Noah Smith: Zero-sum thinking makes our fights much nastier

Hide caption By Noah Smith / Bloomberg View

Remember “war?” That thing where countries (or kings, or religions) would gather up a bunch of people, give them weapons, and have them slaughter each other and pillage the countryside? For most of the past 3,000 years, war was a more-or-less constant feature of human life. Psychologist Steven Pinker, in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined,” chronicles the transition from a world where violence was the norm to one where it’s a startling, even shocking rarity.

That doesn’t mean war is over, as gruesome examples such as […]