Families and the New Eugenics
In the brave new world of the 1990s, a number of emerging technological possibilities pose a threat to the family unit. The ability to ascertain various physical ailments in utero, and the ability to preselect the sex of the child via sex-selected sperm, all bear on future family arrangements. Human cloning is also another possibility. While appealing to the good such new technologies will do, those most interested in such technologies are often eager to see their own version of a perfect race.
This idea of weeding out the imperfect to develop an ideal race is not new of course. For over a century people have been interested in perfecting the human species by means of technology. The term for this is eugenics (good birth), a phrase coined in 1833 by statistician Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911). Galton believed that “blacks were genetically inferior, the Jews were ‘parasitical’, and that poverty was transmitted in the genes.”
Karl Pearson (1857-1936) was another statistician and disciple of Galton. He claimed that blacks never produced great nations because of their genetic inferiority. He felt that the British were at the top of the Great Chain of being, with animals on the bottom, and Europeans, Chinese and blacks in between, in descending order. He spoke of “the sterilization of those sections of community of small civic worth”.
In 1912 the First International Congress of Eugenics was held in London, with others to follow in 1921 and 1932. The third congress featured a call for the sterilization of 14 million Americans with low intelligence-test scores. The frightening thing about these conferences is the fact that they were attended by so many social heavyweights: politicians, university presidents, etc. Respectability and prestige were thus bestowed on these nefarious gatherings.
A leading proponent of eugenics was Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) the founder of Planned Parenthood, the biggest promoter of sex education, abortion and birth control in the world today. Millions of school children today are exposed to the philosophy and values of Sanger.
In college she plunged into radical politics, suffragette feminism, and unfettered sex. She married into money, became a socialist, and pursued anarchist and utopian causes. She was especially influenced by English sexologist Havelock Ellis and his Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Ellis was a proponent of free love and every kind of sexual deviancy. He was to later become one of her many lovers.
Ellis was also a eugenist, and advocated sterilizing the “unfit”. He said, “Feeble-mindedness is an absolute dead-weight on the race; it is an evil that is unmitigated”. He said those who would not volunteer for sterilization should have their Poor Relief withdrawn from them.
In 1917 she founded the Birth Control League, which changed its name to Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942. Today Planned Parenthood is a multi-billion-dollar international conglomerate with programs and activities in 134 nations on every continent.
Sanger also published a paper called The Woman Rebel, with “No Gods! No Masters” emblazoned on the masthead. The first issue denounced marriage as a “degenerate institution,” capitalism as indecent exploitation,” and sexual modesty as “obscene prudery”. In another article she asserted that “rebel women claim the following rights: the right to be lazy, the right to be an unmarried mother, the right to destroy . . . and the right to love”.
Her publication Birth Control Review once featured this slogan: “Birth Control: To Create a Race of Thoroughbreds”. In her 1922 book, The Pivot of Civilization, she called for the elimination of “human weeds,” for the cessation of charity, for the segregation of “morons, misfits and the maladjusted” and the sterilization of “genetically inferior races”.
In March of 1925, at an international birth control gathering held in New York, Ms Sanger warned of the menace posed by the “black” and “yellow” peril. Elsewhere she spoke of her plan for sterilizing the “unfit” and criticized those “whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers.”
Not surprisingly, she exerted a lot of influence, especially on one person who was probably the greatest applied eugenist who ever lived: Adolf Hitler. In 1929 he said, “if a million children were born in a year and 800,000 of the weakest and most ‘unworthy’ were killed, the end result would be a strengthening of the population.” As his deputy Rudolf Hess explained in 1934, “National Socialism is nothing but applied biology”.
Although Hitler and the Nazis were eventually defeated, their eugenist philosophy is far from dead. In 1967 the American population controller Kingsley Davis published an article in Science magazine arguing that promotion of birth control was not enough to bring down population levels. He said the economy and social structure must be changed to bring down birth rates: “Changes basic enough to affect motivation for having children would be changes in the structure of the family, in the position of women and in sexual mores.” His proposals included government funded sterilizations and abortions, a child tax, substantial fees for marriage licenses, tax married people more than single people, cut back all tax breaks and concessions for parents and married couples, compel women to work outside the home, and encourage women to develop interests to “compete with family interests”.
The shocking thing about this list, as Robert Whelan points out, is “the number of proposals which have been implemented in Western societies. We now know that Davis was right in his fundamental assumption: that the de-stabilising of the traditional family and the promotion of ‘alternative’ family structures and sex-roles leads to a very low birthrate,” something we find in most Western nations today.
In 1969 the Vice President of Planned Parenthood, Frederick Jaffe, drew up a chart based on Davis’ ideas. The chart listed 33 “Proposed Measures to Reduce U.S. Fertility.” These included: fertility control agents in water supply; encourage increased homosexuality; permits for children; compulsory abortion and sterilization; and discouragement of home ownership.
Also in 1969, the United Nations set up the UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) to help coordinate fertility limitation programs worldwide. UNFPA has been a leading agent in the global push for the anti-population agenda. It has even been instrumental in training and assisting the Chinese in their barbaric one-child population program, which includes forced abortions, sterilization and infanticide.
