The Decline of War
Angus Hervey

I know you’re likely to get jumped on for this, perhaps in the way that John Gray jumped on Steven Pinker’s “Better Angels of Our Nature” book. But facts are always facts, and it seems to me you are absolutely and totally right in that (a) we still have a long way to go, and could easily be saying that in another 200 years time, but (b) the progress of humanity has been real and measurable, and the overall level of civilisation is “getting better”, because of the combination of spreading democracy, a free press, free comment on the internet, accountable institutions, etc. I know it will be easy for people to say “But what about…” a thousand things wrong or awful in the current world, but how many of them would compare, say, the Europe of 45 years ago — with fascist dictatorships running Portugal and Greece, and with the totalitarian dominance of the USSR over the east — with the Europe of today, despite all its problems, with widespread democracy and human rights and legislation to protect consumers and the environment? People have short memories and like to have their face up against today’s problems. It’s a bit like worrying about going to the dentist and never thinking about what it was like for your ancestors to have a tooth problem 100, 200, 300 years ago…

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