Sunday, February 16, 2014

Opposing Views on Human Nature

I continue to read this 800-page tome published in 1960 in the Soviet Union and translated into German by, as it says, a "translator collective."

I continue to be astonished by the contents of the book. Communists were (and are) incredibly optimistic about the communist future. They were so optimistic, in fact, that their vision seems to be a lot like a worldly attempt to take a supernatural heaven and make it real in the here and now.

So much of modern thinking goes back to the philosophy that was worked out by the Marxist-Leninists. I have learned a lot about much of modern thought by spending time with old books like this!

Here I translate a select passage about the future that they expected after they had destroyed capitalism:

"The State is no longer necessary. Even the necessity of laws and regulation falls away. For the culturally, ideologically, and morally upstanding humans that communism will produce, the observance of the rules of human social life becomes habit--second nature.

When every kind of coercion disappears from society, not only will the social conditions of the future society transform themselves, but Man himself will change and conduct himself in everything solely from his convictions and knowledge of his moral duty."

For the communists, human nature is incredibly flexible and can change radically given what they consider to be the right social environment. For them, it seems, we are actually perfectible. The opposing view holds that human nature is consistent and stable, that we are not perfectible, and that attempts to make humans change radically are inevitably disastrous. The older I have gotten, the more I have taken the latter view, and that view is the foundation of becoming conservative.