Socialism and Human Nature

Policy Forum
September 14, 2016 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM EDT

Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute

Featuring Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership, Stern School of Business, New York University; John Tooby, Professor of Anthropology, University of California–Santa Barbara; and Leda Cosmides, Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California–Santa Barbara; moderated by Marian L. Tupy, Editor, HumanProgress.org, Cato Institute.

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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