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How Thanos Fits Into Real-World Myths of Overpopulation and Scarcity

The Marvel Cinematic Universe could also be a fantasy, however it is all the time value it to research the methods by which media narratives align with, highlight, and convey into query the dynamics of our reality.

“Overpopulation is a convenient smokescreen that obscures the voracious appetites and power grabs of the super rich.” – Betsy Hartmann, “Reproductive Rights and Wrongs”

As we impatiently look forward to “Avengers: Endgame” to emotionally devastate us all in the easiest way, it feels just like the opportune time to remind everybody of why Thanos is the fucking worst in order that we might correctly nourish our anger. As a result of of who I am as a person, I really feel the need to take action whereas also ranting about white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism, because I can’t divorce my burning hatred for Marvel’s largest villain from my contempt for these real-world oppressive techniques. Right here’s why.

First and foremost, Thanos is an abusive, manipulative, gaslighting, cult chief devoid of empathy whose cruelty is aware of no bounds. His solely objective is to realize absolute management and finally wield probably the most extreme type of energy he can fathom in response to his own trauma. That is all evident in his fantasy of “look[ing] out over a grateful universe” when his work is lastly finished, believing that folks would truly be grateful for him destroying an untold number of lives by turning half of all life in existence to ash and finally inflicting the deaths of much more within the fiery aftermath. As a narcissistic megalomaniac, he has deluded himself into believing that he’s doing everyone a favor despite the fact that he is disrupting countless ecosystems. Even worse, Thanos follows a flawed Malthusian logic fueled by apocalyptic panic in his reasoning for why half of the universe should die. In his mind, he has an ethical duty to commit mass homicide so as to forestall more individuals from dying because the universe will ultimately run out of assets, replicating the starvation and loss he witnessed on Titan, his house planet.

Malthusian refers back to the work of conservative English political economist and clergyman Thomas Malthus and his well-liked 1798 e-book, “An Essay on the Principle of Population.” In it, he argues primarily the identical factor as Thanos — albeit limited to our insignificant little planet — that the world we know will inherently grow to be overpopulated and there won’t be sufficient assets to sustain everybody, resulting in an explosion of the dying price resulting from food shortage. It’s essential to know Malthus’ use of the ideas Constructive Checks, Natural Checks, and Preventative Checks in his theories regarding population progress and meals provide. He sees all of these as potential solutions, capable of halt the population growth and forestall widespread untimely demise. Natural Checks would come in the type of natural disasters, whereas Constructive Checks can be caused by man-made phenomena, like conflict. Preventative Checks, nevertheless, can be lively measures used by people to curb population progress, comparable to family planning and celibacy. He writes in chapter seven, “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.”


Thanos presents a much more merciless type of Preventative Checks than Malthus imagined in his writing, and on a a lot bigger scale, but it is arguably no extra cruel than the strategies white supremacy has thought up following Malthus’ work. Each Malthus and Thanos assume that each one individuals have equal entry to assets and that we are all equally chargeable for consumption, environmental devastation, and air pollution. Both are incorrect. Scarcity is a fable. There is sufficient to go around. The issue is just not and has never been a scarcity of assets, it’s the unequal distribution of these assets and the greed of the wealthy which causes circumstances that make it troublesome for sure individuals to thrive.

The world’s farmers already grow sufficient food to feed 10 billion individuals. World hunger shouldn’t exist, and yet it does. On average, People waste round 150,000 tons of food per day and 85% of unused food in American restaurants gets thrown away quite than donated. Individuals should never should die of starvation, and yet they do. There are extra empty houses in America than there are individuals experiencing homelessness and trend strains destroy unsold garments moderately than donating them. No one ought to die on the streets of publicity as a result of they lack shelter and proper clothes, and but they do. In an effort to uphold the parable of scarcity, capitalists must convince us that there isn’t any approach to remedy these issues without society inevitably struggling larger loss or disparity. “If we raise the minimum wage, unemployment rates will rise,” they warn. “Forgiving student loan debt would be unfair to those who already paid off their loans,” they gripe. And it’s all a smokescreen. The truth is that this stuff may be fastened, simply not in a approach that ensures the already wealthy can turn a revenue.

In our world, ruled by white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism, if we begin with the notion that overpopulation is our largest drawback that may outcome within the demise of humanity, then we inevitably find yourself with the rationalization that sure populations have to be suppressed so humanity can survive, and those who ought to be suppressed are those thought-about much less human within the first place, the already undesirable and “unfit.” Furthermore, the blame for top start charges falls on these with the power to offer start, despite the fact that, globally, insurance policies and belief techniques overwhelmingly forestall these individuals from having autonomy over their very own wombs, with household planning selections being left as an alternative to those who impregnated them and/or out of contact conservative legislators. Eugenics, pressured sterilization, and genocide are all merchandise of these sorts of ideals. White society’s panic concerning the Different taking over assets has long been used to justify numerous inequalities and violences, largely fueled by government propaganda about low-income households, individuals of colour, welfare packages, immigration, and (as-yet gentrified) city areas.

