Nothing wrong with Darwinism

The death of Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, has aroused a storm of controversy around the globe as pundits of every description strive to place her in a context that makes sense of her leadership.

The vitriol poured out against Thatcher is unprecedented but serves to highlight the extent to which she polarised people. One of these pundits is a senior Fairfax Media columnist who – amidst his general torrent of bile – denounced Thatcher as believing in a Darwinian struggle for the survival of the fittest.

It was clearly meant to be a bitch-slap of the first order. But is it?

After all, survival of the fittest is the core characteristic of our humanity. We are what we are today because of the relentless drive of nature to weed out the weakest – among all species – and thereby ensure dominating genes flourish.

There are a lot of individuals who fall by the wayside as part of this process. The demise of many of these people is no doubt regrettable and occasions much sadness. Yet, viewed against the guiding purpose – survival of our species – surely the loss is for the benefit of the greater good?

This does not mean that society cannot be sharing, caring and nurturing. But it does mean that tough decisions are warranted when they generate a benefit for the greater good.

Much of the outpouring of hatred against Thatcher has come from the alienated and disenchanted in the community. It is worthwhile to consider their attitudes towards making a productive contribution to society.  If they simply want to take and not give back in proportionate measure, do their grievances merit serious consideration? Or are they just bloody whingers?

Thatcher is remembered, as much as anything, for her dominant victory over radical, activist unions, especially those in the mining sector. It is now portrayed by many who denunciate Thatcher that she somehow attacked ‘the working class’ by breaking union militancy. Yet those who adopt this line refuse to acknowledge that the unions at the forefront of that dispute were violent, anarchic and ruthlessly willing to sacrifice the greater good for their own self-benefit.

By what standard should they have been allowed to get away with that?

It is pertinent that a democratic society must cater for a broad diversity of opinions and foster tolerance. Yet, when a minority uses aggression and violence to pursue its goals, they place themselves outside the bounds of what is acceptable in a democracy. On this basis alone they surrender the protection reasonably afforded to those who adhere to the ideal of the greater good.

Those who would thwart the universal law of nature can hardly complain when they find themselves at the back of the queue of those prospering. For nature also teaches that rapacious ‘fitness’ is always moderated by a balancing force. In this case, that was Thatcher.