Let’s Create a Master Race – Again

It seems that learning from the mistakes of history is not one of the strong points of many intellectuals. Although we can be taught so much by the study of history, especially truths about the avoidance of its past mistakes, it appears that some intellects live in a history-free bubble.

Consider the call to breed a superior race. Now where have we heard that sort of lingo before? I would not have thought that the mega-monstrosity of the Nazi programme took place all that long ago. The horrors of the third Reich really should be fresh in our collective memory.

How can we so readily forget what the Second World War was fought over? Have we no longer any idea of what the aims of the Nazis were? The idea of creating a master race, a race of superior beings, was at the heart of Hitler’s nefarious schemes.

He wanted to breed a superior race – the Aryans – while weeding out inferior races. Thus a combination of eugenics, selective breeding, mass killings, and compulsory sterilisation was used to create this master class. The whole world knows – or should know – about the horrors of such a vision.

While most people today shy away from any similar ideals or goals, the new biomedical technologies, coupled with secularist hubris and the desire to play God have resulted in newer, but equally sinister calls for a superior race. Indeed, new biotechnologies make many of the Hitlerian dreams of the past potential reality today.

Thus when we read about influential ethicists calling for the breeding of superior human beings, we all should shudder – big time. And that is exactly what one Australian-born ethicist is proposing. Here is how a news item in today’s press breaks the story:

“A leading Australian ethicist has advocated genetically screening embryos to create a smarter society of superior ‘designer babies’ with higher IQs. Melbourne’s Julian Savulescu, now Oxford’s practical ethics professor, has said it is our ‘moral obligation’ to use IVF to choose the smartest embryos, even if that maintains or increases social inequality.

“Experts have criticised the Gattaca-style idea, saying the money involved could be better spent improving quality of life in Africa. They have also warned IQ screening could result in unintended results. But Dr Savulescu has said we have a moral obligation to create a smarter society, thereby dramatically reducing welfare dependency, the number of school dropouts, the crowding of jails and the extent of poverty.

“‘There are other ethical principles which should govern reproduction, such as the public interest,’ Dr Savulescu said. ‘Even if an individual might have a stunningly good life as a psychopath, there might be reasons based on the public interest not to bring that individual into existence. My own view is that the economic and social benefits of higher cognition are reasons in favour of selection, but secondary to the benefits to the individual. Cheaper, efficient whole genome analysis makes it a real possibility in the near future’.”

Strange, but I recall Hitler using moral arguments as he made his case for the creation of a superior race. Now we have a respectable ethicist calling for much the same. Of course Savulescu has made headlines before. Indeed, his radical views have been the subject of several posts of my own, such as this one:

Using the new genetics to create a race with enhanced capabilities may sound good on paper, but whenever it has been tried, it always comes with a cost. Even secular filmmakers have been quite aware of the inherent dangers in all this. And it is not only the important 1997 film Gattaca which speaks to these concerns.

Many other Hollywood productions have spoken to these dangerous prospects. Films such as The Sixth Day (2000) or The Island (2005) also come to mind. Of course it is not just those in the entertainment industry who have their misgivings about where we are heading with the new technologies.

Plenty of theologians, philosophers and ethicists have also been warning us for years about such risks. Many could be cited here. Let me focus on just one. Over two decades ago Richard John Neuhaus (who passed away two years ago) wrote a very important and influential essay entitled “The Return of Eugenics” (Commentary, April 1988).

In it he bemoaned where we were heading with the new biotechnologies, the secularisation of society, and the rise of the culture of death. He began his article with these words:

“Eugenics – that is, the movement to improve and even perfect the human species by technological means – arose in the late nineteenth century and flourished in this country and in Europe until the 1930s. Then it was challenged by scientific counter-evidence, and by growing uneasiness about its racialist implications. Later, or so the story was told, eugenics was definitely discredited by the Third Reich, which enlisted its doctrines and practices in support of unspeakable crimes against humanity. But now, in the journals and in the textbooks, the story is being told differently. The problem, it is said, was not so much with eugenics itself but with the Nazis: they abused eugenics, they went too far, they were extremists.

