Human nature, seen by an American in Africa

noble rouss

 

by Barry King

While setting the stage for the French version of liberty, equality, and fraternity, Rousseau said that savages were noble, and that humans generally were naturally and inherently good (religious opinions to the contrary notwithstanding). When asked why he would believe such a thing, in the absence of any evidence for it, he answered that the idea just popped into his head one day, which is pretty much the only available answer to that question. The idea popped into Rousseau's head, and began it's process of decimating western civilization, without his ever having lived in Africa, and long before Europe itself descended into a darkness darker than any ever seen in Africa, in the middle of the 20th century. Philosophically, this notion is pretty much sine qua non for Rousseau's process of becoming "enlightened" and "humanist", and for leading so many others to follow him in that direction.

It's hard to articulate exactly what the problems are, with Rousseau's humanism. But among them is this one: it leaves unanswered the question, when life proves to be full of problems, at whom are we going to point our fingers of blame? After all, everybody else is naturally and inherently good, just like we are. So where in the world is all of this "evil" coming from? Since Rousseau, the best available answer from his point of view has generally been, "Don't ask, it's an embarrassing question".

As a tool for thinking about this, I'll offer a short story idea, to be called "Victimhood Wars". Outline:

Tribe A or Political Party A: Our Victimhood is the most painful of all possible Victimhoods!
Tribe B or Political Party B: Is not! Our Victimhood is the most painful Victimhood in the universe, that is well known!
TAoPPA: Is not! Anyway, our Innocence as Victims is the most Innocent of all!
TBoPPB: Is not! Our Innocence as Victims is the greatest that has ever existed, that is well known!
TAoPPA: You know what? We were thinking about killing the Oppressors, but maybe we'll settle for killing you guys instead!
TBoPPB: Bring it on!
Both parties prepare for war with propaganda celebrating their Victimhood and their Innocence (while the ghost of Rousseau applauds). Both sides win the war, which means both sides lose.
Optional ending 1: No one is left standing but the Oppressors.
Optional ending 2: The Oppressors were either imaginary, or members of one of the tribes, so the human race is extinct.
Any suggestions about how to flesh out the narrative?

 

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