Prescient pacifists

The Enlightenment has bequeathed us—Americans more than anyone else—the conviction that history is a story of progress. Such a notion seems ludicrous when one considers the violence of the contemporary world. As the British historian Eric Hobsbawm observes in his brilliant work The Age of Extremes, the 20th century “was without doubt the most murderous century of which we have record, both by the scale, frequency and length of the warfare which filled it . . . but also by the unparalleled scale of the human catastrophes it produced, from the greatest famines in history to systematic genocides.”

 

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