A (Necessarily Politically Incorrect) Case for Eugenics
What nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly. As it lies within his power, so it becomes his duty to work in that direction. —Francis Galton
The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the overfertility of the mentally and physically defective. —Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood
One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die. —Charles Darwin
Back around May of this year there was a controversial decision made by the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which declared invalid a law preventing women from having abortions because of fetal abnormalities, race, or sex (i.e., the gender of the fetus). The US Supreme Court declined to review the case, so in the states under the jurisdiction of the 7th Circuit, although abortions may be legal in general, abortions motivated by a desire not to have a deformed or congenitally ill baby are not. I assume this is because aborting abnormal fetuses in particular smacks too much of eugenics, and thus is politically incorrect by leftist standards, possibly by most standards in the west.
Aborting fetuses for eugenic reasons is unpopular on both sides of the political chasm; plenty of people, especially on the religious right, are opposed to abortions for any reason, even if the baby is to be born with two heads. (Theravada Buddhism declares abortion for any reason to be wrong also, considering that Buddhism, like science, considers a human life to begin at conception, and thus abortion to be literally murder.) Then again, many on the left, although they may support a woman’s decision to abort a fetus due to simple irresponsibility, as a kind of post-impregnation birth control, may nevertheless oppose an abortion motivated by ableism, let alone racism or sexism, because these are politically incorrect motivations. For a woman to have an abortion just because she wants to have one is hailed by many on the left as not only tolerable, but an assertion of a woman’s rights, freedom, bodily autonomy, and dignity; but to have an abortion because the baby may be severely deformed or chronically very ill could be interpreted as a case of practical eugenics, which is what the Nazis endorsed, and is therefore somehow inherently evil. In an article on the aforementioned Circuit Court case, published in the relatively conservative Washington Examiner, the author declares this:
Eugenics historically has been seen as a particularly nasty business. If mandated by governments, it is monstrous. The question is whether the Constitution allows its sovereign states to keep private individuals from practicing the nasty business. If invidious discrimination is not allowed at lunch counters, why should it be allowed in the maternity ward?
Eugenics in general is seen as a “nasty business” not only, I assume, because it can be interpreted as politically incorrect ableism or racism or whatever, and not just because of Nazi Germany’s desire to promulgate superior fascistic members of an allegedly superior race, but also because several decades of propaganda have drilled it into everyone’s head that just about anything the Nazis endorsed, including eugenics, must be evil and wrong (which now has morphed into the leftist idea that just about anything white men in general have endorsed, including western civilization itself, must be evil and wrong). On the other hand, the Communists of the 20th century were arguably much worse than the Nazis were, for example if we judge badness by numbers of corpses produced by each system. Before the Second World War Herr Hitler and his National Socialists were responsible for the politically conditioned deaths of perhaps one thousand people—some Jews murdered, some others dead of contagious diseases in concentration camps, and a few fellow Nazis killed in a putsch or two—whereas Stalin was already allegedly responsible for the deaths of twenty to thirty million people. Even so, Marxism may now be seen as good, waving Soviet flags in the streets is still considered to be politically correct, and many young people in the west ignorantly consider Stalin to be some kind of hero…but I digress.
But aside from politically incorrect ableism and associations with Adolf Hitler, why on earth should eugenics in general be a bad thing? Eugenics does not necessitate abortion or culling, and could simply be a matter of breeding “good stock,” so to speak, encouraging the healthiest and most talented or meritorious to have plenty of children, and discouraging those with hereditary dysfunctions or possibly other blatantly undesirable traits, like imbecility or criminal insanity. I assume that one factor contributing to the political incorrectness of eugenics is the very idea that traits are inheritable—which is obviously true, but contrary to the egalitarianism and cultural determinism of neo-Marxism.
Clearly, any eugenics program based on arbitrary ideas of “superior” and “inferior” could sensibly be rejected as invalid and unjust; but what about serious hereditary diseases? Is it just or right that people likely to doom their own children to severe genetic disorders should have the right to bear as many (potentially very unhealthy) children as they please? Many serious genetic disorders could be almost entirely eradicated from the earth in one or two generations by a few simple eugenic regulations. And what about overpopulation and the poverty, malnutrition, deforestation, desertification, and pollution that results from it? Is it just that people who can’t even feed themselves and rely on a dole should have the right to bear several children that they also can’t feed? And why is abortion “just because” acceptable but eugenics even without abortion not? It seems like simple common sense that eugenics, if managed wisely and sensibly, could be a very good thing, even if abortions are outlawed as murder, to say nothing of culling “inferior” stock.
