Wednesday, July 13, 2016

K Auschwitz hedged its assets, r Manhattan its bets

Right to the end of WWII, most 'fit Aryan' Germans thought that Germany's food rationing system was both fair and efficient.

And it was - for them.

Everyone else inside Germany, 'unfit' Aryan Germans and 'non-Aryan' Germans alike, starved to see that the fit Aryans got nothing but the best.

Pure Auschwitz

Recall that American POW (and later famous author) Kurt Vonnegut was employed in the very last days of the war as a slave-worker at a Dresden area factory, preparing vitamin enriched malt syrup for pregnant fit Aryan moms so that future baby fit Aryans would have the best possible start in life.

There weren't too many of them left by 1945, but these young saving remnants, the most precious assets the Nazis figured they had yet produced, would have the best care and attention possible.

There weren't many of them for many reasons, some obvious while others are less so.

Among the obvious : that many children were among the Allied bombing casualties and the fact that so many young German dads were away (or dead) in the war and thus unavailable to breed.

In addition, the Nazi regime's institution of a near total end to legal migration into Germany further reduced the pool of potential young parents.

The less obvious reason for the big shortfall in baby Germans was the official (and the later and even bigger 'unofficial') Aktion T4 effort to secretly murder all unfit Aryan citizens and all non-Aryan German citizens (Jews, Romas, Slavs), an effort intent on killing everybody in those groups, from babies to the elderly.

Since the loose term 'unfit' could include anybody who had a physical or mental handicap no matter how slight and who lacked wealthy and powerful family and friends, this offered a near endless pool of genes to eliminate.

In practise, the term unfit was further expanded to include the work shy, the whiners no one really liked, any girl that too obviously enjoyed sex, alcoholics, petty criminals, people with TB or any number of non-inherited infectious diseases.

On and on and on.

By contrast, the hardcore Aryan opponents of the Nazi regime (almost none of these 'unfits' were ever even mild opponents), such as socialists, communists and trade unionists, were usually sent to 'hard work and few rations' concentration camps for periods of time.

By no means did all die there, let alone were murdered forthright upon admission like the unfit.

This allows us to see the highly unusual course of modernity thought as revealed in its ultimate version with Hitler's Nazis : it feared 'the weak' far more than it feared 'the strong'.

So, we find a wartime regime that fully displayed Modernity's self consciously rigorous application of K-selection thought, the likes of which hadn't even been seen in Spartan times.

A regime that hedged its best assets, as it saw them (the fit Aryan children of fit Aryan parents), making them as safe as could be within well built bomb shelters and well supplied with the best of food and nursing care.

And it then ruthlessly killed off all its worst assets : ruthless draining its gene pool and betting the farm and the entire future of Germany, on just this one narrow throw of the genetic dice.

Impure Manhattan

Against resistance from most of America's scientific class, who also espoused, like the Nazis, the fashionable mainstream scientific disbelief in the virtues of human diversity to meet an uncertain future, Dr Dawson's penicillin project in wartime Manhattan survived as a near perfect example of r-selection thinking.

Dr Dawson welcomed 1940 Manhattan's existing huge and diverse gene pool, brought about by external and internal immigration in the proceeding decades.

He was very far from wanting to draining it down to a tiny select elect, a saving remnant, as wartime Germany was trying to do.

Instead Dawson fought hard to try and ensure that none of Manhattan's handicapped members died from official neglect, murdered at a stroke of a pen by scientific death panels just using the war effort, just like the Nazis did, to do what they couldn't get away with in peacetime.

Dawson believed, contrary to the currently fashionable scientific consensus, that based on his studies in bacterial diversity, that over the long term, evolution rewarded species with the biggest gene pool and the widest diversity.

So when the German medical establishment tried to kill off all of Germany's unfit, an activity that went on even after the war right under the occupying American troops noses, the country permanently lost so much human diversity, so much human potential.

We obviously can't directly measure the loss - that potential human potential ended with all those individuals' deaths.

But, indirectly, we can note the tremendous pre-war German success in all of the wide realm of ideas and culture and compare that with its post-war relative lack of success.

We can also think of some of today's world-changing ideas that would have never seen the light of day if the Nazis had conquered Britain and had murdered Alan Turing for being gay and Stephen Hawking for being handicapped.

Dawson unexpectedly won his argument, forcing the hugely powerful Allied coalition to reverse their position on the distribution of wartime penicillin.

Originally only enough was to be made during the war to see that lightly wounded Allied frontline troops could be quickly returned to combat so the service-deferred children of the elite didn't have to take their place.

Everyone else would have to wait to the war's end to enjoy expensive patented synthetic pure penicillin.

Dawson was full of moral fervour over his idea that the existing non-synthetic non-pure natural penicillin was already 'good enough to safely save lives' and this PD material should be made available to all, even Neutral Nation civilians and enemy combatants, as a potent concrete example that the Allies' Atlantic Charter was not, in fact, mere cant.

The dying Dr Dawson's moral fervour must have been contagious because it is far beyond a coincidence that so many of the key players in the wartime effort to promote natural-penicillin-for-all had close personal contact with him.

Eventually the Allied were forced to reverse horses on wartime penicillin .

They began to mass produce natural penicillin and then to publicize widely that they were flying it all over the world to save dying children from all sorts of nations.

Children-loving people, many of whom had been sitting on their hands in the battle against the Axis, couldn't help but contrast this with Hitler's well known efforts to kill children...

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