Tuesday 8 February 2011

Why eugenics is bad, and anti-eugenics is even-worse


Anti-eugenics is, nowadays, much worse than eugenics; because mainstream, politically correct anti-eugenics involves the suppression and denial of descriptive knowledge and implicitly the complete take-over of child-birth and child-rearing by the State (with, no doubt, a purportedly anti-eugenic rationale).

But eugenics is itself bad. Bad specifically insofar as it involves government having a major role in controlling fertility; and bad in principle because it applies a purely this-worldly functional instrumentalism to a profound phenomenon of human existence (conceiving and giving birth to children): a phenomenon which by contrast ought to be seen in transcendental perspective.


How did the phenomenon of 'dysgenics' arise - that observation to which eugenics is proposed as a solution and against which anti-genetics reacts?
In a nutshell, dysgenics is a leftist phenomenon: a consequence of modernity; eugenics is a product of the secular Old Left (Fabian socialism and Communism); while anti-eugenics is a product of the secular New Left (political correctness). 
So, anti-eugenics is dominant nowadays since the New Left defeated the Old Left.


(And, contrary to current mainstream conceptions, the phenomenon of reversal in differential reproductive success, and the responses to it, and the suppression of this knowledge, are all essentially a matter of dispute among the atheist Left. The atheist supposed-Right, which has very recently taken an interest in eugenics since the New Left declared it taboo, does so only insofar as the secular-Right movement is actually on the left, and shares utilitarian and universalist leftist assumptions. )

First, from the advent of modernity (?17th or 18th Century) soul-denial/ atheism/ this-worldliness led to attempted and partially-successful sterility among the high IQ (in order to improve the lifestyle of parents, and reduce the risk of catastrophic outcomes).
Then the high-IQ geniuses (men) developed more and more methods of fertility regulation, of greater and greater combined-effectiveness (from 18th through to late 20th century), then high IQ and conscientious women used this to become on average all-but-sterile (beginning from the late 19th century to near-complete success by the 21st century).

Then, from the late 19th century, high IQ Old Left men noticed what was happening (dysgenics) and devised this-worldly and secular methods of combating the problem: i.e. eugenics - the rationale being utilitarian.


So, dysgenics is a consequence of secularism, and eugenics is the Old Left secular response to the problem.

Then political correctness (the New Left, dominant from about 1965) suppressed all discourse on eugenics, except for reflex condemnation, also for secular reasons.

The New Left suppressed eugenic discourse not for moral reasons, obviously, since the New Left believe the state can and should do everything;

and not because of the association with Nazism either, because this only happened from the mid-1960s and eugenics was Nazi only insofar as Nazis were socialists (National Socialists - it's a clue...);

but the left ruled-out awareness of dysgenics pretty much strategically in order to get elected in the medium term (decades ahead) - to create large and growing state-dependency = leftist votes. This electoral strategy has worked very well for the left, and now most of the population are indeed dependent on the state (for this and other reasons).


The (suppressed) eugenic observation was - at core - that in secular societies approximately-nobody (i.e. approximately no-women, women being the sex that matters) wanted to have enough children to replace the present population; and the way that this played out was that the high IQ and conscientious secular women were essentially sterile (fertility way below replacement levels and falling) so the only sectors of the secular population with above-replacement fertility were those too dumb, feckless or chaotic effectively to use reproductive control technologies.

Think about it, for a moment or two: a whole population committing genetic suicide...

Doesn't that fact suggest, well..., something seriously wrong with a society?

If we saw voluntary genetic suicide happening among a group of animals, we would think there was something profoundly nasty going-on, some dreadful fear.

Which is, of course, true.


Under 'natural' conditions, pre-industrial revolution, lacking effective methods of fertility control, all classes and types of people (except the sick and maybe certain groups of intellectuals) will produce children at above replacement levels.

Natural selection does not, therefore, operate primarily on differential birth rates/ fertility, but by means of differential death rates/ mortality.