Trendy considerations about overpopulation seem to most frequently find their footing in racist xenophobia, particularly within the U.S. and the U.Okay., which write off immigrants and refugees as greedy and lazy wanderers from “shithole countries.” The truth is, it might be extra accurate to say that the Western white world harbors a worry of overpopulation in poor Black, brown, and indigenous nations and communities, however a worry of underpopulation amongst white demographics. When wanting at the racial breakdown of the info typically referenced to point out that People are apparently not reproducing sufficient to exchange our present inhabitants in the near future, it turns into evident that the true concern is concerning the prospect of not having enough white American infants, because the fertility charges for Black, Latinx, and Asian individuals continue to grow.


Finally, these fears of too many Black and brown individuals place a lot of the onus of overpopulation on poorer “developing” or “undeveloped” nations, painting the individuals within them as rampant shoppers of assets, environmental polluters, and irresponsible procreators. Thomas Malthus begat Paul Ehrlich, who wrote “The Population Bomb” in 1968 — completed in just three weeks and co-authored by his wife, Anne, who was by no means properly credited — with hopes to one way or the other affect the presidential election. The e-book argues, kind of, that prime start charges in poor Black and brown nations are primarily killing the planet and subsequently its inhabitants. His e-book helped to further cement already unequal techniques.

The truth is that the poorest half of the worldwide population is answerable for approximately 10% of international emissions, while the wealthiest 10% naked duty for close to 50%. And since of the insidiousness of capitalism and colonialism, the poorest nations are disproportionately weak to the detrimental results of local weather change, whereas the wealth hole between rich and poor nations will increase annually. In what we name “developed” nations, the vast majority of environmental injury and carbon emissions are on account of industrialization, corporate and army air pollution, and consumption by the wealthiest residents. There are direct hyperlinks between white supremacy, colonialism, environmental racism, and climate change, and their effects all the time impression the poor and individuals of shade greater than anyone else. Not solely that, however veganism and hipster “foodie” tendencies in Western white nations cause shortages of foods integral to the financial methods of Black, brown, and indigenous nations and communities, who typically produce and export these foods beneath horrible circumstances. There have been shortages of avocados in Mexico and hazelnuts in Turkey. Poor communities in Peru and Bolivia can not afford quinoa, as soon as a staple grain, because of the Western calls for, and the high demand for palm oil has created devastation in Malaysia and Indonesia that is now spreading to Africa as nicely.

Efforts to save lots of the planet with direct motion, awareness campaigns, and observances like Earth Day are noble, but many who take part in and observe them typically continue to disregard bigger truths about how issues like colonialism, race, class, and even gender issue into both environmental influence and conservation. “Climate change is a gendered crisis. The decisions to pump too much carbon [into] the atmosphere, while knowing the risks of doing so, were mostly made by men. What’s worse is that those decisions end up hurting women more than men,” writes Akshat Rathi for Quartz. “Sadly, even if men understand this, they are doing nothing to help. Past research has shown that, across ages and countries, men have a bigger carbon footprint and feel less guilty about environmentally unfriendly choices than women.” Not solely do males bare extra duty for climate change, but additionally they do less to assist fight it. A 2016 research discovered that males, on average, keep away from “green behaviors” resulting from patriarchal gendered stereotypes and misogynistic attitudes concerning the “femininity” hooked up to caring concerning the planet. Briefly, they’d somewhat preserve their “masculinity” than the surroundings.

And all of this is simply the tip of the iceberg.

The query of access to assets isn’t a matter of too many people, but moderately a matter of an excessive amount of greed and systemic inequality. Malthus and Thanos assume improper in their respective claims about overpopulation and useful resource scarcity, because they begin with the fallacy that everyone consumes an equal amount and has the same environmental impression in the first place. Maybe probably the most irritating factor is that Thanos wielded a lot power with the Infinity Gauntlet that he might have simply snapped his fingers to create more assets for all dwelling issues to prosper or equally distribute assets to everybody, simply as higher techniques of manufacturing and distribution could possibly be created in our world, albeit with a lot more work than a single snap. And yet, here we are.


The Marvel Cinematic Universe could also be a fantasy, however it’s all the time value it to research the methods by which media narratives align with, spotlight, and deliver into question the dynamics of our reality. What Thanos does and his reasons for why he does it are vital, particularly as a result of the Malthusian overpopulation and useful resource shortage ideology he mirrors has been at work in numerous societies for tons of of years and continue to point out up as white ethno-nationalism finds extra and extra public acceptance throughout the world alongside the growing fable of white genocide.

A white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist method of interested by scarcity leads to efforts to quell the population, quite than interrogating modes of manufacturing, the capitalist system that benefits whiteness, and how gender, race, class, and discriminations based mostly on these identities factor into the equation. Thanos follows this vein of irrational logic, utilizing violence and dying to overcome others and exert dominance beneath the guise of saving a fraction of the population, and the devastation he causes reaches to the furthest ends of the universe. And like those that perpetuate the myths of overpopulation and scarcity in actuality, he does so to serve his own selfish interests.


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