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The actual definition is rather horrible: the controlled and selective breeding of the human race. Galton based his ideas on the theories of his cousin: Charles Darwin. The New York Times gave it constant and positive coverage. Luther Burbank and other scientists promoted Eugenics. George Bernard Shaw said that nothing but a Eugenic religion could save civilization.
Only one writer wrote a book against Eugenics. Eugenics and Other Evils may be his most prophetic book. Eugenics led directly to the birth control movement. All the same players were involved, such as Margaret Sanger, who was a member of the American Eugenics Society and was the editor of the Birth Control Review. Less for the Unfit. Two words: Adolf Hitler. He officially instituted Eugenics, leading an entire country in carrying out its principles, not only to breed what he believed to be a superior race but to eliminate everyone whom he considered to be inferior.
Where did Hitler find early support for his Eugenic ideas? From Margaret Sanger and her circle. Margaret Sanger was quick to distance herself from Eugenics and began to emphasize Birth Control as supposedly a feminist issue. But unfortunately, the philosophy behind Eugenics is with us still.
Generally speaking, all of the original arguments in favor of Eugenics have become the same arguments in favor of birth control, abortion, euthanasia, and even cloning. Chesterton understood this. But he understood it in which is when he started writing this book, which was not published till As with so many other things, Chesterton saw exactly what we see. Only he saw it long before it happened. Eugenics, like abortion, bases all its benefits on denying an entire class of humans their humanity.
With abortion, there is a perceived benefit to someone by eliminating the weakest and most defenseless of humans: the unborn. It was the Rockefellers and the Carnegies and other capitalist lords who funded eugenics research in the early 20th century. They went on to be major supporters of Planned Parenthood.
Chesterton says that wealth, and the social science supported by wealth tries inhuman experiments, and when they fail, they try even more inhuman experiments. They are inhuman because they are godless. Many of the rich took to scepticism exactly as the poor took to drink; because it was a way out. Forget the tired old argument about religion persecuting science. Chesterton points out the obvious fact that in the modern world, it is the quite the other way around. The thing that really is trying to tyrannize through government is Science.
The thing that really does use the secular arm is Science. And the creed that really is levying tithes and capturing schools, the creed that really is enforced by fine and imprisonment, the creed that really is proclaimed not in sermons but in statutes, and spread not by pilgrims but by policemen — that creed is the great but disputed system of thought which began with Evolution and has ended in Eugenics.
Materialism is really our established Church; for the Government will really help it to persecute its heretics. Chesterton says the problem with official science is that it steadily becomes more official while it becomes less scientific.
Lecture 36: Eugenics and Other Evils
The wisest thing in the world is to cry out before you are hurt. It is no good to cry out after you are hurt; especially after you are mortally hurt. People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists. It is no answer to say, with a distant optimism, that the scheme is only in the air.
Eugenics and Other Evils Quotes
They are nicely indicted by their very own words. In the second decade of the twentieth century, an idea became all too fashionable among those who feel that it is their right to set social trends. Wealthy families took it on as a pet cause, generously bankrolling its research. Educators as prominent as Charles Elliot, President of Harvard University, promoted it as a solution to social ills. In the s, almost three-fourths of high school social science textbooks taught its principles.
Eugenics and other Evils