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Princess Navina series of books
Princess Navina series of books
Princess Navina series of books

Download the “The Trend of War in the World: Evidence from the Arab-Israeli Dispute” Data files here.

A History of Force: Exploring the worldwide movement against habits of coercion, bloodshed, and mayhem

Despite its importance, the role of force has been strangely ignored by social science. In this study—the first effort anyone has made to compile a history of force—Payne traces the role played by this factor in the evolution of civilization and in the development of modern social and political institutions.

Over a decade in preparation, this book reviews over two dozen coercion-based practices, including human sacrifice, genocide, war, terrorism, revolution, political murder, riots, homicide, imprisonment, capital punishment, torture, religious persecution, slavery, debt bondage, and taxation. Examples and data are drawn from all over the world, including ancient Rome, medieval Japan, early modern England, revolutionary Russia, as well as the past four centuries of American history. This vast body of data points to the exciting conclusion that the long run tendency in societies is for the use of force to decline.

Payne is aware that this conclusion will seem controversial, especially in view of TV-generated hysteria about violence. He spends several chapters explaining how many prejudices and distortions operate to prevent both scholars and the public from grasping the real trend toward a more peaceful world.

The decline-in-force idea proves to be an exciting tool for analyzing history and evolution of political institutions. Payne shows how the modern institutions of democracy are a product of the recent decline in force in those countries where they have taken root.

The decline-in force idea also applies to the present. The evolution against force is not over, says Payne. It continues in our own time, working to undermine institutions based on force—like government. Payne traces out how the modern distrust of government is part of the historic shift against force. Although he cautions against expecting rapid, immediate change, Payne suggests that the future does not lie with the coercion-based institutions of government. Instead, we should expect to see a gradual expansion of voluntary systems that look to motives of generosity and cooperation.

(296 pages, table, figures, notes, index)




  1. The History We Can’t Stand
  2. The History We Can’t Believe
  3. What History Is Up To
  4. The First Step away from Force: Overcoming Human Sacrifice
  5. With the Edge of the Sword: The Changing View of Genocide
  6. Conquer Thy Neighbor: New Ideas about Empire, War, and Military Forces
  7. Beyond Political Murder
  8. Whatever Happened to Revolution?
  9. From Hell to Hot Meals: The Evolution of Criminal Punishment
  10. Violence for Show: Terrorism in the Modern World
  11. The Warlord’s Religion: Islam and Global Terrorism
  12. Violence in the Streets
  13. The Decline of Slavery and Debt Bondage
  14. The Changing Face of Taxation
  15. Freedom of Belief and Expression
  16. Government in the Age of Disrespect
  17. Swimming in History’s Tide: Lessons for Voluntarists


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