[lbo-talk] Rate of violence over the long term (was Re: Why Is America So Violent?)

Mr. WD mister.wd at gmail.com
Mon May 14 20:53:53 PDT 2007

On 5/14/07, Wojtek Sokolowski <sokol at jhu.edu> wrote:
> [WS:] The above is a statistical fallacy, since crime is not randomly
> distributed. It concentrates in certain sub-cultures. Therefore, citing
> population-wide crime rates is seriously misleading. For some social groups
> - it overestimates the risk of criminal victimization, thus fueling crime
> scares that we witness in this country. For other groups - it grossly
> underestimates that risk.

That is certainly true -- and has probably been true for at least the past 90 years or so, but has this been true for, say, the past 500 years? As I said earlier, my understanding is that interpersonal violence in the West was was far, far more rampant in earlier centuries (e.g. people murdering each other over minor personal affronts, etc.) Then -- again, so I've heard -- since the advent of industrialization, the rate of interpersonal violence declined rapidly and has since remained relatively steady since the 1920s or so.

If this really is the long term trend, I think it raises two interesting questions, namely: 1) why did industrialization suddenly make life more precious? 2) why does everyone seem to think American culture is so much more violent today than it has been in the past?


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list