Downsizing Humanity

"Lawfully Speaking" Vol I, Issue No. 4
A Periodic Internet Political Column
Written by William H. and John M. Huff

Recently we received a lengthy article arguing that the human race would not be around much longer, and so we should try to minimize our disruptions of the environment as much as possible. As a matter of fact, the writer suggested if we were really considerate of the earth we should voluntarily implement "population control" measures.

The term "population control" encompasses so many concepts, from simple education about birth control options, to euthanasia and other more grisly practices. My reply to the gentleman was essentially as follows:

So the ills of the world, or more specifically the recent damage to the environment, is caused by the vastness of population... or is it caused by other factors? And the solution is to decrease the population... or are there other solutions? I couldn't find an answer to these related questions within the scope of your article. It appears your premise is human life is worth no more than other forms of life. Or, more accurately, the other forms of life on the planet are in some cases worth MORE than human life (people currently alive or future generations). Or, it may be that you truly value human life as equal or above other forms of life, but you simply haven't examined history in the slightest degree to determine how to implement your plan to save the environment.

Your presumption is that all peoples of the world can work together toward a common purpose and set aside selfish desires. My answer to this is that unless it be voluntary it will fail, as have all movements toward any purpose that were compulsory. Oh, don't mistake me as saying something won't be started. No, the beauty of today's "progressive" governments is that big programs and plenty of money can be spent on appearances and noble-sounding ideals. But if we ignore my recommendation that the program be voluntary and unite the peoples of the world under one absolute government which dictates everything they do and think, perhaps your plan would work. Unless the government has absolute control of the people, the "fringe elements" of independent thinkers and rebels would ruin everything. But therein lies the problem... it is in man's nature to be independent and self-governed.

Only upon complete failure and poverty or pain do some men realize and learn from their mistakes. Therefore, such an absolute government is required in order to delay these negative results until they become inevitable. Similar to the individual but on a larger scale, governments continue to follow policies to the bitter end. In this case, presumably, the plan would be devised by the intellectual elite and agreed upon "democratically (as if all people are capable of understanding the details and ramifications)." Such a plan, if flawed, would not be scrapped until the results were disastrous. And at this point who would be able to repay the costs in lives and happiness? But that question answers itself, since we have already agreed that the experiment itself, even if it failed in the attempt at saving non-human life on the planet, is worth sacrificing inestimable numbers of human life in the mere attempt.

I conclude my answer with a portion from the treatise entitled "The Law" by French Statesman Frederic Bastiat. The two sections follow in order, under the titles "The Socialists Despise Mankind" and "A Defense of Compulsory Labor."

The Socialists Despise Mankind
According to these writers, it is indeed fortunate that Heaven has bestowed upon certain men -- governors and legislators -- the exact opposite inclinations, not only for their own sake but also for the sake of the rest of the world! While mankind tends toward evil, the legislators yearn for good; while mankind advances toward darkness, the legislators aspire for enlightenment; while mankind is drawn toward vice, the legislators are attracted toward virtue. Since they have decided that this is the true state of affairs, they then demand the use of force in order to substitute their own inclinations for those of the human race.
Open at random any book on philosophy, politics, or history, and you will probably see how deeply rooted in our country is this idea -- the child of classical studies, the mother of socialism. In all of them, you will probably find this idea that mankind is merely inert matter, receiving life, organization, morality, and prosperity from the power of the state. And even worse, it will be stated that mankind tends toward degeneration, and is stopped from this downward course only by the mysterious hand of the legislator. Conventional classical thought everywhere says that behind passive society there is a concealed power called law or legislator (or called by some other terminology that designates some unnamed person or persons of undisputed influence and authority) which moves, controls, benefits, and improves mankind.

A Defense of Compulsory Labor
Let us first consider a quotation from Bossuet [tutor to the Dauphin in the Court of Louis XIV]:*
"One of the things most strongly impressed (by whom?) upon the minds of the Egyptians was patriotism.... No one was permitted to be useless to the state. The law assigned to each one his work, which was handed down from father to son. No one was permitted to have two professions. Nor could a person change from one job to another.. But there was one task to which all were forced to conform: the study of the laws and of wisdom. Ignorance of religion and of the political regulations of the country was not excused under any circumstances. Moreover, each occupation was assigned (by whom?) to a certain district... Among the good laws, one of the best was that everyone was trained (by whom?) to obey them. As a result of this, Egypt was filled with wonderful inventions, and nothing was neglected that could make life easy and quiet"
Thus, according to Bossuet, persons derive nothing from themselves. Patriotism, prosperity, inventions, husbandry, science -- all of these are given to the people by the operation of the laws, the rulers. All that the people have to do is to bow to leadership.
According to the gentleman who wrote to us, the ecological problems on the earth will only be solved by eliminating large numbers of humans. He recognizes however that following his suggestions would not guarantee the desired result. The bottom line for him was that it was worth the risk, even if it didn’t work, because he believes humans will not be around much longer anyway. He also proposed that several governments should get together to make policy on these issues and move forward to implement them.

The statement from Bastiat above indicates the mindset of those in positions of power, and others who have not taken the time to consider the ultimate ramifications of their theories. Their faulty logic and research is only slightly less disturbing when compared with their general view of the value of human life. Much more disturbing, however, is the credibility given to this type of information by policy and decision makers around the world. Bastiat further states in The Law, "Socialists look upon people as raw material to be formed into social combinations. This is so true that, if by chance, the socialists have any doubts about the success of these combinations, they will demand that a small portion of mankind be set aside to experiment upon." In concluding this excellent treatise, he states "Let us try Liberty!" He continues, "Away, then, with quacks and organizers! Away with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations! And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works."