The 'eugenic' mechanism throughout human history was therefore almost entirely via differential mortality - the children of the fit, healthy, high status, rich (etc) survived in greater numbers mainly because they didn't die so often - whereas the children of the poor, unfit, sick, enslaved etc would - on average - pretty-much all die without reproducing.

With only a few exceptions, ancient society was - over time - therefore populated by the children of the 'successful'.

(Success being attained differently in different societies, such that different societies led to different personality types and different levels of general intelligence - inter alia.)


Therefore the dysgenic phenomenon was primarily caused by modernity, caused - that is - by the reduction in childhood and age-adjusted mortality rates, due to increased productivity in food and other goods conducive to health and survival - and to improvements in hygiene and medicine; such that above-replacement reproduction occurred on average among all classes and types of people, clever and dumb, rich and poor, conscientious and feckless.

Then came the reduction of fertility among the high IQ and conscientious (using technology).

Then the dysgenic effects became very large and impossible to ignore (before the advent of the mass media and PC), and was documented by people such as Francis Galton.


Dysgenics, therefore, was not recognized as a problem until the high IQ and upper classes had actually started to reduce their fertility using technology, and the mortality rate (especially childhood mortality rate) had gone down so much that very large numbers of chidlren from the low IQ, poor, feckless and impulsive (etc) were surviving to reproduce in their turn: the phenomenon was, in other words, already far advanced by this point.

Nowadays, those groups that are characterized by lower than average IQ and more than average impulsive and chaotic lives, experience both the highest childhood mortality and highest standardised mortality and also have a higher than average level of reproductive success, driven purely by above-replacement fertility rates.


(When mortality rates are too-low to matter, too low to have an impact of reproductive success - so that differential mortality has almost no differential effect on reproductive success; then differential fertility becomes all-important in determining reproductive success, and demographic trends. Any group that reproduces above replacement-level will 'win' the demographic race - no matter what the cause of this higher fertility, even when that fertility is merely a result of negative factors such as incompetence or ignorance of birth control technologies or inability to see the consequences or one's actions or a psychopathic selfishness. And the bad news is that all of these are heritable traits.)


The above sequence of events led to a misleading (and dangerous) focus of eugenics on fertility (ignoring mortality), especially a focus on preventing the poor from reproducing.


Since the eugenicists were themselves high IQ there was much less (or in practice zero) emphasis on the need to increase fertility among the high IQ - to a margin comfortably above replacement levels.

The real reason for the New Left opposition to eugenics (beyond strategic electoral demographics) has nothing to do with preventing the state from imposing low fertility upon the lower orders (after all, the politically correct see no limit to the state's right to control people), and almost-everything to do with preventing the state from enforcing high fertility upon the higher orders - ie. the PC elite.


Politically-correct (i.e. mainstream) anti-eugenics is, in its implications, a profoundly eugenic policy (i.e. leading to state control of fertility); since it incorporates an unsustainable disjunction between the birthing of children - which is supposed to be a parental, or at least maternal - choice; and the rearing of children - which under PC becomes the states's responsibility when the consequences of having children are detached from their conception.

In effect, modern anti-eugenics tries to say that any person can birth as many or as few children as they want, by right and unconditionally; and the state will ensure, also by right and unconditionally, that these children are looked-after, fed and educated.

This will not last.
When education became an unconditional right, the state took-over education; when health care became an unconditional right, the state took-over health care; when prosperity became an unconditional right, the state took over welfare.
When the state takes-over a thing, the state decides all about that thing: decides how much and of what sort of that thing is good for you - good, that is, from the state's secular, instrumental, this-worldly perspective.
Unconditional rights are simply the flip-side of totalitarian state control; if you like, the excuse for totalitarian state control, since there is no guarantee that the state will actually supply that which is says is an unconditional right.
What will happen, however, is that the state will say that it actually does in fact supply that right (and the state has the statistics to prove it!) - whether it really does supply that or not... and of course it won't.
It never does.

