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This is the short version of the article. A more extensive treatment of the topic is to be found here

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EUGENICS AND THE LEFT



John J. Ray (M.A.;Ph.D.)

Hitler's American inspiration

We all know how evil Nazi eugenics were, don't we? How disastrous were their 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. But who were the great supporters of eugenics in Hitler's day? In the USA, the great eugenicists of the first half of the 20th century were the "Progressives". And who were the Progressives? Here is one 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"
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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.

The summary of Progressivism above is from De Corte (1978). Against all his own evidence, De Corte also claims that the Progressives were "conservative". More Leftist whitewash! See also Pickens (1968).

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)

A reader of my blog has written in with more rather surprising information about the 3rd Earl Russell. I have posted it here (or here) under the heading: "Peacenik Bertie -- The authoritarian eugenicist". One rather wonders what Earl Russell would have done if he had been in control of Germany in the 1930s. Perhaps history would not have changed much.

The same reader also writes:

The few 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".

Modern commentators usually emphasise the "racist" (or more accurately "racialist") dimensions of the eugenics program and manage to wholly white out the socialist element. This is an example, not only of our intellectual class's pro-socialist bias, but of anachronistic thinking, projecting current attitudes back through time.

In the early part of the century socialists had no qualms about racialist thinking as anyone who reads Karl Marx no doubt knows. Of course this kind of thinking was commonplace then, however the marriage of socialism and racialism certainly gave birth to Nazism, probably the most violent and virulent form of racialism ever experienced. Most current critics of Nazism only blame one of its parents!

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. At that time "group selection" models of evolution were dominant, and it was quite common to see "race" as the group being selected. It was really only in the 1960s that these models of evolution were really overturned. Thankfully the obvious evils of Nazism forced many socialists to rethink their racialism, unfortunately leaving their loving faith in State supremacy and social engineering firmly intact. That Stalin's State equalled or exceeded Hitler in violence under the cloak of international brotherhood was frankly ignored. In fact many on the left have now commenced a new crusade in the name of anti-racism and multiculturalism. However laudable these goals, the implementation often bulldozes individual rights and autonomy, just as the old eugenicist planners did.

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.

In the scientific world it is not impossible to imagine a swing back to group selectionism. Many "sensitive" commentators attack neo-Darwinism and individual selectionism as "reductionist" and thus bad. And the old idea of race is certainly not scientifically dead. The real question is, if these scientific concepts revive, will the socialists return to their old habits? And will the supporters of individual freedom be strong enough to stop them?"

And eugenics of a sort IS back on the Left: The Zero Population Growth nutters 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 Feminst 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.

The Greenie connection

As in America, Hitler's eugenics were in fact just one aspect of a larger "Greenie" theme -- a theme that continues, of course, as the Red/Green alliance of today. The Nazis were in fact probably the first major political party in the Western world to have a thoroughgoing "Green" agenda. A good short summary of that has been written by Andrew Bolt. Excerpts:

Hitler's preaching about German strength and destiny was water in the desert to the millions of Germans who'd been stripped of pride, security and hope by their humiliating defeat in World War I, and the terrible unemployment that followed.

The world was also mad then with the idea that a dictatorial government should run the economy itself and make it "efficient", rather than let people make their own decisions.

The Nazis -- National Socialists -- promised some of that, and their sibling rivals in the Communist Party more.

The theory of eugenics -- breeding only healthy people -- was also in fashion, along with a cult of health.

The Nazis, with their youth camps and praise of strong bodies and a strong people, endorsed all that, and soon were killing the retarded, the gay and the different.

Tribalism was popular, too. People weren't individuals, but members of a class, as the communists argued, or of a race, as the Nazis said. Free from freedom -- what a relief for the scared!

You'd think we'd have learned. But too much of such thinking is back and changing us so fast that we can't say how our society will look by the time we die.

A KIND of eugenics is with us again, along with an obsession for perfect bodies.

