One generation away from the cave

From the Academy of Political Science’s Political Science Quarterly. Volume LXXI, Number 2, June 1956, page 180.

The history of the twentieth century, which once regarded itself as the Century of Progress, has revealed fundamental and forgotten truths about man and his nature.  What happened in Nazi Germany on a large scale, and in other countries on a smaller scale, shows that insecure people become primitive in their brutal savagery toward those they look upon as enemies of their security, regardless of the duration of their exposure to the civilizing influences of either education or Christianity.  Since there is no transmission of acquired moral or other characteristics from one generation to another, it must follow that all men are primitive at birth, whether born on the banks of the Congo, the Rhine, or Long Island Sound.  Men who regard themselves as civilized are, in the final analysis, primitive people who have acquired a few years of conditioning in their particular environment, influences whose beneficial effects vanish when their sense of fundamental security is suddenly lost.  Modern civilized man is only one generation removed from the cave man, a fact that can never be out of mind in an age of growing insecurity.

In other words, don’t kid yourself we are any different from primitive people.  We are genetically the same and, without the controls and training society has imposed upon us, we would be indistinguishable.

All of society is just a veneer.

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