(2020) by Rutger Bregman



anton chekhov: ‘man will become better when you show him what he is like’

or rather.. when you set him free to listen.. create condition where we know what enough is


on hitler.. and the mental devastation then? what about the millions of traumatized victims the experts had warned about? nowhere to be found.. to be sure there was sadness and fury;.. terrible grief at the loved ones lost.. but the psych wards remained empty.. public mental health imp;roved.. alcoholism tailed off.. fewer suicides than in peacetime.. after the war ended, many british would yearn for the days of the blitz, when everybody helped each other out and no one cared about your politics or whether you were rich or poor..

crisis brought out best in people.. universally human

1 – a new realism


this book is about a radical idea.. an idea denied by religions.. ignored by media.. yet legitimized by virtually every branch of science.. if had courage to take it more seriously, might just start a revolution.. because once you grasp what it really means.. nothing less than a mind bending drug that ensures you’ll never look at world same

idea: most people deep down are pretty decent.. t

david on science of people: ‘We need to free you of this so you can be yourself’

has to be all of us.. judge\ment (other-ing) is keeping us from us

and beyond decent (conforming w/standards)… rather good/enough.. otherwise spinning our wheels

across the board [to get to the roots of healing.. it has to be all of us]

unconditional or it won’t work

it’s when crisis hits.. when the bombs fall or the floodwaters rise – that we humans become our best selves

or rather.. that we’re jolted.. for a moment.. out of  sea world.. out of the supposed to’s.. of school/work

it’s already in us.. we just need a means to set/keep us free

right after katrina.. media filled w terrifying reports, rapes, shootings, et al.. chief of police reports ‘remove stapes of org’d civilized life: food, shelter, water.. and we go back w/in hours to a hobbesian state of nature.. a few become temp angels.. most revert to being apes’..  then months later.. truth unvailed.. ie: gun shots were valve on gas tank.. people who died were natural causes.. police chief conceded couldn’t point to single rape/murder.. people like self styled robin hood looters.. in short.. new orleans not overrun w self interest and anarchy.. rather.. inundated w courage and charity..

disaster research center at uni of deleware.. 700 field studies since 1963: there’s never total mayhem.. never every man for himself.. usually crime, murder drops.. people don’t go into shock.. they stay calm and spring into action..

catastrophes bring out best in people.. i know of no other sociological finding that’s backed by so much solid evidence that’s so blithely ignored..

the new orleans disaster was an extreme case.. but dynamic during disasters is almost always same: adversity strikes and there’s a wave of spontaneous cooperation in response, then the authorities panic and unleash a second disaster.. (sending in troops ‘that know how to shoot and kill’ et al)

‘my own impression’ writes rebecca solnit in paradise built in hell.. gives a masterful account of katirna’s aftermath.. ‘is that elite panic comes from powerful people who see all humanity in their own image’.. dictators and despots, governors and general – they all too often resort to brute force to prevent scenarios that exist only in their own heads, on the assumption that the average joe is rules by self interest, just like them

david on science of people


on placebos (even fake surgery’s and 3/4 people feel better) and nocebos (convincing people they’re ill) being very powerful.. if you believe something enough.. it can become real.. ideas are never merely ideas.. we find what we are looking for.. what we predict comes to pass

gray research law

whales in sea world

our grim view of humanity.. is also a nocebo.. if we believe people can’t be trusted.. that’s how we’ll treat each other.. to everyone’s detriment..t




and exactly what we’re doing with comments/thinking like this (from above – beginning of ch 1):

idea: most people deep down are pretty decent

can’t be most people.. has to be all people.. unconditionally all people..


begs a means to jolt us back into trust (aka: unconditional ness) and out of our hierarchical listening.. our perpetual/perpetuating tragedy of the non common ness

let go of the inspectors of inspectors ness..

let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence.. w/ubi as temp placebo.. needs met w/o money..people forget about measuring

if we want to tackle the greatest challenges of our times – from the climate crisis to our growing distrust of one another – then i think the place we need to start is our view of human nature..

human nature.. ness

to be clear: this book i snot a sermon on the fundamental goodness of people.. obviously, we’re not angels.. we’re complex creatures, aw a good side and a not so good side.. the question is which side we turn to

we do have choice.. otherwise we’d be robots/machines.. and we’re not that.. (well we are today.. ie: whales in sea world.. but) .. what we need are the conditions to get us back/to us.. back/to us listening to the deepest part of our heart.. where the goodness is – almaas holes law.. garden enough ness.. holmgren indigenous law.. et al

my argument is simply this: that we – by nature, as children, on an uninhabited island, when war breaks out, when crisis hits – have a powerful preference for out good side.. i will present the considerable scientific evidence showing just how realistic a more positive view of human nature is.. at the same time.. i ‘m convinced it could be more of a reality if we’d start to believe it

in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people

story of old man to grandson: ‘there’s a fight going on inside me.. between two wolves.. one evil.. other good.. they are also fighting w/in you and every other person’.. boy asks ‘which wolf will win’.. old man: ‘the one you feed’


in nearly every country most people think most other people can’t be trusted (when zoom out to all people).. when our instinct is to trust those in our immediate communities, why does our attitude change when applied to people as a whole..? why do so many laws/regulations/co’s/institutions start w the assumption that people can’t be trusted?

um.. because if we did trust each other.. those would all be irrelevant

what made us start believing in the wicked nature of our kind

that drug (causing misperception.. risk.. hostility) is the news..

i was raised to believe that the news is good for your development.. that as an engaged citizen.. it’s your duty to read paper.. watch evening new.. .. better informed.. healthier our democracy..

the deeper cancer is thinking we need to be an informed citizenry

intellect ness et al

on people thinking things are getting worse.. the reality is exactly the opposite.. over last several decades, extreme poverty, victims of war, child mortality, crime, famine, child labour, deaths in natural disasters and number of plane crashes have all plummeted.. we’re living in the riches, safest, healthiest era ever

wtf? smelling pinker here

you’ll never see a headline reading number of people living in extreme poverty down by 137 000 since yesterday, even though ti could accurately have been reported every day over the last 25 yrs.. will never see broadcast go live ‘i’m standing here in middle of nowhere, where today there’s still no sign of war’.. researchers find..when immigration  or violence declines, newspapers give them more coverage..


on negativity bias .. from hunter gatherer days when better off being frightened

taleb: ‘we are not rational enough to be exposed to the press’.. because we can’t balance out their bombardments/extremes

this modern media frenzy is nothing less than an assault on the mundane.. because lives of most people are pretty predictable

only because we’re currently all like whales in sea world.. legit free humans wouldn’t be predictable..

while we’d prefer having nice neighbours w boring lives.. ‘boring’ won’t make you sit up and take notice.. ‘nice’ doesn’t sell ads.. so silicon valley keeps dishing us up ever ore sensational clickbait.. ‘news is to the mind what sugar is to the body’

yeah.. i don’t think we would prefer boring/nice neighbors if we were legit free.. we just do now because we’re all locked up in sea world

and that thinking (that we want boring/niceness) is a big part of the cancer.. the supposed to‘s.. that are killing us

smiles ness et al

a few yrs ago i resolved to make a change.. no more news.. rather.. good book (history, science, econ) .. but they are also about the exceptional

after publishing his finding.. joseph henrich continued his quest for the mythical being around which so many economists had spun their theories.. ‘homo economicus (intent on personal gain, calculating robots).. could only find one actual ie.. in chimpanzee behaviour

robert frank 1990s.. found in study.. the longer his students studied econ. the more selfish they’d become.. ‘we become what we teach’

the doctrine that humans are innately selfish has a hallowed tradition in the western canon.. early greeks.. early days of christianity.. ‘original sin’ augustine.. even the enlightenment.. which placed reason over faith.. is rooted in a grim view of human nature..  best we can do is apply a thin gloss of piety/reason.. darwin et al

emma goldman: ‘the greater the mental charlatan, the more definite his insistence on the wickedness and weaknesses of human nature’

why thinking we need to train people.. et al .. is a huge red flag we’re doing it wrong.. that’s saying.. they’re not enough


three warnings – to stand up for human goodness is: 1\ to stand up against hydra monster.. that grows back 2 head for every 1  2\ to take stands against powers that be.. who lose their jobs if we’re good  3\ to have to weather a storm of ridicule.. called naive, obtuse, ..

