Mises, Eugenics, & the Culture of Death

Mises, Eugenics, & The Culture of DeathOn page 668 of Human Action, Ludwig von Mises says,

“Those fighting birth control want to eliminate a device indispensable for the preservation of peaceful human cooperation and the social division of labor. Where the average standard of living is impaired by the excessive increase in population figures, irreconcilable conflicts of interests arise. Each individual is again a rival of all other individuals in the struggle for survival. The annihilation of rivals is the only means of increasing one’s own wellbeing. The philosophers and theologians who assert that birth control is contrary to the laws of God and Nature refuse to see things as they really are. Nature straitens the material means required for the improvement of human wellbeing and survival. As natural conditions are, man has only the choice between the pitiless war of each against each or social cooperation. But social cooperation is impossible if people give rein to the natural impulses of proliferation. In restricting procreation man adjusts himself to the natural conditions of his existence. The rationalization of the sexual passions is an indispensable condition of civilization and societal bonds. Its abandonment would in the long run not increase but decrease the numbers of those surviving, and would render life for everyone as poor and miserable as it was many thousands of years ago for our ancestors.”

A couple of quick thoughts in response to this passage:

  1. I wonder how many Catholics who are fully committed to championing the thought of Mises, and Rothbard for that matter, have analytically read what he has argued on behalf of concerning the moral order? The above paragraph basically calls for the first pillar of social eugenics as a necessary cultural condition for human survival and flourishing. Mises sounds more like Margaret Sanger than someone “thinking economically.”
  2. Have the numerous Catholics who are champions of Misesian Austrian economics ever thought of criticizing this passage or the principles that give rise to its promulgation?
  3. How can any Catholic embody an unshakable loyalty to an economist that has such strong anti-Catholic biases such as this? This is only one single passage; there are many others throughout the corpus of Mises’s writings where he attacks basic tenets of Catholic social doctrine.
  4. Finally, Mises entirely misses the point of those “philosophers and theologians” arguing against birth control. Regulating the procreative act in an unnatural way does not promote social cooperation and harmony; it is the first pillar of a culture of death and societal discord. It denies the teleological function of sex as procreative, pitting woman against their own natural biological functioning while simultaneously constructing a divisive wall between husband and wife within the union of sacramental marriage.


– Lucas G. Westman

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