real lord of flies

adding page while reading Rutger Bregman‘s humankind:

2 – the real lord of the flies

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


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

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

human nature.. ness

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

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

‘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

but it has to be all people.. (and not just pretty decent.. rather good – main idea in humankind: most people deep down are pretty decent) or that freedom is lost/compromised

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

unconditional or it won’t work


1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

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



interview in guardian with rutger may 2020

The real Lord of the Flies

real lord of flies

The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months
When a group of schoolboys were marooned on an island in 1965, it turned out very differently from William Golding’s bestseller, writes Rutger Bregman
Original Tweet:

When a group of schoolboys were marooned on an island in 1965, it turned out very differently from William Golding’s bestseller, writes Rutger Bregman..

The historian offers a hopeful view of human nature in his latest book, Humankind. It couldn’t have come at a better time

Humankind, a sweeping survey of human existence which argues that, despite all our obvious flaws, most people are basically good.

Humankind offers a roadmap for how we might organise ourselves very differently.

He had already made waves with his book Utopia for Realists, a call for a universal basic income or UBI: an idea once dismissed as absurd, but which seems positively mainstream now that the UK government is paying 80% of the wages of all those furloughed by the virus crisis.

Humankind is a logical sequel to that earlier work.

He needed to persuade doubters that human beings were not fundamentally selfish, lazy or worse. The trouble was, those doubters included him.

Bregman says, the scientific evidence suggests those assumptions are badly flawed, that as a species we’ve been getting ourselves wrong for far too long.

This is where he has most fun, methodically dismantling some of the best-known nuggets of sociological and psychological conventional wisdom.

Our true nature is to be kind, caring and cooperative, he argues. We used to be like that – and we can be again.

It’s surely not a coincidence that Bregman’s father is a Protestant minister. (His mother is a special needs teacher.) Humankind is the story of a fall from grace. Back when we were hunter-gatherers, we roamed peacefully in the Garden of Eden; then we enclosed a square of land, called it our own, invented property and settled down to defend it, wars began and our innocence was lost. Somehow, we have to find our way back to the Garden.

lost the garden enough ness before that.. but yeah.. we have to get back

Bregman may say he’s an atheist, but this is an intensely Christian work, isn’t it?

He laughs and admits: “In many ways, it is. I couldn’t help myself, writing the epilogue, thinking about what the rules for life could be if you held this [benign] view of human nature.

He has thought about it hard, noting that people are only really capable of doing dreadful things once they are physically distant from each other (and the book has fascinating stats on soldiers’ recurrent refusal to shoot at the enemy, a pattern going back centuries).

“I would emphasise that I’m not actually saying that people are good. The title of the book in Dutch is De Meeste Mensen Deugen, which is ‘Most People Are Deugen’,with deugen a word that you cannot translate. It’s sort of like ‘pretty decent deep down’ or ‘good after all’.” Later he refers to human destructiveness in these terms: “We’re not born to do this, but we’re capable of it.”


Is a reshaping of society towards cooperation and equality, at work, at school, in prison and in politics on its way?

yeah to reshaping.. but sans work, school, prison, politics

notes from Interview: ‘Our secret superpower is our ability to cooperate’

When I started writing a book about this more hopeful view, I knew there was one story I would have to address. . plane goes down.. only survivors schoolboys

On the very first day, the boys institute a democracy of sorts. One boy, Ralph, is elected to be the *group’s leader. Athletic, charismatic and handsome, his game plan is simple: 1) Have fun. 2) Survive. 3) Make smoke signals for passing ships. Number one is a success.

yeah.. not a success.. rather a *red flag – leader ness

The others? Not so much. The boys are more interested in feasting and frolicking than in tending the fire. Before long, they have begun painting their faces. Casting off their clothes. And they develop overpowering urges – to pinch, to kick, to bite.

because they’re under a leader..

science of people in schools (whales-in-sea-world)

hari rat park law

By the time a British naval officer comes ashore, the island is a smouldering wasteland. Three of the children are dead. “I should have thought,” the officer says, “that a pack of British boys would have been able to put up a better show than that.” At this, Ralph bursts into tears. “Ralph wept for the end of innocence,” we read, and for “the darkness of man’s heart”.

This story never happened. An English schoolmaster, William Golding, made up this story in 1951 – his novel Lord of the Flies would sell tens of millions of copies, be translated into more than 30 languages and hailed as one of the classics of the 20th century.

I first read Lord of the Flies as a teenager. I remember feeling disillusioned afterwards, but not for a second did I think to doubt Golding’s view of human nature. That didn’t happen until years later when I began delving into the author’s life. I learned what an unhappy individual he had been: an alcoholic, prone to depression; a man who beat his kids.

I began to wonder: had anyone ever studied what real children would do if they found themselves alone on a deserted island?

The real Lord of the Flies, Mano told us, began in June 1965. The protagonists were six boys – Sione, Stephen, Kolo, David, Luke and Mano – all pupils at a strict Catholic boarding school in Nuku‘alofa. The oldest was 16, the youngest 13, and they had one main thing in common: they were bored witless. So they came up with a plan to escape: to Fiji, some 500 miles away, or even all the way to New Zealand.

“by the time we arrived,” Captain Warner wrote in his memoirs, “the boys had set up a small commune with food garden, hollowed-out tree trunks to store rainwater, a gymnasium with curious weights, a badminton court, chicken pens and a permanent fire, all from handiwork, an old knife blade and much determination.”

While the boys in Lord of the Fliescome to blows over the fire, those in this real-life version tended their flame so it never went out, for more than a year.

They were finally rescued on Sunday 11 September 1966. The local physician later expressed astonishment at their muscled physiques and Stephen’s perfectly healed leg. But this wasn’t the end of the boys’ little adventure, because, when they arrived back in Nuku‘alofa police boarded Peter’s boat, arrested the boys and threw them in jail. Mr Taniela Uhila, whose sailing boat the boys had “borrowed” 15 months earlier, was still furious, and he’d decided to press charges. (got out of it by giving him rights to movie)

While the boys of ‘Ata have been consigned to obscurity, Golding’s book is still widely read. Media historians even credit him as being the unwitting originator of one of the most popular entertainment genres on television today: reality TV. “I read and reread Lord of the Flies ,” divulged the creator of hit series Survivor in an interview.

It’s time we told a different kind of story. The real Lord of the Flies is a tale of friendship and loyalty; one that illustrates how much stronger we are if we can lean on each other.. t After my wife took Peter’s picture, he turned to a cabinet and rummaged around for a bit, then drew out a heavy stack of papers that he laid in my hands. His memoirs, he explained, written for his children and grandchildren. I looked down at the first page. “Life has taught me a great deal,” it began, “including the lesson that you should always look for what is good and positive in people.”


real lord of flies

Wow. Really overwhelmed with the response to my story about the real ‘Lord of the Flies’. So so happy that this extraordinary tale is finally – after 50 years! – becoming famous. Here’s a thread (with pictures!) on how I found the ‘boys’ three years ago /1
Original Tweet:

The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months | Books | The Guardian

Original Tweet:


rutger and andrew on humankind