Author warns of anti-humanism's global effects

Robert Zubrin speaks at the Hudson Institute April 24 2012 CNA US Catholic News 4 25 12 Robert Zubrin speaks at the Hudson Institute April 24, 2012.

The author of a new book outlined the global dangers of “anti-humanism,” a theory which holds that people are fundamentally bad because they destroy things and waste resources.  

“Human existence is not a struggle of all against all,” said Dr. Robert Zubrin. Rather, humans actually “benefit from the existence of other peoples and nations.”

Zubrin, an aerospace engineer and author, as well as the founder of the Mars Society, spoke at an April 24 event in Washington, D.C. sponsored by science and technology journal, “The New Atlantis.”
He discussed the arguments made in his new book, titled, “Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism.”

Zubrin noted that anti-humanism has surfaced in different manifestations over past centuries, masked by both left and right wing movements.

One such manifestation was the work of 19th century economist Thomas Malthus, who claimed that because population increases at a much greater rate than food supply, rising population levels will lead to a decrease in humanity’s well-being. 

However, Zubrin explained, Malthus was an employee of the British East India Company, and his theory “was largely a rationalization” for the British to continue practices that fostered starvation in other countries.

Historical data shows that Malthus’ theory is “totally wrong,” he said, pointing to statistics indicating that as human populations increase, the standard of living also rises.

This makes sense because “the more people there are, the more technological advances there are,” he explained, noting that such advances are cumulative and therefore benefit the human population greatly.

He added that a similar strain of anti-humanism has also surfaced in the famous 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” and other campaigns calling for urgent action to limit population growth to avoid running out of resources.

This argument is flawed, Zubrin said, because it fails to recognize that “resources are a human creation.”

He explained that human technology is able to create new resources that were not previously available. For example, oil was not a resource before we had drilling technology, he said. Thus, the human gift of ingenuity prevents man from running out of resources as some have feared.

Zubrin said that the anti-humanist ideology went on to influence the eugenics movements that led to atrocities such as the Holocaust.

He highlighted the anti-humanist belief that the individual is insignificant and the race alone has value, as well as the idea that war is needed to eliminate weak races and nations.

The Holocaust was seen as “applied biology,” he said, observing that the Nazi party openly said that it wanted to eliminate those who were unfit and succeeded in committing terrible crimes
“because this ideology was so pervasive.”

In America, the eugenics movement consisted largely of anti-immigration efforts, Zubrin said. Such efforts targeted those deemed inferior, who were considered to be “threatening the complete mental degeneration of the United States.”

More recently, the anti-humanist ideology has appeared in China’s brutal one-child policy, which utilizes forced abortions and sterilizations to prevent couples from having more than one child, he added.

Today, anti-humanism can also be seen in the radical environmental movement, Zubrin said.

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He offered multiple examples of efforts to suppress the human population for the sake of the environment, while ignoring the fact that “humans have improved the fertility of the biosphere.”

Opposition to chemicals and procedures that could save millions of human lives because of their effects on the environment shows a deeply anti-humanist viewpoint, he said.

“This isn’t about the environment at all,” he explained. “This is about making the case that humanity needs to be prosecuted.”

In the end, Zubrin said, this is a debate “about the nature of humanity.”

The anti-human point of view sees human beings as fundamentally destroyers whose activity must be limited and controlled, while the pro-human point of view sees human beings as essentially creators, for whom liberty is “a necessity,” he said.

Arguing that an anti-human ideology can quickly become “an incitement to genocide,” Zubrin explained that the choice is ultimately one between “war and peace, death and life, hate and love.”

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