2 – the real lord of the flies

real lord of flies


the story never happened.. golding’s book sold tens of millions.. he even won a nobel prize for it.. ‘his work ‘illuminates the human condition in the world of today’ wrote the swedish nobel committee


golding.. was an unhappy individual.. alcoholic.. prone to depression.. a man who, as a teacher, once divided his pupils into gangs and encourage them to attack one another.. ‘i have always understood the nazis because i am of that sort by nature..’ golding confessed..  and it was ‘partly out of that sad self knowledge’ that he wrote lord of the flies

lord of flies

i began to wonder.. had anyone ever studied what real children would do if they found themselves alone on a deserted island.. all ie’s concerned kids at home, school, or summer camp.. but not all alone

then found story of the 6 boys set out from tonga on fishing trip in 1977 (turned out to be 1966).. what do they do? they made a pact never to quarrel..

we have no idea – whales in sea world ness

the story came from colin ward’s child in the country..


in the oct 6 1966 edition of australian newspaper the age, a headline: sunday showing for tongan castaways.. about the six boys found 3 weeks earlier..  rescued by a sea captain after being marooned on the island of ‘ata for more than a year..’..

then found in a recent issue of daily mercury, a tiny local paper from mackay austrailia: mates share 50 yr bond.. ‘deep in a banana plantation at tullera, near lismore, sits an unlikely pair of mates.. the elder 83.. younger 67.. peter warner (sea captain) and mano totau

real lord of flies


on peter warner – youngest son of arthur warners, once one of the richest and most powerful men in australia.. peter groomed to follow in father’s footsteps.. instead, at age 17 he ran away.. he went to sea in search of adventure ‘i’d prefer to fight nature rather than human beings’ he later explained..

peter out at sea.. finds island.. sees boy.. naked.. hair to shoulders.. plunge into water.. suddenly more boys followed all screaming.. peter ordered crew to load guns.. polynesian custom of dumping dangerous criminals on remote islands.. boys reach boat.. ‘my name is fatia’ he cried in perfect english ‘there are six of us and we reckon we’ve been her 15 months’

peter was skeptical.. boys claimed they were students at a boarding school.. sick of school meals they decided to take a fishing boat out one day.. but then caught in storm.. peter calls school.. and ‘a very tearful operator came on radio.. you found them.. these boys have been given up for dead.. funeral have been held.. it it’s them. .this is a miracle’..

i  asked peter if he’d ever heard of the book lord of the flies.. ‘yes, i’ve read it’ he laughed.. ‘but that’s a completely diff story..


mano tells story: 6 boys aged 13 to 16 were all bored witless.. longed for adventures instead of assignments..

they escape in ‘borrowed’ boat.. but that night fell asleep.. a few hours later.. water crashing down over their heads.. drifted 8 days w/o food/water..

set up a small commune w food.. play area.. while lord of flies boys fought over fire.. real lord of flies boys kept theirs aflame for a year.. worked in teams of two..w strict roster for garden, kitchen and guard duty.. if quarreled imposed a time out and apologising..  days began/ended w song/prayer.. one made guitar.. one broke leg and others set his leg and did his work.. told him to lie there like king

rescued sept 11 1966.. physically in peak condition.. even perfectly healed leg..

got back to nuku’alofa.. police waiting to meet them.. for stealing boat.. so peter came up w plan to make movie and give him money and movie rights.. but.. documentary about ata was no success.. shots were lousy.. most of film went missing.. leaving only 20 min.. (rutger finally found and watched it)

mood when boys returned to families in tonga was jubilant.. almost entire island of ha’afeva – about 900 had turned out to welcome them home.. peter proclaimed a national hero.. king asks if he can do anything for him.. captain: yes.. i would like to trap lobster in these waters and start a business here’.. (which is why he was in the waters in the first place).. this time king consented.. ended up hiring 6 boys as crew of his new fishing boat.. named ata..


this is the real life lord of flies.. a story nobody knows.. while the boys of ‘ata have been consigned to obscurity, william golding’s book is still widely read..

media historians even credit him as unwitting originator of reality tv.. whose premise.. is that human beings when left to own devices.. behave like beasts

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

i read and re read lord of flies divulged the creator of survivor..

in children, the correlation between seeing violent images and aggression in adulthood is stronger than the correlation between asbestos and cancer, or between calcium intake and bone mass.. cynical stories have an even more marked effect on way we look at world..

george gerbner: ‘he who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behaviour’

it’s time we told a diff kind of story

the real lord of flies is a story of friendship and loyalty.. illustrates how much stronger we are if we can lean on each other..

in peter’s memoirs.. written for children/grandchildren ‘ life has taught me a great deal.. including the lesson that you should always look for what is good and positive in people

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

part 1 – the state of nature

the two never met.. by the time rousseau was born, hobbes had been dead 30 yrs.. nevertheless.. they continue to be pitted against each other in the philosophical boxing ring.. hobbes: pessimist .. wickedness of human nature.. he asserted that civil society alone could save us from our baser instincts.. rousseau: declared that in our heart of hearts we’re all good.. far from being our salvation, rousseau believed ‘civilisation’ is what ruins us

civilization ness

even is you’re never heard of them.. the opposing views are at root of society’s deepest divides..

hobbes argued that if we really want to know selves.. have to understand how ancestors lived.. hunter gathering days.. when no code of law.. no prison/police..  human beings are driven by fear.. fear of the other.. of death.. we long for safety and have a perpetual an restless desire of power.. the result – a condition of war of all against all.. he assured us.. anarchy can be tamed and peace established if we all just agree to relinquish our liberty.. put ourselves into hands of a solitary sovereign..  hobbes’ thinking provided the basic philosophical rationale for directors/dictators/governors/generals: give us power or all is lost

fast forward 100 yrs.. rousseau.. a no name musician.. walking to prison to visit friend.. a poor philosopher locked up for cracking an unfortunate joke about mistress of govt minister.. he see sign and enters contest to answer question: has restoration of science and arts contributed to purification of morals

rousseau immediately now his answer.. ‘at that moment.. i beheld another universe and became another man’.. in that instant he realised that civil society is not a blessing, but a curse..  as he continued on his way to where his innocent friend was incarcerated, he understood ‘that man is naturally good, and that it is from these institutions alone that men become wicked’

and/or.. from our missing holes (that institutions perpetuate).. leaving us weak to thinking we need the institutions.. the sea world

his essay won first prize..  he grew to become one of leading philosophers of his day..

ie on private property: ‘the first man who after enclosing a piece of ground took int into his head to say ‘this is mine’ and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil soceity .. how many crimes/wars/murders/misfortunes/horrors.. would that man have saved the human species (who said): don’t listen to this imposter.. you are lost.. fruits of earth belong equally to us all and the earth itself to nobody’

property et al

ever since birth of cursed civil society .. rousseau argues.. things had gone wrong.. framing, urbanisation, statehood.. they hadn’t lifted us out of chaos.. but enslaves and doomed us.. the invention of writing and the printing press had only made matters worse.. ‘thanks to typographic characters’ he wrote, ‘the dangerous reveries of hobbes .. will remain for ever’

literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things

before bureaucrats and kings.. rousseau believe.. everything was better.. back when humans existed in a ‘state of nature’ we were still compassionate beings.. now we’d become cynical and self interested.. once we’d been healthy and strong.. now indolent and feeble.. civilisation had, to his mind, been on giant mistake.. we should never have squandered our freedom..

