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Rutger Bregman chaired by Lily Cole

Humankind: A Hopeful History

Hay Digital 2020, 

It’s a belief that unites the left and right, psychologists and philosophers, writers and historians. It drives the headlines that surround us and the laws that touch our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Pinker, the roots of this belief have sunk deep into Western thought. Human beings, we're taught, are by nature selfish and governed primarily by self-interest.

Providing a new historical perspective on the last 200,000 years of human history, Humankind makes a new argument: that it is realistic, as well as revolutionary, to assume that people are good. When we think the worst of others, it brings out the worst in our politics and economics too.

Rutger Bregman shows how believing in human kindness and altruism can be a new way to think and act, as the foundation for achieving true change in our society. It is time for a new view of human nature.

Bregman is one of Europe’s most prominent young historians. His previous book, Utopia for Realists was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and has been translated from the Dutch into more than thirty languages. Bregman has twice been nominated for the prestigious European Press Prize for his work at De Correspondent, and his writing has also featured in the Washington Post and the Guardian. His TED talk, ‘Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash’, has been viewed more than three million times.

In 2019, Bregman went viral after calling out tax-shy billionaires at the World Economic Forum in Davos and then again when he confronted Fox News host Tucker Carlson. These videos have been viewed over twenty-four-million times.

Lily Cole is an environmental activist, model, actress and filmmaker. She holds an MA in history of art from the University of Cambridge, was an affiliate at The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Glasgow, for her contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes through social businesses. Her book Who Cares Wins: Reasons for Optimism in our Changing World will be published in July.