An excellent, brief essay by philosopher John Gray writing on the role of violence in human nature. This compels him to consider the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes and the meaning of Cormac McCarthy's classic novel Blood Meridian. He argues that most have misunderstood Hobbes' meaning, which Gray clarifies. But he then argues that McCarthy has the more insightful and correct view of human nature and violence. And that is a troubling conclusion, if you have read Blood Meridian.
Here is the conclusion of the essay:
Where he went wrong was in thinking that violence can be tamed principally by the use of reason, an illusion of the European Enlightenment, of which Hobbes was one of the first great exponents.
We cannot escape the "war of all against all" by any kind of contract. Learnt slowly and painfully, the practices of civilised life are permanently fragile and precarious. Here the visionary novelist is more realistic than the rationalist philosopher.
Violence cannot be eradicated, because its ultimate source is in the warring impulses and fantasies of human beings.
This is the truth conveyed in McCarthy's great novel - civilisation is natural for human beings, but so is barbarism.