casualties were high, there is little evidence that they weighed heavily with rulers or military commanders. They were seen, for the most part, as the inevitable price of war, which in itself was honourable and glorious.”

BTW - the germans (much like all europeans) warred just fine (and constantly) with each other and with everyone else during history (including X-XIII centuries).

It is also simply wrong to attribute all desire for peace, even in the modern age, merely to Enlightenment thinking
I said enlightenment AND scientific progress were the ROOT (as in, initial) causes of the current peace.

Metternich was very much opposed to what he called the 'presumption' of the Enlightenment, and by extension to the liberals and nationalists of his day; he viewed them as dangerous and hubristic. Metternich was influenced not only by the counterrevolutionary end of Enlightenment thought (namely Burke) but also by counter-Enlightenment figures such as Joseph de Maistre. Yet he was also the most effective anti-war advocate of his time.
The VIII-XIX century were dominated by ~4 'large' currents: enlightenment humanism; conservatism (sharing the same methods - rationality - and ultimate goals with enlightenment); nationalism; utopian ideologies.

Edmund Burke, Joseph de Maistre - and Metternich - were conservatives - their goals and methods were similar to the enlightenment's. The difference? They believed continued monarchy was the way to progress and peace (the experience of the french revolution scaring them away from liberal democracy).
Conservatism is called sometimes counter-enlightenment - but it shared most of its content with enlightenment humanism.

Nationalism and its utopian ideologies, on the other hand - these WERE counter-enlightenments. They rejected reason itself as a legitimate path to reach valid conclusions about society, governance, etc. Rather, what 'felt' right was the way to go.
As for the results of these - communism, fascism, etc.

Edit_XYZ wrote:
Also, during the XX century, war/etc decreased globally, not just in Europe. About Europe - the longest period of peace in history was from ~1945 to the present, surpassing the two intervals from the XIX century.
I would argue that the period between 1945 and 1990 was a peaceful one for Europe. After 1990, not so much - or perhaps I am assigning Yugoslavia too much importance.

But what you had between 1945 and 1990 was a balance of power between two blocs which could counter and check each other through the threat of mutually-assured destruction, and which upheld the states in their spheres of influence through a generous aid-based foreign policy. That was a stable state, for the time. What you had after 1990 was a growing imperial hegemony which destabilised state structures where they were not already strong (hence the outbreak of violent anarchy, terrorism and VNSAs throughout the developing world after the collapse of the USSR), and which is now giving way to another balance of power - one which could take some time to create a new peace.
We're comparing the XX century with previous ones:
The Yugoslavian war was was no big deal when compared to past ones - meaning yes, you are making a common mistake, assigning it disproportionate gravity by virtue of it being recent.

The american hegemony of the past decade+ is tame and rather benevolent by comparison to past empires/hegemonies and their modus operandi (including XIX century ones). In many cases, it's debatable whether you can even name the american actions 'imperialistic'; with past empires, you never have such problems.

In general, the current - and recent - turmoil in the world is quite tame when compared to what was 'business as usual' during history.
"Let truth and falsehood grapple ... Truth is strong" - John Milton

Last edited by Edit_XYZ; June 5 2012 at 11:50 AM.
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