Human Nature (was Re: Libertarian Economics)

Joao Pedro (
Fri, 26 Sep 1997 00:23:00 -0700


Probably you've noticed I already commented on some issues you focused
in your post but I only had time to reply to the rest now (and I still
think it's much incomplete). Also, I saw that you already replied to my
yesterday's message but I don't have the time to read it right now (I've
seen it's pretty long) and will therefore reply to you on a later
occasion (tomorrow or Friday). This applies a few other messages to
which I wish to reply to.

Let's kick off, you wrote:
> > Hi!
> >
> <snip>

What does this mean (just for curiosity)?

> You think our gene pool is roughly the same as France centuries ago?
> Obviously you haven't been here.
> People of Euro-descent are a minority at my university.

Actually I have been in Canada, I've been in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec,
the east coast of Canada and they seemed pretty European to me. Anyway,
does that really matters? What if they're from Mexico, remember the
bloodlust of the Mexican - many - revolutions? What if they're from
Africa, have you read the latest events in Africa, do you think it's a
peaceful continent? What if they're from China, do you know what
happened to approximately 500'000 orphans in China in the past few
decades? Is it really that important to know where your gene pool comes
from? I used Canada like I could have used Japan (I don't need to write
any examples, you surely studied History) or any other peaceful (I mean
by peaceful, in this context, a low crime rate) country.

> Sorry, this comparison doesn't work. The Napoleonic Code is the
> father-document of modern law. Napoleon's empire was far from
> libertarianism/anarcho-capitalism.

Perhaps I was wrong when I said you studied History. I remember reading
a few soldier's stories of the battle of Austerlitz (one of Napoleon's
biggest victories), when the French army advanced to the main hill, the
order was to take no prisoners, all enemy soldiers were killed, that
included wounded and mutilated enemy soldiers. I can try to find a few
other macabre stories of the Russia campaign. Other thing, this
comparison was meant to try to explain my views over human nature and
not economical issues.

> I find your statement that violence is human nature completely ridiculous.
> Europe is a bad example because it has always been violent. Instead, look
> at a place like Tibet. In the far distant past, they were considered the
> most violent civilization on earth. They were bloodthirsty and militant.
> They would kill their own warriors on a dime for discipline. Overnight,
> they became what I would call the most peaceful civilisation on earth. No
> government brought around this change, nor was their any great amount of
> education available(beside the teaching of Buddha) Certainly, their
> education was of a lesser quality than many of the violent countries that
> exist today. What does this say about human nature?

It says that through education you can turn a wild beast like the
ancient Tibet into a peaceful, lovely pussy cat. You are making a huge
mistake by underestimating the religious principles and education that
made this change possible. Things don't usually happen for no reason,
and it Tibet's case, religion, that so many wars and violence has
caused, was the key to the change. This was not overnight, it took some

One more thing, Europe has always been violent?!?! You've got to be
kidding, the quality of life and safety of countries such as Sweden,
Norway, Finland, Denmark, even France and Germany (if you exclude some
of the bigger cities), amongst others, are at the top of the world. You
can argue that if their life quality decreased, violence would happen
but then you would be agreeing with me because you would have to agree
that education and prosperity are the cause for peace and not human

> I think it says that human nature is a very illusive thing, soon to
> eradicated entirely. Some people live to eat other human beings, some
> people live to serve other human beings(not for dinner!) What is natural?
> Is a beaver's dam natural? Is the Hoover Dam natural? Does it even
> matter? We're all in the same universe, why do we need a nature, and how
> can you see it so clearly?

A nature is, like the name says, a natural state. IMHO (as well as many
psychologists), there is a great diversity in human mentalities but this
is due to environmental factors, namely, education. No-one knows for
sure how is the human nature, all we can do is extrapolate from the
reality we have. That is what I do.

> People will do bad things, and intrude on others freedoms. The question
> is, do you think it is justified for a governing agency to impede on
> EVERYONE'S freedom, to stop these "bad" people?

Yes, I do. A friend of mine was telling me the other day about the lack
of individual privacy in our society (have you read Gianni Vattimo's
"The Transparent Society"?) and how that worried him because when
searching for a job the employer could find things about his privacy,
like his health, that would prevent him to get the job. I don't agree
with him, I fear no-one and the more the employer knows about me, the
more certain will I get the job (yes, I'm incredibly optimist, some call
it boast). I have nothing to hide and an institution needs to interfere
with my freedom to prevent crime, fine with me.

> How bad do you think people really are?

OK, I'll give some good arguments so that you stand a chance in this
debate. During world war 2, many (I don't remember exactly but it was
about 50%) American soldiers never fired a shot at the enemy, they would
fire to the air or would just do behind the front works. Incidentally
this percentage dramatically decreased in Vietnam because of the
exhaustive psychological training the US army gave to the soldiers.
Another beautiful story was one of some 17th or 18th century battle (I
also don't remember exactly, I can look for it, if you want) in which
many muskets were found, after the battle, to be loaded dozens of times.
Which means soldiers would load up their muskets but wouldn't fire at
the enemy. I think this shows what is usually called humanity, the
question is, is it natural (part of the human nature) or is it
environmental (through education)? Unfortunately for your line of
reasoning, I don't know of any stories of such kind happening in the old
anarchy of the barbarians but, you can still argue that education made
this violent men, in this case, through a terrible childhood. Have you
ever heard of the Romanian orphans that were taken to the army, they
were ruthlessly educated and would then become beasts to serve the army
in some "bad moments". Another example is the city of Sparta. Well, you
should be the one telling me this arguments and not the other way
around, dig it up yourself, this is just to show you that I don't talk
without any base knowledge and that I try not to have a manichaean

Answering your question, I find people are as bad as society let's them

Now it's your turn, what do you think about human nature? What do you
think human nature is? Do you think our personalities are genetic or
shaped by the years?

Well, I'm not saying everything I should, I think there are a few points
in my argument which I haven't explained very well but we'll continue
another day, I'm tired, I had classes all day, soccer in the late
afternoon (yes, lost more neurons) and you're probably fed up with me
anyway. See ya jovem,

         Hasta la vista...

"Life's too short to cry, long enough to try." - Kai Hansen Reason's Triumph at: