The Influence of Malthus and Darwin on War and Genocide



By Richard Kieninger (based on a 1995 article by Leading Edge Research Group)


One of the most significant turning points in human history occurred in 1798 with the publication of Reverend Thomas Malthus’ book, Essay on the Principle of Population. In what became known as the Malthus Doctrine, he argued that because “all animated life [tends] to increase beyond the nourishment prepared for it,” there can never be real progress or happiness for humankind. Humanity is doomed to procreate itself into destitution. The Rev. Malthus postulated that populations, whether animal or human, know no internal constraints. Populations simply grow and grow, until checked by famine, disease, predators, or war. Do populations exhibit any internal constraints to excessive population growth? Malthus’ answer was “No. Populations are unprincipled.”


However well-informed this zoological observation had been applied to animal populations in the wild, Malthus extended them to the human population. Why did he do that and where did he get such an idea that unless held in check by external restraining factors, human populations devastate their environment? Coincidentally, the same islands that provided Charles Darwin with an abundance of field data also played a major role in the cogitations of Malthus—the Galapagos.


In the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth, sailing ships released goats on the islands. In time, goats on certain of the islands ate just about every bit of available vegetation. From this, Malthus posited that the sexual drive knows no constraints, no internal constraints that is, and, by extension, what is true for goats is also true for humans; presto! Therefore, populations—whether populations of goats or humans—must be controlled by external factors which, by his way of thinking, amounted to a responsible elite group of humans: people like himself.


Malthus took a very unusual situation—that of the goats in the Galapagos—and called it typical; the way of life in the biological realm. If they are not subject to external constrains, all animals will over-run their environment by breeding themselves out of existence. Malthus concluded that humans were no different from the goats. Humans had to be checked by famine, disease or war, or by the intervention (or non-intervention) of an ethical elite, or they would over-run the planet, leaving it as barren as the goat-infested Galapagos. In truth, the Malthus doctrine had no scientific basis whatsoever.


But, let us rewind history a bit to see why, in an age of scientific discovery, that such an unfounded theory would take root and rapidly spread in popularity among the upper classes in Europe.


It was in 1781, that General Cornwallis surrendered the British forces to the American military thus ending the most embarrassing loss in the history of the British Crown. For one of the most powerful military forces in the world to lose a crucial war to the “scrappy bunch of illiterate beggars” known as Americans, was considered the most humiliating setback ever suffered by the Crown, and they vowed to continue the fight for as long as it takes.

Following the loss to the Americans, came the violence of the French Revolution. The leader of the reaction against the French Revolution—and all that it represented—was Britain. On February 9, 1790, Edmund Burke arose in England’s House of Commons and began his critique of the new “democracy.” “Our present danger is from anarchy, a danger of being led, through an admiration of successful fraud and violence, to an imitation of the excess of an irrational, unprincipled, proscribing, confiscatory, plundering, ferocious, bloody, and tyrannical democracy. On the side of religion, the danger is no longer from intolerance but from atheism—a foul, uncanny vice, a foe to all the dignity and consolation of mankind—which seems in France, for a long time, to have been embodied into a faction, accredited, and almost avowed.”


But, as pressing as it was, the predicament of the British Crown was about to became even more so. When news that Louis XVI had been beheaded reached London, George Ill and most of his subjects were absolutely shocked. The attitude of the upper classes in England at the time might be summarized by the word “panic.” The fifteen-hundred year-old empire built by the kings and aristocracies seemed to be collapsing, besieged by peasants burning feudal chateaux and title deeds, and by city mobs imprisoning the royal family and cutting off hundreds of noble heads. Many Britons felt this was the result of “democratic” ideas from people like William Godwin and Thomas Paine, the “pen of the American Revolution.”


Before Malthus, the rulers of Europe looked upon large populations as assets; after the “Principle of Population,” they began to view large populations as liabilities. Behind their readiness to embrace Malthusianism was the terrible French Revolution, which had made it very clear that large masses of people can be lethal to ruling classes. In 1789 (first year of the Revolution), the European country with the largest population was France. Therefore, coming on the heels of the American and French Revolution, the Malthusian point of view was more than welcome to the elites of Europe. In the opening half of the Nineteenth Century, throughout Europe, the ministers of monarchy and members of the ruling classes met to discuss the newly discovered “population problem” and to devise ways of implementing the Rev. Malthus’ recommendation that the mortality rate of the poor be increased.