rousseaus’ thinking provided the basic philosophical rational for an argument that would be repeated .. by anarchists and agitators, free spirits and firebrands: ‘give us liberty or all is lost’

here we are 300 yrs later..

few other philosophers have had as profound an impact on our politics, ed, and world view as these two.. the whole science of econ became premised on hobbeisan notion of human nature.. sees us as rational, self serving individuals.. rousseau.. enormously influential in ed, due to his belief.. (revolutionary in 18th cent) that children should grow up free and unfettered

that’s ironic.. crazy.. sad.. both killing us

ie: supposed to’s.. of school/work

whenever an idealist advocates more freedom and equality.. rousseau.. whenever cynic grumbles that this will only spark more violence.. hobbes

neither of the two make for light reading.. rousseau, in particular, leaves lots of room for interoperation.. both were armchair theorists.. while we’ve been gathering scientific evidence for decades now

of whales in sea world.. so non legit data

in part 1.. i’ll examine the question: which was right? should we be grateful that our days of nature are behind us.. or were we once noble savages.. a great deal hinges on the answer

perhaps neither

3 – the rise of homo puppy


on humans being babies.. saying if history of earth is a year.. we arrived in dec 31 at 11pm.. spent about an hour roaming around as hunter gatherers.. only getting around to inventing farming at 11:58.. everything else we call ‘history’ happened in the final 60 seconds to midnight: all the pyramids/castles/knights/ladies.. steam engines and rocket ships.. on evolution et al.. darwin and dawkins and the selfish gene..

then on wondering how we’re diff .. how we’re no smarter/stronger.. et al.. but darwin: ‘blushing is the most peculiar and most human of all expressions’..


on fuhlrott finding bones.. that predate the great flood.. which makes them the remains of a creature that lived before god inundated the earth.. to this day.. the popular image of the neanderthal is of a stupid lout.. we have to face the uncomfortable fact that, until not long ago, our species shared the planet w other kinds of humans.. then findings that neanderthals were astoundingly intelligent.. brawn.. et al.. so why wiped off earth.. having managed to stick it out for more than 200 000 yrs

yuval noah harari speculates.. if not stronger, more courageous, smarter.. ‘maybe we’re just meaner.. result was the first and most significant ethnic cleansing campaign in history’


they started out w very diff questions: how do you turn a fierce predator into a friendly pet..  darwin had noted that domesticated animals have remarkable similarities.. ie: smaller.. smaller brains.. et al.. retain some juvenile traits their whole lives..

whales in sea world

dmitri had radical hypothesis.. these cute features were by products of .. what happens over time if  animals consistently selected for on equality: friendliness.. he experimented w foxes.. came to theory: people are domesticated apes.. our brains have shrunk by at least 10% .. teeth and jawbones have become.. childlike.. .. et al.. humans evolved to look like baby monkeys

domesticating ness.. killing us

humans ultrasocial learning machines.. born to learn, to bond, and to play.. maybe it’s not so strange then that blushing is the only human expression that’s uniquely human.. it’s people showing they care what others think.. which fosters trust and enables cooperation.. also whites in eyes.. so can see where people are looking.. making us open books.. the object of our attention plain for all to see.. we constantly leak emotions


story of geniuses (no friends so learn less) and copy cats (10 friends so learn more).. neanderthals like geniuses.. bigger brains individually, but collectively weren’t as bright..

language as product of our sociability..  ie: copycats might not think up themselves but can learn form one another over time

humans crave togetherness and interaction.. loneliness can make us sick.. maybe there’s no creator/cosmic-plan but at least we have each other


4 – colonel marshall and soldiers who wouldn’t shoot


elephant in room.. we humans also have a dark side.. crimes are singularly human.. brian hare: ‘mech that makes us kindest species.. also makes us cruelest.. we feel affinity for those most like us’

on oxytocin.. turns out it doesn’t fuel universal fraternity. it powers feelings of ‘my people first’

marsh label law


on evidence that we’re hardwired for war


whales in sea world coerced/enclosed/manufactured for war

goodall.. 1974 – for 4 yrs chimps fought a brutal battle.. chimps have penchant for ganging up and ambushing solitary peers.. much as bullies

then findings of hunter gatherers even the !kung.. and bloody attacks.. and massacres.. ..

argument wasn’t truly settled until 2011.. w pinker’s the better angels of our nature.. ‘we started off nasty’ pinker concurs w hobbes.. nice to friends.. coldblooded to outsiders..  pinker reassures.. we’ve been ennobled by ‘artifices of civilisation’.. invention of farming, writing and state have served to rein in our aggressive instincts, app;lying a thick coat of civilisation over our nasty, brutish nature..

for years i thought pinker was right and rousseau cracked.. after all .. results in and numbers don’ lie.. then i found out about colonel marshall.. to observe how war plays out in real time

ie’s of war seem so obviously whales in sea world ish


marshall found.. only 15-25% of servicemen had fired their weapons.. at critical moment.. vast majority balked.. most people.. have ‘fear of aggression’.. will not of his own volition take life.. an inner usually unrealized resistance toward killing a fellow man..

on everyone missing everyone else when humanly possible..

randall collins: ‘humans are hardwired for solidarity; this is what makes violence so difficult’


to this day, our culture is permeated by myth that it’s easy to inflict pain on others..

in reality says the science.. violence isn’t contagious, it doesn’t last very long and it’s anything but easy

could pinker stats about high human toll of prehistoric wars be mistaken?.. are we being misled by our fascination w horror and spectacle..

on goodall and chimps going on attack.. some say human interference itself is to blame.. ie: if feed bananas.. sparks them to be more aggressive.. nobody wants to miss out on these treats.. but found to not be true..

gorillas or better yet bonobos.. are far more peaceable.. prefer to play the daw away.. as friendly as can be and never completely grow up .. biologists suspect the bonobo has domesticated itself.. if want to draw parallels.. this is where we should start

why do we want to draw parallels..

seems we’re spinning our wheels with all this intellect seeking

robert sapolsky.. believes apes have little to teach us about our human ancestors.. ‘the debate is an empty one’

we need to return to real question: how violent were first human beings.. 1\ study modern day hunter gatherers.. 2\ dig for bones

then went on with data.. and reasoning of pinker.. so spinning wheels to prove pinker wrong..

war is rarity in nomatic bands..  smaller.. more space for time out.. to cool down.. turns out nomads were extremely social..

how much proof is there that war is in our nature? almost none.. brian ferguson: ‘war does not go forever backwards in time.. it had a beginning’

5 – the curse of civilisation

was rousseau right? are humans noble by nature and were we all doing find until civilsation came along..

columbus ashore in bahamas: astonished by how peaceful the inhabitants were  ‘they do not bear arms.. do not know them.. they would make fine servants.. ‘.. half century later.. less than 1% of population remained; the rest had succumbed to the horrors of disease and enslavement

then ie of ifalik.. people seeing hollywood films and falling ill from seeing the violence ‘where there really people in america who had killed another person?’