Some methods of implementing eugenics may be unethical, like aborting fetuses judged to be inferior (although again, I fail to see how this could be more unethical than aborting a fetus just because one doesn’t want it), or worse yet, culling undesirables; but with pretty much everything else besides human beings, eugenics has proved to be very beneficial. Pretty obviously, cultivated plants and domesticated animals have been rendered more beneficial to us humans through selective breeding. The modern agricultural revolution has been largely a result of eugenic breeding of super strains; disease- and drought-resistant crops with increased yield and decreased growing time are a major reason why half the world isn’t starving right now (plus the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere acts as a fertilizer, but we needn’t get into that here).
It used to be that blueberries were small and grew on big bushes, and now they’re almost as big as grapes (or would be as big as grapes, but the grapes are bigger too) and grow on tiny bushes. Chickens lay more and bigger eggs. Horses are larger, faster, and stronger than they were in ancient times. Dogs have been bred to specialize in various jobs, like herding sheep, hunting by scent, hunting by sight, or retrieving shot ducks from water. Goldfish are prettier. If selective breeding is obviously a reasonable, good idea for domesticated plants and animals, then why is it somehow unethical or objectionable, even in moderation, for us humans? A desire to avoid being like Hitler? Or do cultural Marxists admit that it works for chickens, horses, and dogs but couldn’t work for us because our differences are mere cultural constructs? All in all it strikes me as primarily a case of knee-jerk political correctness, combined with the age-old idea of human exceptionalism: we humans are sacred, God’s Chosen Species, and shouldn’t be tampered with.
Obviously, wanting people to have as many superior characteristics as possible is a sensible idea. It’s politically incorrect nevertheless, because in addition to differences supposedly being a mere cultural construct devised by malevolent Whitey to facilitate the enslavement of women and brown people, nobody, supposedly, should be considered superior at all, especially white people. The “bungled and botched,” as Nietzsche called them, are now glorified and made into martyrs if not culture heroes to be emulated. Anyway, eugenics is a better means of improving the human race, methinks, than is genetic engineering of GMO humans, which latter is progressing through its early stages without much protest, even from radical lefties. Genetic engineering is much more a case of fallible humans playing God, and is much more likely to result in unanticipated negative and potentially tragic consequences.
There is an important philosophical question as to what traits should be considered desirable or undesirable in human babies. Some traits, like pronounced masculinity, may be viewed as pernicious and undesirable by feminized leftists; even a hereditary tendency towards imbecility might be seen as acceptable, rather like the deltas and epsilons in Huxley’s Brave New World: if everyone were a genius, then who would sweep the floors at night in office buildings? Who would prepare and sell cheap hamburgers? Robots? Clearly, humans shouldn’t be bred towards uniformity. There should be a variety of qualities in differing combinations in different people, so that diversity can actually be a strength for society.
But regardless of philosophical and ethical questions, eugenics of a sort is happening even now, more or less naturally, with clever, wealthy, successful men attracting the most beautiful, healthy, clever, talented, and desirable women, and the most intelligent people tending to intermarry and interbreed with each other. This results in what Charles Murray has called the cognitive elite: the best “breeding stock” are mated with each other, and creating an intelligent elite that are tending farther and farther upwards on the social scale, with intelligence being the primary factor determining social and economic success in individuals. Being intelligent, on average, will get you farther in life than having a rich father or aristocratic ancestry, and intelligence to some degree is hereditary. This very human phenomenon of people mating with the best they can get has been going on forever, and the upper end of its results has been referred to as “breeding,” used as a noun; in fiction at least, a gentleman, or in India a brahmin, could be recognized as such by a kind of innate nobility of bearing, perceptible even if he had been brought up beneath his ancestral social station, and perhaps raised by rustic peasants or forest animals. So the gifted mate with the gifted and pass on their gifts to their offspring, the mediocre mate with the mediocre and pass on their mediocrity, and the low mate with the low and their offspring tend to stay low, largely through a lack of gifts or even of mediocrity. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this; it is completely natural; and it was acknowledged by some of America’s founding fathers in their regard for the so-called “natural aristocracy.”
