Thoughts on violence in France? How do you think the VDR could be lowered? Feel free to comment below.
Lifetime Chance Of Dying By Someone Else’s Hands (2008 rate): 1/650
Lifetime Chance Of Dying By Someone Else’s Hands (Duration of Life Expectancy): 1/54
Average Military Death Rate over Nation’s History: 42.7
Average Homicide/Execution Rate over Nation’s History: 4.7
Category Of VDR– # of Years-% of Nation’s History-Year of Last Occurrence
OBLITERATION– 8 (3.7%) 1940
DECIMATION– 6 (2.8%) 1944
EXTREME UPHEAVAL– 5 (2.3%) 1945
EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF– 10 (4.6%) 1953
WATCH YOUR BACK– 6 (2.8%) 1952
HARSH LIVING– 4 (1.9%) 1954
SOMEWHAT STABLE– 5 (2.3%) 1962
SOME CONCERN– 3 (1.5%) 1871
LOW LIKELIHOOD– 96 (44.4%) 1960
PEACEFUL– 64 (29.6%) 2005
UTOPIA– 9 (4.2%) 2007
Ok, so this isn’t really a complete look at the entire French violent death history, just the post-Revolution era for now. France has had death counts in the Decimation or higher range at 5 different period in this relatively short span of time… very brutal. Three times the carnage was brought to them (Franco-Prussian War, World Wars 1 & 2), and twice they were the primary instigators of the conflict (Revolutionary War, Napoleonic Wars).
Like most of Europe, France’s violent death history is dominated by warfare, as we see in the next chart separating the two major categories.
The view is zoomed in so as to not be dominated by the Napoleonic and World Wars. What a mess the first 25 years after the French Revolution were huh? It’s the only time in which we see a noticeable spike in Domestic Manslaughters, thanks to the Reign Of Terror and the estimated 40,000 executions that it entailed. If nothing else, at least Napoleon Bonaparte taught the French people to focus in on killing other people… not each other. Napoleon’s disastrous foray into Russia beginning in 1812 was the beginning of the end for the French Empire, and after Waterloo, France was able to enjoy a solid 40 years of peace.
Even after World War 2, when the popular opinion is that the European powers had settled into an extended period of licking their wounds… France managed to engage in two extremely nasty wars in Vietnam and Algeria, as well as lesser conflicts. Why was the French version of de-colonization so much more violent than Britain’s? I have no idea. Even though people tend to be somewhat divided on Charles de Gaulle, and the role he played in history, one thing you have to give him credit for was taking a France which was fundamentally broken… and at least fixing it enough to make it the modern and stable France which we think of today.
Bitter enemies turn to begrudging allies. The cultural, social, and military dynamic between Britain and France is one the most famous and fractured in all of history. Part of the dynamic is dictated by the demographic trend of the past two centuries. France had always been the much larger population base, and as such, could basically hip check the UK on most matters, just by sheer weight of numbers. However, France has a quirky history of mediocre population growth in the 19th century… a century in which other European players rocketed in population. Many of France’s military defeats of the past 140 years can be explained by their having enjoyed a population advantage for centuries, and then rather suddenly (at least in demographic trend-speak) having the tables turned on them… and worse, by one of the most famously militaristic nations in all of human history (I’m referring to Germany of course). This is one of the most awkward aspects of the French-British partnership of the past century; that Britain, with a hyper organized, militaristic tone, and shared monarchy, made it a far more natural ally for Germany. But for Germany’s aggression, and overall threat due to her sheer size, Britain probably never would have partnered up with France, which they have often seen as ineffective and lacking focus.
All this has changed in the post war world though. In the 1950’s France went on a baby boom which is unprecedented in her history, and has now roughly over taken the UK once more as the more populated of the two nation states. France’s growth is not as reliant on immigration as Britain’s, with a birth rate above replacement level that makes it unique for a European country. Whether that will continue, and what the means to French-British relations remains to be seen.