Arguable Precedence for the World Wars of the Twentieth Century


Author: Radu Silaghi-Dumitrescu
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 17, Number 2 / September 2018

DOI: https://doi.org//10.30884/seh/2018.02.06

With the largest number of casualties in human history, unprecedented planetary scale and documented cruelty, the two World Wars have marked the twentieth century as a time for extreme violence. Nevertheless, the casualties documented for wars across the past ~2000 years equate to percentages of population in no way larger in the twentieth century. Arguably, the perception of the twentieth century as one of unprecedented violence is, beyond the obvious reality of the total number of victims, driven by an increased public awareness as a consequence of increased efficiency of information circulation. These observations are paralleled by others on human violence, but also on life expectancy, wealth, and technological advances such as those related to the efficiency of information trafficking – with typography proposed as an illustrative factor. Even so, with the exponential increase in population, any future world war (for, notably, no such conflict is precluded by the statistical trends discussed here, since the 2000-year trend has been relatively constant, slightly decreasing in recent years, but in no way reaching zero) would still be expected to entail death tolls larger than World War II.