so at heart of human history lies this  mystery.. if we have a deep seated, instinctive aversion to violence, where did things go wrong.. if war had a beginning.. what started it

cautionary note: human beings have never been angels.. envy, rage, hatred, .. and to be fair.. homo puppy would never have conquered the world if we had not, on rare occasions.. gone on the offence


to understand that last point.. basically.. our ancestors were allergic to inequality.. decisions were group affairs requiring long deliberation in which everybody got to have their say.. ‘nomadic foragers.. universally concerned w being free from authority of others’

not free if spending time/energy deliberating w others

public consensus always oppresses someone(s)

power distinctions between people – if nomads tolerated them at all – were temp and served a purpose.. leaders were more knowledgeable, or skilled, or charismatic.. they had the ability to get a given job done.. scientists refer to this as achievement based ineq..

perhaps when violence started

at same time.. wimple weapon to keep members humble: shame..

pretty certain a violence instigator

pride/greed has been around for ages .. but for 1000s of yrs.. homo puppy did everything it could to squash these tendencies..

perhaps the change happened when we lost sight of what enough ness is

taboo among hunter gatherers was stockpiling and hoarding.. columbus: ‘when you ask for something.. they never say no.. they share w anyone’

testart storage law: ‘storage expresses a distrust of nature

descola control law

‘such early experiences (infants held by everybody) help explain why children in foraging socieites tend to acquire working models of world as a ‘giving place’.. modern day parents warn children not to talk to strangers.. in prehistory we were raised on a diet of trust


so why did we ever leave world of liberty/equality.. why can’t we seem to git rid of domineering leaders now.. standard explanation is jared diamond: large population scan’t function w/o leaders who make the decisions’..  no doubt this is music to ears of many managers/monarchs..  yet.. history offers plenty of ie’s of societies that built whole cities w/o rigid hierarchy..

for 10s of 1000s yrs.. we had efficient ways of taking down anyone who put on airs: humour, mockery, gossip.. arrow in backside.. but then stopped working.. suddenly rulers sat tight and hung onto power.. why?


go back 15 000 yrs end of last ice age.. rather than struggle for survival.. snuggle for survival.. kept each other warm.. then climate changed.. land of milk and honey.. survival no longer depended on banding together against the elements..  with food in abundant supply it made sense to stay put.. towns built.. populations grew.. more importantly, possessions grew..

rousseau: ‘this is mine.. ‘ where it all started to go wrong.. ineq started to grow.. then possessions passed on.. gap between rich/poor opened wide

property ness

at this juncture.. after end of last ice age.. when wars first break out.. just as we stated settling down.. build first military fortifications.. also first cave paintings of archers going at each other and skeletons from this time bear traces of violent injury..

scholars think: 1\ now had belongings to fight over.. 2\ settle life made us more distrustful of strangers

foraging nomads had a fairly laid back membership policy: crossed paths w new people all the time and could easily join up w another group.. villagers.. on other hand, grew more focused on own communities/possessions..  homo puppy went from cosmopolitan to xenophobe..

on occasions that did band together w strangers.. one of main reasons was.. to make war.. clans forming alliances to defend against other clans..

marsh label law et al

leaders emerged.. each conflict secured their position.. so wedded to authority.. no longer give it up .. even in peacetime.. societies dominated by this breed of ruler only became more fixated on war.. people calling the shots (waging war): generals/kings/presidents/advisers.. knowing it boosts their power/prestige..

leader ness

old testament.. samuel warns israelites of dangers of accepting a king.. ‘ and you shall be his slaves’

the advent of settlements and private property had ushered in a new age in the history of humankind.. the 1% began oppressing the 99%..


rousseau rejected the idea.. still taught in schools today.. that we started out as grunting cavemen.. bashing each other’s brains in.. that it was agri and private property that brought us peace, safety and prosperity.. that these were eagerly embrace by our ancestors, who were tired of going hungry and fighting all the time

nothing could be farther from the truth rousseau believe.. only one we settled in one place did things begin to fall apart.. and that’s what archaeology now shows.. rousseau saw the invention of farming as one big fiasco.. and for this, too , we now have abundant scientific evidence..


agri suprlus

food waste



ie: have discovered that hunter gatherers led a fairly cushy life.. working 20 hr weeks.. why? nature provided everything they needed.. leaving plenty of time to relax.. hook up.. farmers had to work soil and left little time for leisure..

we need to get back/to the conditions that help us to know what enough is

settled life esp heavy toll on women..  reduced to little more than commodities to be bartered like cows/sheep – to work on farm et al.. only measure of acceptance ,,after presenting a son..  female virginity turned into an obsession.. patriarchy was born..

also not as healthy.. nomads got plenty of exercise.. fibre.. farmers.. monotonous menu of grains..

living in closer confines.. drinking cow/goat milk.. turned towns into giant petri dishes for mutating bacteria and viruses..

infectious diseases like measles, smallpox, tb, syphilis, malaria, cholera and plague were  all unheard of until we traded our nomadic lifestyle for farming..  where from?.. from our new domesticated pets’ microbes.. also bestiality

nomadic religions – no churches/preachers/idols/reg-org’d-meetings/morality..

whole clerical class put in charge of figuring out why gods were so angry (floods/disasters et al).. we developed notion of sin.. and began looking to priests to prescribe how we should do penance.. purpose.. to control population

why did we ever think it would be a good idea to settle in one place? perhaps fell into trap.. w nature doing most of work.. willing to give farming a go

now humankind proliferates.. wild animals decline.. land extends to areas not fertile.. now farming was not so effortless.. we had to plough and sow from dawn to dusk.. bodies developed all kinds of aches/pains.. we had evolved to gather berries and chill out,, now our lives were filled w hard, heavy labour..

so why didn’t we go back ? it was too late.. too many mouths to feed.. also lost knack of foraging.. couldn’t just (nomad) because neighbouring settlements didn’t welcome trespassers..

farming settlements could harvest more food per acre, which meant they could also raise larger armies.. nomads that stuck to way of life had to fend off invading colonists and their infectious illnesses.. beaten down by force.. clashes.. signalled great race.. culminated in final catastrophic event so lamented by rousseau.. the birth of the state


we now know that our nomadic ancestors were actually fleeing these despots.. the first states .. uruk in mespotamia or egypt of the pharaohs.. were w/o exception.. slave states.. people didn’t choose to live crammed together, but were corralled by regimes ever hungry for new subjects .. as their slaves kept dying of pox and plague

the very things we hold up today as ‘milestones of civilization’ such as invention of money, development of writing, birth of legal institutions, started out as instruments of oppression..

and still are..

first coins: not to make life easier.. but because rulers wanted an efficient way to levy taxes.. earliest written texts: not romantic poetry.. but long lists of outstanding debts… legal institutions: first code of law filled w punishments for helping slaves escape..  in ancient athens.. the cradle of western democracy.. 2/3 of population was enslaves..  great thinkers like plato and artistotle believe that.. w/o slavery.. civilisation could not exist..

perhaps best illustration of true nature of states: great wall of china.. largest open air prison world has ever known..

people escaping to wilderness for more freedom.. living w indians..

underpinning all books is premise that when civilisations fail.. everything gets worse.. plunging world into ‘dark ages’.. modern scholars suggest it would be more accurate to characterise those dark ages as a reprieve, when the enslaved regained their freedom, infectious disease diminished, diet improved and culture flourished..

so why is our perception of ‘barbarians’ so negative?.. why equate lack of ‘civilisation’ w dark ages?.. history as we know, is written by the victors.. word ‘barbarian’ itself coined as catch all for anyone who didn’t speak ancient greek.. civilsation has become synonymous w peace/progress.. and wilderness w war and decline.. in reality.. for most of human existence.. it was the other way around..


for ages civilisation was a disaster.. only in last two centuries.. have things got better so quickly that we’ve forgotten how abysmal life used to be.. only in the final 15 min would civil society start to look like a good idea


number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped to under 10%.. slavery has been abolished..


fitting from this am:

