At a 2012 Republican debate the audience cheered the death of a hypothetical 30 year-old uninsured man. Many viewers were shocked. “Who are these ghouls?” How can an audience of normal-looking Americans cheer for the death of a young man?
This disturbing incident was just a visible manifestation of the ugly ideology that normally plays far below the surface at far right gatherings. The ideology is about power, hierarchy and may-the-devil-take-the-hindmost. There is nothing new under the sun,” the author of Ecclesiastes wrote, and this ugly idea has been around a long time. Way back in 360 B.C. Plato suggested the order for an ideal society, ruled by philosopher-kings, coincidentally people just like him self. Warriors were the next class down and everyone else was lumped into “producers.”
The world rolled on and by the time of Thomas Malthus, a rigid class structure had developed in England. Malthus, who was a clergyman, wondered how a good God could have made such a world; a world in which the poor kept reproducing though they were suffering and starving. Malthus did not wonder if men had made that world through their man-devised institutions. For Malthus and for many others, what is must be what is natural and therefore right. He wrote his conclusions in Essay on the Principles of Population, 1789.
Malthus decided that people were going to keep reproducing, resources would run out and the excess people would die. This was just natural and therefore good. To help the poor would actually increase the suffering, since they would just reproduce more. Let them die, like the uninsured 30 year-old man. Malthus’ concept of survival of the fittest was adapted by Darwin, who gave him credit in his autobiography:
"In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long- continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The results of this would be the formation of a new species. Here, then I had at last got a theory by which to work".The idea that the strong should rule and the weak die has great appeal-for the strong ruling class. They are the ones who promote philosophies and even science that supports their position. The shame is that the first law code ever written down was written by the “pagan” king Hammurabi (1780 B.C.) who sounded more like a Christian than this English clergyman. In the Preamble Hammurabi says the purpose for the Code is “so that the strong should not harm the weak…”
The Republican ideology is old. As Darwin said, “favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed.” Let the Free Market decide who lives and dies. Anyone who is poor is obviously inferior. Social institutions that perpetuate poverty and reward privilege are still taboo considerations, and the Republicans have managed to convince their masses that this is just.
Je' Czaja was a missionary and founder/Director of faith-based non profit organizations serving disadvantaged children and youth. She has been a writer and illustrator for over twenty years. She is an independent researcher on human nature and the history and power of ideas.