Quotes on Eugenics and Progressives
"The aim of eugenics is to represent each class or sect by its best specimens; that done, to leave them to work out their common civilization in their own way."
"Embedded in progressivism was the idea of scientific management - long-range planning by university-trained experts. This new managerial class became increasingly vital to the economic process. In a country that had nurtured a reverence for invention, the use of scientific management had a special appeal. Progressive reformers had a strong faith in science as the cure - all that would herald in a new era of rational control of both nature and human society. Under these conditions, it is not surprising that the revelations of a new science of genetics gave birth to a new science of social engineering - eugenics."
"The time has already come when each country needs a considered national policy about what size of population, whether larger or smaller than at present or the same, is most expedient. And having settled this policy, we must take steps to carry it into operation. The time may arrive a little later when the community as a whole must pay attention to the innate quality as well as to the mere numbers of its future members."
"A prevention of the faculty and opportunity to procreate on the part of the physically degenerate and mentally sick, over the period of only six hundred years, would not only free humanity from an immeasurable misfortune, but would lead to a recovery which today seems scarcely conceivable."
"What we must fight for is freedom to breed the race without being hampered by the mass of irrelevant conditions implied in the institution of marriage. If our morality is attacked, we can carry the War into the enemy's country by reminding the public that the real objection to breeding by marriage is that marriage places no restraint on debauchery as long as it is monogamic, whereas eugenic breeding would effectually protect the mothers and fathers of the race from any abuse of their relations. As to the domestic and sympathetic function of marriage, or even its selfishly sexual function, we need not interfere with that. What we need is freedom for people who have never seen each other before, and never intend to see one another again, to produce children under certain definite public conditions, without loss of honor. That freedom once secured, and the conditions defined, we have nothing further to say in the matter until the necessarily distant time when the results of our alternative method of recruiting will be able to take the matter in hand themselves, and invite the world to reconsider its institutions in the light of experiments, which must, of course, in the meantime run concurrently with the promiscuity of ordinary marriage."
"Progressives saw sterilization as having natural advantages over traditional methods of helping the poor, such as charity. Sterilization was 'scientific' -- its rationale could be found in the writings of Charles Darwin's cousin Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, who mused that superior people, like superior crops and farm animals, were the product of good breeding."
"The way of nature has always been to slay the hindmost, and there is still no other way, unless we can prevent those who would become the hindmost being born. It is in the sterilization of failures, and not in the selection of successes for breeding, that the possibility of an improvement of the human stock lies."
"During this time, a growing professional class believed that scientific progress could be used to cure all social ills, and many educated people accepted that humans, like all animals, were subject to natural selection. Darwinian evolution viewed humans as a flawed species that required pruning to maintain its health. Therefore negative eugenics seemed to offer a rational solution to certain age-old social problems."
"Every single case of inherited defect, every malformed child, every congenitally tainted human being brought into this world is of infinite importance to that poor individual; but it is of scarcely less importance to the rest of us and to all of our children who must pay in one way or another for these biological and racial mistakes."
"Under an older and harsher order of civilization these lower classes were cut down by disease, famine and petty strife, while the stronger survived, albeit when petty strife took on the aspects of serious warfare then, too, the upper levels suffered most severely; under the present social order there is a bolstering up of the lower and more helpless levels so that their fecundity is evidently operating against these older inhuman, but race-purifying, agencies. It now behooves society in consonance with both humanitarianism and race efficiency to provide more human means for cutting off defectives. Society must look upon germ-plasm as belonging to society and not solely to the individual who carries it. Humanitarianism demands that every individual born be given every opportunity for decent and effective life that our civilization can offer. Racial instinct demands that defectives shall not continue their [sic] unworthy traits to menace society. There appears to be no incompatibility between the two ideals and demands."
"It is only with the individual of a hereditary, degenerate make-up which manifests itself in an inability to get on, or lack of ambition, or laziness which drives him or her beyond the bounds of self-maintained usefulness in an organized society that this study is concerned. These individuals are so strikingly anti- social that society is justified, if the general uselessness can be shown to be hereditary, in cutting off the descent line of this whole group of individuals, even if their specific traits and defects cannot be catalogued."
"Man's conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men. There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man's side. Each new power won by man is a power over man as well. Each advance leaves him weaker as well as stronger. In every victory, besides being the general who triumphs, he is also the prisoner who follows the triumphal car.
I am not yet considering whether the total result of such ambivalent victories is a good thing or a bad. I am only making clear what Man's conquest of Nature really means and especially that final stage in the conquest, which, perhaps, is not far off. The final stage is come when Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man. The battle will then be won. We shall have 'taken the thread of life out of the hand of Clotho' and be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish it to be. The battle will indeed be won. But who, precisely, will have won it?"
"Society must concern itself not chiefly with the isolation, temporary or permanent, of the individual murderer, thief, or forger, but with the extermination or repair of the genetic, educational, or industrial defects which cause the production of criminals."
"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."
"The lasting impacts of the deceit and flawed science associated with eugenics have been tremendous. The claims made by eugenicists were erroneous exaggerations drawn from Darwin's work that ultimately endorsed racism and blatant acts of discrimination. Furthermore, because eugenics was so deeply intertwined with genetics, it is a constant companion among the hurdles associated with the advancement of genetic testing and gene therapy."
More About This Topic...
- Report of the Committee to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means of Cutting off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the American Population: The Scope of the Committee's Work
- Social Origins of Eugenics
- Eugenics and Progressives
- Beyond Darwin: Eugenics, Social Darwinism, and the Social Theory of the Natural Selection of Humans
- Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope, and Aims
- In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity
- Eugenics Goals and Education
- Essays in Eugenics
- In the Name of Darwin
- Engineering American Society: The Lesson of Eugenics