Darwin's Source of Inspiration: Malthus' Theory of Ruthlessness
Europe Since 1870 by the English professor of history, James Joll
Darwin's source of inspiration on his unscientific, dark and dangerous ideas was the British economist Thomas Malthus' book An Essay on the Principle of Population. Left to their own devices, Malthus calculated that the human population increased rapidly. In his view, the main influences that kept populations under control were disasters such as war, famine and disease. In short, according to this brutal claim, some people had to die for others to live. Existence came to mean permanent war.
The implementation in the 19th century of Malthus's thesis of the necessity of the struggle for life brought misery to the helpless and poor children in England. Religion, however, ensures the protection of children. A life of goodness and virtue, without any misery and suffering, is only possible if the moral teachings of religion are practiced.
In the 19th century, Malthus' deviant ideas were widely accepted. European upper class intellectuals in particular supported his cruel ideas. In the article "The Scientific Background of the Nazi "Race Purification" Programme," by T.D. Hall, the importance 19th-century Europe attached to Malthus's views on population is described in this way:
In the opening half of the nineteenth century, throughout Europe, members of the ruling classes gathered to discuss the newly discovered "Population problem" and to devise ways of implementing the Malthusian mandate, to increase the mortality rate of the poor: "Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations," and so forth and so on.26
As a result of this cruel policy, the weak, and those who lost the struggle for survival would be eliminated, and as a result the rapid rise in population would be balanced out. This so-called "oppression of the poor" policy was actually carried out in 19th-century Britain. An industrial order was set up in which children of eight and nine were made to work sixteen hours a day in the coal mines and thousands died from the terrible conditions. The struggle for survival demanded by Malthus's theory led to millions of Britons leading lives full of suffering.
Influenced by these wild ideas, Darwin applied this concept of conflict to all of nature, and proposed that the strong and the fittest emerged victorious from this war of existence. Moreover, he claimed that the so-called struggle for survival was a justified and unchangeable law of nature. On the other hand, he invited people to abandon their religious beliefs by denying the creation, and thus undermined all ethical values that might prove to be obstacles to the ruthlessness of the struggle for survival.
Humanity has paid a heavy price in the 20th century for the dissemination of these callous views which led people to ruthlessness and cruelty.
Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin