Augustine had it that ‘no one is free from sin, not even an infant’. Machiavelli deemed that humans are ‘ungrateful, fickle hypocrites’, and even the founding father John Adams, the paragon of American democracy, was sure that all men would be tyrants if they could. Thucydides, Luther, Calvin, Burke, Bentham, Nietzsche, Freud — all were wrong about our natures. So was William Golding, creator of Lord of the Flies, himself a child-beater* and a drunk. For a treatise on human kindness, Rutger Bregman’s new book Humankind has surprisingly many villains.
Here’s ‘a radical idea… a mind-bending drug... denied by religions and ideologies’, we’re told. Humans are not evil. Deep down, at least most of us are pretty decent.