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Rutger Bregman: There is Hope for the Human Race

In a live event that is part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Rutger Bregman shares his invigorating thesis that the vast majority of people are pretty decent.

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

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

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

This is a live event, with an author Q&A. Part of our Ideas for Our Times: The Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Event Series series of events.

Sun 16 Aug 16:00 - 17:00
The New York Times Main Theatre Online
Free, online
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Rutger Bregman

About the author(s)

Rutger Bregman (b. 1988) is one of Europe’s most prominent young thinkers. He has published four books on history, philosophy and economics, and has twice been nominated for the prestigious European Press Prize. The Dutch edition of Utopia for Realists became an international bestseller and has been translated into thirty...
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16 Aug