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EUGENICS AND THE LEFT

Alexander 2010/10/26 13:06:31
John J. Ray

Hitler's American inspiration

Everybody now knows how evil Nazi eugenics were: How all sorts of people were exterminated not because of anything they had done but simply because of the way they had been born. And we have all heard how disastrous were the Nazi efforts to build up the "master race" through selective breeding of SS men with the best of German women -- the "Lebensborn" project. Good Leftists today recoil in horror from all that of course and use their "Hitler was a Rightist" mantra to load those evils onto conservatives. But Hitler was a socialist. As he himself said:


"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions." (Speech of May 1, 1927. Quoted by Toland, 1976, p. 306)

So it should come as no surprise that Hitler's eugenics were an intergral part of his socialism and that the great supporters of COMPULSORY eugenics worldwide in Hitler's day were overwhelmingly of the Left. Left-influenced historians commonly blur the distinction between a belief in eugenic or dysgenic processes and actually advocating a State-enforced eugenics program but we can find the facts if we look carefully. And it was American Leftists upon whom Hitler principally drew for his "inspiration" in the eugenics field.

In the USA, the great eugenicists of the first half of the 20th century were the "Progressives". As it says here:


A significant number of Progressives -- including David Starr Jordan, Robert Latham Owen, William Allen Wilson, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Robert Latou Dickinson, Katherine Bement Davis, and Virginia Gildersleeve--were deeply involved with the eugenics movement

And as we read further here:


The second stage in the development of the eugenics movement extended from 1905 to 1930, when eugenics entered its period of greatest influence. More and more progressive reformers became convinced that a good proportion of the social ills in the United States lay in hereditary factors....

An educator, biologist, and leader of the American peace movement, Jordan's main contribution as a major architect of American eugenics was to bridge the gap between eugenics and other reform groups. Like other progressives, Jordan subscribed to the Populist-Progressive criticism of laissez-faire capitalism. Jordan had faith in progress and in a new generation. Yet, this optimistic environmentalism of Jordan's contradicted his Darwinian-hereditarian outlook of the world. Ironically, a similar ambivalence - - a "love-hate" attitude toward environmentalism - - ran through most progressive ideology.

For Jordan, the first president of Leland Stanford University, education permitted society's better members to outlive inferior peoples. Jordan believed the twentieth century had no place for the weak, the incompetent, and the uneducated. In addition, Jordan urged an end to indiscriminate and sentimental charity, a major factor he believed in the survival of the unfit. Jordan, like most progressives, viewed the urban setting as detrimental and destructive to human life. He held the general progressive belief in the social goodness of the small town or farm. The progressive's romantic attraction to the countryside can be partly explained by the alien character of the urban population. An increasing number of city dwellers belonged to the "undesirable foreign element".


And who were the Progressives? Here is the same writer's summary of them:


"Originally, progressive reformers sought to regulate irresponsible corporate monopoly, safeguarding consumers and labor from the excesses of the profit motive. Furthermore, they desired to correct the evils and inequities created by rapid and uncontrolled urbanization. Progressivism ..... asserted that the social order could and must be improved..... Some historians, like Richard Hofstadter and George Mowry, have argued that the progressive movement attempted to return America to an older, more simple, agrarian lifestyle. For a few progressives, this certainly was true. But for most, a humanitarian doctrine of social progress motivated the reforming spirit"
.
Sound familiar? The Red/Green alliance of today is obviously not new. So Hitler's eugenics were yet another part of Hitler's LEFTISM! He got his eugenic theories from the Leftists of his day. He was simply being a good Leftist intellectual in subscribing to such theories.

Both quotes above are from De Corte (1978). Against all his own evidence, De Corte also claims that the Progressives were "conservative". More Leftist whitewash! Unless it was glaringly obvious that someone was of the Left, just believing in eugenics MADE that person conservative in De Corte's view. Other evidence of their conservatism was not needed or cited. There is a detailed discussion of what the "Progressivism" of the time actually was here. Whatever else it was, it was clearly not conservative.

But the book by Pickens (1968) sets out the connection between the Progressives and eugenics far more throughly than the few quotes here can indicate.

Eugenics, however, was popular science generally in the first half of the 20th century. As a scientific idea it was not confined to Leftists. But note the difference in the IMPLEMENTATION of eugenic ideas (again from De Corte):


Even early social crusaders held similar illiberal views. Josephine Shaw Lowell, a leader in asylum reform, stated in 1884 that "every person born into a civilized community has a right to live, yet the community has the right to say that incompetent and dangerous persons shall not, so far as can be helped, be born to acquire this right to live upon others. Thus, strands of eugenic-style racism not only found their way into conservative philosophy represented by Sumner and other Social Darwinists but so did progressive reform ideals. Consequently, reformers began viewing the criminal, insane, epileptic, retarded and impoverished as more products of their heredity than of their social surroundings.

Whereas Social Darwinists desired to let nature take its course in eliminating the "unfit," eugenicists, on the other hand, felt Social Darwinism had not accomplished the task of guaranteeing the "survival of the fittest" quickly enough. For eugenicists, the "vigorous classes" should be encouraged to have more children, while the "incompetent classes" should be compelled to have fewer. Consequently, eugenicists in their distrust of laissez-faire concluded that "natural selection" must be helped along.

So conservatives, in their usual way, wanted to leave well enough alone. It was the LEFTISTS, in their usual way, who actually wanted to start compulsion in the matter.

