The Next Million Years - Part 5 - Over-Population and the Sanctity of Life

Knowledge Driven Revolution
31.03.2008
Brent Jessop

Can the size of the world population be properly managed by a powerful world government? Are we doomed to multiply until the Malthusian breaks are applied? Are we forever going to have a “starving margin” within our societies? These questions are answered by an elite.

Charles Galton Darwin’s 1952 book The Next Million Years [1] attempts to give a general outline of the “future history” of mankind. C.G. Darwin (1887-1962) was an English physicist and grandson of Charles Darwin of evolutionary fame. Despite being concerned about the over-population of the world he had four sons and one daughter with his wife Katharine Pember. The hypocrisy of this may seem odd, but the concern about over-population only refers to inferior breeds of humans and not superior breeds like himself and his lineage. C.G. Darwin was a long time member and eventual president of the Eugenic Society (1953-59) which represented the belief system held among many of the political, scientific and aristocratic elites of his day and the present.

The first part in this series examined a variety of issues that C. G. Darwin envisions for the next million years of the future history of humanity including: the altering of human nature, the structure of government and the effects of globalization and computers. C. G. Darwin’s views on the possibility of domesticating mankind as a whole was examined in part two. The third part in this series looked at the importance of creeds in shaping society. C. G. Darwin’s desire for the implementation of eugenics to improve humanity was examined in part four.

World Wide Limitation of Population Size

From The Next Million Years.

“I have already shown the short-term difficulties which seem to make it sure that no spontaneous process will avoid the menace of over-population. Is it possible that the statesmen of all countries, perceiving these dangers, should combine together to make and enforce a world-wide policy of limitation? It would have to be world-wide, because if any nation were recalcitrant, its population would increase relatively to the rest, so that sooner or later it would dominate the others. That the prospects of such a world-wide policy are not good is witnessed by the total failure hitherto achieved in the far easier problem of military disarmament. How would the nations settle the respective numbers admissible for their populations? The only principle that would have a chance of acceptance would be to base the numbers on existing populations, and then the question arises why one particular set of proportions between the various countries should be frozen constant for all time. Since the aim of the policy is to retain world-wide prosperity, every single country would be faced with the problem of taking care of its own limitation, and, as has been seen, this would not come about spontaneously. Even if a government could devise an effective method, it would be an odious task for the rulers to have to enforce it, and there can be no doubt they would often evade doing so. With the best of goodwill, it would be hard to enforce the limitation because of the gradualness of the increase, for the rulers could always excuse themselves by the argument that the slight illegal increase of this year was accidental and would next year be compensated by a corresponding decrease, so that action might be postponed, and sometimes it would be postponed too long.

It is clear from all this that the world policy would need to be supported by international sanctions, and the only ultimate sanction must be war. Present methods of warfare would not be nearly murderous enough to reduce populations seriously, and even so they would take a nearly equal toll of victims from the unoffending nations. So after the war the question would arise of how to reduce the excess population of the offending nation. It is not possible to be humane in this, but the most humane method would seem to be infanticide together with the sterilization of a fraction of the adult population. Such sterilization could now be done without the brutal methods practised in the past, but it would certainly be vehemently resisted.” [emphasis mine] - 148

Bertrand Russell in his 1952 book The Impact of Science of Society [2] offers a very similar situation but proposed that this international authority should have total control of the food supply.

From The Impact of Science on Society:

“To deal with this problem [increasing population and decreasing food supplies] it will be necessary to find ways of preventing an increase in world population. If this is to be done otherwise than by wars, pestilence, and famines, it will demand a powerful international authority. This authority should deal out the world’s food to the various nations in proportion to their population at the time of the establishment of the authority. If any nation subsequently increased its population it should not on that account receive any more food. The motive for not increasing population would therefore be very compelling. What method of preventing an increase might be preferred should be left to each state to decide.” [emphasis mine] - 124

Enforcement of Population Control and the Development of Creeds of Resistance

One of the problems anticipated by Charles Galton Darwin with the strict enforcement of population control is that of the development of an opposition creed.

“Even worse difficulties, however, would arise than those I have so far contemplated. I have been assuming that the policy of limitation was accepted by the majority on broad rational grounds, but it is quite certain that in a very short time it would encounter fanatical opposition. Even though the procreative instinct has not the violence of the sexual instinct, yet it is an emotion possessed by many people, and as such it will be particularly liable to get incorporated in creeds. There are already creeds that maintain the wrongfulness of birth-control, though there is at present no very strong emotion associated with them. But if there were to be any enforcement of birth-control by authority, it is certain that many new creeds would spring up which would regard the practice as sinful, and the tenet would be held with an enthusiasm not to be overcome by the efforts of rational persuasion. There are many creeds, which we hold to be unwise, which we can admit and leave alone, because their effects are mainly to damage their believers. This could not be one of them, since the believers would automatically gain an undue share of the next generation. Persecution would be the only recourse against such a creed, and the massacre of the innocents or the blood of the martyrs would water the seed of the faith. It is not of course true, as is sometimes maintained by religious devotees, that persecution always fails to extinguish a faith - for example the Arian heresy was much persecuted by the orthodox church, and there are no Arians now - but there is no doubt that persecution is a great encourager, and it is fairly sure that not all such creeds would be extinguished. Once again the effort to produce comfortable prosperity would call for a brutality that is just the kind of thing it is trying to avoid.” [emphasis mine] - 150

More on the importance of creeds here.

The Starving Margin and the Sanctity of Human Life

“The central feature of human history must always be the pressure of population. Man, the wild animal, will obey the law of life and will tend to multiply until he is limited by the means of subsistence. This is the normal condition of the world, and it carries the consequence that the final check on population is by starvation. There will be a fraction of humanity, a starving margin, who have got to die simply because not enough food can be grown to keep them alive. The death may be directly due to intermittent famines, or to diseases caused by malnutrition, or it may be due to warfare; for when a country is dying of starvation and sees, or thinks it sees, a neighbouring country with plenty to eat, it would be beyond most human nature to accept certain passive death instead of possible active death. The central question for humanity is the problem of the starving margin.” [emphasis in original] - 170

“The social sense of any community, and its immediate practical interest, will not tolerate living in contact with the sufferings of its own starving margin…” [emphasis mine] - 173

“In connection with the recent wonderful advances in medical science, this is the place to mention a matter that will very soon indeed be of immediate importance. Since in the normal condition of the world there will be a margin of every population on the verge of starvation, it seems likely that there will have to be a revision of the doctrine of the sanctity of the individual human life. In the old days the doctors were under the obligation of doing all they could to preserve any life, though they had no great success in their efforts; now it is hardly too much to say that most diseases have come under control, or anyhow to judge by recent progress most of them soon will. But is the world the better for having a large number of healthy people dying of starvation, rather than letting them die of malaria? One of the justified boasts of recent times has been the great decrease that medicine has made in infant mortality. Whereas in the old days a mother might bear ten children and have only two survive, now she may bear only three and she will be regarded as vary unlucky if all do not survive. But the difficulty in the world is going to be that the number of people born is too great for the food supplies, so that a fraction must die anyhow; may it not be better that they should die in infancy? The truth is that all our present codes about the sanctity of human life are based on the security of life as it is at present, and once that is gone they will inevitably be revised, and the revision will probably shock most of our present opinion.” [emphasis mine] - 185

[1] Quotes from Charles Galton Darwin, The Next Million Years (1952).

[2] Quotes from Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society (1952). ISBN 0-415-10906-X

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