“If a hundred years ago you dared to say that you would strive to end poverty!” Yes, people would laugh at you! But today, as we see, the UN puts this task, among other noble goals, in front of humanity ”. These words belong to the famous psychologist, a professor at Harvard University, Steven Pinker. He opened a series of lectures organized by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Pinker is the author of several best-selling books, as well as many scientific and popular articles. His name is included in the list of the hundred most influential intellectuals in the world. In his recent writings and public speaking, the professor consistently upholds the idea that things are not as bad in the world as journalists tell us. He even called his book "The New Age of Enlightenment: arguments in defense of common sense, science, humanism and progress." Professor Pinker called his lecture with which he gave a speech at the UN, "If you want to know if the situation in the world is improving or worsening, study statistics."
Mankind has really achieved success in reducing the level of violence, the number of wars, as well as in the fight against illiteracy, disease and hunger
According to Ingi King, ECOSOC President, Stephen Pinker’s research is of value to the UN, and its theme resonates with the activities of the world organization.
“Humanity has indeed achieved success in reducing the level of violence, the number of wars, and in the fight against illiteracy, disease and hunger,” said Professor Pinker after a lecture in an interview with Matt Wells of the UN News Service. “But it’s very difficult to understand if you get information from the press.”
The psychologist from Harvard admits that bloody conflicts continue in a number of countries, but he calls to pay attention to those “hot spots” of the planet where war has been going on for decades and that peace reigns today. “There can be 5 or 50 wars in the world at the same time, but you won’t understand it through the newspapers; in any case, journalists will talk about crises and violence,” he says. - They simply don’t write about peaceful situations, because it seems boring to them. Only by studying the statistics: how many people die, how many wars go around the world, and so on, can you be sure of what progress mankind has made. ”
In his interview, he recalled the civil wars of the past - in Uganda, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Peru. “As soon as the confrontation ends, they stop talking about him,” Pinker notes. “Before concluding that our international institutions are not able to stop or prevent wars, think about the fact that there have been more wars in the past.” He also cited the example of Western Europe. “Until 1945 and for 600 years, only Western European countries fought each other on average twice a year,” he said. - Today, they do not consider this possibility at all. It's so obvious that it’s boring for journalists to talk about it. ”
Until 1945 and for 600 years, only Western European countries fought on average twice a year.
The lecturer acknowledged that civil wars had increased, especially in countries that had recently gained independence. But, he said, civil wars are generally less bloody than armed clashes between states.
The professor believes that progress at the global level was achieved largely due to the creation of the United Nations, which introduced international standards and became an alternative to war in solving controversial problems between states.
“Today, a country can no longer declare war if, from its point of view, the situation requires military intervention, and to expect the international community to support or accept its conquests,” Pinker insists. - This is a big change in the history of mankind - before the war was a logical continuation of the policy of any state. That has changed thanks to the UN. Since the founding of the UN, no member country of this organization has disappeared from the world map. ” "I grew up in an environment where everyone was talking about the inevitability of a third world war, a war between the USSR and the USA, a nuclear war that would be even more deadly than the previous two world wars - but, as you see, this did not happen," the professor said .
Nationalists and populists generally oppose global organizations that call for peace instead of war.
He warned of the threat that populists and nationalists pose to these achievements, especially when they come to power in an influential country. “Nationalists and populists tend to oppose global organizations that call for peace instead of war, and also solve global problems related to terrorism, pandemics, cyber espionage,” says the professor. According to him, “charismatic authoritarian leaders who promote their own agenda also pose a threat to the well-being of an ordinary member of society,” since they undermine the foundations of democracy.
Commenting on the work of Professor Steven Pinker, the President of the General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, called them “research in support of multilateralism”. “To achieve even greater results, including in the framework of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, this is exactly what we need: arguments in defense of common sense, science, humanism and progress,” she stressed.