What is human nature?
We’re often told that socialism is impossible because human beings are naturally violent, selfish, lazy and uncooperative.
If that were true, it would mean that we’re all built to stop in bed all day. But then we’d get hungry. We’d have to go out and beat someone until they gave us food, something to wear and so on. No other way to get stuff because we’re lazy. At some later date, we go out again and batter someone else until they agree to make us a new bed because we’ve worn out the old one.
Except we’re ALL lazy so there’d be nobody to do the work needed to provide the food and the bed and other necessities.
OK, it’s a daft example, but no dafter than claiming that ‘human nature’ condemns us to living under the ‘selfish’ rule of capitalism forever.
Does it exist at all?
Truth is, whenever anyone mentions human nature, they usually end up talking about behaviour, and behaviour seen through a very distorted lens of media sensationalism.
We’re not naïve, we know people can be horrible. But when circumstances allow or require – and this is the case most of the time – we act reasonably towards others and help them in all sorts of ways, even putting ourselves at risk sometimes. That’s what we do because we are social beings. And this happens despite our growing up in a society that promotes dog-eat-dog competition and so-called individualism.
Increasingly, science is showing us that we as a species could never have been as successful as we are without cooperation – the truth of survival of the friendliest is fast taking over from the myth of survival of the fittest.
Capitalism is man-made – it’s up to us now to unmake it
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