[lit-ideas] Re: Does This Have Wings?

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2012 16:26:44 +0100 (BST)

 From: Ed Farrell <ewf@xxxxxxxxxxx>

 >It's also clear in the arguments of Paul and Donal how utilitarian "ethics," 
 >constructed as it typically is upon hypotheticals, is less about human beings 
 >and more about statistical constructs.>

Whatever I posted is compatible with a rights-based and non-utilitarian view, 
one "about human beings" and not mere "statistical constructs": a so-called 
'right to have children' may have to be curtailed when having too many children 
undermines other rights (like to survive without some conflict to the death 
between the living). Starvation or drought being faced through over-population 
is hardly merely hypothetical or a 'statistical construct': and no morality 
says anything worthwhile if what it says is irrespective of any 'hypotheticals' 
in the sense of a practical problem-situation that is partly determined by 

From what I have read elsewhere, the evidence tends to support Chris Bruce's 
suggestion: that when sufficiently empowered and free from poverty women will 
not have more children than is sustainable. But say that empowerment does not 
occur so as to stave off a potentially disastrous expansion of population 
(which may make issues of poverty even more intractable, and lead to social 
instability and even war): it seems to me the 'right to have children' does not 
clearly trump any other rights and that legal restrictions on such a right may 
be justified in terms of the importance of other rights. 

What matters here is the moral problem-situation which is partly constituted by 
the 'facts'. On my view, there are conceivable circumstances when certain 
restrictions would be justified: and I can even conceive of circumstances where 
forcible abortion might be the lesser of two evils - say, if nothing short of 
such a policy would curtail an expansion of population such that mass 
starvation and social breakdown would occur. This is not necessarily only a 
utilitarian view but one that might be based on the view that there is 
something morally much more wrong in many starving to death than in some 
foetuses being forcibly aborted (as part of a policy needed to keep population 
within sustainable limits). If it comes down to it, I am inclined to think that 
there is something morally much more wrong in many starving to death than in 
some foetuses being forcibly aborted, but of course any genuine moral problem 
of this sort will rarely present in such a
 straighforward or clear-cut way. Nevertheless, what I am inclined to think 
here is very much "about human beings", and the reality of their suffering, and 
not "about statistical constructs". 

As it happens, I do not regard myself as utilitarian though I think there are 
many cases where some of the considerations that would weigh in certain 
utilitarian thinking have moral force (though that force need not be based on 
'utility' but on a sense of right and wrong; and so acknowledging their force 
need not make one utilitarian).

The suspicion is that over-population is not here offered as an issue raising 
genuine and difficult moral problems - problems we should try to foresee; and 
plan so as lessen the suffering that over-population might cause - but in an 
ideologically driven way to flush out liberals as crypto-fascists [or even just 
fascists] by perhaps showing them up as child murderers if they would ever 
countenance forcible abortion (as indeed I plainly would: though this is not a 
pressing problem for me as there are many ways short of forcible abortion by 
which we might better tackle issues of over-population). The attempt to use a 
morally serious issue in this way is itself morally questionable. The attempt 
to identify my position, with one that prefers statistical constructs to human 
beings, is false.

On a side-note that is perhaps important: I also share the Darwinian view that, 
despite all the humbug in our culture that hides this, the drive to have 
children is more of a selfish drive than an altrusitic one; and we should be 
wary of such drives especially when they come with a plentiful capacity for 
deception as to their moral character [large families in poor countries may be 
motivated by parents wanting a plentiful supply of children to look after the 
parents in old-age: that may be why removal of poverty lessens the drive for 
large families]. It is the kind of self-deception we have around children, and 
the emotional response we easily can feel, that allows examples such as 
over-population and abortion to be used as convenient tools in ideological 
warfare. But from a Darwinian and global perspective on the possible future, 
and not current circumstances in the well-off West, even forcible abortion 
might be a lesser evil if we do not act to stave
 off unsustainable population growth with its potentially catastrophic 


Wednesday, July 11, 2012, 6:37:40 PM, you wrote:

 I wanted to see if it might be possible to combine arguments and rationales 
that used "liberal" interpretations of various phrases in the US Constitution 
to impose a Chinese style tyranny. I started with the idea that anything could 
be justified by invoking "general welfare." Then I proceeded to look for 
something that is a liberal favorite, and found population control. I then 
proposed a mandate that imposed violence upon women by mandating abortion. No 
liberal male defended a woman's right to choose to have more than one child. 
The Robert's court ruled that as long as you can invoke the taxing power you 
could basically get away with anything. I proposed total confiscation of income 
for 10 years, essentially slavery. No liberal objected. I then came up with a 
justification for imposing a tyrannous definition of religion. No liberal 

The justification for population control rests on Malthus, but Malthus, in the 
19th century, and Paul Erlich, in the 20th century, both made predictions that 
haven't come to pass. I believe current projections are for population to peak 
in 2050 at 9 billion, and then begin a slight decline. 

Unfortunately, the whole idea of population control runs counter to the way 
many current social programs are constructed. Social Security and Medicare are 
both pass-through systems that should have a small number of people being 
supported by a large number of workers. Unfortunately, the population is aging, 
and living longer so that the top of the pyramid is increasing, and birth 
control, abortion, late marriages, etc., are leading to smaller numbers of 
workers. Unless there is a die-off at the top, either active killing, or 
passive neglect, or the working base broadens (through legal immigration, since 
illegals will avoid taxes), or increased fertility, financial implosion is 

What is interesting is that:

1. People assumed that their definition of "general welfare" is the correct 
one, and that they were willing to impose it by force.
2. The ideal of forcibly violating a woman's body was not repugnant to them.
3. Children were regarded not as people, but as things, i.e., reified.
4. The idea that the government could impose a penalty, disguised as a tax, 
amounting to 10 years worth of income was not repugnant to them.
5. The idea that government could determine what constitutes religious 
practice, and limit one's freedom of conscience was not repugnant to them.
6. The idea that the government could essentially penalize religious thought, 
belief, and practice, was applauded.

So where is the "liber" in liberalism? I see:

1. The belief that a person, one of the cognoscenti, the good, those who have 
knowledge, can act for the people as a whole. I'm reminded of Trotsky's 
criticism about the Party substituting for the workers, the Central Committee 
substituting for the Party, the Politburo substituting for the Central 
Committee, and the General Secretary substituting for the Politburo.
2. Liberty is not inherent, not unalienable, but exists at the whim of the 

I'm afraid that I see the boot trampling on the human face and grinding it into 
the ground, and the proponents of these ideas can only be described in one word:


Jonah Goldberg is right, liberalism and fascism are nearly identical.

"All women are created equal.
Then some become Marines"

Katy Perry video for "Part of me"

Thomas Hart

On Jul 11, 2012, at 6:01 PM, cblists@xxxxxxxx wrote:

I've got an alternate proposal for population control: give all the women of 
the world minimum health care, education and nutrition for themselves and the 
children they have already borne, education about and access to contraception, 
and the absolute right to choose their sexual partners and (without coercion in 
either direction) how many children they will bear in the future.

It has wings - the question is: who keeps clipping them?

Chris Bruce,
who has more faith on this matter
in womankind than mankind, in
Kiel, Germany
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  ><(((º>¸. ·´¯`·.¸., . .·´¯`·.. ><(((º>
  Edward W. Farrell // ewf@xxxxxxxxxxx

  E d  F a r r e l l  P h o t o g r a p h y
  http://www.edfarrellphotography.com ;

  Plato for Research Management
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