Anton Wilson (@antonjw) tweeted at 10:47 PM on Mon, Jun 29, 2020:
The primary function of money is to train a narrow set of behaviours.
Nobody abolished slavery.

there’s no reason to be fatalistic about civil society.. we can choose to org our cities and states in new way s that benefit everyone

yeah.. i don’t see the pieces of civilization benefiting everyone..

and yeah.. let’s org for everyone.. (something we’ve not yet ever done)

let’s try cure ios city to undo our hierarchical listening ie: 2 convers as infra

6 – the mystery of easter island

our knowledge about prehistory will never be watertight.. that’s why i want to take one final look at what people do when left to their own devices.. what if girls there too in real life lord of flies.. .. what does society look like when it develops in isolation

rather.. free from civilization/coercion/supposed-to’s


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people

no need to speculate when you can zoom in on a true, documented case study..


jacob roggeveen 1721 discovered an old civilisation – easter island..  two tribes.. fought.. ate each other..


used up all the trees to make the statues.. war ing starts

just when you thought you had cast off hobbes’s veneer theory, it doubles back like a boomerang.. story of easter island seems to validate a cynical view of humankind..


jan boersema was one of the first scientists to express serious doubts about the widely accepted narrative of easter island’s destruction..

findings.. ie: only two skulls bore traces of violent injury; by numbers.. those 1000s of easter islanders who supposedly killed and ate each other.. have an excellent alibi… they never existed.. etc etc


plague that destroyed easter island came not from /win but arrive on european ships.. roggeveen moored w 134 men.. islander showed every indication of delight.. and dutchmen lined up in battle formation .. open fire


first slave ship appeared on the horizon in 1862.. easter island was perfect prey for peruvian slavers..  the slavers and their diseases finally accomplished what the native population and the rats had not.. they destroyed easter island..

so .. no war/famine/eating-people.. et al.. foreign visitors didn’t discover a dying civilisation – they pushed it off the cliff

part 2 – after auschwitz

anne frank: ‘it’s a wonder i haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical.. yet i cling to them because i still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart’

so if kind/good.. how do you explain auschwitz

during 50s and 60s psychologists began prying/probing/prodding to pin down what turns ordinary men/women into monsters.. milgram, zimbardo et al.. but now.. looking behind the scenes

7 – in the basement of stanford uni

1 – theory goes like this: anyone put in bad situation turns bad

stanford prison experiment


sherif’s robbers cave experiment – negative attitudes toward outgroups.. even if friends first


but.. if one thing experiment proved.. once kids become friends .. very hard to turn them against each other


stanford was a step further.. zimardo’s study wasn’t just dubious.. it was a hoax..


zimbardo in 2018: ‘don’t care how people look at experiment.. it’s most famous study in history of psych.. i’m not going to defend it anymore.. the defense is its longevity’

8 – stanley milgram and the shock machine


‘teachers’ (thought study was about effect of punishment for non memory.. didn’t realise studay was about them) shock ‘learners’ – (all learners were in on experiment and machine didn’t really administer shocks)’ wrong answers .. even more famous than stanford/zimbardo

milgram (who went to school w zimbardo): human nature comes w a fatal flaw programmed in .. makes us act like obedient puppies and do appalling things

timing of experiment couldn’t have been better.. on day of first volunteer.. eichmann trial w hannah arendt reporting was in final week..


arendt: eichmann was neither pyschopath/monster.. just ordinary.. she diagnosed phenom as ‘the banality of evil’.. milgram delivered the evidence to confirm her theory..

sherif: ‘milgram’s obedience experiment is single greatest contribution to human knowledge ever’

whales in sea world

to be honest.. wanted to bring milgram’s experiment crashing down.. when writing book that campions good in people.. several big challenges: golding, dawkins, diamond – easter island, zimbardo.. but topping list.. milgram..

again.. it’s the story of a driven psychologist chasing prestige and acclaim.. misled/manipulated to get results he wanted.. deliberately inflicted serious distress on trusting people who only wanted to help


subjects grew more disobedient the more overbearing the man in the grey coat became..  homo puppy did not brainlessly follow the authority’s orders.. we have an aversion to bossy behaviour

on.. people that persisted .. just wanting to help science.. don mixon: ‘people go to great lengths, will suffer great distress, to be good.. people got caught up in trying to be good’

road to hell paved w good intentions.. but evil doesn’t live just beneath surface; takes immense effort to draw it out.. evil has to be disguised as doing good

white right.. jihad.. et al


holocaust wasn’t work of humans suddenly turned robots.. perpetuators believed they were on right side of history.. homo puppy was deceived and indoctrinated, brainwashed and manipulated..

so.. suddenly turned robots..

arendt accused milgram of ‘naive belief that temptation and coercion are same thing’.. and unlike milgram.. she didn’t think a nazi was hiding in each of us

hannah was one of those rare philosophers who believe that most people, deep down, are decent

has to be all.. and beyond decent

eichmann was a prime ie.. he’d convinced himself he’d done a great deed, something historic for which he’d be admired by future generations.. that didn’t make him a monster or a robot.. it made him a joiner

ok.. yeah.. white right.. jihad.. et al

many years later.. physiologists would reach same conclusion: shock experiments were not about obedience.. were about conformity

whales in sea world via  supposed to’s.. of school/work

sadly, stanley milgram’s simplistic deductions (that humans submit to evil w/o thinking) made a more lasting impression than hannah arendt’s layered philosophy (that humans are tempted by evil masquerading as good)..

in a weird way.. so believe in our won sinful nature is comforting.. it provides a kind of absolution.. if most people are bad.. engagement and resistance aren’t worth the effort..


good ie: rescue of danish jews – in few short days more than 7 000 danish jews ferried in small fishing boats from denmark to sweden.. ‘the entire society denies the right of the stronger’

hannah in her book eichmann in jerusalem: ‘it is the only case we know in which the nazis met w open native resistance’.. result.. those exposed changed their minds..  their ‘toughness’ had melted like butter in the sun

9 – death of catherine susan genovese


stabbed.. 3 diff times.. no one helps for more than 1/2 an hour 38 people watched.. ‘i didn’t want to get involved’ reverberated around the globe

abe rosenthal: ‘a symptom of a terrible reality in the human condition’.. when it comes down to it, we’re alone


the bystander effect – when thought they were only one.. helped.. when thought others heard too.. didn’t help


other story: sanne and toddler survived not in spite of large number of bystanders.. but because of them.. whole rescue over in less than 2 min.. four strangers.. never exchanged a world..


back to kitty genovese – shocking how little of original story holds up.. didn’t die alone..  et al.. teaches us: 1\ how out of whack our view of human nature often is  2\ how journalists push to sell sensation  3\ how it’s precisely emergencies that we can count on one another..

part 3 – why good people turn bad

spinoza: ‘i have striven not to laugh/weep/hate human actions.. but to understand them

why has evil grown so skilled at fooling us?.. how did it manage to get us to the point that we would declare war on one another

10 – how empathy blinds


real reason german army was capable of almost superhuman fight: friendship – kameradschaft – didn’t want to let down their mates

camaraderie is the weapon that wins wars


a better world doesn’t start w more empathy.. empathy makes us less forgiving, because the more we id w victims the more we generalise about our enemies… the bright spotlight we shine on our chosen few makes us blind to the perspective of our adversaries.. because everybody else fall outside our view..

brian hare: makes us both friendliest and cruellest..

empathy and xenophobia go hand in hand.. ie: combat.. saving comrades.. hard to pull trigger.. even moreso stab.. if get too close.. most in battle eliminated remotely – grenade/bomb.. by someone who never saw them.. holding up trousers et al

i know you ness

psych distance.. if you can dehumanize the other..

