Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Violence and Freedom

A comparison of countries based on violence and political freedom throws into question the assumption that increasing violence is associated with increasing stress (resistance to movement toward personal objectives).

Based on assault statistics the U.S. ranks sixth in violence: sandwiched between Zimbabwe (more assaults than us) and New Zealand, and within a percent of both. If the assault rate is proportional to stress (and lack of freedom) then, curiously, the U.S. is less “free” than many of the former Soviet republics and Saudi Arabia. The highest ranking country for assault is South Africa, with 160 percent of the U.S. value.

A comparison of characteristics we normally associate with “freedom” (civil liberties, amount of democracy, and freedom of the press) for a handful of countries spread over the violence spectrum seems to verify the suspicion that there may be an INVERSE relationship between violence and freedom. As freedom increases, so does violence. This correlation makes some sense: as you release the controls on people, they can do more, including hurting other people.

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