Holy Gawd, we’re back to Charles Darwin and his interpreters.
In the mid-19th century Darwin was recognised as a superb recorder of natural history and the inventor of evolutionary theory. He pointed to adaptation as a species’ key to survival. If an animal couldn’t adapt to new circumstances it faced extinction – like the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago, or the elderly to-day.
Unfortunately Darwin’s innocent findings on adaptation were used to rationalise the superiority of young, thrusting people (early entrepreneurs), and the inferiority of lazy people (the old, the sick, the unemployed and immigrants). Opportunists were bright enough to see gaps in the market and could exploit such arbitrary classification.
However, Darwin wasn’t an entirely objective scientist: he thought Tasmanian natives were inferior humans, that is to say, not useful, who could, justifiably, be annihilated. It was, after all, the culmination of the Age of Enlightenment and the Tasmanians were untutored in the philosophies of Smith, Hume, Descartes, Spinoza et alia; nor had the natives the ability to defend themselves.
The fact that neither they nor the vast majority of European working class and peasants had familiarised themselves with Enlightenment ideas was insignificant. Their ignorance was noticed by the Imperial mindset and the Tasmanians were duly culled, wiped out. Closer to home that mindset facilitated the Irish famine. The poor, the old, the weak, the lame were a drag on the fast moving herd bosses.
In these tortured times the same insight is best represented by President Trump’s sociopathology. He illustrates the simple logic of big business: if you can’t adapt to our commercial imperatives (Big Pharma, for instance), you go out of business, i.e you die.
Thus, if you cannot get on your bike, have not realised there is no such thing as society, not become an entrepreneur, not risen early in the morning, you are disposable.
The crude American and U.K. analogies of a ‘war’ against the present disease have also proved subliminally useful. Idealistic youth was once considered ‘collateral damage’ in our just wars, million-fold sacrifices to preserve freedom and the status quo, including ours.
Now apply the concept of a war to the present pandemic. In every conflict, certain leaders weigh the collateral damage against potential victory. How many body bags as against how much ground gained? In this case, political ground. It is a suitable coincidence that anyone over 65 is ‘non-productive’ and less to be cherished. Are they not a proper sacrifice in the ‘war’ against Coronavirus?
I am biased, an 84-year-old artist, outrageously healthy and still productive but, by actuarial estimates, superfluous. So, with clichéd thoughts and prayers, dispose of me. Do not resuscitate. All is well and all manner of things will be well. Darwinism rules.