we’re finding ways to root out our innate and deep seating aversion to violence.. ‘manufactured contempt’

there’s one group which can easily keep the enemy at a distance: the leaders

leader ness

how can we.. one of only species to blush (friendly).. somehow allow ourselves to be ruled by specimens who are utterly shameless

specimens? shameless?

do we know that they are shameless?.. isn’t this statement an ie of the 2 pronged empathy? making the other

deeper question.. how to get to the root/soul of all of us

11 – how power corrupts


on machiavelli’s book – prince – about looking out for self.. book often called ‘realistic’

power appears to work like an anesthetic .. makes you insensate to other people.. and don’t blush..  disrupts wha tis known as mirroring (someone laughs you laugh et al).. which plays key role in empathy.. no longer connected.. unplugged

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman

if powerful people feel less ‘connected’ to others.. any wonder they also tend to be more cynical?..

one of effects of power.. makes you see others in negative.. lazy.. unreliable light.. that they need to be supervised/monitored/managed/regulated/censored.. told what to do..

huge red flag..  others need training et al

not having power has opp effect.. feel less confident.. convenient for those in power.. people who lack confidence silence themselves.. rulers reason that masses are too dim to think for selves.. but other way around.. power makes us short sighted..


more like bonobos than chimps.. aversion to leaders/power/ineq

how do you decide who has most merit.. why some ‘deserve’ more.. you could look at entire evolution of civilisation as a history of rulers who continually devised new justification for their privileges

on above 150 people .. and how rulers keep tabs on the masses.. how do we get us to believe myths.. stories .. yuval noah harari: ‘and convincing people to believe them’

captivating theory.. but drawback.. ignore 95% of human history..

history et al.. still yet another story.. of whales in sea world

we have no idea

as it happens.. nomadic ancestors had already exceeded 150 friends..  and had rich imaginations.. only diff.. in prehistory those myths were less stable..  chieftains could be toppled speedily.. opened/shut genie bottle on regular basis..

graeber/wengrow back and forth law et al

homo puppy was friendly.. not naive..

it wasn’t till emergence of armies and their commanders that all this changed..  if believed in wrong god.. kept it to self.. now issue was fatal..  made to believe by force

threat of violence is still very much present.. evictions.. immigrants and borders.. also reason we continue to believe in money..

structural violence et al

why does no one walk up to the tax authorities and say ‘he.. i just read an interesting book about the power of myths and realised money is a fiction.. so i’m skipping taxes this year’.. will be fined/locked up..  money may be a fiction.. but it’s enforced by the threat of very real violence..

wilson money law..  gare enslavement law..  et al:


how development of private property and farming could have led homo puppy astray.. for millennia.. picked nice guys to be in charge.. then harder to unseat powerful

people in charge; property; et al.. part of the problem

harari: ‘complex human societies seem to require imagined hierarchies and unjust discrimination’.. now dependent on ineq

what fascinates me is that people continued to find ways to tame leaders.. ie: revolutions.. but then.. new leader

some societies have coped by engineering a system of distributed power – ie: ‘democracy’.. greek – demos means people and kratos means power.. it doesn’t usually work out that way (people who govern).. rousseau called it ‘elective aristocracy’ – people not in power at all.. rather.. allowed to decide who holds power over us

not even that

constitution: historians agree it ‘was intrinsically an aristocratic document designed to check the democratic tendencies of the period’.. it was never the american founding fathers’ intention for the general populace to play an active role in politics..

time and again we hope for better leaders

only because we’re whales in sea world.. not a natural desire.. begs detox

but all too often those hopes are dashed.. people in power.. one step ahead.. secret weapon: shameless

we saw earlier that homo puppy evolved to experience shame.. for millennia.. shaming was the surest way to tame our leaders.. and it can still work today.. shame more effective than rules/regs/censure/coercion.. because people who feel shame reg themselves..

that’s whales in sea world..ness..  they’re not themselves.. spinning our wheels.. w broken feedback loop.. dang.. let go of the leader ness.. and definitely leg go of the shame/control

clearly shame has a dark side (shame induced by poverty..) try to imagine society if shame didn’t exist.. that would be hell

wow.. let go of the control..

ie that we have no idea what free/natural people are really like.. until we get to unconditional ness

individuals (unable to feel shame) wouldn’t last long in nomadic tribes.. they’d be cast out and left to die

oh my.. i hope that’s not our best ie of how to live.. other-ing will never work

listen deeper

12 – what the enlightenment got wrong


homo puppy is an animal wrenched from its natural habitat..

but deeper than you’re suggesting.. ie: whales in sea world.. and we keep missing that extra depth.. so keep missing the root/cure


enlightenment premised on human nature being corrupt.. so thinkers task was to figure out way to harness our self interest. and that gift: reason.. the power of rational thought.. convinced humans could design intelligent institutions which factored out our innate selfishness..

selfishness not tamped down.. modern economists argued.. but turned loose.. so we’re all looking out for selves..

enlightenment thinkers: set out a system of ‘checks and balances’ in which everybody kept an eye on everybody else..  new law.. governed by reason alone

inspectors of inspectors et al

can it be coincidence that largest concentrations fo atheists are in denmark.. sweden.. where have most robust rule of law and most trustworthy bureaucracies.. religions displace..

so.. enlightenment a triumph for humankind.. bringing us capitalism, democracy and the rule of law.. stats are clear.. our lives are better and world is richer, safer and healthier than ever before


how to live harmoniously if distrust strangers..oppression et al? cold hard reason of enlightenment provided best answer.. until now

dark side: capitalism can run amok

it’s any form of measuring/accounting.. that is messing with us

we need to let go of judge\ment (other-ing).. and realize our interconnectedness.. i know you ness

hume believed we should act as though people have a selfish nature.. even though we know they don’t.. nocebo.. could this be the thing that the enlightenment .. and by extension our modern society.. gets wrong..  that we continue to operation on a mistaken model of human nature

yeah .. that.. years of non legit data/focus from/on whales in sea world

so now we have to ask.. could things be different..t


can we use our heads and harness rationality to design new institutions.. that operate on a wholly diff view of human nature? what if schools and businesses.. cities and nations.. expect the best of people instead of presuming the worst..

well.. for one. we wouldn’t have schools and businesses..

these questions are the focus of the rest of the book

part 4 – a new realism

dang.. have a feeling it’s not going to be new.. just tweaked


hero – russell brand.. swam against tide.. when asked what advice would he give future generations: ‘when you are studying.. ask self only what are the facts.. never let self be diverted by what you wish/think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed.. but look only and solely at what are the facts’

there are facts?

on william james – will to believe.. vs russell brand – will to doubt.. i championed brand until i started to doubt doubt


on rats/kids being smarter if you treat them smarter – rosenthal – as told by iq score – dubbed the pygmalion effect..  resembles the placebo effect – except .. benefits others .. rather than self..


not yet debunked.. esp when it comes to how children perform on iq tests.. clearly shows teacher’s expectations really do influence students.. high expectations can be a powerful tool.. workers do better when wielded by managers.. soldiers fight harder..

double oi

for whales in sea world .. and for keeping whales in sea world

opp of pygmalion effect.. golem effect.. for neg expectations.. golem effect is a kind of nocebo.. that causes poor pupils to fall further behind.. homeless to lose hope.. isolated teens to radicalize

triple oi to your ie’s


the pygmalion and golem effects are woven into the fabric of our world.. every day we make each other smarter or stupider.. stronger or weaker.. faster or slower.. we can’t help leaking expectations

well we can.. when we realize expectations aren’t the point..  ie: let go of thinking we have to.. or can.. predict things; realizing that life isn’t about being smart.. or whatever

next ie: if everybody thinks everybody else thinks that the value of a share will go up.. then value goes up

this is anti human kind.. we’re not made for money (any form of measuring/accounting)..