“Thus, in the longer view of history, the horror of the Third Reich may have effected but a momentary pause in the theory and practice of eugenics. For today, four decades later, eugenics is back, and it gives every appearance of returning with a vengeance in the form of developments ranging from the adventuresome to the bizarre to the ghoulish: the manufacture of synthetic children, the fabrication of families, artificial sex, and new ways of using and terminating undesired human life.”

He notes how the new eugenics can do far more damage than the old, simply because of the greater scientific and technological capabilities at our disposal: “The attempt to deny risk and suffering, the use and elimination of the unfit – these were all elements of the old eugenics. But what earlier eugenicists could only dream about can now be done; and, if it can be done, it likely will be done. In the technological possibility of creating ‘a new man in a new society,’ we have a vision that makes the similar ambition of political totalitarians seem modest by comparison.

“Of course there are serious people worrying about that ominous prospect. But it seems that soaring hubris, joined to technical capacity, has broken the bonds of moral restraint. That the bonds are broken is evident enough in the very efforts designed to impose limits.”

He concludes this way: “Perhaps the law, or maybe the remembrance of horrors past, will yet fend off the return of eugenics in its fullness. Perhaps popular moral judgment, drawn from older traditions of moral truth, will, through the democratic process, begin to erect fences. Perhaps our cultural leaders will rediscover modes of moral reason that appeal to a good beyond emotion. And perhaps not.

“And so, quite suddenly it seems, we are facing questions for which we have no ready answers. The questions are being answered, however. Most of us, probably because we want to live with a clear conscience, prefer not to think about the answers that are being given. Later, we can say that we did not know.”

Or we can say, in our self-defence, “I was just following orders”. Whether we bury our heads in the sand and plead ignorance, or whether we just pretend it will all go away, the new technologies – and the frightening prospects that they can generate – are upon us.

We either recall the lessons of history and act, or we allow the horrors of history to once again be unleashed upon us. But for the readers of this article at least, we cannot say that we did not know.


[1295 words]

17 Replies to “Let’s Create a Master Race – Again”

  1. What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?
    Rachel Smith

  2. Bill, 666 the number of man.
    Throw all the horrors of history, the attempts of man at godhood to rise above his inherit depravity in the pot.
    Stir well, bring to the boil and you have the last three and a half years of the history of the age.
    The great tragedy is certain elements of the church teach godhood and the superiority of man in ever increasing ways, and so many believe it.

    Yet perhaps the main characteristic of the Holy Spirit is humility and the power of God is manifested out of weakness.
    Recently I have observed a few things supposedly Christian and am staggered at the self confidence, presumption and even arrogance coming forth as men urge positive self talk and play (in my opinion) at being gods.
    Watchman Nee must have got it wrong when he said the characteristic of a mature Christian was a a lack of self confidence.
    Guess you may have seen the following video clip of the leaders at a pastors conference, some time back. I have personally heard two of the main characters claim they are gods and so should we.
    This is how gods behave?

    Rob Withall

  3. But Dr Salvulescu has said we have a moral obligation to create a smarter society, thereby dramatically reducing welfare dependency, the number of school dropouts, the crowding of jails and the extent of poverty.
    What? So by his reckoning you would think that all school drops, welfare dependents, jailbirds and poverty stricken people are stupid and dumb. Sorry but that’s just absurd.

    Now on the subject of cloning, I would hazard a guess that the powers that be wouldn’t want to create a smarter master race of people, but a slave race. Think about it, if you had the means to create a new race of people would you create one smarter than you are, of course not. You would create one to make you more money, which would be a slave race or the very least a sub class of humans. Sorry but that’s just the human condition of exploiting each other. There is enough history out there to prove this.

    Dr Salvulescu said. ‘Even if an individual might have a stunningly good life as a psychopath, there might be reasons based on the public interest not to bring that individual into existence….
    How he can work out which embryo is going to turn into a psychopath is beyond me. Still I am amazed at what lengths they go to, to sell it to the public.
    I believe there is something more sinister going on in the cloning world than what Dr Salvulescu would have us believe.

    Don’t know why they bother though, if you believe the Global Warming zealots, the world will have cooked itself by the time the gene fiddlers have manage to make a smarter human.

