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50 Years Ago Human Nature

Of all the bugs that have ever bitten the working class, the Human Nature one is perhaps the most persistent as well as the most illogical. There is certainly no socialist who has not heard repeatedly the statement that Human Nature is against Socialism, or that the people of this country would not stand for socialism.

Of course the words they choose to clothe their arguments are just as incorrect as the objection itself. it is Human Nature to eat when you are hungry, to drink when you are thirsty, and to sleep when you are tired. These things are part of the inherent nature of human beings as indeed of all biological organisms. Nothing can alter this and nobody wants to change it – least of all socialists. What is meant by Human Nature, as used by those who trot it out as an objection, is not human nature at all, but human behaviour. Now human behaviour is quite another thing and its roots are to be found principally in one's environment and the economic conditions which influences one's physiological make-up.

Man behaves in the way he does, very largely, although not completely, because of the conditioning he receives from his environment, since he is a social animal and lives in a community.

(From an article by H. Jarvis, Socialist Standard, December 1951)