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Yes, Repudiate Malthus

Wesley J. Smith


Scientific American has actually published a column that supports proper morality. And by Michael Shermer, no less!

Shermer identifies Malthusianism as one of the most destructive forces ever to infect science. From “Why Malthus Is Still Wrong“:

On the negative side of the ledger are the policies derived from the belief in the inevitability of a Malthusian collapse. “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race,” Malthus gloomily predicted. His scenario influenced policy makers to embrace social Darwinism and eugenics, resulting in draconian measures to restrict particular populations’ family size, including forced sterilizations.

Shermer accepts the revisionist history of eugenics as “conservative.”

We think of eugenics and forced sterilization as a right-wing Nazi program implemented in 1930s Germany. Yet as Princeton University economist Thomas Leonard documents in his book Illiberal Reformers (Princeton University Press, 2016) and former New York Times editor Adam Cohen reminds us in his book Imbeciles (Penguin, 2016), eugenics fever swept America in the early 20th century, culminating in the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, in which the justices legalized sterilization of “undesirable” citizens.

Actually, the Nazi Nuremberg laws were based on California’s eugenics law.

Indeed, eugenics was an actively progressive political and social movement, supported enthusiastically by the likes of Margaret Sanger, George Bernard Shaw, and Helen Keller (!), funded bounteously by progressive foundations such as the Carnegie Institute. It was opposed by the dreaded Catholic Church.

Shermer identifies the best way to protect against over population:

The solution to overpopulation is not to force people to have fewer children. China’s one-child policy showed the futility of that experiment. It is to raise the poorest nations out of poverty through democratic governance, free trade, access to birth control, and the education and economic empowerment of women.

But the people Shermer hangs out with work at cross-purposes with that agenda.

They would rather control economies centrally and tilt ideologically against global warming, and for those reasons pursue policies that keep the destitute areas of the world mired in poverty.

Image: Thomas Malthus, by John Linnell [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.