rutger & andrew on humankind

Humankind: Good or evil? Rutger Bregman joins Andrew Yang on Yang Speaks.


Rutger Bregman (@rcbregman) tweeted at 5:25 AM on Thu, Jun 18, 2020:
Now online! 1 hour and 18 minutes in conversation with the great @AndrewYang. We talk about his campaign, my new book, UBI and so much more.

notes/quotes from video:

2 min – a: on ted on poverty and ubi.. ‘poverty not lack of character.. lack of cash’.. and on utopia for realists

utopia for realists

r: reason i wrote book (humankind).. in past 15-20 yrs.. silent revolution of scientists.. moving from cynical to more hopeful view of what we are and what we can be if we assume best

let go of whales in sea world and tragedy of the non common mindsets ..

3 min – r: on other hand something else as well.. started to notice.. while promoting previous book and ubi.. i had collected a lot of evidence that this works.. show ubi .. healthcare/crime go down.. kids do better in school.. etc.. so much evidence it works really well..

huge red flag.. if looking at how kids to in school (supposed to’s.. of school/work are killers)

4 min – r: so on book tour talking to 1000s of people.. again and again after 40 min.. found myself discussing not just sci evidence but also human nature.. because that is the most common objection people will have against ubi..

a: people would say to you.. people will do terrible things w this money because people are lazy and self indulgent and generally immoral beings

r: yeah.. people would say.. maybe this would work on a local scale.. or maybe it worked in canada or wherever.. but we don’t believe it’s going to happen at a large scale and certainly not in the us because human nature.. people are just selfish

r: then i realized i had to dig a little bit deeper.. and i discovered that this cynical view of human nature is so deeply embedded in our culture.. also at heart of capitalist model

human nature et al

science of people/whales in sea world

6 min – a: well established.. as in your book.. that what you expect people to do .. you get more of.. not really consonant w our nature

7 min – r: food stamps.. another thing of distrust.. this is why i was so excited about ubi.. because it’s all about trusting people..

but ‘trust’ has to be legit trust

unconditional ness et al.. which means .. we not only need to make sure people have all they need.. (your saying ubi does).. but we need to let go of any form of measuring/accounting

ie: 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

10 min – r: human beings are meaning seeking.. there are very few people who sit on the couch.. watching netflix all day

that’s a red flag man..

has to be all of us.. or it won’t work.. it won’t be trust..

let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

for (blank)’s sake

and let go of all/any judgment..

what we need is to listen & connect to undo our hierarchical listening ie: 2 convers as infra

need a mech/tech w/o judgment ie: tech as it could be.. to get us past our judgment phase.. in order to see what people are really like when they are really free (ie: living their fittingness)

r: doesn’t mean we should do away w soc sec.. we should just trust people.. we should completely turn that around

in order to turn it around.. we need to do away with any form of measuring/accounting

or we’re just spinning our wheels.. (aka: not trusting)

12 min – r: i’m really skeptical of that argument.. that ubi is not going to work in the us (ie: that nixon in 60s it almost happened).. seems to me it’s a very american idea.. the way america likes to see itself..

it’s not enough.. it’s a jump start.. but if we keep up the measuring/accounting.. we’ll just circle back around

13 min – a: that’s why we ended up naming ubi .. the freedom dividend.. because it sounded very american

14 min – r: dividend is really the right word.. income is because you worked for it.. dividend is a right.. just because you exist..

1/ rights ness.. is a red flag..  2\ still have the poison of measuring things..

let go guys

because you’re a citizen of your country.. because you have a heartbeat.. because you have the right passport.. that is enough

wow.. then you add.. citizen? passport?.. let go man .. that’s not trust.. too many strings..

14 min – r: on why we can afford this.. all the rents et al.. so much shared capital.. and everyone deserves a share from that

a: i couldn’t agree more.. i was telling people this was already your money


15 min – a: and in the absence of this .. we’re going to end up in the most extreme winner take all in the history of the world.. which we are already seeing

ubi will get/keep us there too..

gotta go deeper

a: to your book.. why is it that we think we’re all terrible.. that if you leave each other alone we’re going to all turn on each other.. lord of the flies style.. it was good that you inspected all the major reasons we think human beings are terrible if you leave us alone

lord of flies et al

real lord of flies

16 min – r: if you write a book about this.. you know you’re going to get the response.. ‘but what about this’.. so i knew it had to be a fairly big book.. and i decided to start w lord of the flies.. novel in 50s..

a: we all used lord of flies as a shorthand

17 min – r: i decided to find out.. was there ever a real lord of the flies.. and i did find one 1965.. 6 boys bored of school.. so stole a boat to get away.. survived for 15 months..