unsettling that you keep using these as ie’s.. that you keep using data from whales in sea world .. to describe human beings

not just financial world.. dan ariely’s experiment with blah blahing to class.. and no one questions it.. pluralistic ignorance..

yeah.. it is pluralistic ignorance.. but the deeper issue is that we keep looking at all these ‘behaviors’.. while we’re still in sea world .. ie: in classrooms

this led me to wonder: wha tif our negative ideas about human nature are actually a form of pluralistic ignorance.. we keep going around in circles assuming the worst about each other..

yeah.. that..

trust often begins when someone dares to go against the flow.. in next part of book.. i want to intro several such individuals.. managers who have total faith in their staff.. teachers who give kids free rein to play.. and elected officials who treat their constituents as created, engaged citizens.. people fueled w james’ will to believe.. people who recreate the world in their own image

dang.. can you hear my heart crying/screaming..

thinking that managers.. teachers.. officials.. are a given..

let go

13 – the power of intrinsic motivation


jos de blok – dismissed whole management profession ‘managing is bs.. just let people do their job’

great.. letting go of ‘managing’ ness.. but have to go deeper.. rather.. let go of jobs.. and let people do their art.. otherwise still managing.. ie: work – solving other people’s problems.. is managing from all directions

huge diff


to understand what makes blok’s ideas so revolutionary.. go to begin of 20th cent.. managers has to provide us w ‘incentives’..  for capitalists: carrots/money.. for communists: sticks/punishment.. for both .. premise: people don’t motivate themselves

incentives .. red flag


first murmurs of dissent.. 1969 – deci.. carrots and sticks can cause slack off

steady stream of studies began corroborating deci.. ie: 1990s.. 10 day care centers.. haifa

not sure how anyone can know/write about 10 day care ness.. and think money (any form of measuring/accounting) would be humane

dan ariely.. has shown bonuses can be effective when tasks are simple/routine

ie: supposed to’s.. of school/work.. for whales in sea world

how you get paid for what you do can turn you into an entirely diff person

just getting paid at all does that

ie: 10 day care ness

we need to let go of money (any form of measuring/accounting) if we want to get out of sea world.. if we want to get to fittingness

more ie’s of with us embedded in work .. school ..

where we do need carrots and sticks .. because.. whales in sea world


ie’s of bs jobs ness – people doing care work paid less than managers/people who follow orders.. et al

bs jobs

but again.. deeper issue is thinking we have to do jobs et al


nothing is more powerful than people who do something because they want to do it

yeah.. but we’re not legit hearing what people want to do .. that deeper want.. we’re just hearing their engrained whales in sea world voice.. if that

14 – homo ludens


what if the whole society was based on trust..t

well.. if it was.. we’d have to let go of ie: school, work, money.. otherwise.. based on a mock trust.. on judgment/other-ing/measuring

that’s what we keep doing/trying.. so we keep falling back on ie: tragedy of the non common and then saying.. see.. it doesn’t work to trust people.. when actually .. we never have

to pull of a u turn of this magnitude, we’d have to start at the beginning i thought.. we’d have to start w kids..

actually .. begs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity ..  simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..

and that’s to say nothing of the biggest shift of all: parents spending much more time w their kids.. to read.. to help out w homework.. to take them to sports practice

those are all cancer..

let go

on need for spontaneity and play

won’t get to any of that unless it’s all of us.. ie: cure ios city

peter gray ‘can’t teach creativity.. all you can do is let it blossom’

gray play law et al

are children equipped for life as an adult if they never go to school..t

yes.. unless you mean life as adult whales in sea world

not yet scrambled et al


on play – kids too playful now might even be sent to a dr

gray play deprived law.. crazywise..  et al

granted.. we’re a lot less strict w kids today than 100 yrs ago.. and schools are no longer the prisons they resembled in 19th cent.. kids don’t get a slap.. but a pill

says who? every bit a prison


is there another way.. could we go back to a society w more room for freedom and creativity..t

yes.. ie: cure ios city.. has to be all of us.. or it won’t work/dance

could we build playgrounds and design schools that don’t constrain but rather unchain our need to play

no..  supposed to’s.. of school/work are big part of the problem.. so that would just be band aiding a cancer..

check w peter on playgrounds.. any org’d play.. safety addiction .. et al

that’s why what we all need is in the city.. as the day.. ness

let go

sorensen’s playground w/o rules/regs..

great.. but won’t work unless it’s all of us..


could we take this a step further..? greater freedom outdoors.. what about indoors..

dang.. let go

maybe there’s an even bigger question: what’s the purpose of ed? ivan illich: ‘school is advertising agency which makes you believe you need the society as it is’


agora (& summerhill, sudbury.. et al), the playing school, proves there is a diff way

yeah.. no it doesn’t.. at least not diff enough to be diff

the question is not: can our kids handle freedom? the question is: do we have the courage to give it to them..

deeper.. courage to give it to everyone.. has to be all of us or it won’t work/dance

it’s an urgent question: brian sutton smith: ‘opp of play isn’t work.. it is depression’

this is a journey back to the beginning.. agora has the same teaching philosophy as hunger gatherer societies.. *children learn best when **left to own devices..  in a community bringing together all ages and abilities and supported by coaches and ply leaders


replace *children with people.. and stop at **left to own devices

not about teaching/leading/coaching.. it’s about letting fo

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

15 – this is what democracy looks like

indeed.. which means.. another red flag we’re doing it wrong

what citizen politicians do might just be remedy for our old tired democracies: 1\ from cynicism to engagement  2\ from polarisation to trust  3\ from exclusion to inclusion  4\ from complacency to citizenship  5\ from corruption to transparency 6\ from self interest to solidarity  7\ from ineq to dignity

nice words.. haven’t seen any of it.. we just talk about.. and one reason we keep talking about it.. we can’t seem to give up things like: citizenship


learned about communism in 4th grade.. sounded good.. why not just share everything.. had to face a disappointing realisation: sharing everything equally may be a find idea, in practice it degenerates into chaos, poverty, bloodbath

point is not to share everything in equal measure.. point is not to measure.. rather.. create conditions where people know what enough is..

what i didn’t realise back then was that communism.. according to official defn.. at least.. has been a successful system for 100s of years.. ie: please pass salt.. get it for free.. every day communism..

best ie of this liberality is the household..  parents share possessions w children .. this is where we get the word ‘economy’.. greek oikonomia.. meaning management of a household

not about the management .. about the free space to be..

bachelard oikos law et al

maté parenting law et al

of course we can’t always apply the communist ideal ‘from each according to his ability to each according to his needs.. just as not everything can be assigned a monetary value


we can do the first..

the second is a bad ie

why are we so blind to our own communism? ie: fb data; airbnb advertising; et al..  maybe it’s because the things we share don’t seem all that remarkable..

the things we share are known as the commons.. they can include just about anything.. t

i don’t think common\ing works unless it’s everyone and everything..

we need to create the conditions where people know what enough is

hari rat park law et al

hardin and tragedy – ultimately the tragedy would provide the most powerful endorsements for the growth of the market/state

tragedy of the non common


to be fair.. at least one person was never swayed by hardin’s arguments

well maybe.. but she still kept some of the compromising of tragedy of the non common ie: ostrom 8 ness

she wanted to see how real people behave in the real world..t

then need to let go of managing people.. ie: ostrom 8 ness

ostrom and her team compiled more than 5000 ie’s of working commons

rather of tragedy of the non commons.. otherwise.. we’d be living differently now..

