Rutger Bregman

Rutger Bregman – Humankind

A Hopeful History

Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival Online 2020
Broadcast Date
Sunday 9 August

At the 2019 World Economic Summit at Davos, Rutger Bregman made headlines across the world. The young Dutch historian stood up at a packed meeting and attacked tax evasion undertaken as a matter of policy by many large corporations. Some of their CEOs were in the audience, but Bregman was undeterred as he made his points forcefully.

His first work of non-fiction, Utopia for Realists, was a bestseller that gathered stunning reviews. Now he publishes Humankind: A Hopeful History. In this startling, unexpected book, he upends the conventional wisdom as he travels through two hundred thousand years of human history. Instead of a procession of wars and conflicts of various sorts, Bregman argues – very convincingly – that human beings are by nature co-operative and decent. We are not instinctively adversarial, selfish and constantly acting out of self-interest, he writes, but much more likely to trust each other and to be altruistic.

Having understood famous studies and incidents in a new way, Bregman goes on to argue that we can reframe our society differently – along kinder, more optimistic lines. In his new world, the phrase ‘Oh, that’s just human nature’ will mean something quite different, something much better.

Rutger will be taking part in the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival from the Netherlands.

Rutger talks to Alistair Moffat.

photo credit: Maartje ter Horst

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