18 min – in every way.. it’s the opposite of the fictional l of f’s..  and still friends today

i know this is just one story .. but if all sorts of kids have to read the fictional l of f’s.. this is important..

19 min – r: in the end.. we are the stories that we tell ourselves..  we need both.. powerful stories and the research to get the zoom out

research is killing us man.. not a legit zoom out

20 min – r: so much research doesn’t replicate.. i wanted to write a book you could still read in 10 yrs

yeah that.. (the research not replicating)

21 min – r: we can be nasty.. but we don’t find it easy .. i think hollywood has brainwashed us.. that violence is easy .. ie: game of thrones.. it’s difficult.. you have to be conditioned/brainwashed first.. we’re not born to kill

child trauma et al

22 min – r: and if soldiers do manage to kill .. they are traumatized.. so .. obviously capable of it.. but not born to do it.. have to be damaged in ourselves to be able to do it

23 min – a: on violence because of camaraderie..  so if basically good and not wired to turn on each other these ways.. but seeing it happening now.. if i wanted to get someone to adopt violence behaviors.. i would train them.. side by side.. protecting each other.. mask them so can’t make eye contact.. can’t be seen.. culture around that.. ie: police culture like military unit

25 min – r: yes.. and opposite of what they should be.. should be a social worker.. important to know everyone in your neighborhood.. people trust you.. so can be your ally is solving serious crime.. ‘community policing’.. if show up w guns and riot gear.. what kind of message are you sending

26 min – r: norway is really the gold standard here..  in us prisons are unis for crime.. norway.. lowest recidivism rate.. and just like ubi .. actually saves money

norwegian prisons

28 min – r: same w ubi.. all about investing in people to get a return on your investment

29 min – r: think about how many einsteins we lost to incarceration/poverty

a: i agree with you.. but we don’t need them to be einsteins

r: oh.. i agree.. ie: garbage collectors.. we need to revalue what the really important work is

yeah.. we need to let go of work (solving other people’s problems)

30 min – r: this i think is the most important aspect of ubi.. that you’ll give a huge amt of additional bargaining power to people that do the essential work..  you’ll have to pay a proper salary for people to do your work


31 min – r: it’s a redistribution of income.. but also of respect

a: yeah.. it values people intrinsically..

yeah.. no it doesn’t.. not until we let go of any form of measuring/accounting

that’s the huge point

a: we have to be able to say to our kids.. your country loves/values you and will invest in you

no we don’t..  that’s messed up as well

32 min – a: we’d probably end up automating jobs people don’t want to do

33 min – r: automation is very worrying.. but we shouldn’t underestimate our culture’s ability to come up with more jobs we don’t need..

a: rutger bregman.. pro bs jobs

34 min – r: if you have a society where we say your whole dignity is dependent on your job.. really need a job.. then yeah.. then going to create a huge amount of jobs.. so that’s why i started believe we need to take a step further.. what is role of work..

work (solving other people’s problems)

35 min – a: there are diff forms of work we don’t recognize as a job .. that are some of most important things we do.. ie: taking care of older relative..

36 min – r: i have a question for you andrew.. how long is the shift going to take..? ie: norwegian prisons was actually an american idea.. so i’m hopeful about the shift.. climate, ineq, et al.. support for these ideas..

so andrew dodged that question

37 min – a: as an observer.. what do you think kept us from making the shift in the 60s.. maybe i helped drag it back.. but what happened over those 50 years.. that was so close.. to ignored

38 min – r: ie: republicans believed ubi was terrible for marriage.. saw divorce spike in experiments in seattle.. but later.. a stat mistake.. some of these crazy coincidences..

r: now we’d probably say.. that’s a good thing that people don’t have to stay in bad marriage.. but not then

39 min – friedman, heyek.. were minority.. believed in privatizing everything.. and they took over in 70s and 80s.. and they changed the world.. as a historian.. i think real change takes a generation or something like that

yeah.. real change.. would take a year at most..

we’ve not tried real change before.. we just keep tweaking.. and calling it change after a generation..

r: everything depends on the ideas that are lying  around at a moment of crisis (friedman).. that’s why it’s so important that you.. started years ago with building this movement for ubi.. because it just takes time.. there will be a moment when ideas that seemed crazy will march thru.. but they have to be on the agenda first..