common\ing has to be all of us.. findings et al

groundbreaking book – governing the commons – 8 principles

tragedy of the non commons


at moment.. still in fierce contest.. 1\ one big commune  2\ raids on commons by sv and wall street

which will win..? my money’s on ostrom.. she believed there was another way.. not because she subscribed to some abstract theory.. but because she’d seen it w her own eyes

totally resonating.. hard to unsee..

but i don’t think she saw legit common\ing


ie: alaska’s communal property – a diff road.. heading to new society.. in which everyone has a share

has to be about everyone.. but can’t be about shares..

let go

part 5 – the other cheek

julio diaz and offering his robber his coat.. end up having dinner

are you and i capable of turning the other cheek? can we make it work on a large scale – say, in prisons and police stations.. after terrorist attacks or in times of war

we can make it happen so that all of those things are non-existent/irrelevant

16 – drinking tea w terrorists


prisons in norway – no cells/bars/guards/cuffs

norwegian prisons

nice\r.. but don’t need prisons/schools/work.. in the first place

there’s a better way – your own song ness et al

treat them like human beings and they’ll act like human beings..

in norway.. over 90% (inmates) are back on streets in less than a year.. so.. going to be somebody’s neighbour.. do you want to release them as ticking time bombs? .. recidivism 50% lower


on martinson and zimbardo.. hoping everyone would realise prisons were pointless places and should be shut down.. but contrary.. policymakers saw as proof.. that some people are simply born bad and stay bad..

wilson comes up w ‘broken windows’ theory.. sends message that order is not being enforced.. signalling to criminals they can go even further..  to new police chief.. going beyond fixing windows to arresting anyone for even slightest infraction.. public drinking, caught w a joint, joking around w a cop.. pee in street.. crime rates plummeted


gladwell (and i in my first book) called it a great success.. then found out .. it was zimbardo’s car experiment that inspired broken windows..  and has now been debunked.. ie: drop in crime was from leaving troublemakers alone..

the fundamental question.. who’s ‘order’ are we talking about..

ostrom’s research on police depts.. smaller forces outperform.. faster on scene.. solve more crimes.. better ties w neighborhood

17 – the best remedy for hate, injustice and prejudice


we love what we know (on twins .. having diff philosophy by who they were around.. military and seminary)


contact engenders more trust/solidarity/kindness.. it helps you see the world thru other people’s eyes.. changes you as a person.. more diverse group of friends .. more tolerant towards strangers..

if seldom talk to neighbours.. diversity can actually heighten prejudice

18 – when the soldiers came out of the trenches


christmas truce story

pics in the jungle story – ‘before you were a guerrilla, you were my child’

epilogue – 10 rules to live by

humans have for millennia navigated by a faulty self image.. assumed people are selfish, beasts.. now we know this is unrealistic

that would be nice.. i don’t think we know that.. still taking data on whales in sea world

if we believe most people are decent and kind, everything changes.. we can completely rethinking how we org schools, prisons, businesses and democracies

1\ that’s not changing anything really

2\ if we understood our interconnectedness.. schools, prison, businesses and democracies would all become extinct/irrelevant

if you ask me.. we’re living in an age of too much introspection and too little outrospection.. a better world doesn’t begin w me.. but w all of us.. our main task is to build diff institutions

our main task is to build an infra/os that allows for both. ie: 2 convers as infra

1\ when in doubt assume the best

assume good

2\ think win win

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman

3\ ask more questions

cure ios city

4\ temper your empathy (exhausting), train your compassion (doesn’t sap energy – more controlled/remote/constructive)

5\ try to understand the other

i know you ness

6\ love your own as others love their own

unconditional ness

7\ avoid the news

8\ don’t punch nazis

unconditional ness

9\ come out of the closet: don’t be ashamed to do good – contagious

10\ be realistic

my most important rule to live by..  in truth.. it’s the cynic who’s out of touch..  be true to your nature and offer your trust.. may be dismissed as gullible and naive at first.. but may be common sense tomorrow..  time for a new realism.. a new view of humankind


rutger and andrew on humankind


kevin fb share:

Kropotkin would be a lot better than Rousseau as a foil for Hobbes.


Is It in Us to Build a Post-Pandemic Utopia?

His biggest idea: we lived for 95% of time in small bands of hunter-gatherers by cooperating..evolution favoured friendliness, the way dog breeders select for retrieving or herding.

Adopting agriculture, Bregman argues, was worst mistake. It tied us down to one place, living in crowded conditions with domestic animals and eating a monotonous diet. As a result, we grew up malnourished and often infected with animals’ diseases like tuberculosis and measles.

But we grew enough food to support soldiers, priests, and aristocrats, who claimed ownership of the land we farmed — and of us. From this predicament, Bregman says, all our historical troubles began.

They were troubles because we were still nonviolent nomads, and had to be bullied into the labour of farming and the terror of combat. The bullying took the form of telling us we were no good unless someone kept an eye on us day and night and punished us for our sins.We got to believing it.

supposed to’s of school/work

If this sounds like a just-so story, a wild oversimplification of 300,000 years of human existence, that’s because it is.

Bregman documents his books very well, citing study after study. But his key sources are science popularizers like Jared Diamond and Steven Pinker — smart people who, like him, have a gift of storytelling in the service of big, simple ideas


Our nonviolence..problem throughout military history. The Greek phalanx, ..designed to keep soldiers from running away.. U.S. generals in the ww2 were appalled ..found most soldiers didn’t pull trigger against enemies..same true at Gettysburg..went thru motions of loading/reloading rifles w/o ever firing

med professions developed name for psych damage done to humans by putting them in situations where they are expected to kill or be killed. ptsd

Bregman’s purpose in defining us as nice, friendly, trustworthy people is to justify changing society from a Hobbesian war of all against all to a “Utopia for realists” in which we all get along on equal terms, working maybe 15 hours a week and pursuing our real interests in our leisure time.

I’m quite prepared to welcome Bregman’s Utopia, in which we all get paid whether we work or not, and we can be counted on to be reliable citizens because we trust one another.

But his kind of pop-psychology argument for human goodness is just another simplification of over-simplified ideas. I agree with most of his key arguments — and that’s why I don’t trust them, because he’s preaching to the proverbial choir.


Any reasonably educated Hobbesian would laugh at his naïve, boyish enthusiasm. An uneducated Hobbesian, of whom we have too many, would flood his Twitter feed with bots and abuse.

educated hobbesian?

so not true?

Bregman may surprise us with his version of the Kitty Genovese murder, which demolishes the old idea that her neighbours did nothing while hearing her scream for help against her attacker. He may argue that the Easter Islanders did not murder one another in an uprising against their rulers, who had depleted the island’s resources. And he does a lovely job of demolishing William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, a pompous bit of misanthropy that’s been forced on generations of schoolchildren.

These are charming anecdotes, but the plural of “anecdote,” it’s often been said, is not “data.”

and what is data.. esp if we keep gathering it from whales in sea world

history/research.. whatever.. all non legit

let’s try self-talk as data]

If I may offer my own oversimplification, Bregman wants a society rich in social capital and therefore in trust. But social capital, like any form of wealth, must be accumulated slowly, perhaps over generations.

yeah.. maybe.. or maybe during a rare global pause.. esp if we grok the unconditionality of trust

However we attempt it, it will not be simple. It will be hard, frustrating, and fought bitterly every step of the way by the Hobbesians.

not if we org around the essence of humanity.. which ‘hobesians’ .. nspectors of inspectors.. aka: all of us.. already crave

Bregman may point the way, but we will have to find our own road to Utopia.

ie: cure ios city with 2 convers as infra



1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b free people


frustrating read – so close/brave.. but not enough.. part\ial is still cancer.. for (blank)’s sake.. there’s  a nother way