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Survival Of The Kindest: Can Our Better Nature Help Us Build A Better World?

Rutger Bregman speaks at TED2017, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Bret Hartman/Courtesy of TED via Flickr)
Rutger Bregman speaks at TED2017, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Bret Hartman/Courtesy of TED via Flickr)

We discuss the lessons of the classic novel “Lord of the Flies.” Should humans be living by the notion of survival of the fittest — or survival of the kindest?


Rutger Bregman, historian. Author of “Utopia for Realists” and “Human Kind: A Hopeful History.” (@rcbregman)

Jack Beatty, On Point News Analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)

From The Reading List

Excerpt from “Human Kind: A Hopeful History” by Rutger Bregman

Copyright © 2020 Rutger Bregman. Reprinted with permission from the author.

The Guardian: “Rutger Bregman: the Dutch historian who rocked Davos and unearthed the real Lord of the Flies” — “The historian offers a hopeful view of human nature in his latest book, Humankind. It couldn’t have come at a better time.”

The Economist: “Are humans innately good? Rutger Bregman thinks so” — “As the son of a Dutch Protestant cleric, Rutger Bregman was brought up in a religious tradition that regards mankind as incorrigibly prone to wickedness, yet called by the Creator to veer towards goodness, a transformation that the faith promises to abet.”

TIME: ‘Acts of Kindness Are Really Contagious.’ Historian Rutger Bregman Argues for a New Way of Thinking About Humanity” — “The world found out about Rutger Bregman in 2019 when, on a panel organized by TIME at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Dutch historian lambasted businesspeople in the audience for trying to fix the world economy without talking about taxation. ‘It feels like I’m at a firefighters’ conference and no one is allowed to speak about water,’ he said.”

The Intercept: Can we build a politics of hope?” — “Deep down, are humans really selfish, brutal, and cruel? For much of the last century, the most famous experiments in social science, from Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram’s electric shock study to the 1971 Stanford prison experiment, have purported to prove that we all have a monster lurking just behind a carefully crafted social veneer.”

The Independent: “Are we really built for prejudice and violence? The new book challenging the preconceptions of human behaviour” — “Books are a long time in the making: seven years, to be precise, in the case of Dutch historian Rutger Bregman’s fascinating new doorstop, ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History.'”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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