The thesis of William Golding’s often-banned classic Lord of the Flies: Without civilized oversight, humankind devolves into the worst version of itself. In this episode of #VelshiBannedBookClub, Citizen Board Member and MSNBC host Ali Velshi speaks with an expert who respectfully disagrees with Golding’s perspective — and has historic proof to back up his opinion.
Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind: A Hopeful History, retells the true story of six Tongan boys who, when shipwrecked on a deserted island, survived 15 months through … cooperation. “So often, in our evolution, what has helped us to survive has been cooperating. Working together — that is the secret of our species, if we’re at our best,” he says.
Nonetheless, there’s still value to reading Golding. “It helps you to ask the big questions: What is human nature really like? What would I do in a situation like that, when I’m on an uninhabited island?” says Bregman, “But kids also deserve to know about the one time — in all of world history, that we know of — when real kids shipwrecked on a real island.”
The danger of Golding’s narrative: “When you become so pessimistic about people, when you become more cynical about people, you become a little bit lazy as well. You’re like, It doesn’t matter anyway. What’s the point of trying to change the world?”
Listen to the interview below:
Velshi and Bregman Discuss Lord of the Flies:
Velshi on banned books on MSNBC:
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