Michael Coren: Don't blame right-wing thugs for eugenics — Socialists made it fashionable
An exhibition of the history of those scientific ideas that gave a grimy intellectual veneer to the Nazi genocide opens this week at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The collection centres on eugenics, the notion that humanity can be improved and perfected by selective breeding and the elimination of individuals and groups considered to be undesirable. Entitled Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, it reveals how it was not thoughtless right-wing thugs as much as writers and scientists, the intellectual elite, who led the movement.
The exhibit is important, accurate but, regrettably, long overdue. It also fails to stress just how much the socialist left initiated and supported the eugenics campaign, not only in Germany but in Britain, the U.S. and the rest of Europe. Playwright George Bernard Shaw, English social democrat leader Sydney Webb and, in Canada, Tommy Douglas were just three influential socialists who called, for example, for the mass sterilization of the handicapped. In his Master's thesis The Problems of the Subnormal Family, the now revered Douglas argued that the mentally and even physically disabled should be sterilized and sent to camps so as not to "infect" the rest of the population.
It is deeply significant that few if any of Douglas's left-wing comrades in this country or internationally were surprised or offended by his proposals. Indeed the early fascism of 1920s Italy, while unsavoury and dictatorial, had little connection with social engineering and eugenics. The latter German version of fascism was influenced not by ultra conservatism in southern Europe but, as is made clear in the writings of the Nazi ideologues, by the Marxist left.
"People throughout the world whose minds were adapted to the big-scale conditions of the new time. A naturally and informally organised educated class, an unprecedented sort of people." A strict social order would be formed. At the bottom of it were the base. These were "people who had given evidence of a strong anti-social disposition", including "the black, the brown, the swarthy, the yellow." Christians would also "have to go" as well as the handicapped. Wells devoted entire pamphlets to the need of "preventing the birth, preventing the procreation or preventing the existence" of the mentally and physically handicapped. "This thing, this euthanasia of the weak and the sensual is possible. I have little or no doubt that in the future it will be planned and achieved."
The people of Africa and Asia, he said, simply could never find a place in a modern world controlled by science. Better to do away with the lot. "I take it they will have to go" he said of them. Marriage as it is known would have to end but couples could form mutually agreed unions. They would list their "desires, diseases, needs" on little cards and a central authority would decide who was fitted for whom.
Population would be rigidly controlled, with forced abortion for those who were not of the right class and race. Religion would be banned, children would be raised in communes and all would be well. The old and the ill would, naturally, have to be done away with and doctors would be given the authority to decide who had a right to live, who had a duty to die.
In the United States socialist writer Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and the mother of the abortion movement, called for a radical eugenics approach as early as the first years of the 20th century. She wrote of the need for "a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring. It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them. Herein lies the key of civilization."
The key of civilization. Unlocking the doors of a hell once unimaginable but now, after the Holocaust, the Ukrainian genocide, Pol Pot and Mao's mass slaughter, entirely within the grasp of contemporary sensibilities. History is often clouded by fashion and the whims of the victorious. Because some of the most pernicious intellectual criminals of the past century wore red they have escaped condemnation. It is time for the clouds to clear and the fashions to change.
— Broadcaster Coren's biography of HG Wells was described by The New Yorker as "superb" and The Times as "outstanding."
I like capitalism only because I've lived in enough socialist nightmare nations to see the true face of evil that socialism is. Socialists are Death Hippies. If ever anyone wants to make the world a better place and make people happy and whatever else socialists think they want to do, they can start by creating a business and employing people and providing something concrete and mediocre, something boring and banal and of philistine worth. Make the world a better place by creating a couple of jobs that allow people some income to buy food and pay rent and dress nicely. That's what it takes. I hate grand schemes. Everyone is crazy and fucked-up to some degree, and they get on just fine for the most part if they have some kind of decent life, the kind of life a capitalist society can and does provide. Food, shelter, clothing, and some relief from those who would save us all. Everyone else gets on fairly well, especially without being "improved" by those who would kill them for the sake of the improvement. Death to Death Hippies. Yes, God save us from those who would save us from ourselves.