Rutger Bregman: There is Hope for the Human Race (2020 Event)

‘Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.’ So said Abraham Lincoln in one of his rousing speeches, but it is a sentiment that could come straight out of the playbook of popular Dutch historian Rutger Bregman.

Bregman's compelling ‘hopeful history,’ Humankind, is a bracingly optimistic account of human nature. Essentially, in his view, the vast majority of people are pretty decent. He contrasts this idea with biologist Frans de Waal’s ‘veneer theory’ which posits that beneath a thin skin of human decency, there’s a savage waiting to burst forth.

Superbly readable and full of fascinating evidence, Bregman’s book also looks at how his optimistic analysis of human nature could play out in policy terms. Hyper-local participatory democracy? Schools with little or no curriculum? A change to the tough treatment of people serving time in prisons? In this event recorded live at the 2020 Book Festival,  Bregman shares his invigorating thesis with Lee Randall.

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