March/April, 1998 Volume XII Number 11
Flowers of evil
The master science of the twenty-first century will be biology. And so, it is as necessary to develop a morality and a politic that can cope with the challanges of this science and its revolutionary developing technologies, such as cloning, as it was to develop a morality and a politic able to cope with physics, chemistry and their creation--the Industrial Revolution. We need think only of Hitler and his race-based Reich or of apartheid in South Africa to see that biological politics can truly be "les Fleurs du mal," flowers of evil. And, as we see clearly in Rwanda, Yugoslavia and China, biological politics is not a thing of the past. Furthermore, the West has linked population control and development and this linking is biopolicy. As an essential part of meeting these new challanges to human values, we must study eugenics which has developed a morality and, through the eugenics societies, has embodied that morality in a politic which has led to most existing biopolicies.
Eugenics proposes to eliminate human ills such as war, sickness and hunger, and both development and underdevelopment, by adjusting the ratios between human population groups, by increasing "good" stock and decreasing "bad" stock in human populations. To the eugenicist, solutions other than eugenics are palliatives which often make the original problem worse. As Margaret Sanger explained in the twenties:
Instead of decreasing and aiming to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the race and the world, [free medical care for the poor] tends to render them to a menacing degree dominant (The Pivot of Civilization, 177).
At present, policy falters when it must deal with biology and, hence, it falters when challenged by eugenics. For example, England hesitated as long as Hitler's policies were perceived as biological nationalism. It united behind Churchill when these policies were seen as an attempt at hegemony_a strategic concept with which they were familiar.
A biopolicy is a policy based upon, or at least allegedly based upon, biological principles. Segregation was a biopolicy because it was based on an idea originating in biology that mankind was divided into species which must be maintained, as they are in the natural world, by preventing association and intermarriage. Virginia. for example, had laws forbidding marriage between whites and blacks for the purpose of preserving the white species from "mongrelization." Only in 1967 were these laws declared unconstitutional. The purpose of the Virginia laws was to preserve an alleged species, the white "race." This is biopolicy, and this biopolicy has been brought within the sphere of human values and American laws and declared unconstitutional. Apartheid was a similar biopolicy.
One need not study eugenics to know that segregation, apartheid and Nazism are evil, but a reasoned refutation of eugenic biopolicies requires some understanding of the leading principles in eugenics. Furthermore, many eugenics proposals are camouflaged beyond recognition. The book, The Bell Curve by Charles Murray, was based on the work of forty past and present members of eugenics societies. On the front cover we see bell curves, a mathematical discovery made by Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics. In the middle chapters we see an allegedly inferior race defined. In the last chapters we see a decrease in the birthrate of this allegedly inferior race proposed as public policy. From end to end, the book is a solid mass eugenics--eugenic research leading to eugenic proposals. Despite all these clues, how many critics recognized The Bell Curve as a piece of eugenics polemics?
Biology itself does not lead to eugenic policies. The problem is that the role played by biology in public policy has often been dominated by members of eugenics societies. They introduce a hereditary Darwinian squint, as it were, into the vision of biology and biopolies. And it is imperative that this squint be corrected. We must understand the role of the eugenic societies in forming public policy; we must understand their goals and strategy; we must understand their history and philosophy. There are fields of study within this research area which have been carefully studied but not from the eugenic angle--fields such as the history of the Nazi party or the history of the progressive movement in America or the history of colonialism or of racism or the history of science. And there are other fields such as the history of population control, that have had almost no research done at all. In other words, there exists an almost untouched research area of supreme importance.
Research on the history of eugenics and the eugenic societies could affect our understanding of crucial events in this century. For example, Neville Chamberlain was a member of the English Eugenic Society in 1935 while Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Marchal Petain, who led the Vichy government in France, was a member of the French Eugenic Society in the Thirties. Charles Lindbergh, the leading exponent of appeasement in America in 1940, was a director of the American Eugenics Society in the 1950s. To write the history of the period of appeasement while not knowing that the architect of appeasement in England (Chamberlain), the would be architect of appeasement in America (Lindbergh), the architect of the Vichy government (Petain) and the architect of the Nazi party (Hitler) were all eugenicists, is as if we were to write postwar history without mentioning that Stalin, Tito and Mao TseTung were all communists. Similarly, we will never understand population control, if we do not know that the main agent of this biopolicy, the International Planned Parenthood Federstion (IPPF), spent the first seventeen years of its existence in rent-free space in the headquarters of the English Eugenics Society and remained a member of that society even as late as 1977.
Where did eugenics begin?
Eugenics was first mentioned by Plato in The Republic but did not really become a social force until the rise of political economy at the time of Adam Smith. Eugenics is one aspect of the application of political economy of Malthus to society. Darwin applied Malthus' theories to biology in the Origin of Species (1859) which he said was "the application of the theories of Malthus to the entire vegetable and animal kingdom." From Darwin these same theories were re-exported to political economy which then appeared to be firmly based on nature and nature's law when it advocated colonialism and various adaptive radiations thereof. From that day to this eugenics has never ceased to trouble the world.
