January 27, 2021 at 10:25 pm #213168
Hi, I don’t know if this is the correct sub-forum to post this but could somebody suggest a reading list of publications by anthropologists and others dealing with the subject of ‘Human Nature vis-à-vis Human Behaviour’?
H xJanuary 27, 2021 at 11:26 pm #213169
What aspect of the human nature argument interests you? There are several sub-arguments and it is worth focussing one them one at a time
The Lazy person argument
The Greedy Person argument
The Violent person argument
I could list anthropologists and others who have made contributions under these headings. On violence and war, for example, Brian Ferguson of Rutgers University would be an excellent person to start with. He is reputedly the world’s leading authority on prehistoric violence and a stern critic of the likes of Stephen Pinker
You need to access a full list of his writings but here is just a random piece by him with an interesting list of links if you scroll down to the bottomJanuary 28, 2021 at 1:46 am #213174alanjjohnstoneParticipant
A summary of Ferguson’s views on our blog
Tha basic classic is Kropotkin’s ‘Mutual Aid’
Another foundation read is Ashley Montague
And V. Gordon Childe
But use the search facilities of the Socialist Standard and our blog and many many articles and book reviews will crop up.January 28, 2021 at 3:46 pm #213196
I was looking for a way of answering this comment I came across on a social media platform.
The greed and jealousy of man. As I said a perfect system will never work when you involved inperfect people. Do I agree it’s a beautiful idea. But it will never work, Due is human nature. (sic)
H xJanuary 28, 2021 at 4:37 pm #213199
One of the things I find very strange about (some) of our critics of socialism is that they should feel it necessary to impute “perfection” to human beings in order for socialism to work. Behind this is the (unquestioned) assumption that human beings need to be 100% altruistic in order for socialism to work. That is to say, it should entail the complete negation of any kind of self-interested motive.
Its complete nonsense of course. Every conceivable kind of society is predicated on a mixture of both altruistic and egoistic motives – including both capitalism and socialism, Socialism does not require people to be “perfect” in the above sense. On the contrary it is very much in the self-interest of workers as a class and individually to establish socialism. If anything is indicative of excessive altruism it is the willingness of said workers to allow themselves to be exploited and abused by a tiny parasite class under our present system of capitalism. Talk about masochism…
Concerning the comment you posted perhaps you might ask the author how it is that for well over 95% of our time on this planet our species lived under a social arrangement completely at variance with the kind of society we live under today: “immediate return”, food sharing, communistic, hunter-gatherer bands (not to be confused with “tribes”). If anything defines human nature it is our Paleolithic and Mesolithic past – since our genetic make up has not changed significantly since then – not the kind of society we live under today. However, having said that, personally I think the only thing one can confidently say about human nature is that we are 1) social animals and 2) highly adaptable. Anything else tends to veer towards speculation
As for greed and jealousy bringing about the collapse of socialism how exactly is this supposed to work in a society in which goods and services are freely accessible to everyone without any quid pro quo exchange? If you want to gain the respect and esteem of your fellows in a socialist society the only course of action available to you is what you contribute to society, not what you take out of it. That’s no bad thing either.
The problem with so many critics of socialism is that they don’t really understand what it is they purport to be criticising and I think this is true of the person you quote….January 28, 2021 at 5:56 pm #213205
Excellent, Robbo, thanks. Provided you have no objection I will use at least some of your text in my reply to the critic.
H xJanuary 28, 2021 at 10:20 pm #213210
Hannah, By all means, feel free to use what I’ve written. Better still invite the person you are debating with to join this forum so we can deal with the arguments directly…January 28, 2021 at 11:01 pm #213212ALBKeymaster
There is also our pamphlet Are We Prisoners of Our Genes?;January 30, 2021 at 8:54 pm #213287
This might be of interest. Genetically modified human beingsFebruary 1, 2021 at 5:58 pm #213337
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