Anarchism and the question of human nature

Thomas Martin’s “Anarchism and the Question of Human Nature” is perhaps Social Anarchism’s most widely reprinted essay. Written in part as a response to Stephen Pinker’s book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, this essay re-examines one of the core principles of modern anarchism: that human nature does not constrain our behavior, and therefore cannot explain (or restrict) the development and direction of human social evolution. Martin effectively argues that such a belief flies in the face of accepted modern science, but he also affirms that acknowledging the lessons of evolutionary biology or cognitive science need not fundamentally invalidate anarchist thought.

Originally published in issue 37.