41 min – a: somehow we have been brainwashed over last 50 yrs that we exist to serve the econ.. mlk was supporting ubi when he was killed.. his holiday.. snippets of i have a dream speech.. i’ve been arguing.. everyone should get a ubi speech

42 min – a: the last 50 yrs has been a victory for this market based thinking.. how do we swing the pendulum the other direction.. i’m optimist it is swinging.. with what we’re facing..

r: in us.. always this debate about socialism vs capitalism.. which i think is stupid.. b&w.. that’s why i like your approach.. humanity first.. other countries.. higher taxes.. universal healthcare.. et al.. i never like that discussion

43 min – a: so destructive.. this incoherent convo.. universal health care so good for econ.. et al.. ie: how many people wanted to do things.. but didn’t because wouldn’t have healthcare.. call it job lock.. stifling entrepreneurship and job switching.. would be an enormous econ catalyst..

go deeper guys..

45 min – a: so how is us going to make that transition.. us has a lot of legacy structures that will be hard to reform

r: one plus..  the us and innovation.. (but) reason of it.. because always call it military.. marianna – ‘every sliver of innovation was on govt payroll’

47 min – r: market and state actually need each other..  ie: money for research

spinning wheels

r: ie: elon musk receiving 5b from govt.. we should applaud him.. trying to solve biggest problems


49 min – a: on doing research for book.. you had to do your own re training.. you were trying to think.. why do we do that.. think we’re bad.. but one thing you took.. there is a very small subset of people where violence and bad behavior is not wholly unnatural and unfortunately a  lot of those people find themselves in positions of authority


you’re missing it guys..

all of us or none of us

50 min – a: so where are you now.. have you convinced yourself on the goodness of humanity.. i think we can agree that expectations influence behavior.. so asking self.. do i really believe that people are good innately.. and that some of evils are result of handful of bad actors

52 min – r: well i wouldn’t say that people are naturally good.. capable of a lot of nasty stuff.. but we have evolved to work together..

yeah.. i think that’s backwards.. we are good.. and we’ve evolved to not work together.. supposed to’s.. of school/work et al.. keeping us from our natural common\ing ness.. our undisturbed ecosystem

‘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

53 min – r: what makes us so special.. biologists now think that it’s actually are capacity for friendliness that is our true power.. individually.. we’re not that smart/special.. strong.. but we can collab and work together on a skill that other animals just can’t

r: isaac newton.. ‘seen further by standing on shoulders of giants’..  i think that’s wrong.. i think if we see further.. it’s because standing on shoulders of dwarfs

54 min – r: ie: imagine planet w two tribes.. copycats and geniuses.. geniuses smart but don’t share.. copycats not that smart but do like to share.. if let tribes compete.. copycats end up w way more innovations..  we have cumulative culture.. languages et al.. collectively.. incredibly smart.. our prosperity comes from the collective..

intellect ness.. not a good humane focus..

let’s try augmenting our interconnectedness

r: that doesn’t mean we’re naturally good.. there’s also dark side to our friendliness.. groupiness.. we do a lot of evil in name of friendliness.. ingroup/outgroup behavior..

marsh label law et al

r: what you need to do then is try to ignore your intuition and use your rationality

i think that’s backwards.. the ‘rationality’ is coming from whales in sea world.. and if we were all (has to be all of us or won’t work) legit free.. our intuition would be what’s guiding us to zoom dance..

dang.. your book is on humankind.. and i think you have it all backwards.. meaning.. i don’t think we’ll get back to us with your suggestions.. ie: ubi; rationality;

56 min – a: so you wouldn’t call us necessarily the good humans.. but you would call us the collaborative the sharing.. the group ish humans

57 min – r: yes.. and also interesting.. sometimes in order to do the good thing.. you have to go against your own friendliness

statement like that is what comes from looking at research from whales in sea world.. we have no idea what a legit free people are like..

my gut says.. we wouldn’t have to go against our guts.. maybe against ‘friendliness’ that we were trained in as whales in sea world.. but not against our gut

r: if you look at heroes in history that really went against the status quo.. they weren’t described as friendly.. they were described as nasty/difficult

history of whales in sea world.. non legit.. non natural human activity..

let go

57 min – r: ie: mlk.. back then was very controversial

gotta go deeper than mlk

r: so often progress doesn’t come from friendly people.. it often comes from unfriendly people.. who are willing to go against status quo.. now that doesn’t mean you have to be unfriendly

wow.. so backwards.. because of non legit data/history/research.. if studying humankind.. need to get out of sea world..


