Who’s Rutger Bregman, discoverer of the new ‘Lord of the Flies’?

Lord of the Flies was trending on social media this weekend, which is remarkable for a book originally written in 1954. For those of you that weren’t instructed to read it during school years, allow me to enlighten you: it is the story of what happens to a group of boys when they are stranded on a uninhabited island. The boys fall out with each other, and the author paints a dark and cynical picture of what the human mind is like when left to wander.

Rutger Bregman, the Dutch author and historian, found another ‘lord of the Flies’ however. It was the tale of 6 boys who were truly shipwrecked for 15 months in the pacific ocean and in fact, everything turned out well. The story made the weekend edition of The Guardian.

The way he described it in his book, Humankind (Dutch title: De meeste mensen deugen) it is meant to show that the human mind is basically good.

Another entertaining titbit I learned from reading his book this year (during a short vacation in Switzerland in February) was that only a very small percentage of soldiers in the second world war actually fired their guns. There are multiple stories which Bregman uses to prove his point, and it makes for an interesting novel which I can certainly recommend.

This is not the first novel that Bregman writes which makes for some interesting ideas and trains of thought.

There is a famous picture of Rupert Murdoch, whom some would call the face of capitalism, reading Bregman’s previous book called Utopia for Realists, which basically pleaded for universal basic income, whilst stretched out on a beach chair in a luxury resort in Barbados. The contrast could not be more striking.


Bregman became a major star when at Davos’s world economic forum in 2018 he gave a speech to the world’s elite and asked them to simply pay their fair share in taxes. After that event which made world headlines, he was shown on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News and told the host that he was also part of the elite and needed to change. Carlson famously used multiple ‘f**ks’ before cutting Bregman off. The latter just laughed.

I’m glad that Bregman is finding a global audience for his newest non fiction novel as well and would certainly recommend it as a good read. Some interesting stores and ideas, certainly worth a summer read (even if Covid robs you of the beach to read it on).

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