Rutger Bregman: 'classic household set up' may allow abuse to go unchecked

Rutger Bregman: 'classic household set up' may allow abuse to go unchecked

The surge in recorded domestic violence in recent weeks poses a big challenge to the uplifting messages about human nature now associated with the work of star author Rutger Bregman. But the bestselling Dutch historian offered some responses to the grim trend this weekend in a Hay festival conversation with the writer, actor and model Lily Cole. Admitting that his latest book, Humankind, should have included more analysis of the destructive forces behind domestic violence, Bregman told Cole that since its publication, and even more since the imposition of an international lockdown, he has thought hard about the issue. “I’ve been thinking that school, or certainly the traditional English public school model, is like a prison, in that you can’t get out and it is hierarchical. As a result they have a lot of bullying. On the other hand if you mix ages and academic ability this is less of a problem,” said Bregman. “And I wonder is the classic household set up similar to a strict school, with its inequalities?” In reply Cole, who has her own positive book on human behaviour, Who Cares Wins, about the potential for a gift economy, out in the summer, noted that some anthropological studies have suggested that nomadic tribes show less evidence of domestic abuse and it is the privacy and isolation afforded by a closed domestic setting that can allow abuse to develop unchecked. Bregman’s earlier book, Utopia for Realists, coupled with a talk he gave at Davos about taxes in 2019 which ...
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