Eugenics Since the end of the 19th century, eugenics has had a significant role in the development of Western society. There have been laws established by its presence and a war fought to cease its progress. To analyze the philosophy of and the actions due to eugenics, one must look at the past and see what contributions eugenics has made to events in history. One must also look at the present applications of eugenics and how they affect the lives of people. With these two directions, one can see that because it is racist, encourages immoral actions and is biologically unsound, eugenics is iniquitous and should be abolished from modern medical and political thought.
In 1883, Sir Francis Galton developed a so called science that dealt with the manner in which the human population could be improved. Galton thought that a pure race would make all population problems on earth obsolete and therefore contribute to an increased longevity of the human race. He called it the science of eugenics, a word derived from the Greek eugenes, meaning well born. He published the aspects of his new science in his book Hereditary Genius in 1869, establishing the roots and importance of his theories. Galton had admired how horticulturists tried to improve the plant system by encouraging reproduction between the strongest species. He decided that this could be done with humans in the same way.
Galton once wrote that the point of eugenics was to give the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable (Chase, p.13). Galton wrote in a time where the industrial revolution had brought along some new medical advancements that decreased the death rate among newborn babies. These new technologies however were only given to the upper classes at first. As a result, the upper classes had a lower birth-rate as they were more confident in keeping their children alive. This scared Galton, seeing this change as a threat to humanity as he believed that it meant there would be more lower class citizens in the future, thus decreasing the average level of society. These ideas came from the fact that he believed the old theories that the poor received infectious diseases, were illiterate and generally uneducated because it was this way in their blood. He also looked at the most important people in society such as judges, politicians and scientists and decided that they were all biologically alike. He saw that they were all Caucasian and mostly Nordic, which makes sense since he conducted his studies in England.
It then logically follows that he believed that the social pyramid was and should be dominated by Caucasians, at the top of which reigned the Nordics. Galton thus encouraged reproduction among upper class citizens to eugenically encourage this hereditarily superior race to fend off the increasing number of inferior, poorer breeds. He not only concentrated on economic factors when dividing the people but on racial factors as well. Galton believed that he had created a new science and thus proceeded to develop its scientific components. He created a scale from A to X, X being the highest and A the lowest, grading different aspects of human beings. It was also based on rarity; an individual in the V-class appeared every 300 births and was therefore assured a successful life while an individual in the C-class appeared every 16 births, placing him in the ranks of the common folk.
There was a different system however for the Negroes. Galton once said, classes E and F of the Negro may roughly be considered as the equivalent of our C and D-a result which again points to the conclusion that the average intellectual standard of the Negro race is some two grades below our own(Galton, P.327). He also said that, the Jews are specialized for parasitical existence upon other nations, showing that his science was to be partially derived from personal, self-admiring beliefs. Galton’s theories were accepted by many high-profile people in most industrial countries but the type of eugenics practiced was slightly different and over time became entirely different philosophies. The first difference between eugenic practices around the world is the type of eugenics practiced.
There are two types: positive eugenics and negative eugenics. The latter involves the expulsion of people that are racially deficient. Many such techniques have been practiced in history. Positive eugenics improves humans by encouraging the reproduction of fit humans or by genetically improving a person. Unfortunately, although positive eugenics is regarded as a better technique, it tends to bring on negative eugenics, which causes many problems. It seems as though one cannot be present without the other.
In history, this happened in some of the most respected countries. Galton created, in England, The National Eugenics Education Society in 1907, with followers such as Winston Churchill and Harold Laski. In Canada, a group called the Eugenics Society of Canada was put together in 1930, and in the United States, many different divisions of the Galton Society came together in 1923. They formed the American Eugenics Society. It is here and in Nazi Germany that the most interesting events took place; where the eugenics movement became almost synonymous to a religious faith.
In the United States, a Eugenics society was not needed in order for people to believe in it. Ten years before the Eugenics Society was created, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote, it is obvious that if in the future racial qualities are to be improved, the improving must be wrought mainly by favoring the fecundity of the worthy types(Chase, p.15). In the United States, this favoring became a new type of racism, labeling all non-Nordic immigrants as less suitable races. There had also been many laws established, allowing the sterilization of deviants and deficients. The first such law was created in Indiana in 1907, followed by 27 other States in the next 30 years.
These laws gave the permission to the individual States to forcefully sterilize all confirmed criminals, idiots, rapists and imbeciles By 1964, 63, 678 forced sterilizations had been performed under sterilization laws in 28 American States. In order for the purification of the American population to occur, it had to be determined who were the intelligent races and who were the idiots. As a result, a group of psychologists introduced the idea of testing, using IQ tests, the intelligence of all army recruits during the First World War. Carl Brigham, a member of this group, then published his book, A Study of American Intelligence, showing that the Nordic Races were indeed more intelligent than the other races. He concluded that the average mental age of White individuals was 13 years and that of Black individuals was 10 years. It was then accepted by the American public that the Blacks were the unclean race and the whites were the honorable race.
