James Ridgeway, you always have such thoughtful and intriguing things to say. I’m going to challenge you on this one. It seems to me that if humans can be characterized in any way, it’s “flexibility.” Yes, we are often driven by self survival and self interest. I don’t need to point out historical examples to prove that point. But we are also capable of acting with great selflessness. There are plenty of examples to show that as well. Isn’t it possible that it’s our circumstances which draw out one of these instincts over the other? And if we were able to create an equitable economy, that selflessness instinct might become dominant? I’m not trying to be a bleeding heart here, or be led by wishful thinking. I’m talking about historical examples of our behavior. I know ethnographic studies of pre-industrial societies where selflessness is dominant when resources are bountiful, and selfishness is dominant when resources are scarce. If we could create a society where everyone has what they need and a lot of what they want, I bet we would have a more generous attitude towards each other.
As for your comment about nuclear disaster on hair-trigger alert — well, you’re certainly right about that. Humans also have a great capacity to live in denial. Maybe that’s the biggest impediment we have to overcome if we’re going to create a fair, just and thriving society.