Children in the womb are being killed just weeks before birth for the sin of being a dwarf, for instance, and famed animal rights philosopher Peter Singer wants parents free to kill deformed children in their first month of life. Meanwhile support for euthanasia for the sick, tired or incompetent grows.

As for tribalism, that's also back -- and as official policy. We now pay people to bury their individuality in tribes, giving them multicultural grants or even an Aboriginal "parliament".....

People need to feel part of something bigger and better than ourselves -- a family, or a church, or a tradition or a country. Or, as a devil may whisper, the greens.

The greens. Here's a quote which may sound very familiar -- at least in part. "We recognise that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind's own destruction and to the death of nations. "Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger . .

"This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought."

That was Ernst Lehmann, a leading biologist under the Nazi regime, in 1934, and he wasn't alone. Hitler, for one, was an avid vegetarian and green, addicted to homeopathic cures. His regime sponsored the creation of organic farming, and SS leader Heinrich Himmler even grew herbs on his own organic farm with which to treat his beloved troops.

HITLER also banned medical experiments on animals, but not, as we know to our grief, on Jewish children. And he created many national parks, particularly for Germany's "sacred" forests.

This isn't a coincidence. The Nazis drew heavily on a romantic, anti-science, nature worshipping, communal and anti-capitalist movement that tied German identity to German forests. In fact, Professor Raymond Dominick notes in his book, The Environmental Movement in Germany, two-thirds of the members of Germany's main nature clubs had joined the Nazi Party by 1939, compared with just 10 per cent of all men.

The Nazis also absorbed the German Youth Movement, the Wandervogel, which talked of our mystical relationship with the earth. Peter Staudenmaier, co-author of Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience, says it was for the Wandervogel that the philosopher Ludwig Klages wrote his influential essay Man and Earth in 1913.

In it, Klages warned of the growing extinction of species, the destruction of forests, the genocide of aboriginal peoples, the disruption of the ecosystem and the killing of whales. People were losing their relationship with nature, he warned.

Heard all that recently? I'm not surprised. This essay by this notorious anti-Semite was republished in 1980 to mark the birth of the German Greens -- the party that inspired the creation of our own Greens party.

Its message is much as Hitler's own in Mein Kampf: "When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall."

Why does this matter now? Because we must learn that people who want animals to be treated like humans really want humans to be treated like animals.

We must realise a movement that stresses "natural order" and the low place of man in a fragile world, is more likely to think man is too insignificant to stand in the way of Mother Earth, or the Fatherland, or some other man-hating god.

We see it already. A Greenpeace co-founder, Paul Watson, called humans the "AIDS of the earth", and one of the three key founders of the German Greens, Herbert Gruhl, said the environmental crisis was so acute the state needed perhaps "dictatorial powers"....

The "big government" connection

Leftists are, of course, the ones who are constantly advocating big government. But once something gets into the hands of big government, it can turn very nasty indeed. And the American eugenics laws of the first half of the 20th century are a very good example of that. As it says here: "President Woodrow Wilson signed New Jersey's sterilization law, and one of his deputies descended to greater fame as a Nazi collaborator at Buchenwald. Pennsylvania's legislature passed an 'Act for the Prevention of Idiocy,' but the governor vetoed it .... Other states, however, joined the crusade. ... Eventually, the eugenicist virus found a hospitable host in Germany. There... it led to the death chambers of Buchenwald and Auschwitz. Thanks to the Nazis, highly praised by eugenicists here, the movement eventually collapsed. But not before nearly 50,000 Americans were sterilized."

And someone from the past who is still something of a hero to the Left is the American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who famously said: "When you pay taxes you buy civilisation". This was quoted approvingly recently by Simon Crean, Federal Parliamentary leader of the Australian Labor party. Crean somehow failed to note that Holmes was also known for ordering compulsory sterilizations of the mentally ill: Yet another forgotten American inspiration for Adolf.