58 min – a: the two people i thought of when you raised that.. steve jobs and bernie sanders.. not warm and cuddly.. but moved us forward

forward to what?

the mess we’re in now?

r: what if all of us actually have a role to play

yeah .. that.. but we all need detox first and ongoingly

a: yeah.. all diff but all pushing in same direction.. ie: ubi

diff whales in sea world..  not same as all diff in one body

1:01 – r: travel is good for .. hard to hate someone standing in front of you.. because human beings have evolved for f to f contact

r: ie: ability to blush.. voluntarily give away our feelings.. an evolutionary bondage.. establish trust.. unique eyes.. with white.. easier to follow gazes..

1:02 – a: so we’ve evolved to trust each other

i think that’s backwards

1:03 – r: that’s why it’s so important to be on the trail.. to see each other.. this is the problem.. those at the top.. who want to keep things way they are now.. they want you to watch tv (rather than be out with people).. then will be more cynical/scared.. easy to rule people who are scared.. more difficult to rule people that trust..

r: those at the top have often been afraid of the idea of freedom for everyone.. because they’re worried they won’t be necessary anymore

i think that goes for all of us.. book writers.. teachers.. politicians.. we’re afraid to let go of that control.. and that’s why we haven’t yet gotten to global equity (everyone getting a go everyday)

1:04 – a: we do have a set of institutions in place that don’t trust people.. and ubi we should do for very beautiful human reasons.. there’s a strange disconnect between trusting people and how we’re organizing our society right now.. t

ubi .. any form of measuring/accounting..  is based on not trusting people

let go

ie: 2 convers as infra

 1:07 – r: what do you think of the dangers of corruption of power.. power is like this drug.. empathy doesn’t work any more.. don’t blush any more.. hg guarded against boasting.. but now .. not so much survival of the friendliest.. but survival of the shameless.. this is the problem we run into time and again.. to control those in power and make sure they stay humble

1:09 – a: i think the brain damage is real.. i’ve been trying to think how to combat it.. ie: term limits.. or exercises to try to keep them human.. i even saw my attitudes/behaviors changing directions as the campaign grew

why not let go of leader ness

democracy ness et al as red flag we’re doing it wrong

a: i don’t think i ever got the brain damage.. but

we’ve all had the brain damage.. ie: whales in sea world

1:11 – r: in netherlands.. we often see success as a crime.. success as bad.. and that has a downside as well.. but also real benefits..

1:12 – a: in america it’s a problem for sure and i’m very interested in ways to address this systemic problem.. because i think it’s very important.. there should be policies around.. because having wrong leader is terrible..t

let go of leader ness.. let’s try ie: cure ios city

1:13 – a: this to me is a very important issue.. how do we try and reverses the transformation that power exerts on people

r: have you looked into whole idea of participatory democracy.. think it’s very connected to ubi

democracy ness et al as red flag we’re doing it wrong

r: again why i did this book.. to dig deeper and see what humans are really like

listen deeper man

r: a friend.. wrote book .. ‘against elections’.. not just right to vote every 3-4 yrs.. but become politician yourself.. bring together people around table.. let them have discussion about really controversial subjects.. and often they come up with sensible consensus.. i think this vision of democracy.. relies on diff view of human nature.. i think you can get there once you start looking at other people in diff way

maybe do that first.. then .. sitting around a table to discuss.. becomes irrelevant.. time/energy suck

we need to listen & connect to undo our hierarchical listening ie: 2 convers as infra

r: as not just lazy people.. who don’t care about politics.. but only care about netflix and amazon acct

we need to let go of this whole notion of politics as well.. we have that ingrained in us and it’s killing us

let’s just focus on 8b daily curiosities

1:15 – a: i’m a big believer in the wisdom of crowds.. can’t be doing any worse than elites.. i’m a huge fan of re imagining democracy and empowering people to make decisions.. who’s going to make the better decision.. you or someone far away

wrong focus..

let’s try curiosity over decision making

1:17 – r: in general.. i’ve become more skeptical of experts.. the only experts on people are themselves.. and now we have this whole ‘knowledge econ’ where people have a lot of knowledge.. so that we need them.. to manage all the complexity.. maybe we should just go back to school and think about if we need all that complexity

school’s where it starts/perpetuates for most.. let go

literacy and numeracy as colonialism/control/enclosure

r: does it have to be this way.. (complex) or can we just go back to a simpler system..t  ie: 1980s much simpler.. do we need to just go back to basics.. rather than all those experts who give ted talks

2 convers as infra

if only you could hear..

what we keep missing are the legit basics.. maté basic needs .. our essence..

1:18 – ‘to make it simple is difficult.. to make it difficult is simple’

2 convers as infrasimple enough for 8b people to access today

1:19 – a: my goal is to make some progress and then get out of the way.. that’s a goal we need to make happen as quickly as possible..