Furthermore, a politically correct takeover of children would - no doubt (and I mean no doubt) be done with an anti-eugenic rationale; because that is what PC always does.

PC would control all aspects of conception and child care so that eugenics could not be pursued - to prevent (that is) the PC-disfavoured groups enhancing their reproductive success at the expense of the PC- favoured groups.

For instance, I don't find it at all unlikely that political correctness would take action to suppress (whether directly or indirectly) the high fertility of Christian evangelicals (such as the QuiverFull movement) or Mormons.

That is exactly the kind of thing which PC has done so far, does now, and will continue to do (until prevented).

Eugenics under the name of anti-eugenics - it is precisely analogous to inequality (affirmative action) under the name of equality...


So although modern political correctness may sound more humane (kinder) than the old days - when people gave birth to as many children as they wanted, but only successfully raised as many children as they could afford; children are people, hence are souls not just bodies, hence child-birth and rearing are matters of transcendental importance in the human condition; so it is wrong (I mean evil) to transfer the responsibility for children to the inhuman, bureaucratic, secular state.
Anything is better than that.
Even slavery - with a kind master - is better than that; because the state responsibility for children is totalitarian slavery of soul as well as body - a gulag for kids - and represents slavery to an indifferent master; a master who sees the slave (the child) not as another human being but as a tool.
In sum, dysgenics is the consequence of a soul-denying/ this worldly and secular society: and so also is eugenics; and so also (and even more so) is PC anti-eugenics.

In a devout society any phenomenon of dysgenics...

(if it happened - which is itself unlikely - at least in its modern form of sterility among the high IQ and upper classes; since devoutly religious societies value and want children, and voluntary sterility would not be 'a problem')

...ought to be open to discussion and study and description;

but the consequences of dysgenics should not be addressed using soul-denying/ this worldly, instrumental and secular 'solutions'.

Else the solution will be worse than the problem it was intended to solve.


Note - it is essentially women who most influence fertility, number of babies - as a generalization.

Reference: http://medicalhypotheses.blogspot.com/2010/02/why-are-women-so-intelligent.html



Anonymous said...

cf the Catholic Encyclopedia's article on eugenics, from 1917:

In dealing with racial poisons, the Church provides the most radical remedies. Against alcohol she sets the virtue of temperance, against white-lead the virtue of justice, against venereal disease the virtue of purity. She provides for proper selection in marriage by setting impediments against unworthy marriages. The spirit life of the married pair and of the children is protected by the prohibition of mixed marriages. The proclamation of banns protects the parties against possible fraud or mistake. The requirement of consent of parents tends to promote prudent marriages. The impediment of a previous engagement unreleased is a safeguard against rash promises and heartless breach of promise. The impediments of consanguinity and affinity are universally acknowledged to have a great eugenic value. Moreover, since the most necessary and most difficult eugenic reforms consist in the control of the sex appetite, the practice of celibacy is an important factor in race culture. It is the standing example of a Divinely aided will holding the sensual passion in check.


Uland said...

I'm not sure I can agree with the proposition that modern birth-control movements are not limiting the reproduction of poor, ostensibly leftist voters; black women are aborting their children at an incredibly high rate.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ULAND- The anti-eugenics stance of the New Left dates from the mid-1960s. Things have changed since then. The main left electoral demographic strategy is nowadays to encourage mass immigration of economic dependents.

dearieme said...

"But eugenics is itself bad. Bad specifically insofar as it involves government having a major role in controlling fertility." I don't think that that need be so. I'd settle simply for government refraining from subsidising dysgenics.

Bruce Charlton said...

@dearieme - governments cannot make simple but tough decisions like this for the reasons I explore in this blog.

The reasons run deep: it is an existential malaise, into which we (almost all of us leftists in a leftist secular society) are locked-in by inter-locking beliefs and patterns of reasoning (sound bites, one step logic etc).

