Anti-human philosophies

In my book Modern Fascism, I explore the way various still-respectable strains of modern and post-modern thought–such as certain strains of Romanticism, existentialism, and liberal theology–came together in the various Fascist movements of the early 20th century.  Last weekend I met Robert Zubrin and heard him speak on what the various “anti-human philosophies” that grew up around Darwinism, eugenics, and radical environmentalism.  He too makes the connections to Fascism, overlapping with and adding to some of my findings. (This is NOT what has been called the argumentum ad Nazium rhetorical fallacy.  We’re talking about actual connections, as in individual thinkers who had actual connections to the Nazi party.)  Dr. Zubrin goes on to show how these anti-human philosophies are at work today.

Dr. Zubrin, a nuclear scientist and aerospace engineer,  is the author of Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism (New Atlantis Books).  He will be lecturing on this subject today at the Family Research Council, and his talk will be broadcast live over the web, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET, at this address:   Family Research Council.

From the description of the topic at the FRC website:

There was a time when humanity looked in the mirror and saw something precious, worth protecting and fighting for – indeed, worth liberating. But now we are beset on all sides by propaganda promoting a radically different viewpoint. According to this idea, human beings are a cancer upon the Earth, a species whose aspirations and appetites are endangering the natural order. This is the core of anti-humanism.

Merchants of Despair traces the pedigree of this ideology and exposes its deadly consequences in startling and horrifying detail. The book names the chief prophets and promoters of anti-humanism over the last two centuries, from Thomas Malthus through Paul Ehrlich and Al Gore. It exposes the worst crimes perpetrated by the anti-humanist movement, including eugenics campaigns in the United States and genocidal anti-development and population-control programs around the world.

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  • This is only one picture, a slanted one at that, of anti-human philosophies and it seems particularly aimed at the Left from the Right. But basic tenets from the conservatism du jour competes well against darwinian in creating and promoting anti-humanistic philosophies. These tenets are the maximization of profits and tribalism.

    The maximization of profits is a reductionistic philosophy that eliminates all moral values except one: self-interest is the only interest. Others become non-persons when any entity tries to maximize profits. People become disposable objects and are eliminated when they cannot contribute to making the highest profit.

    Tribalism is more than just a group identity; it is a high degree of loyalty to one group. When the loyalty becomes great enough, we embrace moral relativity in that what is right and wrong is determined by who does what to whom. Patriotism, regardless of the country of affection, provides a very relevant example of tribalism.
    Thus, value of another person depends on both the group another person belongs to and how that group treats one’s own group. In other words, the value of another person is no longer unconditional because that person is made in God’s image.

    Both the maximization of profits , because of its ties to laisez-faire business implications, and tribalism, because of instances like patriotism, are more conservative type tenets and have a far greater dehumanizing effect on society than Darwinism. Plus, society’s paradox of having both atheists who embrace evolution but reject Social Darwinism and theists who reject evolution while promoting Social Darwinism shows that we can’t lay all the blame for today’s dehumanization of people at Darwin’s feet.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Eugenics preceed Darwinism. Ever read Plato’s Republic?

    Curt, that is a very Marxist interpretation of Laisez Faire. The majority of Laisez Faire proponents believe that the natural balances willb prevail and ensure the best outcome. I am not one of them, but it helps not to demonize ones opponents with the utterings of the extremists (Objectivists, Randians).

    As to tribalism – that is a natural consequence: Chimpanzees essential indulge in inter-tribal warfare.

  • Cincinnatus


    Have you ever read Plato’s Republic? His whole point is not to endorse eugenics as an actual, political program.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    C – Plato understood people wouldn’t like it. Therefore his solution was “subversive eugenics”. He believed in eugenics AND understood the likely opposition to it.

  • SKPeterson

    Well, what is the point of laissez-faire but to allow entrepreneurs to satisfy the wants of individuals? Without meeting and fulfilling the wants of people, i.e. serving them, the free-market capitalist will soon find himself out of business. Profits are the only “objective” information the capitalist receives on how well he is doing in meeting and providing for the wants of others. The only people who are set aside in a free-market capitalist economy are those people who deliberately set themselves aside by either refusing to take part in the market process, or by refusing to serve their fellow man. It has been in the socialist (whether fascist or communist) schools of philosophy and economics that the individual has been reduced to irrelevance and unimportance, a mere cipher of historical and cultural processes undifferentiated and unrecognizable outside of a group or class identity.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Here’sa the thing that socialists do not understand. While Austrians, Ordoliberals and Keynesians differ much on methodology, they agree on object: The well-being of the Market Economy. The Austrians believe that the systems is best left alone as self-regulating, the Ordoliberals (or Freiburg school, if you prefer) believe that the system should have rules, but not be controlled, and the Keynsians believe that the system would often benefit from stimulus and encouragement. All of them believe in the Market. The socialists, however, believe that the unicorns will deliver the goodies, while we all sing kumbaya around the campfire….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Also, radical-environmentalism is not really new either. One could call Rousseau a proto-radical environmentalist.

  • Joe

    KK @ 7 – that is well stated.

