The Reality of Human Group Competition
by David Sims
TO THE EXTENT THAT birth control works, it works because of externally applied disincentives to breed. It might be the threat of punishment for having too many children (as in China), or it might be an economic disincentive: the knowledge that the resources available to a family will suffice for raising only a very few children well. When the coercive pressure is removed, as it is with people allowed to enroll on social welfare programs, such privileged persons usually have many children in the expectation that others will have to pay the costs of supporting them.
Relying on volunteerism to motivate birth control never succeeds in the long run, for reasons described by Garrett Hardin in his essay “The Tragedy of the Commons” and further by Herschel Elliott in his essay “A General Statement of the Tragedy of the Commons.” Both are linked below.
The idea that humans can control their population through voluntary birth control can be proved false with an understanding of how evolution by natural selection works. Voluntary efforts in population control always fail because the “responsible” people who limit their births get out-bred and replaced by the “irresponsible” people, who continue to reproduce rapidly. Whatever had enabled the responsible people to restrain themselves disappears from the gene pool.
While Hardin didn’t take his argument to the level of international competitions, it isn’t difficult to do so.
Let’s suppose that Country A limits births, while Country B does not. Before long, Country B has lots of hungry people, while Country A has plenty for all. Country B would like to invade Country A and take its food for themselves, but Country A has powerful technological weapons that make up for its lower population and, hence, its fewer soldiers. Then one day the oil wells run dry, and Country A’s technological weapons don’t work anymore. Country B invades country A, and Country A’s population promptly goes from limited by birth control to zero by military genocide.
Mankind’s intelligence, being without peer on Earth, has prevented any natural predator from keeping his numbers in check. Furthermore, the “tragedy of the commons” described by Hardin means that any voluntary effort in population control will eventually fail. Man must supply his own predation. We are actually supposed to partition ourselves into groups, and each group is supposed to engage in low-tech warfare (weapons that operate by human muscle power, augmented by clever tactics on the battlefield). The long term effect of this human-on-human predation will be to control the global population, as the winners kill the losers on an ongoing basis, while improving the breed, since the winners will tend to be the stronger and smarter groups.
Technical civilization, it turns out, is actually quite a destructive thing to what really counts: the biological quality of the human race. And of all things civilized, the worst are political governments (as opposed to tribal ones) and economic systems that shift the measure of man from his blood to his wallet, or from what he is to what he owns.
Here are two very interesting papers on economics and human psychology, and on the ways in which the two are incompatible that frequently lead to ruin on a large scale.
“The Tragedy of the Commons” by Garrett Hardin
“A General Statement of the Tragedy of the Commons” by Herschel Elliott
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