The question history tries to answer
The most important question in the history of the eugenic societies is whether they changed their goals after World War II or whether they only changed their tactics. In statements typical of pre-Hitler eugenics, Madison Grant said:
[Sterilization could] be applied to an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased and the insane, and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives, and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types . . . . Indiscriminate efforts to preserve babies among the lower classes often results in serious injury to the race . . . Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. (The Passing of the Great Race 1916).
These attitudes became the law of the land in the Supreme Court decision Buck v. Bell (1929). Justice Holmes wrote about the need to "prevent our being swamped with incompetence.
It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. Three generations of imbeciles are enough".
What other histories have said
Did the goals of eugenics change from these goals after World War II? All major Postwar histories of eugenics treat this question, but answers fall into a few archetypal patterns.
There is the Osborn archetype which asserts that eugenics changed its goals and became relatively powerless. According to this theory, eugenics was reformed by Fredrick Osborn and others, becoming a lonely tributary lost in a vast delta system of real knowledge about genetics and human genetics.
There is the Lewontin archetype. Eugenics did not change its goals but it is more limited on application than it formerly was. According to this theory, eugenics survives, financed by the Pioneer Fund, as the malignant genius of IQ studies. It is adherents of this theory who supplied the fiercest and best informed opposition to The Bell Curve and, in August 1997, prevented Raymond Cattel, a racist eugenicist, from receiving an award from the American Psychological Society. However, historians in this group do not always correlate the attempt to define an inferior group by means of IQ studies with the attempt to lower the birthrate of the group so defined through abortion and birth control--even though The Bell Curve itself made the eugenic link.
There is the popular archetype. Whatever eugenics is, we don't have to worry about it. Most people understand that eugenics is the philosophy of Hitler or breeding a master race. They oppose it, but they believe that eugenics ceased to influence public policy after World War II.
This leads to the last archetype, the Eugenics Watch archetype: eugenics did not change its goal and the eugenics societies are powerful. In summary, we believe that American and English eugenics societies did not disband or change their goals, that they are unknown because they changed their tactics in the face of universal condemnation and began to work in secret, and that their members have continued to influence policy in a eugenic direction through their hidden influence on foundation and other apparently impartial public interest groups.
The work of the Eugenic Watch consists in gathering together the names of members of eugenic societies, past and present, gathering information on their influence and analyzing that influence. It has gathered about 4,000 names and it has information on somewhat less than half of them. These 4,000 names represent almost all the members of the English Eugenics Society from 1930 to 1990 and all their officers from 1907 to 1995. The Americans include all those who were members of the American Eugenics Society in 1930, in 1956, and 19974--years for which we have complete membership lists--together with all the officers and directors from 1926 to 1996. This list is accurate as far as it goes but is not complete, especially in America for the years after 1974.
The Eugenics Watch list is sufficient to show that eugenics has had a much deeper influence on twentieth century history than anyone had previously realized. This list includes men who have been Prime Ministers of Great Britain (Arthur Balfour, Neville Chamberlain) and men who were the super rich in America in the 1930s (John D. Rockfeller, John D. Rockfeller, Jr.). It includes presidents of Harvard, Stanford, Johns, Hopkins, the Rockfeller Foundation, and the Carnegie Institute; ministers who preached to Franklin Roosevelt and John D. Rockfeller; Sheldon Segal, who funded the research on Norplant and RU-486; Dorthy Kerslake, the inventor of the technique of suction abortion; Warren Hern, a prominent abortionist; Margaret Sanger and the other founders of Planned Parenthood; John Maynard Keynes and others. Two members, Cyril Burt and Fredric Kammerer, perpetrated two of the most famous scientific frauds of the twentieth century. Others directed the most infamous research of the century; Von Vershuer directed Josef Mengele's twin experiments; Hugh Cummings, Clyde Kisier and several others were deeply involved in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Obviously, this is a significant group. Except for Margaret Sanger, no research has ever been done on these individuals as eugenicists, nor on their joint influence, nor or the meaning of these famous frauds and this atrocious research in relation to eugenics.
The difference between eugenics before Hitler lost the war and eugenics after Hitler is not a difference in goals, but a difference in tactics. Before the war, eugenic societies worked openly for publicly stated goals, and their policies, when challenged in court, were usually challenged on the basis that they violated the Fourteenth Amendment (e.g., Buck v. Bell; Skinner v. Oklahoma). But after the war, the societies adopted the policy called "cryptoeugenics," which consists in working through other groups without stating their eugenic purpose. They were thus able to in-voke successfully the Fourteenth Amendment on behalf of their policies (e.g., Griswold v. Conneticut; Roe v. Wade).
The policy of cryptoeugenics was formally adopted by the English Eugenics Society in 1960 at their annual meeting, though it had been in place previously as the meeting resolution makes clear.
In the U.S. Fredrick Osborn, the most important official of the American Eugenics Society from 1937 to 1972, said that eugenic proposals would be put forward on the ground that more children would grow up in the best home environments, with no public argument made for eugenics ("The Eugenic Hypothesis," Eugenics Review April and July 1952).
