Classic Essays

The Criminally Selfish

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TO MOST MORALISTS it is axiomatic that human ills are caused by human greed and all we need to do is stop being greedy just like that. Yet biologically not all of us are selfish and altruism is not optional to all. We are of course influenced by environment, but a new breed of psychologists is telling us that 70 to 90 percent (depending upon the individual) of one’s character and mental capacity is due to genes and cannot be changed by environmental influences.

On this basis let us look at a normal curve of innate selfishness (above).

Theoretically, there could be a person at the point of zero selfishness who would give away his last dime and starve to death.

Around the 10% point, we find the dogooders, church workers and the like. Clergymen point to these as an example of what we would all be like if we would “accept Christ” and support the clergy. This is biologically impossible. Most of us do not have those kinds of genes.

Most of us are grouped about the 50% point. Circumstances such as good times or hard times (environmental influences) can cause the curve to bulge to the right or to the left, but we would still remain on the curve.

Those at the far right of the curve, in the 90 to 100% selfish section are the criminally selfish. The group can be further divided into the intelligent and the unintelligent. The latter will spend their lives in and out of prison. Who are the more intelligent of the criminally selfish? To a large extent, especially under a “democracy,” they are our political leaders.

With rare exceptions, under the current political and financial system, when we see a politician, or a chairman of the board, we must realize that in all probability we are seeing one who is criminally selfish — who will commit almost any crime that he can get away with.

Since unpunished crime yields a survival advantage to the criminal, criminal genes will increase in the gene pool. To diminish crime we must give it a survival disadvantage. Then the gene pool will improve. We will have more law-abiding citizens, fewer criminals and less overcrowding in our jails.

If we save the lives of murderers, there will be more and more murderers.

Can we change the character or the genes of a man or woman by punishment? Of course we can’t. And we do not owe board and room for life to anyone just because of a murder.

Yet one who plans and executes a murder, or one who rapes a little girl and cuts her throat to cover up the crime, need not be cruelly executed. He can be painlessly put to sleep.

For many murderers it is a little game. They are curious to know whether society has the courage to defend itself. They should be given the answer.

Painless death is not revenge. It is just a cleansing of the gene pool.

If the murderer ever gets out, which he almost always does these days, he will go on killing and those he kills will not be just the bad citizens. According to the Uniform Crime Reports for 1972, 39.8% or almost 40% of those arrested for murder had killed four or more times. Is this not something for the anti-executionists to think about? Think how many good lives we save by the execution of just one murderer.

Can we not accord to society the same right that we give to the individual? The right to kill in self-defense?

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Source: based on an article in Instauration magazine, November 1977

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