Cracks in The Veneer of Civilization

Civilization is indeed behavior. The following is from

Civilization is but a thin veneer over the seething mass of humanity.

That outlook on the human condition is attributed to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and shared by others, myself included. A more recent example would be William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” that novel baby boomers had to read in school. It resonates with me still and more so lately. For the unfamiliar I’ll summarize the plot: A plane crashed near a remote island. On board were early-adolescent British boys and some teachers, but only the boys survived. They had to stay alive on the island without adult supervision, and how well or badly they did that is the main theme of the book. Mostly, they devolved. Their innate savagery emerged and became stronger than the civilizational constraints with which they had been imbued.

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