So 'we' cannot stop doing simple thing that are harmful, cannot do easy things that would help, keep doing insane things that are almost un-understandable; justify behavior using meaningless mantras...

What chance does one sensible policy have?

Bruce Charlton said...

Some edited comments:

From Obsidian: "...they haven’t figured out how to convince Smart White Women, to forego the elite university experience, the high prestige career experience, the Sex And The City experience, and be cool with popping out no less than three kids, starting around age 21 or so, with Jeremy the STEM Guy. (...) there are enough Smart White People to go around. But (...) the documented fact that no state has ever been successful in getting its so-called better sections, however one may define them, into breeding MORE. They’ve been successful in getting them to breed LESS, but not MORE. No society has been able to pull this off. Not. A. Single. One."

My reply: no modern secular society or group have done this. It seems impossible; and I take this as strong evidence against atheism (something that causes reproductive self-suppression must be harmful, and there is no rational reason to believe atheism is true).

Because almost all societies in the past showed higher fertility among elites (even though it was the lower mortality rates that mattered more).

And even in modern America some religious groups still show the traditional patterns of fertility: notably the Mormons; where family size gets larger, and is well above replacement levels, as education and income increase. This is partly due to the theological perspective ('have as many children as you can'), and partly due to a tradition of self-reliance ('only have as many children as you can afford to rear well without outside help').

Steve Nicoloso - "the New Left has had precious little to say about China's one-child policy. In fact, in certain (mostly Environmental) circles thereof, China is held up as paragon of virtue on this issue."

My reply: Good point, a significant silence. It reminds me of the mass tacit support of nationalist terror groups in, say, Northern Ireland, or among Basques: the mass population agree with their aims, but regret their methods.

a Finn said...

How did "enlightenment" intellectuals started in practice the process of degeneration of society? What was the first necessary process?

They convinced people in power that men are weak, fragile, dependent on many outside things, lost without "enlightened" guidance, etc., contrary to the normal view of men. These "weaknesses" in their various and particular forms made "necessary" various increasing state interventions, supplanting gradually more of the traditional community arrangements of men, and their developing potential. Men being their tenacious selves, it was not enough to describe them to be weak, and to provide increasing and mostly unnecessary state assistance, but to encourage, enforce and propagandize for weaknesses, and to deskill, deinitiate and deinform men, especially in swollen education, so that they are capable of functioning only inside the system and on it's conditions and orders. The whole unholy edifice rests on this pivot without alternative competing possibilities and systems. The whole modern metropolitan environment is arranged to prevent non-system actions.

Notice, dear reader, that you are not at all independent from the system only by making a living in a system job and doing everything you do inside the system.

Hence, the first things to do is to increase skills, knowledge and the psychology necessary to live as much as possible without and outside the system, and a Christian revival. That the former is so hard for people to do is a testimony of soft totalitarianism of the system and the total subversion of competing factors.


State, there never was love, sweetness and magic between us. You couldn't keep your hands to yourself, you never neglected us enough and your processes don't even understand what sorry means. You always infected us and now our lives are radically changed. You lost us:



a Finn said...

There has been discussions about the nature of power lately. The best critique of massive bureaucracy in capitalist or state form that I am aware of:


The writer has imbibed a bit too much from the left, and his solutions are too thin and one-sidedly technical. Other than that, I recommend this. Pdf -form obviously is a raw text containing many spelling errors, but they don't interfere with the information in it. I ordered the book, but it has not arrived yet, so I have not compared the text qualities.

Dahlia said...

I'm a little new to your blog and I love it.

This post is extremely insightful and I agree with everything. What I find exciting and new is this particular point:

"The real reason for the New Left opposition to eugenics (beyond strategic electoral demographics) has nothing to do with preventing the state from imposing low fertility upon the lower orders (after all, the politically correct see no limit to the state's right to control people), and almost-everything to do with preventing the state from enforcing high fertility upon the higher orders - ie. the PC elite."

I never thought of this before, but it is true.