We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Economic Update: Human Nature and Capitalism
Because I'm not entirely sure if she is arguing that human nature is infinitely malleable, I would like to clarify my own position.
Human nature is very adaptable, but within limits. Our nature is to be free, but within limits of human society. Because ruling classes have emerged during the last 2% of human existence corresponding to civilization, there has also occurred far more stringent limits that have been imposed on large numbers of people by ruling classes in order to secure their advantages.
Originally they accomplished this through violence, but since then mostly by indoctrinating the oppressed with various justifying messages: such arrangements have been ordained by some god, there is no alternative, or it is simply conforming to human nature. The desire for freedom within social limits, which humans had to maintain for 98% of human existence in order to survive, has never been destroyed, but only repressed by ruling classes during the last 2% of human existence.
Hence there never ceases to be vigorous opposition to these arbitrary limits imposed on oppressed people by ruling classes. This conflict between rulers and the oppressed is often referred to as "class struggle". It also represents what oppressed humans frequently refer to as "fairness" or "social justice". If human nature were infinitely adaptable, this conflict would not occur.