Planned Parenthood International continues to fulfil Sanger’s vision. Mary S. Calderone, head of the Sex Information and Education Council (SIECUS) and former president and medical director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, once said: “We have yet to beat the drum for birth control in the way we beat them for polio vaccine, we are still unable to put babies in the class of dangerous epidemics, even though this is the exact truth.” Warren Hern, abortionist and an author in Planned Parenthood’s journal Family Planning Perspectives, wrote an article entitled “Is Pregnancy Normal?” in which he said: “[Pregnancy] may be defined as a disease … [and] … treated by evacuation of the uterine contents.”
PPI has also recently recommended “compulsory abortion for out-of-wedlock pregnancies,” “compulsory sterilization for those who have already had two children,” and “tax penalties” for existing large families.
The Population Controllers
Today not many people speak about eugenics. But certain population controllers come very close to implementing the eugenist agenda. For example, the former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser recently caused a bit of a stir by suggesting that Australia should aim for a population of about 50 million. This resulted in the instant – and predictable – outcry by various population control groups. Such groups regularly appear in the press expressing concern about over-crowding in Australia.
Unfortunately there is more than just hand wringing going on. There are some well-respected Australians who are calling for some pretty radical solutions to our supposed population problems.
Consider, for example, Australian Museum palaeontologist Dr Tim Flannery. He told a population conference that Australia should perhaps aim for a population target of about 10 million people. What will become of the other 8 million Australians is anybody’s guess.
Even more interesting is this proposal, offered several years ago by Gosford councillor James Adams. He told an inquiry into population control that people who choose to have three children should be compulsorily sterilized and forced to pay the government $200 per fortnight. He also said that couples who choose to have no children should be given a “community service award” of $50,000 and $200 a fortnight until they are 45.
In 1992 the then Leader of the Democrats, John Coulter, told a Sydney audience that no Australian family should have more than two children. More recently the then Governor-General Bill Hayden spoke of “unproductive burdens” which we need to be “disencumbered” of via euthanasia.
Similar types of proposals have been made in America. Paul Ehrlich is one well known example of one whose concern about pollution and population problems has resulted in some pretty radical proposals. For example, he toyed with the idea of adding sterilizing agents to water supplies or staple food to achieve compulsory birth regulation. He even called for “luxury taxes” on cribs, nappies, toys, etc., as a means of controlling birth habits.
Also in America, CNN owner and social activist Ted Turner, who has become a militant green, has recently proposed a plan to cut back the current 5 billion human beings to no more than “250 million to 350 million people”. Of course one has to ask, “How will this be achieved?” Will Turner and wife Jane Fonda lead the way? And when the Heaven’s Gate cult ended in mass suicide, Turner said: “there’s too many people anyway.” He called the tragedy “a good way to get rid of a few nuts”.
Nobody would deny that it is important to be concerned about our environment. But what needs to be asked is this: are the population controllers right? Are we overcrowded? Or is concern about over-population used by some of these folks to promote an anti-family agenda?
A number of respectable scientists have dismissed claims that planet earth is overpopulated. Indeed, the prophets of doom have constantly been proven wrong. For example, Paul Ehrlich wrote in The Population Bomb (1968) that the “battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famine – hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.”
Quite to the contrary, world food production continues to outstrip population growth, and other resources continue to grow in availability (as evidenced by their lower prices). Indeed, most of today’s famines are man-made, whether in Stalin’s Ukraine, Mengistu’s Ethiopia, or the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia.
The United Nations estimates that by the year 2020 world population will plateau at 8 billion, up 40% from today. Yet organisations like the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington predict that the “world is perfectly capable of feeding 12 billion people 100 years from now.”
Concern about overpopulation is often brandished about as an excuse for abortion. Some women even claim they will get an abortion to do their bit for the environment. And increasingly one can expect the overpopulation mantra to be used in arguments for euthanasia. After all, if we are overpopulated, why not get rid of some of our least productive members?
Another danger in the overpopulation hysteria is the very horrid practice of forced abortion and forced sterilization as a means to curb population growth. China has routinely promoted this tragic practice, so much so that whereas a normal population produces 105.5 baby girls for every 100 baby boys, the ratio in China is now 118.5 boys to every 100 girls. That means 1.7 million girls go missing every year.
In a recent Papal Encyclical, the Pope has referred to modern culture as a “culture of death”. He is certainly right. Governments are increasingly promoting pro-death measures like abortion and euthanasia, making some ominous parallels with 1930’s Germany. The pity is many of these politicians who introduce such measures seem to think they have the public good in mind.
Moreover, leading intellectuals are actively promoting the culture of death. One of the best examples is Monash University ethicist Peter Singer. Singer is a well known proponent of not only abortion and euthanasia, but infanticide as well.
Robert Nisbet once remarked that environmentalism has become the third great redemptive movement in human history, following Christianity and Marxism. Indeed it already has its notions of sin, guilt and redemption, its sacred texts and venerated leaders. And like all false religions, radical environmentalism has its share of zealots.
As G.K. Chesterton once said, “The danger when men stop believing in God is not that they will believe in nothing, but that they will believe in anything.” Environmental zeal can match that of any religious zealot, often with harmful consequences. Population control zealots are certainly no exception.