The (Endless?) Cycle of (American) Violence

by Eubie on August 4, 2012

This story about the coming Apocalypse of American Violence around 2020 draws its inspiration from really Big Picture stuff about the shoehorning of data to fit a kooky theory that humanity has gone, goes, and will go through regular cycles of war and violence as surely as the spring follows the winter, and the winter, the fall. The theory owes a debt to Russian economist Nick Kondratiev, who posited long cycles of economic expansion and decline and expansion, which later was scooped up by such heavy-weight thinkers on global political economy as Immanuel Wallerstein, who argued that those long economic cycles (50 to 60 years) correlate with war and global violence. If true, we’d expect economic dislocations to reach some kind of tipping point at the end of this decade, leading to a noticeable (read, ‘measurable’) increase in the variables chosen to represent the composite variable of ‘violence’ (V). There’s a lot of problems with this whole area of research, starting with how to define variables. What is ‘violence’? What is an accurate representation of it? Murder statistics? War deaths? Drunk driving accidents? How are these variables measured? In other words, what constitutes a ‘war death’? Killed by ‘friendly fire’? Disease? Who says?

We hope that violence, however it is defined, continues to decline … and we will remind that there is some evidence that the world is a better place–especially since the end of the Cold War–however you choose to define it.

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