Many people, especially among our yute, believe that the social conservatives' attack on abortion, birth control, the morning after pill, etc, has been a relatively recent phenomena.
They recall the growth, then sudden (and welcome) death of the Moral Majority (1979-1989), a ten year misguided social experiment that was neither moral, nor a majority. They recall its even more illegitimate offspring, starting with their many attacks on abortion rights. In too many ways, they were successful. One of the leaders of this christian based movement was Henry Hyde, the criminal congressman from Illinois. By using all his efforts, he drafted and had passed into law the Hyde Amendment (It was far earlier than 1997 as correctly pointed out by Bill W., as a response to Roe v. Wade), which cut off abortion access to millions, by preventing federal funds from being used, even to save the life of a woman.
The battles over the Morning After pill were legendary. The many unscientific attacks on this pill (which was used safely in Europe for a decade) were little more than social engineering efforts concocted, plotted, and put forth by hypocritical christian conservatives.
The recent battles over birth control have also seen very bad science being used to mask the true villain behind the scene, Christianity. While there are well known, clear and predictable side effects, a very few of which may be fatal (far less than aspirin), Birth Control has provided economic and social freedom to a degree that no priest, pastor, or or self-serving minister could ever accept. Here is but a short list of the "Problems" caused by birth control:
rampant sexual behaviorI am NOT making this list up. In fact, these are but a few of their arguments made between 1990 and today. Respected preachers, especially bible beating evangelicals, have strongly argued that each one of these "problems" were caused by birth control. Ergo, getting rid of birth control would hopefully get rid of these problems.
the spread of disease
high blood pressure
financial instability and bankruptcy
Given how these battles have been fought in the public arena, especially of late, combined with the unwelcome growth of the scientifically illiterate, willfully ignorant, and mostly unread TeaBuggerers, it would be natural assume that these social battles began in the 80s and 90s.
It would also be wrong.
This movement began in the 1780s, not the 1980s. The first quasi-social made arguments against mechanical means of birth control and in favor of moral based abstinence were led by a christian reverend (surprise surprise). You may know him as that dour predictor of doom, the hater of science and government, the father of eugenics, and the welcomer of the death of those living in poverty, the Honorable Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus.
Malthus had a horrifying view of humanity. Sex, without moral and religious limitations, would lead to population explosions, causing pestilence, starvation, and death. Science, industry, better use of resources, and government could never compete with the raw hormones of humans, and could never keep up with unchecked population growth.
"The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world".Apparently, he followed what he preached. His dad fathered seven children. Malthus himself only fathered 3, with his first cousin, Harriet.
In many ways, Malthus' theories drive today's socio-political arguments:
- Malthus was a conservative christian reverend.I can only imagine a dinner consisting of Malthus, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan. Talk about a meeting of the minds.
- He believed humanity was at its core, evil.
- He viewed science as inept and ineffective.
- He viewed religion as the only solution to the world's problems.
- He hated the idea of government providing for the poor.
- Abstinence was the only effective and moral way to control the population
- A smaller population would be more prosperous, more moral, and more religious.
While Malthus' theories brought forth some interesting offspring, the vast majority of his ideas were and are demonstrably false. And yet, from error and fantasy, comes growth, as it often does. Malthus' followers include Charles Darwin (the father of evolution), John Maynard Keynes (whose theories were again applied in 2007, saving our economy), Alfred Wallace (who independently came up with evolutionary theories), and Karl Marx (who vastly improved on Malthus economic observations and theories).
If you hear a TeaBuggerer argue against the size of government, or the size of its debt, that is sheer Malthusian theory, taken to its next logical step. Governments simply cannot compete with god. Their interference would only make a bad situation worse.
If you hear disparaging remarks from the GOP about the poor or infirm, or how it is not the government's role to aid or cure them, that is pure Malthus. According to him, the idea of helping the poor would only create more poor. Pestilence, war, starvation, and disease would fix the problem of the poor and infirm quite nicely, thank you very much. By interfering with this natural, guaranteed force of nature, governments actually make things worse.
If you hear attacks on birth control and abortion, the grandfather of those ideas is Malthus. Artificial birth control was an attack on society and a moral religious life. Abortion was even worse interference by man in god's role.
If you hear that abstinence should be our only policy, based on moral, religious beliefs, the moron that spawned these theories first was and is Malthus. Only by morally supporting a low birth rate, using only abstinence, could humanity rise above the squalor, poverty, disease, and wretched condition which man himself created. Abstinence alone was as close as one could get to god.
If you read that eugenics would improve our lives, ridding us of the unwanted genes that harm all of society, the creator of those ideas was Malthus. Those who followed these particular ideas have caused incredible harm since the 1790s, especially when combined with religion.
It is easy to blame Hitler for the most outrageous examples of eugenics and attempts to "improve" the nation's population by force, but he was not first. To the contrary, the United States was the first country to apply eugenics and sterilization techniques broadly. The first to be targeted were mentally retarded and the mentally ill. Some states, especially in the south, went after the deaf, blind, epileptics, and the physically deformed. Some forced sterilizations took place in prison in an effort to stamp out crime (which was obviously a genetic issue). For a short time, black women were sterilized in an effort to control their population.
Marriage (between one man and one woman) as the only permissible social structure? Pure Malthus.
Finally, if someone argues that all government is bad, and should be cut, and cut, and cut, until it is drowned in a bathtub, that is pure Malthus.
In fact, if you want to know more about the underlying arguments raised here and now, picking up some of Malthus' texts would probably serve you well. After all, I also recommend reading Mein Kampf and Mao's Little Red Book. In order to stand up to an enemy, you must know him first.
At the very time that Malthus was publishing his ideas in England, a different theory took hold across the Atlantic Pond. In 1787, the most anti-Malthusian ideas had taken root:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.I know which ideas I prefer.