Galton’s theories were therefore proven by these tests and were doubtlessly accepted by many psychologists, not only by the nave public. When Calvin Coolidge became President in 1924, he signed the Immigration Restriction Act, which limited, in percentage, the entrance of immigrants according to the American Census of 1890. He tried to, Keep America American, as he stated when he was the vice-president. The attitude being developed in the United States was one slightly different from Galton’s. It was concerned with the invasion of the country by inferior races rather than Galton’s idea of the upper class being threatened by pauperism.
However, eugenics in Germany also took on a new look compared to Galton’s theories. In fact, when the nazi party came into power in 1933, they exercised eugenic ideas to the point of causing the Second World War. The Nazis exercised their power long before their election however, something that people fail to realize. The man in charge of the purification of the German race was Heinrich Himmler, the Reichfhrer SS as of 1929. He had a fleet of 300 men who would be responsible for purifying the German race.
Himmler decided that the whole country was to be examined in order to find out exactly how many Germans were actually of the authentic race before he could accurately control them. Hans Gnther decided that this race of heroes had the following characteristics: Tall, long head, narrow face, well-defined chin, narrow nose with very high root, soft fair hair, receding light eyes, and pink white skin colour(Hillel, p. 24). Himmler was thus searching for descendants of the tribes of Denmark, on which he was to base his ideal race, the Teutonic race. The SS army was also to be comprised of only such Teutonic specimens. In late 1931, the RuSHA (Head Office for Race and Settlement) was created, which was to be responsible for the eugenic movement during the Third Reich.
Its initial role was that of a propaganda machine. Slogans were posted up on walls, warning of mixing Aryan and inferior blood. Much like the American ideas, Nazi leaders thought that the degradation of the German race was due to the incorporation of mostly Jewish blood into it. This led to the publication of the Nuremberg laws in 1935 that forbade marriage, and sexual relations between Jews and citizens of German blood(Hillel, p. 28). The RuSHA also encouraged a breeding program developed by Dr. Wilhelm Schallmayer.
It was composed of eight main points that basically encouraged Aryan women to have many children and to do nothing else. Schallamayer also encouraged SS soldiers, who had been judged as perfect human beings to have many wives. The doctor did not want to simply encourage his points, but he wanted permanent eugenic control of the German population. This doctor became a driving force in the creation of the concentration camps as well as the Lebensborns. In 1935, the Lebensborn Registered Society came into existence. Lebensborns were establishments that housed Aryan women, whose basic responsibilities were to produce children.
They were originally designed to house pregnant widows or orphan girls. Women thus flocked to them as they were thought to give great services. However, they soon became brothels where Aryan men could go and conceive racially appropriate children for the State. They often married the women but breeding was the emphasis since according to Himmler, the Lebensborns’ founder, a marriage without many children is no more than an affair (Hillel, p. 48).
Not any woman could be taken in to a Lebensborn however. She had to be young, attractive, slim and of course, Aryan. For this reason, 50 percent of the pregnant women who applied to Lebensborns were rejected. As the number of Lebensborns grew, they were officially taken over by the SS in 1936. The Nazi party thus had complete power over them.
The SS soldiers would find Jewish run orphanages, take them over, sending the Jews to concentration camps and killing those who would not readily go. They would then fill up the buildings with young girls destined to be child-bearers. Soon, Aryan girls were being kidnapped from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other Northern European countries. In fact, 100 000 girls were taken from Poland alone. Truly harsh deeds were done to them.
For example, they were given drugs in order to achieve puberty earlier. This would make them capable of having more children. Also, racially inadequate children, perhaps conceived by non-Aryan men, would be sent off to be tossed on flaming heaps of garbage in the Nazi concentration camps. These concentration camps were perhaps the most brutal and most notorious acts of the Nazi party that involved eugenic ideas. The Lebensborns were responsible for the reproduction of racially adequate Germans and the concentration camps were responsible for the extermination of the racially inferior.
Many people were gassed, shot and even buried alive. By 1945, there had been 6 million Jews and approximately 2 million non-Jews killed in concentration camps. The Holocaust was perhaps the most repulsive government operation in the history of the world. Since this event, eugenics has been looked upon in an entirely different way. As seen, Eugenics has been quite a driving force in the history of modern civilization.
Such events in the United States and Europe are still shocking and disgusting, even to people who have been hearing about them for many years. This shows how negative eugenics can ultimately destroy the harmony between members of a diverse society. Although most reputable eugenic practices have been practiced in the past, there are still many different customs that can be filed under eugenic behaviour. The new type of eugenics involves much more science. The increased knowledge in the field of genetics and heredity has made it possible to accurately predict the medical future of a child before it is b …