To further underscore the importance of reigning in the rabble came Charles Darwin, who in 1838, read the Malthus essay on population. The Malthus idea of “existence as an incessant struggle” suggested to Darwin an explanation for variation of species that would be regarded as sensible by just about everyone. Variations existing now are the winners of past and present struggles for existence. Variations of the future will be those that survive the tests of struggle and selection. It is most enlightening to note the subtitle of Darwin’s book: “The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.” Darwin continues, “There is no exception to the rule that every organic being naturally increases at so high a rate, that if not destroyed, the earth would soon be covered by the progeny of a single pair. Even slow-breeding man has doubled in twenty-five years, and at this rate, in a few thousand years, there would literally not be standing room for his progeny...”


Ever since the American and French Revolutions, the fate of the ruling classes had been somewhat in question. Were the elite losing ground? Were the elite obsolete? “No, indeed,” said Darwin. “Elite status is prima facie evidence of evolutionary superiority.” What does it take to maintain the superiority? “Acceptance of the first and foremost responsibility of the elite—to subdue all expressions of unprincipled natural man.” For those in the Darwinian camp, natural man is vicious, and society represents the efforts of “the ethical few” to contain the violence and the destructiveness inherent in natural man.


Another powerful voice among the British intellectuals of the day was T. H. Huxley—the “Bulldog of Darwin” as he was known. “Among primitive men,” wrote Huxley, “the weakest and stupidest went to the wall, while the highest and shrewdest, those who were best fitted to cope with their circumstances, survived. The human species, like others, splashed and floundered amid the general stream of evolution, keeping its head above water as it best might, and thinking neither of whence nor whither.” The Hobbesian wars of each against all is the natural state of existence (bellum omnium contra omnes). “One of the most essential conditions, if not the chief cause of the struggle for existence, is the tendency to multiply without limit, which [tendency] man shares with all living things...” This is the familiar Malthusian hypothesis, which Darwin also incorporated into this theory: the primary, absolutely necessary function of ethical man and society is to regulate non-moral man. Thus it was that Darwinism, et al, gave the ruling classes of the nineteenth century a new lease on power; a new justification for existence. They were the regulators of the sex-crazed, violent beast—the amoral masses of mankind.


Did Darwin knowingly conspire to insinuate into science an abhorrent view of life and conspire with reactionaries to establish an evolution theory that justified the rulers, of the eighteenth century to the present, in committing numberless crimes against the common people, all in the name of science? “The greatest authority of all the advocates of war is Darwin,” wrote Max Nordau in the North American Review in 1889. “Since the theory of evolution has been promulgated, they can cover their natural barbarism with the name of Darwin and proclaim the sanguinary instincts of their inmost hearts the last word of science.” Where social theory is concerned, Malthusianism achieved an orthodox status among Darwin’s associates in the Royal Society: it is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdom.


After 1859, the Darwinian “vision” of existence as a purposeless struggle and of evolution as a haphazard process quickly replaced the Judeo-Christian vision of human life as purposeful and divinely guided. The Darwinian revolution deposed God as Source, and indeed exiled from the realm of “true science” all considerations as to the purpose and ends of life. “Instead of endorsing the eighteenth-century concept of a drive toward perfection,” writes Ernst Mayr, “Darwin merely postulated change by chance: “It can hardly be doubted that [biology] has helped to undermine traditional beliefs and value systems.”


The consequent elimination of God from nature was to play a decisive role in the secularization of Western society, and the “idea of life as a meaningless struggle” played a decisive role in the brutalization of the Western world. Guided by the “scientific” ideas that “war is the health of the nation” and that the great threat to the state is overpopulation, the rulers of late Nineteenth Century Europe precipitated the Age of Imperialism. After Darwin, the nations of Europe found themselves with “surplus populations.” Nation after nation entered the race to acquire foreign lands. The motive was not greed, it was “survival.” The nations that would survive into the future, it was believed, would be those in possession of vast tracts of land for the dumping of surplus population. For instance, in a very short time, all of Africa was carved up by the European powers. Aboriginal peoples of that continent who objected to slavery were destroyed. Many great tribes, tribes that for thousands of years existed in balance with the environment, were eradicated. It was the “African Holocaust” which continues to this day.