  • Steve Bauer

    Without meeting and fulfilling the wants of people, i.e. serving them, the free-market capitalist will soon find himself out of business. Profits are the only “objective” information the capitalist receives on how well he is doing in meeting and providing for the wants of others. The only people who are set aside in a free-market capitalist economy are those people who deliberately set themselves aside by either refusing to take part in the market process, or by refusing to serve their fellow man.
    The only problem here is that the free-market capitalist is not satisfied with simply “”meeting and providing”/”serving” (*snort*) the wants of others. The capitalist looks on the other as a “consumer” and uses profits in advertising to manipulate, drive, and magnify the consumer’s wants in directions and amounts the consumer would not otherwise have – not to serve or benefit the consumer, but to maximize his own good.
    So the people who are set aside in a free market economy include those who are not able to resist the siren call of Madison Avenue (and who of us is so strong as we have not fallen victim in at least some way). There would be those who would argue that the ones who are weak-willed and vunerable to the consumerist Borg have only themselves to blame. While that makes sense from a darwinist perspective, I do not think that it conforms very well to Christ’s attitude toward the weak.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Steve, but then you have the quandry of either the “evil” capitalist channeling the individual, or the government doing it. That is why I choose (for now) the middle ground – not Keynsian, nor socialist, nor Austrian, but the Freiburg school. A very nice summary was written up by some fellow here:

    One could view it as optimized competition. And it works – it is the basis of Germany’s post-war recovery miracle. And its general ongoing strength, despite the drag being put on the country by its less-successful partners in the EU. But, as all other systems, it is not perfect.

  • John C

    No author who wants to be taken seriously would ever be associated with the Family Research Council. The FRC has been designated as a hate organization by The Southern Poverty Law Center and its president Tony Perkins has rather colourful ideas on the Right’s usual fixations –homosexuals, gay marriage, gays in the boy scouts, abortion, the decline of western civilization, gun control and homosexuals.

  • Abby

    @12 “Tony Perkins has rather colourful ideas on the Right’s usual fixations. . . ” Sounds like a really dangerous man.

  • SKPeterson

    John C @ 12 – Remember that the often unquestioned pronouncements of the SPLC should be taken with an equal, if not greater, measure of salt as that of the FRC.

    Steve @ 10 – Are you disparaging advertising or product differentiation? The capitalist does look on the other as a “consumer.” The consumer looks on the capitalist as a “producer.” Are they dehumanized or dehumanizing by doing so? I guess I give people more credit than you do to recognize advertising and marketing schemes and then judge accordingly. Further, advertising does provide some real, tangible goods to consumers: information on what is available, where it is available, and what the prices are. To deprive consumers of this information reduces the scope of the market and reduces consumer choice. The end result of what you are advocating is nothing more than everyone having only one set of clothes and all of those clothes should be the same uniform. Maybe that is what you desire: only one type of any good should ever be produced; everything should be everywhere and always the same. In essence, you are saying that the dignity of Man is found in uniformity and conformance to the whole.

  • Steve Bauer

    Yes, that’s my understanding of history, too. For all the centuries before the advent of Madison Avenue techniques and the explosion of “choices” in our consumerist society, people everywhere walked around in uniforms with single minded devotion to the hive. There is a distinction between what capitalism has turned advertising into from what advertising could be. Sheesh, abusus non tollit usum. I’m talking about the deliberate misuse of “advertising” and capitalism’s seeming inability to refrain from engaging in that abuse. I’m sorry but in the world I live in, advertising is for the most part aimed at inciting the flesh to lust and greed and not to inform the intellect.

  • Wattmi

    The existence of eugenics before facism and the movements that led to and came from the movement does not disprove the influence that facism has had on the modern American eugenics movement. Ideas, kind of like clothing, come in and out of vogue. The prevalence of a new idea can make an old idea seem new again. The American Eugenics movement shows this throughout it’s history. It was a big thing until WWII when the German Concentration Camps were discovered. It has gained significant traction today under the guise of women’s reproductive rights and walks hand in hand with the environmentalist idea that humans are a plague on the earth. I recently read Dr. Veith’s book Modern Facism, I found it very interesting especially how well it tied in with one of my teacher’s education classes. I also attended Dr. Zubrin’s lecture. It’s really interesting to see how people build off of one another, whether they admit is or not. History is really complicated, and the history of ideas is a tangled thread. (To Dr. Veith: Idea for new DL program, follow the professor’s blog 😀

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Wattmi – nobody says that the fascists did not co-opt the eugenic idea, or that certain types of progressivism was enthralled by it. Something is wrong because of what it is, not because of who likes it.

  • SKPeterson

    Additional point: Fascism in and of itself did not adhere strictly to the eugenic idea; that was a peculiarly Nazi fascination not paralleled by the Spanish Falange (much less Franco’s Nationalists) or the Italians under Mussolini.

    Steve @ 15 – Ah, okay. You object to the “sex sells” aspect of advertising. I suppose this could be laid at the feet of capitalism, but it might was well just be laid at the foot of Man. Capitalism does encompass mankind and as a result it encompasses mankind’s sinful nature. Of that there is no real debate. And yes, I would argue that in its more virulent and crass forms (such as pornography) it does degrade and dehumanize, but that this is mostly confined to the fringes. Still I would argue that most advertising does do simply what I described above – note a particular product of service that is being offered in the marketplace.

  • Rod

    Modern Fascism is an excellent book! Is there an updated version in the works Gene?

  • Gene Veith

    Thanks, Rod. That’s a draining topic to research. I’ve thought of returning to it and updating it. (There has been quite a bit of new scholarship that supports my thesis.) But I haven’t had the energy to take it up again. But maybe one of these days. . . .

  • dust

    After reading Dr. Veith’s very good book, here’s another one that may be of interest:


  • Klasie,
    I haven’t read Plato’s Republic, I am waiting for the movie. However, Marxists are not a monolithic group so I will have to disagree with you on this.

    As for tribalism, the danger it poses to Christianity is that of destroying its moral base. The stronger the tribalism, the more a group clings to moral relativism. And, the combination of tribalism and an ever advancing technology spells certain doom for the near future.