In 1956 Osborn gave the Galton Lecture at the Eugenics Society in London. He spoke frankly, asking tough questions and answering them. Here is the crucial part of his talk:
The eugenic movement is nothing but a few small handfuls of men in various countries . . . They are not influencing public opinion. The very word eugenics is not disrepute in some quarters. I think we have failed to take into account a trait which is almost universal and is very deep in human nature. People simply are not willing to accept an idea that the genetic base on which their character is formed is inferior and should not be repeated in the next generation. We have asked whole groups of people to accept this idea and we have asked individuals to accept it. They have constantly refused, and we have all but killed the eugenic movement. . . . They won't accept the idea that they are in general second rate. We must rely on other motivations . . . Let's stop telling anyone that they have a generally inferior genetic quality, for they will never agree. Let's base our proposals on the desirability of having children born in homes where they will get affectionate and responsible care, and perhaps our proposals will be accepted. ("Galton at Mid Century," (Eugenics Review 1956).
And they were, when the American Eugenics Society and Planned Parenthood, its chief-agent-in-place, stopped talking about "the inferior: and started talking about "choice," they seized the high ground even though their goals had not changed. Before adoption of the policy of cryptoeugenics, eugenic initiatives were constantly being wrecked on the shoal of the Fourteenth Amendment. After adopting the policy, the eugenics societies were able to seize the Fourteenth Amendment and carry it away to captivity to toil for them --"eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves." In cases such as Griswold v. Connecticut and Roe v. Wade, not only do they make use of the Fourteenth Amendment, but also, while warning against the "dangers of eugenics," they were actually introducing it. Such warning should not be taken at face value. Planned Parenthood was founded by eugenicists to carry out race building in America. In 1940, for example, we find this:
The Annual Meeting of the Birth Control Federation of America . . . will be in effect a three-day forum on Race Building in a Democracy. The program includes the presentation of papers showing the relationship of birth control to other efforts to improve the quality of people in the United States (Birth Control Review, January 1940).
C. Lee Buxton, the doctor in the Griswold case, was a director of the American Eugenics Society. Nonetheless, this group was able to present itself as opponents of eugenics, while they who would truly have opposed eugenics had they understood the issue properly were left to mill about, disputing whether Constitutional rights are enumerated, generated or emanated.
In order to understand this extraordinary outcome, we have to understand the whole eugenic strategy. The societies did not propose merely to educate people; they proposed to manipulate them. Osborn explained in a 1952 article that "selection based on early success in responding to the environment" should be carried out but " . . . there are means of selection which do not require that we humiliate . . . there is certainly a possibility that . . . pressures can be given a better direction and can be brought to bear on a majority of the population instead of a minority." When these pressures are "brought to bear," individuals will seem to choose on their own not to have children if "family planning has spread to all members of the population and means of effective contraception are readily available." Osborn called this choice "voluntary unconscious selection." Proposals for family planning "would be put forward on the ground that more children would grow up in the best home environments, with no public argument made for eugenics" (dual article in Eugenics Review 1951-1953).
In 1953 Osborn spoke vaguely about "pressures." By 1967 a set of specific pressure policies had been identified. They were laid out by Kingsley Davis in an article entitled "Population Policy: Will Current Programs Succeed?" (Science, 158, Nov. 10, 1967). Davis said that "conditions that cause births to be wanted or unwanted are beyond the control of family planning . . . . the social structure and economy must be changed before a deliberate reduction in the birthrate can be achieved." By "changes in the social structure" he meant "changes in the structure of the family, in the position of women and in the social mores." The most necessary change was a change in the place of women:
Women could be required to work outside the home, or compelled by circumstances to do so. If, at the same time, women were paid as well as men and given equal educational and occupational opportunities . . . many women would develop interests that would compete with family interests.
Davis also detailed other policies, including encouraging homosexuality and a set of government initiatives which were summarized by Eugene Grenbenick, an English eugenicist, as a "catalog of horrors":
A realistic proposal for a government policy of lowering the birthrate reads like a catalog of horrors: squeeze consumers through taxation and inflation; make housing very scarce by limiting construction; force wives and mothers to work outside the home to offset the inadequacy of male wages, yet provide few child care facilities; encourage migration to the cities by paying low wages in the country and providing few rural jobs; increase congestion in the cities by starving the transit system; increase personal insecurity by encouraging conditions that produce unemployment and by haphazard political unrest.
Many of Davis' "changes in the social structure" are now in place in America and England, and they are being actively promoted around the world. These policies are social engineering by eugenics societies eager to lower the birthrate. But these policies destroy the family--that is why they lower the birthrate. The eugenics societies either became lost in their jargon about "altering the proximate determinates of fertility" and did not realize that they were talking about destroying the family, or else they thought it didn't matter. But the destruction of the family is creating a social catastrophe.
What is needed is reverse social engineering. We need social scientists to study the precise nature of the anti-family policies and the history of their introduction. We could then show that the Fourteenth Amendment is being used as it was used against the unions, when it was said that unions did not allow choice or laissez faire, the free play of economic forces. Today the Fourteenth Amendment is being used to allow the free play of manipulated economic forces against the family.
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