Socialism and Human Nature

September 14, 2016

Socialist experiments have failed no matter when and where they have been tried. Instead of tranquility and prosperity, they have resulted in strife and impoverishment. Yet socialism keeps on reappearing — albeit in different guises — throughout the world. From Venezuela since the early 2000s to the strong support for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign on American college campuses today, socialism continues to enjoy a surprising degree of popularity. What accounts for that? Are socialist instincts, including zero-sum thinking and egalitarian sharing, parts of human nature that evolved in our premodern ancestors thousands of years ago? And if they are inherent to the design of the human brain, can they be overridden so that it is possible to more effectively explain the benefits of free markets? Please join our distinguished panel for a timely discussion of the origins and staying power of socialism.

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