Competition for empire (i.e. the possession of colonies for the dumping of surplus population) was a major cause of World War I. In 1912 retired German general F. von Beruhardi, a Social Darwinist, wrote, “In the interest of the world’s civilization, it is our duty to enlarge Germany’s colonial empire. Thus alone can we politically, or at least nationally, unite the German civilization throughout the world, for only then will they recognize that German civilization is the most necessary factor in human progress. We must endeavor to acquire new territories throughout the world by all means in our power, because we must preserve to Germany the millions of Germans who will be born in the future, and we must provide for them food and employment. They ought to be able to live under a German sky and to lead a German life.” This was subsequently echoed in Hitler’s later demand for lebensraum (living room) for Germans.


Given such attitudes, not only in Germany, but throughout Europe, war became inevitable. It became inevitable for another reason as well: war was viewed by Bernhardi and other influential hard-core Social Darwinists as an “indispensable regulator” of populations. “If it were not for war,” Bernhardi writes, “we should find that inferior and degenerate races would overcome healthy and youthful ones by their wealth and their numbers. The generative importance of war lies in this: that it causes selection, and thus war becomes a biological necessity.”


In the Twentieth Century, the Malthus-Darwin doctrine conditioned a struggle for power on an unprecedented scale. The twentieth century was the bloodiest, most brutal on record. For the first time, the principal targets of war purposely became populations; the First World War markeing only the beginning of the horrors.* For many Twentieth Century leaders, “genocide” was regarded as a legitimate tool of state policy. “National Socialism,” said Nazi Deputy party leader Rudolf Hess in 1934, “is nothing but applied biology.” Thus, Classical Darwinism became one of the foundations of the Third Reich.


“The entire Nazi regime,” writes Roger Jay Lifton, “was built on a biomedical vision that required the kind of racial purification that would progress from sterilization to extensive killing.” As early as the publication of Mein Kampf (1924-26), Lifton indicates, “Hitler had declared the sacred racial mission of the German people to be ‘assembling and preserving the most valuable stocks of basic racial elements [and]... slowly and severely raising them to a dominant position.’” Moreover, racial purity was also demanded by author Helena Blavatsky who wrote that only those persons with a certain pure racial blood could advance to the next Root Race. The doctrines of Nazism were essentially Blavatskyism as it was dictated to her by self-avowed automatic writing via her Tibetan controllers. In any case, for Hitler—the most famous of the twentieth century Social Darwinist politicos—the stakes were absolute: “If the power to fight for one’s own health is no longer present, the right to live in this world of struggle ends.”

By the middle of the twentieth century, the great “Superpowers”—the winners of the struggle for dominance—were threatening the annihilation of the entire planet ... in the name of survival. “The Twentieth Century would be incomprehensible without the Darwinian revolution,” writes Michael Denton. “The social and political currents, which have swept the world in the past eighty years, would not have been possible without its intellectual sanction.” Among the “currents which have swept the world,” we may list Imperialism, the mad rush for empire in the late Nineteenth Century and early twentieth; the rise in the Twentieth Century of various forms of socialism premised on the idea that the first responsibility of the state is population control: a responsibility inevitably involving emphasis on the elimination of supposedly defective peoples; the First and Second World Wars; the so-called Cold War; and the numerous late twentieth century “hot” wars.


Since the establishment of Darwinism as the West’s official evolutionary theory, “war” has been the order of the day. “War,” writes Jacques Barzun, “became the symbol, the image, the inducement, the reason, and the language of all human doing on the planet.” Unless one has waded through some sizable part of the literature of the period 1870-1914, he has no conception of the extent to which it is one long call for blood. The call for blood began with the French Revolution. (that the US was established also at that time, was no coincidence.) The blood of the nobility ran in the gutters, and that was something that steeled the hearts of those in the ruling classes. The masses had dared wage war on their masters. They would pay the price. And pay they did, by willingly engaging in war after war, marching off to the sound of the death drums of Malthus and Darwin. Today there are powerful elites who are openly calling for immediate reduction of world population to one-third its present number by slaughter or enforced starvation or induced disease imposed on so-called “backward” people and “useless eaters,” as espoused by George H. W. Bush, in every nation without resorting to the expense of war. At the highest levels of the elites, they have come to write about average human beings as an infestation of our planet. 





Factors in Moral Decay