The perpetual warfare common to the human race has also been a traditional means of accelerating human evolution through a violent sort of eugenics, as the strong and more adaptive have conquered, and sometimes exterminated, the weak. This has accelerated not only biological evolution of the species but cultural evolution as well. Also, it has functioned to cull the most violently stupid individuals, who tend to be the ones most likely to die in battle, along with the weak and timid. At the very least eugenics would be preferable to older, more violent means of improving the race. At present what we’ve got going is dysgenics, with the sick and weak kept alive to reproduce, sometimes at the expense of the government and of society as a whole, and almost certainly at the expense of the species.
Cultural determinism is largely a leftist myth, especially favored by Marxists so they can blame the bourgeoisie or white males or whomever happens to be the designated enemy for the hardships suffered by the least successful strata of society. But it should be obvious that both physical and mental traits have a hereditary, genetic component. Many diseases, for example, can run in families, including mental illnesses. For instance obsessive-compulsive disorder, in which people may wash their hands a hundred times a day or continually check the door to see if it’s locked or the stove to see if it’s off, is conditioned by an inherited malfunction of the brain. And insurance companies know full well that if one’s parents live to the age of ninety, then one also is likely to live a long life, barring accidents.
Overpopulation is one of the human race’s most serious problems, globally speaking, acknowledging which however has gone out of fashion, since now it is the vogue to panic over climate change instead—although if the earth’s population were only a billion or two we could pretty much do as we pleased without worrying about wrecking the earth’s biosphere. So if people in general are to be discouraged from overbreeding, then why shouldn’t the unhealthiest and most dysfunctional of the species be discouraged more than others? Why would such a policy necessarily be bad, at least with regard to filtering out those most likely to harbor severe genetic disorders? At the very least there could be a kind of international convention that people unable to feed themselves, relying upon a dole (by a government, a charitable organization, a church, whatever) should have their food dole laced with birth control drugs to prevent them from bearing children that they also can’t feed.
I suppose our most realistic chance at successful eugenics, barring a major shift in the Overton window bringing former Nazi practices back into fashion, would be the colonization of space—which is one reason why some “progressives” are opposed to the very idea of space colonization: it’s colonialist and white supremacist. Well, so be it. (We may have to change the name of “colonies” and “colonization” simply for reasons of PC public relations.) But even so, it may be our best chance at eugenically improving our species, since it doesn’t make sense to send sickly or stupid people into space to populate a new off-world colony, unless maybe it’s a dystopian futuristic version of a leper colony. The healthiest people would obviously make the best pioneers in a potentially harsh and dangerous new environment, like space or an non-terran planet, and the brightest people would be least likely to do something lethally stupid like accidentally pushing the wrong button and letting out all the air.
|it was more politically correct a hundred years ago|
Down here on earth a day may return when a spouse is chosen primarily for suitable genetic traits rather than for romantic love; what we’ve got going now is dysgenics, with the unfit and even very unhealthy having as many babies as they please, and with unrestrained immigration from populations that are evidently less intelligent and more violent, for example. Some relatively mild form of eugenics is much better for the species than simply allowing unhealthy or otherwise dysfunctional people to breed without restraint, especially if they are maintained by a welfare state at the expense of the healthy and productive. “Positive eugenics” would simply involve encouraging the healthiest to intermarry and have babies, or even subsidizing them. But some people don’t care much what is best for their own species. The new left in particular appear intent on causing as much harm to their own kind as they can manage.
When gardening, it makes perfect sense to pull up the weak, sickly plants along with the weeds. It really does make perfect sense, and nobody with an ounce of sense condemns it. Nevertheless, with ourselves (presumably more important than the plants we eat) the new feminized left especially endorses the opposite approach, even to the extent of pulling up the healthiest specimens, or at least pruning them back so that they’re no taller than the weak, sickly ones. Eugenics is certainly “ableist” and possibly racist, but it simply accelerates the process by which evolution works anyhow, and accomplishes it more painlessly (though I admit that “weeding” or culling is very unethical and something to avoid). Instead of the weak and sickly dying out, they simply are not born, or are born less.
Anything labeled “eugenics” has associated default negative connotations derived ultimately from German National Socialism, but it really does make sense. Not everything the Nazis did was pure evil. Now in the anti-Nazi neo-Marxist west, not only are genetic defects protected and perpetuated, but with victim culture even some of the most dysfunctional people are glorified and even emulated, and the human race is, in a sense, devolving.
In conclusion I would say that I don’t even consider this discussion to be a case of playing devil’s advocate. The Nazis weren’t wrong with regard to everything. And in many cases the Marxists have been much worse.
|Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, delivering a speech|
on eugenics (probably) to the ladies' auxiliary of a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan
(actually this photo represents some devil's advocate even if the article itself does not)