Christian Ethics & Dysgenics

The New Testament’s approach to charity is fairly restricted.  Paul tells us that those who do not work should not eat.  Paul also goes through great pains to delineate which widows in the church were worthy of support – they had to be old (young ones should remarry) and blameless, holy women.  There is no specific provision made for the social welfare of anyone else beyond widows and orphans, and absent such commands, none can be reliably inferred from Scripture itself.

Nevertheless, most Christians see charity of some sort as an obligation, and it has always been appropriate to give alms to the “worthy poor.”  Prior to the modern era, charity was by necessity local, limited in scale and voluntary, due to the general scarcity of resources. When occasional crises like famines came, there simply was not enough excess production available to help everyone.  Charity, then, was not a social welfare program so much as a prophylactic for the wealthy and powerful to avoid destructive overconfidence, to acknowledge the role of Providence in their position by showing consideration to the poor.

Christian charity as historically practiced was not dysgenic.  Caring for widows, for example, usually involved supporting women who were formerly married, had children and were no longer able to care for themselves – the impact on dysgenics was zero.  The care of orphans was likewise not dysgenic, as the ancient world featured a lot of random death from disease – orphans were children whose parents were taken by this randomness, and as a group their genetic quality was no different from the general population.

The Christian practice of saving infants from exposure was likewise non-dysgenic, as the vast majority of these cases were not due to actual deformity, but rather due to a preference for male children or fewer children.  The Greek historian Polybius describes the depopulation of Greece:

For instance, take the following case. In our own time the whole of Greece has been subject to a low birth-rate and a general decrease of the population, owing to which cities have become deserted and the land has ceased to yield fruit, although there have neither been continuous wars nor epidemics. If, then, any one had advised us to send and ask the gods about this, and find out what we ought to say or do, to increase in number and make our cities more populous, would it not seem absurd, the cause of the evil being evident and the remedy being in our own hands? For as men had fallen into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice, and indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they married to rear the children born to them, or at most as a rule but one or two of them, so as to leave these in affluence and bring them up to waste their substance, the evil rapidly and insensibly grew.  For in cases where of one or two children the one was carried off by war and the other by sickness, it is evident that the houses must have been left unoccupied, and as in the case of swarms of bees, so by small degrees cities became resourceless and feeble.

The emphasis is mine, but the scholarly consensus is that Polybius was censoring the Greeks for killing their children simply for their own convenience.  Christian efforts to save exposed children would be positively eugenic in a time of population decline.

Only in the last 100 years has human ingenuity risen to a level where all people could theoretically be cared for, with cheap food, energy and housing from a general rise in technological-fueled productivity.  It is not Christian charitable ethics, but rather the capability to care for large numbers of non-productive people at scale, that is the root cause of dysgenics today.

There is a valid argument, I believe, to the idea that our unprecedented productivity ought to be put to use to better the human condition through certain socialistic practices.  I’m not sure where I fall on this issue, but Huey Long’s appeal to share the wealth of our industrial abundance does not sound crazy to me.  This might seem particularly just in a place like Denmark where everyone is closely related – the state, arguably, simply formalizes and enforces (against cheaters) social norms that members of one’s extended family ought to be supported in their sickness and old age.

Among the Alt Right, there is some support for this sort of socialistic enterprise in a future ethnostate, but we are also aware of the externalities of such a situation.  The nations of Europe, for example, have collapsed their birthrates, partially through spiritual decline, but also partially due to a change in incentives.  When the state provides cradle to grave care, no one has motivation to make the sacrifices necessary to have children to in turn care for them in their old age.  Human children, particularly in the high investment European culture, represent 20 years of voluntary slavery.  Why bother if other people will pick up the tab for your old age support?

The Alt Right recognizes that these policies have externalities that must be fixed.  In particular, productive citizens need to be highly financially incentivized to have children.  So far, modest efforts to encourage native reproduction in Europe have been somewhat successful, but none to the point of raising the fertility to the magic 2.1+ children per woman level necessary for population stability.  If and when a nationalist party holds complete power in a nation of Europe, hopefully experimentation with policy will reveal whether financial incentives are sufficient to induce childbearing.  My guess is that they will be partially effective, but the overall trend towards dematerialization will tend to depress any merely economic (as opposed to spiritual) efforts to increase births.  It is an unfortunate fact that many Western women are so spiritually impoverished that no amount of money could induce them away from Instagram, the clubs and their smartphone.

Most contemporary Christians would support pro-child policies, and indeed have historically supported eugenic policies like the Child Tax Credit.  The more immediate problem, however, is the dysgenic effect of the welfare state.  We have a lot of time for spiritual renewal and policy experimentation to encourage child-rearing among the productive, but lowering the overall quality of the gene pool through incentivizing the less productive to reproduce cannot be easily reversed.

I think many Christians would see the logic of my argument, but cringe at taking any action to address the problem.  While positive incentives seem just, negative actions, such as sterilization, seem unjust.  Let us look at the ethical questions involved.

It is important to recognize that the vast majority of welfare recipients are not legitimate causes for Christian charity.  Despite cucky pastors’ rhetoric, a single mother who becomes pregnant through her own promiscuity, and shows bad judgment in mating with a man who will not support his child, is not a widow and her child is not an orphan, if the words of the Bible have any objective meaning.  Her life will be hard, no doubt, but the hardships she will endure as a natural consequence of her sin may be the only thing that can shake her out of her vanity and cause her to repent.  It’s important to recognize that we as a society have made a choice, a choice we are not ethically obligated to make, to show mercy to such individuals and go beyond the strict requirements of equity to care for the truly infirm and fatherless.  Since we are not obligated to help the single mother ethically, it would be proper for us to put conditions on that aid, particularly when the conditions are necessary for the system of aid to continue.  In short, a society that continually encourages the non-productive to reproduce will eventually destroy not only itself but also the very system of aid that comes from the abundance of a productive society.

Most Christians understand that giving cash to the homeless is irresponsible, as much of it will go to enable sin.  Similarly, giving aid to the single mother without requiring her to take action to prevent the destruction of the system of aid that benefits her is irresponsible.  As such, I believe it is entirely within the realm of Christian ethics to require, as a condition of aid, that single mothers be sterilized.  This would not apply to widows with legitimate children of a dead father (and I’ll note here that the conflation of bastardy and widowing is a profound insult to widows, who are entitled to the aid of the church).  For single mothers, they can choose to meet the condition and receive aid, or may choose to not meet the condition and not receive aid.  There is no coercion, simply an exchange of promises, a covenant if you will, that those who receive extraordinary mercy must take extraordinary measures.

I have often, as a Christian, been annoyed by some of the atheist Alt Right’s embrace of abortion as a supposed eugenic practice.  Proper rationing of charity, however, would ethically address this concern without the need to assault the dignity of motherhood with the availability of abortion.  Irresponsible parents would be “one and done,” ensuring that their share of the population steadily decrease by natural attrition rather than unjust violence towards infants.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s