It was puzzling, at best, to hear (last night) commenter REC, try to spin at this post, To All of Those We Mutilated, “Our Bad, But At Least We Weren’t Science Deniers” this idea: Eugenics was not, from first to last, a Darwinian project.
Everyone who knows anything about the subject knows that it was a Darwinian project. Yet REC writes,
Some famous (then and now) geneticists opposed eugenics.
So? Clearly, no one paid attention to them. Darwinism ruled. It was enforced through the legal system, which was precisely Barry Arrington’s point.
About 45 years ago, I was even briefly involved in the campaign to get rid of the practice in a Canadian province where – surprise, surprise – east Europeans were far more likely to be forwarded for involuntary sterilization through the mental health system than west Europeans were.
The campaign didn’t need to last long because by then the practice was not tenable by any standard – but that raised the question, what had been the previous standard and why?
It was Darwin, Darwin, and his cousin Galton. That’s why.
While we are here: Modern racism is a Darwinian project too, actually.
Ancient racism rested on ethnic boastfulness and very imperfect notions of heredity and tribal origins. Look, many people even claimed descent from the gods.
Ethical monotheism sure took the whack out of that racket…
But modern racism was based on Darwinian science. According to Darwin’s theory, the human stock must diversify, making racism legitimate*. I find it interesting that no progressive educator, enforcing Darwin in the schools, wants to take on its obvious connection with racism from the mouth of the master himself.
They don’t just want to rewrite history, they want to remake history.
Could their approach be one of the reasons that so many current efforts in combating racism seem like puerile and illegitimate wastes of public time, money, and attention? Which never seem to address the real problems that cause riots, shootings, etc.?
What if we disabled Darwinism first?
Anyway, here is a relevant story that may interest readers:
Denyse: The thing that struck me, reading your book, was how widespread the idea was in the province of Alberta, that sterilizing “socially challenged” people was a great idea. You write, “Many early eugenicists were leftists, but most important, Social Darwinist ideas behind right-wing eugenics absolved the wealthy of responsibility to help the poor.” (p. 8.) True, and many were pastors and churchgoing people. Today’s evangelicals would likely have a hard time believing that, but it’s a fact.
Jane: You bet! Eugenics was widely accepted by the business, academic, medical and political establishment. Preachers – in evangelical and mainline churches – even preached it from the pulpit. One exception: Roman Catholics. And they were ridiculed for their ‘backwardness’ in not endorsing eugenic theory. Also, the Conservative Party in Alberta was the only party to consistently refuse to support eugenics legislation in Alberta after it was introduced. (Your readers should know that, in the policy spectrum, the Conservative Party in Alberta was not similar to American Republicanism, but to the British and Canadian Conservative tradition. Pro-American free trade policies and trickle-down “Adam Smith”-style economics were the Liberal Party’s platform in those days.)
Denyse: You note that eugenicist Francis Galton felt free to manipulate global politics, Chinese, Africans … – disposing of the lands and peoples freely. (P. 12) I’m not here focusing on the moral badness of it; rather the political ineptness. Look what he was doing: promoting huge Chinese settlement in Africa, for example, without asking the Africans. Isn’t that a recipe for intractable future conflict? More important, doesn’t it suggest ambitions far vaster than any government should have? To what do you attribute the enormous, misplaced certainty that seems to have prevailed in those days about the extent to which intervention and interference would produce a better human being? I mean, at the time there was also a hypothetical creature known as the “new Soviet man.”
Jane: Galton was a man of his generation and class who believed that the upper classes were superior and that the poor were inferior and that whites were superior to other races. But he went even further, by creating a hierarchy of races in which Africans were considered inferior to Asians, and Asians were inferior to Southern Europeans, who were in turn, considered inferior to Northern Europeans. This hierarchy of races was considered “scientific.” More.
It was better than scientific, it was Darwinian. The single greatest idea anyone ever had.
* Has anyone found evidence of this fact, or is it just another of Darwin followers’ many pronouncements that conveniently receives little publicity at present?
See also: Imagine a world of religions that naturalism might indeed be able to explain
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