'Hardinisms' - Selections from the wit and wisdom of Garrett Hardin

By Garrett Hardin
Volume 29, Number 3 (Spring 2019)
Issue theme: "Living Within Limits - The Enduring Relevance of Garrett Hardin"

A community that renounces war as a means of settling international disputes still cannot survive without that discriminating form of altruism we call patriotism. It must defend the integrity of its borders or succumb into chaos.

Every “shortage” of supply is equally a “longage” of demand.

Affirmative action implies that if we cannot guarantee equality, then we should legislate equity.

An effective gatekeeper of the mind does not call attention to itself. It actuates a psychological mechanism called a taboo.

And remember the competitive exclusion principle: if fertility varies in a population that is offered options in fertility, then as generations succeed one another, the pronatalist elements in the population will, in time, displace the ones who conscientiously limit their fertility.

Calling a ubiquitous problem a “world problem” is useful only if there is a plausible worldwide solution.

Continuity is at the heart of conservatism; ecology serves that heart.

Controlled immigration becomes the default position of population policy. A heavy burden of proof falls on anyone who proposes doing away with border control.

Every proposal to build a dam, to widen a highway, to cut down another forest, to turn wetlands into salable real estate, or to bury unwanted waste products is sure to have unintended consequences.

Extremism appears to lead to clear-cut decisions, whereas moderation embarrasses us by emphasizing problems that are yet to be solved.

It cannot be too often repeated that an extravagantly multicultural nation is poorly positioned to compete with nations that have not succumbed to the siren call for more “diversity.”

It takes five years for a willing person’s mind to change. Have patience with yourself and others when treading in an area protected by a taboo.

Never suffer a delusion to live!

Noble intentions are a poor excuse for stupid action. Man is the only species that calls some suicidal actions “noble.” The rest of creation knows better.

Of every well-meant proposal, ecologists ask a standard question: “And then what?”

Overpopulation can be avoided only if borders are secure; otherwise poor and overpopulated nations will export their excess to richer and less populated nations.

“Sustainable growth” is an oxymoron.

Mere facts minus theory — or worse, facts flying in the face of theory — are the stock in trade of the professional obfuscator.

The maximum is not the optimum.

The myth of the limitless world is but one of the many myths that have grown up in the protective shadow of the insufficiently examined idea of progress.

There’s nothing more dangerous than a shallow-thinking compassionate person.

To survive indefinitely in good shape a nation must take as its advisers people who can see farther than investment bankers.

Unity within each sovereignty; diversity among sovereignties.

We are limited by the basic theorem of ecology, “We can never do merely one thing.”

We should ask ourselves what repression keeps us from discussing a subject as important as immigration... He who does so is promptly charged with isolationism, bigotry, prejudice, ethnocentrism, chauvinism, and selfishness.


About the author

Garrett Hardin (1915-2003), a professor of human ecology at the University of California, was the author of 27 books and over 350 articles. He received numerous awards over the course of a distinguished career.