    Chuck Missler has a series (12 Parts) on youtube about the Nephelim. Its rather interesting if your into that stuff. He also makes a few points on where cloning of humans is at this time, if its true its rather scary. One thing of interest was the comment he made about the King of Og who was about 12ft-14ft tall.
    He is of the belief that the cloners are trying to create such a person.
    Part 1 Here

    Jeffrey Carl

  4. A while back, I downloaded G.K. Chesterton’s classic Eugenics and Other Evils (London, 1922) from: http://www.archive.org/details/eugenicsotherevi00chesuoft . As usual, Chesterton’s insights into the key issues of the debate are breathtaking in their clarity… and served up with that trademark “Chestertonian” razor-sharp, incisive way wit wit and words!

    In our post-modern era of deconstruction and semantic anarchy, the sophistry given as arguments in support of eugenics during the years between the two world wars has a peculiarly familiar ring about it!

    John Wigg

  5. Thanks for that John

    Yes one of my favourite lines by Chesterton on eugenics is this:

    “The Eugenic professor may or may not succeed in choosing a baby’s parents; it is quite certain that he cannot succeed in choosing his own parents. All his thoughts, including his Eugenic thoughts, are, by the very principle of those thoughts, flowing from a doubtful or tainted source. In short, we should need a perfectly Wise Man to do the thing at all. And if he were a Wise Man he would not do it.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  6. Jeffrey makes a good point. There are some people in our jails with very high IQ’s. Salvulescu’s comments on that point are nonsense to say the least.
    John Symons

  7. Yes, eugenics can only (if anything) produce more intelligent people – not morally improved people. The very intelligent can be just as evil as those of low intelligence – and by intelligent, I mean creative, imaginative – and physically superior (strong, beautiful, etc.). Now, the very intelligent may not be so much in prison, but probably only because they’d be cleverer at evading the law, not that they wouldn’t behave badly/illegally. And thinking of intelligence/goodness or badness – how many Downs-syndrome people have you heard of who are evil?
    John Thomas, UK

  8. My favourite line from Chesterton (and I can’t remember where I read it) is: “An action is not wrong because it is illegal, but illegal because it is wrong”.
    Dunstan Hartley

  9. Reminds me of some quotes I read the other day from the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger;

    On the purpose of birth control:

    The purpose in promoting birth control was “to create a race of thoroughbreds,” she wrote in the Birth Control Review, Nov. 1921 (p. 2)

    On the rights of the handicapped and mentally ill, and racial minorities:

    “More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief aim of birth control.” Birth Control Review, May 1919, p. 12

    On the extermination of blacks:

    “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she said, “if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, by Linda Gordon

    Annette Nestor, Perth WA

  10. Eugenics is already going on in our maternity hospitals. When you go to that first ultrasound filled with excitement of the thought of seeing a picture of your baby please remember that it’s the sonogrophers job to look for things which are imperfect with your precious unborn.
    My prayer is that any mother-to-be caught carrying one of these ‘so called imperfect’ little humans would hold fast to their convictions and not cave in to what is expected of them, that which is now seen as the noble thing to do…..
    Sarah Rossic

  11. The first temptation put to Christ was to turn stones into bread, to recreate the natural order to suit his own convenience. We know how he answered, but false Christians are now also playing eugenics with the written word of God. Not only do they try to alter God’s creation but they are re-engineering the word of God to suit themselves.

    David Skinner, UK

  12. So Dr Salvulescu is a professor of ethics. What a contradiction! Would eugenics produce even one more of his kind? No thanks!
    Graham Lawn

  13. Bill, 65 years on from WWII I would say we are raising a generation largely ignorant of the eugenics of the Nazi party. We all know about Hitler and the Jews but the background behind the concentration camps and the images that stirred the Americans into action is something my generation has had very little exposure too.
    Kylie Anderson

  14. I know I’d rather follow an idiot who knows right from wrong than an evil genious.
    Mario Del Giudice

  15. Annette Nestor wrote the anti abortion poem, Hand in Hand. I am her mum. As a theatre nurse in the 1960’s in a large hospital I saw illegal medically aborted babies tossed down a linen chute. The only way to avoid scrubbing for these abortions was to say you were a Catholic. It is still a vivid picture in my mind. Annette herself was conceived when I had bi-lateral cardiac valve impairment. Thank God I refused the obstetrician’s advice to abort her. Some years later, God miraculously healed me after church elders prayed for me. Annette grew up to be a delightful Christian woman with children of her own – and was a missionary to Africa for 15 months.
    Dorothy Holmes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *