Monday, June 5, 2017

Republican Darwinian Fundamentalism Is Rampant Among The Opponents of Darwinism

“I began with Charles Darwin and his work on the theory of evolution and the Origin of Species. Darwin’s voyages were among the high-points of scientific discovery…the beliefs of Darwin’s era should help to see us through–the belief in reason and the scientific method.”

Margaret Thatcher

"... through that abundance, the rich were blessed while [through] poverty, the poor, were not, and Creation proves it."  

Margaret Thatcher

The posts I did the other day which quotes Thomas Carlyle's invective against the Irish is not that much different in content from much of the British social thought says about the British poor and poor people in general, though Carlyle, considered to be some kind of moral authority was especially vicious in his bigotry.   Remember, this is the same man who in the earlier chapter of his book praised the horrific New Poor Law, which took the already depraved Elizabethan era poor law and applied scientific enlightenment to the issue and institutionalized government run death camps as a way to make off sight life for the destitute even worse, so as to force them into them.

I was reminded of Carlyle's vicious description of how the Victorian poor had to live in light of the hostility of those with wealth and power when I read this description of how a man who lost work through a workplace injury has to live in my state,  Maine.  Under the regime of Republican welfare, theoretically making life so terrible for poor people that they will take any work, the descriptions sound like something from the early 19th century under the Malthusian regime.   The reporting is by Patty Wight. 

The LePage administration wants to require people who receive Medicaid to work or volunteer in order to receive health care. The state imposed a similar requirement for food stamps a few years ago. The administration touts it as a pathway out of poverty, while others call it a roadblock.

There was a time when Tim Keefe was so hungry he ate a squirrel.

“I felt like a primitive human being. I felt like a caveman, I really did. And that’s not the first time in this whole thing I felt like a caveman,” he says.

Keefe was homeless at the time. He lost his job, and his apartment, after he got a work injury in 2014.

“I was working in heavy industry and was using pneumatic wrench, it caught up and twisted my wrist and popped the cartilage right out of there. I was done, my hand malfunctioned. It hasn’t worked the same since,” he says.

Keefe hasn’t been able to work either. He applied for food stamps, now known as SNAP benefits, and got about $180 a month.

After three months, Keefe was required to work or volunteer about 20 hours a week to continue to receive SNAP. But he says the Department of Labor determined he couldn’t because of his injury.

Keefe says he then went to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I ask to volunteer, they didn’t feel comfortable sending me into a volunteer position,” he says.

Keefe says despite his injury, he lost his benefits because he couldn’t fulfill the work requirement. The Department of Labor says those who can’t work because of a disability can enroll in vocational rehab to keep their SNAP benefits — Keefe says he tried, but wasn’t considered eligible.

“We see many, many, many people who fall through the cracks,” says Chris Hastedt, public policy director at Maine Equal Justice Partners.

Hastedt says it’s not uncommon for people to lose their SNAP benefits because they have difficulty verifying their medical conditions.

“And that’s simply because they don’t have medical insurance, they don’t have a doctor that they can go to, to say, ‘Please verify the fact that I’m not able to work right now,’” she says.

Hastedt estimates that the work requirement has resulted in thousands of Mainers losing SNAP benefits.

“I don’t think of it as a work requirement, I think of it more as a penalty for not being able to find a job, no matter what your circumstances are,” she says.

How that leaves people is seen in a description of where Mr. Keefe lives.

It’s an experience not shared by Keefe. He spent more than a year surviving on one meal a day or less and living in a tent in Washington, east of Augusta.

I'll remind you, this is in central Maine where below zero weather in the winter is guaranteed.

Keefe opens the door to a makeshift shed with a dirt floor. It’s about as wide as his outstretched arms. Inside is a tent covered with blankets for extra warmth.

“It’s just been a hard road, it’s just sometimes, the desperation is so deep and dark. We really shouldn’t have to go there. To know all this kind of stuff is preventable, is really hard,” he says.

Things are getting better. In March, Keefe was able to get an apartment through Preble Street’s Veterans Housing. It’s temporary, but a settlement from his work injury allowed him to buy the Washington property — he rides his bike 24 miles most days from his Augusta apartment to clean it up.

Keefe also turned 50 this week, and his age qualified him for SNAP. But he wonders where he’d be if he hadn’t lost SNAP in the first place.