And in Britain too the Leftists of the first half of the 20th century were outspokenly in favour of eugenics. As just one instance, that famous philosopher, peacenik and anti-nuclear camapaigner, Bertrand Russell spoke in favour of it. Writing in "Icarus Or the Future of Science" in 1924 he clearly approved of it though he did voice doubts about it falling into the wrong hands. And in a letter to his first wife, feminist Alys Pearsall Smith, about socialism and "the woman question," he wrote of eugenics in words that could well have been Hitler's -- even echoing Hitler's bad grammar:


"Thee might observe incidentally that if the state paid for child-bearing it might and ought to require a medical certificate that the parents were such as to give a reasonable result of a healthy child -- this would afford a very good inducement to some sort of care for the race, and gradually as public opinion became educated by the law, it might react on the law and make that more stringent, until one got to some state of things in which there would be a little genuine care for the race, instead of the present haphazard higgledy-piggledy ways."

(Quoted from here)

Even when Russell came to realize that State-sponsored eugenics could very easily fall into the wrong hands -- a realization he expresses in Icarus he still clearly saw it as desirable at least in theory.

And Russell was not alone in Britain. As it says here:


The fact is that eugenics was popular across the political spectrum for many years, both in England and in North America (e.g., Paul, 1984; Soloway, 1990). In England, many socialists supported eugenics. Even those viewed as critics, such as J. B .S. Haldane, Lancelot Hogben and Julian Huxley were not against eugenics per se, but came to believe that eugenics in capitalist societies was infected with class bias. Even so, some (see Paul, 1984), accepted the idea of upper class genetic superiority.

Not only were R. B. Cattell's eugenic beliefs commonplace in that milieu, but he was influenced by prominent socialists who supported eugenics, men such as Shaw, Wells, Huxley and Haldane, some of whom he knew (Hurt, 1998). Jonathan Harwood (1980) actually cited the example of Cattell to demonstrate that British eugenics was not a right-wing preserve in the inter-war years (although Keith Hurt, 1998, has noted that Harwood later characterised Cattell's 1972 book on Beyondism as a "right-wing eugenic fantasy").

Oppenheim (1982) claimed that American eugenicists were opposed by those in the Progressive Movement, juxtaposing the hereditarian reformism of the former with the environmental reformism of the latter. Actually many progressives were also eugenicists and incorporated the idea of eugenic reforms into their larger agenda (e.g., Burnham, 1977); there was a great deal of cross-over between the two movements (e.g., Pickens, 1968).

The few real critics of eugenics in the early 20th century were mainly conservatives and Christians like G.K. Chesterton who saw eugenic planning as just another arm of the wider campaign to impose a "scientific" socialist planning. In fact Chesterton subtitled his anti-eugenics tract "Eugenics and Other Evils" as: "An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State".

So, as we see from all the quotes above, the racialist thinking of the eugenic socialists was quite "scientific" and progressive in it's day, much as 'global warming' is seen as scientific and progressive today. And many of the eugenics true believers continued on postwar moving into campaigns for legalised abortion, planned parenthood and population control. In fact some modern-day pro-lifers have highlighted the racist roots of much of the liberal pro-abortion movement.

And eugenics of a sort IS back on the Left: The Zero Population Growth brigade are back with their "people are pollution" attitudes! Only this time they want to HALVE our population! And it does seem to be the old gang from the 1960's again -- including Paul Ehrlich. The abject failure of their earlier prophecies -- e.g. that we would all be doomed by the 1970s -- has not dampened them down a bit.

The Feminist connection

And are feminists conservative? Hardly. And feminists are hardly a new phenomenon either. In the person of Margaret Sanger and others, they were very active and prominent in the USA in first half of the 20th century, advocating (for instance) abortion. And Margaret Sanger was warmly praised by Hitler for her energetic championship of eugenics. And the American eugenicists were very racist. They wanted to reduce the black population and they shared Hitler's view that Jews were genetically inferior -- opposing moves to allow into the USA Jews fleeing from Hitler. So if Hitler's eugenics and racial theories were loathsome, it should be acknowledged that his vigorous supporters in the matter at that time were Leftists and feminists, rather than conservatives.
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  • jubil8 BN-0 PON 2010/11/06 23:32:14
    jubil8 BN-0 PON
    Hitler may have praised Margaret Sanger, but she didn't praise Hitler. She thought his eugenics were horrible because they weren't based only on defects but also on just who someone was.

    She also was NOT an advocate of abortion; in fact, she was against it. She favored birth control and responsible parenting and was a STRONG believer in the idea that the parents were the only people who should have any say in whether they had children or not -- no government intervention.
  • Alexander jubil8 ... 2010/11/07 16:40:48
    Alexander
    The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.

    Women of the working class, especially wage workers, should not have more than two children at most. The average working man can support no more and and the average working woman can take care of no more in decent fashion.

    Margaret Sanger Quotes.
  • jubil8 ... Alexander 2010/11/08 00:57:32
    jubil8 BN-0 PON
    I know, I've read them too, but you have to remember the context of her times. "Women of the working class, especially wage workers" meant women who HAD to work for the family to survive, and "wage workers" meant hourly wages, which were a pittance before the minimum wage was created, AND very long hours 6+ days a week. There was no day care, and housekeepers and nannys were for the rich.

    I think if you suggested a family where both parents work but are professional (e.g., doctors so making mucho bucks), she wouldn't say that 2 children are all that should be considered. Margaret Sanger wasn't perfect or a saint, but she did a lot for ordinary women, and that's worth a lot imo.

    Believe me, Alexander, I NEVER stick up for someone if I haven't done some reading about them. If you say George Washington was a fraud, I'll check it out because I don't know whether you're right or not. I know what I've been told, but that doesn't have to be accurate.

    About Margaret Sanger and most other early feminists/sufffragettes I'll go with a generous interpretation if for no other reason than that most of the original treatements were by MEN.

    Oops -- is my feminist petticoat showing?

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