Beyond Neolithic Life on “Human Un-nature”:
Everyone has gotten into some kind of argument or disagreement about “human nature,” which is supposed to be the one true thing that makes humans actually human if you dig deep enough through all the layers of society, relationships, morals, etc. Or if you haven’t had an argument about it, you’ve at least had someone bring it up as some kind of self evident explanation for something in the world, usually something they take to be unfortunate but unavoidable.
Of course, this supposedly essential, core element of our species called “human natures” has a funny way of changing depending on the time, the place, and whoever’s in charge of something.
I’m reminded of this quote from Emma Goldman:
Poor human nature, what horrible crimes have been committed in thy name! Every fool, from king to policeman, from the flatheaded parson to the visionless dabbler in science, presumes to speak authoritatively of human nature. The greater the mental charlatan, the more definite his insistence on the wickedness and weaknesses of human nature. Yet, how can any one speak of it today, with every soul in a prison, with every heart fettered, wounded, and maimed?
Nobody who opposes liberatory ideologies has the courage to be honest and tell us, “I like living in a world with rulers and subjects, haves and have-nots, and I will fight to keep things this way.” So for over 100 years, they’ve appealed to an imaginary Human Nature to make their case. Let’s agree to reject such arguments out of hand.