Eugenics has proved a popular subject for authors and scholars in recent years. Adam Rutherford’s Control: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics is the latest addition to the canon and has attracted much praise by reviewers. The subtext of course is that we can congratulate ourselves on our superior twenty-first century ethical standpoint as we consider the spectacle of past generations of artists and intellectuals whole-heartedly endorsing the eugenic principle – that is, until the theory was exposed for what it was by the Nazis, who put it into practice by attempting to exterminate the physically or mentally subnormal, and thereby succeeded in discrediting it for all time. Whatever could the likes of Bernard Shaw, H G Wells, J M Keynes, or Bertrand Russell have been thinking?
Francis Galton, the founder of the discipline, now ranks as evil personified. UCL are busy ‘de-naming’ places and spaces that bear his name, except that because Galton made seminal contributions to a host of other disciplines (including statistics, psychometrics, meteorology, and forensic science), these stand in danger of being cancelled too. The same problem afflicts his protégé Karl Pearson, fellow eugenicist but also the founder of the discipline of mathematical statistics. Anyone who is has engaged in serious empirical research will know Pearson’s correlation coefficient – or ‘r’.
But is our modern-day obsession with building a meritocratic society where none are discriminated against (except the indigenous white majority), the disadvantaged are ‘levelled up’ (provided they belong to protected minority groups), and the indigenous population is progressively replaced through mass immigration, a million miles away from the eugenic principle, defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘controlled selective breeding of human populations to improve the population’s genetic composition’?
When we import ‘the brightest and best from around the world’ and condemn our good-for-nothing indigenous white working class to festering out-of-town sink estates, is this not the eugenic principle in action? When we clear away all ‘privilege’ or familial advantage and select solely on merit (that is, select the intellectually fittest), is this not the eugenic principle in action? When we clear away local attachments and loyalties to family, friends, community, and nation, and replace them by competitive global market forces, is this not the eugenic principle in action? When we concentrate wealth and property in the hands of a meritocratic elite, import cheap labour to drive down wages, and thereby condemn the poor and lower middle-income groups to a race to the bottom, is this not the eugenic principle in action? And when the history of the English people is rewritten, or simply cancelled, and our national culture systematically denigrated, all in the name of the prevailing ideology of multi-culture and diversity, is this self-inflicted national suicide not the very encapsulation of the eugenic principle?
Few would argue nowadays, least of all geneticists, that one race is genetically superior to another. But many advocates of eugenics or selective breeding – William Beveridge and H G Wells are notable examples – were more concerned to prevent the lower classes from multiplying and, as Wells put it, inflicting ‘ill-bred, ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens’ on us. Is the contemptuous attitude of today’s liberal elite toward the white working class much different to that of liberals of the past?
Meanwhile, the cult of diversity asserts that a multiracial, multicultural society is superior to a society which shares a common culture – especially when that culture is Western, European, and white. And when immigrants imported in the name of diversity outbreed the indigenous population to the extent that over one third of primary-age children in Britain now belong to ethnic minorities, it is obvious that a demographic transformation, a ‘great replacement’ of the population, is underway.
Yes, I would say that the eugenics principle is alive and kicking in Britain today.