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Students need sensitivity

To the Editor:

I never would have thought that I would write a letter to The Tech. I am so tired of this wave of neoconservatism that I had to do it. I am sick of the ivory-tower atmosphere in which most of the students here at MIT and at the other elite colleges live. I can only praise Jeremy Grace '83 for his letter on pettiness.

To give you an example of what I am talking about, I will relate to you an incident which occurred about a year ago. I had excoriated one of our fellow students for his insensitivity to the consequences to workers and their families of the massive lay-offs which would result from the severe austerity policies that he proposed for implementation by our kind and gentle government.

I said to him that he had obviously not lived life. His terse reply amounted to "I don't have to live life; I can read it." That's right; that is what the man said. I have a witness.

For those who may wonder what kind of life that I have led, I'll tell you that our Manhattan apartment building ain't on Park Avenue. We just hope that the superintendents would clean up the urine in the stairwells and paint over the ugly graffiti more often. But that's no burden. I've had a good time.

But God forbid that the ivory-tower inhabitants be forced to come down and "live life." Most would probably have a slight distaste for it; some may not even survive it.

In recent times liberals have had much trouble arguing their positions in ideological terms because of the growth of this selfish, greedy generation of Yuppies. Therefore, I will attempt to put forth pragmatic arguments for social liberalism. My contention is that people must decide whether they want Social Darwinism and Capitalism or a civilized society. We cannot have both.

Darwin expounded the theory of the natural selection of the strong over the weak, the survival of the fittest. I will try to give you examples of cases in which the weak of our society, a group including "good guys" and "bad guys," will do whatever it takes to put themselves in a position of strength when they recognize their position of weakness. Often "whatever it takes" does not fit into our idea of civilized society.

We are all familiar with the "terror" caused by the poverty-ridden unemployed youths in our cities, who are taking other people's money by force. If we are to abide by the rule of the survival of the fittest, how can we blame them? When it comes to survival, everyone will be looking to make himself/herself strong.

In the case of the umemployed youths, taking up arms is how they can do so. When it comes to survival, who is to say that the smart and ingenious should survive? Who gives some of these smart people the right to be so arrogant? If survival is the name of the game, I'd say that loading a piece is pretty ingenious.

In fact, Bernhard Hugo Goetz thought so, too. Having been mugged, he recognized a weakness. He loaded his piece, whipped it out, and let it rip. Would you call shooting two people in the back as they sought to flee civilized?

Like a true gentleman, Goetz checked the condition of the four youths, after firing the first four shots. Seeing no blood from one of the youths, he said, "You don't look so bad. Here's another," and kindly proceeded to shoot the youth again. You gotta love it, I tell you.

On top of this, our beloved Simson Garfinkel comes out of the woodwork and declares his hope for the death of the youth in a coma. Civilized man once again waxes eloquent. Dear Simson and our own Richard Herrmann do not seem averse to perpetrating such acts of barbarism to protect their coffers.

Let's face it. There is no place for wimps in the scheme of natural selection. The physically strong survive. And in the history of man, has not the concept of the race of superior humans already been encountered? Is it now suddenly okay because you are one of that race?

The Soviet Union is a more global example of how a weak member of society became strong by threatening civilization itself. What makes the Soviet Union one of the two main forces in the world to be reckoned with? Surely, it is not the Soviet impact on the world economy.

The Soviet government is doing whatever it takes to make sure it maintains its arms strength at the expense of its citizens. And unfortunately, our own government is presently trying to force the Soviet government to destroy itself by spending more on "defense" and forcing the Soviets to spend even more on their weapons. Are we so foolish as to believe that the Soviet government will go down without taking everyone else with them?

All I am trying to say is that Social Darwinism is far more dangerous than the 1960 platform of the Democratic Party. How much does it take for a person who is making, say $2 million a year to set aside, say, $150,000 and offer gainful employment to 10 people? I imagine it is not within human nature to such things.

Some of Mr. Karlberg's "innovators" of the Industrial Revolution, mankind's closest approximation to laissez-faire capitalism, were not content to just take their money and go home. They rather enjoyed having the power to determine the living and working conditions of others.

Look at what we have to show for them, the birth and growth of communism. Is that what we want, extreme reactions to extreme conditions? Surely, we will never have a perfectly civilized society. Surely, there will be sloths who will not work. But I think that most people want to have a job and some human dignity. It is your right to be selfish and greedy. You don't owe the world anything. But then again, the world doesn't owe you anything, either.

Thomas Foo '85->