Humankind: A Hopeful History
by Rutger Bregman, Little, Brown, 2020
Imagine a major fire breaking out, in pre-pandemic days, in a crowded shopping mall. How would the shoppers around you react? Would they rush in a panicked, disorderly crowd toward the stairs, elbows out, desperate to get to safety? Or would they look around and help others, putting their own lives at risk to ensure that everyone had a chance to escape?
Most people would expect the panicked reaction. And they’d be wrong, according to Rutger Bregman, a Dutch historian and philosopher, whose first book, Utopia for Realists (2016), argued for a universal basic income, a shorter working week, and open borders. (He also received lots of attention for an appearance at Davos in 2019, when he spoke forcefully against tax avoidance.) In his new book, Humankind, he writes that it is “a persistent myth that by their