The Age of Arrogance, part 2

Ideas and ideologies, when implemented, have consequences, mostly unintended. We take justifiable pride in our scientific achievements, without realizing that those achievements are like a stool  missing one leg. In the 18th century, the so called Age of Reason, we cast off the mantle of “superstition” and finally embraced science as the ultimate truth. We contrast it with the 17th century -the Age of Faith- and present it as proof that all religions are, at the core, intolerant and irrational. This view, however, is not supported by the facts when compared with the centuries that followed. There was nothing religious about the French Revolution or the Napoleonic Wars -which killed more people than the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries combined-  nor were the nationalistic  wars of the 19th century religious by any means. WW I and WW II were completely secular in nature, as were the more local wars that followed.

We have traveled the long route from fallen angel to risen ape and during the journey we have acquired much knowledge but little wisdom. We have a wealth of scientific information at our fingertips but we are missing the fourth leg of the stool: moral compass. We pushed God off  center stage and took his place; we manipulate the genetic code of plants and animals and soon we will be able to manipulate the human code as well in spite of how many laws we enact to forbid it. Humanity’s first experiment in genetic engineering, eugenics, led to the forced sterilization of tens of thousands in the US and Europe and culminated in the death of millions in the extermination camps. What the manipulation of the human genome will lead to is unknown, but given the historical precedents, the prospect is not reassuring.

Since the inception of Roe v Wade, it is estimated that some 55 million abortions have taken place. Put in perspective, that is more than the total populations of California, Oregon and Arizona combined and close to the total loss of life, military and civilian in WW II, not to mention the intangible loss in human potential and achievement.

The combination of artificial birth control and abortion has created a sharp decline in the birth rates of the industrial nations. In Europe, this decline of the native populations, coupled with the vigorous growth rate of the North African immigrants, for whom birth control and abortion are alien and repugnant concepts, projects the latter as the potential majority, perhaps by 2050. The prospect of “Eurabia” looms and is not as far fetched as it sounds. Recall that between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, the Roman Empire’s population shrank from an estimated 70 million to about 50 million. -some caused by epidemics but also by the realization that childless couples “have more fun”. There was a group that rejected the notion of childless marriages and condemned abortions: Christians, whose numbers grew steadily. When Constantine I recognized Christianity, he was probably acknowledging the fact that Christians were already, if not a majority, a large enough group poised to become that majority.

In the US, the declining birth rate presents an unexpected problem: the looming bankruptcy of the Social Security system, which, despite the sanctimonious pronouncements of politicians, is a Ponzi scheme dependent on the steady influx of newcomers into the system. At one point, for  every retiree receiving payments there were from 4 to 5 workers contributing into the fund; as it stands today, the combination of increasing unemployment, longer life spans and decreasing birth rates is reducing this ratio to a dangerously unsustainable  level. Another consequence of the unnatural decline of the birth rate is the too real possibility of an ageing population without anybody to take care of it.

A parting thought regarding the survival of the eugenics mind set.  In an interview conducted by Emily Bezzelon for the New York Times magazine, Supreme Court justice Ruth Beda Ginsburg made the following startling comment on Roe v Wade” “there was concern about population growth, and particularly those populations that we don’t want to have many of”  (Italics mine) No challenge from the interviewer.

Which populations was she referring to? And no less important, who are the “we” that do “the not wanting”? The elitist minority that decides who breeds and who does not? The arrogance is supreme.

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