Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh (Jonathan Cape, 1903; The Easton Press, 1980) The myth of the war of all against all as some original state of mankind had long since been debunked, but there remained a lack of serious thought as to what our primitive “pre-contractual??? state may in fact be. Butler paints a picture where the child finds himself hurled not into a white paper existence, but into a context much scribbled over, defaced and defiled with repeated erasures and pentimenti. The situation is one of nearly utter despotism, presided over by both parents working through their inadvertent compromises and mutual disappointments. Despotism is the natural original state of the child, practiced sometimes unabashedly and sometimes with insidious insinuation. And so it was in those prehistoric times, fabulously muddled by Hobbes: men did not find themselves naked and alone and, like Wehwalt, at war with the entire world; rather, like Siegmund, they were bent to the will of the father, having, it was assumed, little or no say in the matter.