And California was one of the earliest supporters of Eugenics laws -- providing the main model for similar later laws by Hitler

"Reality is not PC" has also noted that a great Leftist cause of the 1930s was eugenics -- sterilizing some criminals and those who were deemed to be mentally ill -- and that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld eugenics laws. As he says: "In 1933, Nazi Germany used the US sterilization laws as the blueprint for the Nuremberg Laws under which 350,000 "unfit" German citizens were sterilized.. Again we see that Hitler modelled his policies on the policies of Left-leaning American intellectuals. So the cruelty and destructiveness of Left-inspired "do-gooding" goes back a long way even in the democracies.

More on the British connection

As Chris Brand points out in his August 2003 post: "Eugenics was supported in the early twentieth century by such liberal-left luminaries as the radical playwright George Bernard Shaw, the Liberal Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, the then-Liberal Winston Churchill, the Marxist geneticist J. B. S. Haldane and anti-authoritarian Brave New World author Aldous Huxley. The chief opposition to eugenics came from religious groups."

Conservative eugenics?

I should note that economist Steven Levitt's work suggests that the old Leftist eugenics program of reducing the birth rate (via abortion) among the "lower classes" was not totally misconceived. Levitt's findings seem to show that making voluntary abortion available to poorer mothers reduces the crime rate years later. He is at pains of course to indicate that his empirical findings are not an endorsement of either eugenics or abortion. Slate featured a 3 day correspondence between him and Steve Sailer dealing with the issue.

Given the traditional conservative regard for individual liberty, it seems to me that the only eugenics programs that conservatives could justify would be voluntary ones -- such as the large material incentives to reproduce that the Singapore government offers to highly educated Singaporean women. Christian conservatives, however, tend to regard all reproduction as God-given so would oppose even voluntary eugenic programs that limited reproduction -- such as the Woodhil Foundation programs that pay crack-addicted mothers to undertake contraception.

Leftists, however, oppose the Woodhill programs because they are voluntary and privately-funded. They like such matters to be in the hands of the State (i.e. under their control).

And the problem of a self-perpetuating and substantially criminal underclass does not need to be addressed by eugenics. It can be addressed by addressing its major causes -- such as the over-generous welfare system that the Leftists have created in their hunger for praise.

And despite everything, there ARE useful and non-coercive Eugenics programs in operation right now. Genetic screening in the U.S. Jewish community has now all but eliminated an awful hereditary disease -- Tay-Sachs -- from that community.

Shifting the blame

Modern-day Leftists hate it when you point out that it was THEY who were the inspiration for Hitler. So what do they do? They try to shift the blame -- to even the most unlikely targets. A recent book has tried to lay the blame for the Leftist eugenicists of the early 20th century at the door of someone who opposed ALL compulsion. As the book reviewer says:

"It has long been open season on Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). Perhaps because he was the 19th century's most prominent defender of individual liberty and critic of the violence of the state, Spencer has always been the object of hatred and distortion; indeed, it sometimes seems that no accusation is too bizarre to be leveled against him...

What common ground could there be between Spencer and the eugenicists? Both, to be sure, were 'Social Darwinists,' if that means that both thought there were important sociopolitical lessons to be drawn from evolutionary biology. But Spencer and the eugenicists drew opposite lessons. For the eugenicists, the moral of evolutionary biology was that the course of human evolution must be coercively managed and controlled by a centralized, paternalistic technocracy. For Spencer, by contrast, the moral was that coercive, centralized, paternalistic approaches to social problems were counterproductive and so would tend to be eliminated by the spontaneous forces of social evolution ..."

It is a good comment on the dismal minds of Leftists that they think that nothing can be accomplished except through compulsion.

References:

De Corte, T.L. (1978) Menace of Undesirables: The Eugenics Movement During the Progressive Era. University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Pickens, D. (1968) Eugenics and the Progressives. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press




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