And Mr. Keefe has had help, a lot of people aren't veterans and probably most of Maine's people aren't in a city even as big as Augusta.  And, as the story starts, LePage and some Republicans in the legislature want to make things worse, for motives that aren't at all different from the worst of the stated goals of British social thought, which, as in Carlyle was predisposed to starve and harry the poor into death even before Darwin's natural selection biologized the class system, making it a matter of biological inheritance, class inequality a matter of biological inheritance, both enhancing the position of the rich as the will of nature and turned the poor into hazardous waste whose elimination was a scientific necessity.    Of course, as Carlyle and the official New Poor Law shows, that option for disposing of the poor didn't require the scientific dogma of natural selection to contemplate their murders by coersed starvation and other means, but it certainly made the case for it stronger for those already so inclined.

The Republican fundamentalists who believe they oppose Darwinism are in the position of rejecting the one thing he said that was true, that present day species evolved from earlier species over time while not only supporting the general ideas of natural selection but in promoting some of its most immoral and depraved results, its Malthusian content,  as law and government policy.   That is not only profoundly anti-American it is even more profoundly and obviously anti-Christian.  The actual anti-Christian nature of Republican-fundamentalism-evangelicalism couldn't be more obvious to anyone who has read the Gospels the Acts and the Epistles.   They are worshipers of the Antichrist.

If you read the criticism of the New Poor Law, remembering Malthus is for it what Milton Friedman or just about any other neo-Darwinian economist is for the current Republican policy,  the descriptions of Patty Wight's report are striking.  Here' is the contemporary British radical politician, William Cobbett's description of life for the injured, working poor under it.

Trusting that it is unnecessary for me to express a hope, that barbarous thoughts like those of Malthus and his tribe will never be entertained by any young man who has read the previous Numbers of this work, let me return to my very, very poor man, and ask, whether it be consistent with justice, with humanity, with reason, to deprive a man of the most precious of his political rights, because, and only because, he has been, in a pecuniary way, singularly unfortunate? The Scripture says, 'Despise not the poor, because he is poor;' that is to say, despise him not on account of his poverty. Why, then, deprive him of his right; why put him out of the pale of the law, on account of his poverty? There are some men, to be sure, who are reduced to poverty by their vices, by idleness, by gaming, by drinking, by squandering; but, the far greater part by bodily ailments, by misfortunes to the effects of which all men may, without any fault, and even without any folly, be exposed: and, is there a man on earth so cruelly unjust as to wish to add to the sufferings of such persons by stripping them of their political rights? How many thousands of industrious and virtuous men have, within these few years, been brought down from a state of competence to that of pauperism! And, is it just to strip such men of their rights, merely because they are thus brought down? When I was at ELY, last spring, there were in that neighbourhood, three paupers cracking stones on the roads, who had all three been, not only rate-payers, but overseers of the poor, within seven years of the day when I was there. Is there any man so barbarous as to say, that these men ought, merely on account of their misfortunes, to be deprived of their political rights? Their right to receive relief is as perfect as any right of property; and, would you, merely because they claim this right, strip them of another right? To say no more of the injustice and the cruelty, is there reason, is there common sense in this? What! if a farmer or tradesman be, by flood or by fire, so totally ruined as to be compelled, surrounded by his family, to resort to the parish-book, would you break the last heart-string of such a man by making him feel the degrading loss of his political rights?


  1. "There are some men, to be sure, who are reduced to poverty by their vices, by idleness, by gaming, by drinking, by squandering;"

    And yet, in that famous parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew, Jesus doesn't say "I was hungry, but I deserved it because I was lazy, a spendthrift, a wastrel." In the even more famous parable of the Prodigal Son (the very title means "wasteful" and "spendthrift," though we seem to have lost that meaning for the word) shows the son who deserves his poverty, being treated like a child deserving of love and honor.

    We always want to put limits on our charity; Christianity always teaches us not to. It's a very hard lesson to learn, and yet Christians, at least, should practice it, or try harder to.

    1. Exactly why I came back to it. I was a conceited young jerk of an agnostic who had to see enough of life to get there, I wish I hand't been so stupid as to not see it when I was in my 20s.

      I also had to admit that the belief in everything, even what we claim to know through understanding has to, in the end, be believed through acts of choice to believe. That was the last part of getting past the agnosticism dodge.