Monday, October 02, 2006

"Sturdy degenerates", or how I stopped worrying and love the fertile lower class

I get tired of getting crap for not wanting to have kids by people who believe that is it the duty of intelligent people to reproduce or else the "stupid, poor and exceedingly fertile" lower class will take over. You can almost hear the word "colored" whistling through their forked tongues. Today I read an article about how a Republican is actually advocating eugenics, an extremely questionable act of eliminating male and female reproductive rights for the "less desirable" elements of society.

Eugenics is thoroughly eviscerated in this interesting paper from Harvard: An Imagined Reality: Malthusianinsm, Neo-Malthusianism and Population Myth

Scrolling down to the section headed "Eugenics" reveals an interesting history of how eugenics has largely been favored by the wealthy to suppress the lower class. It starts by discussing the ironic birth of eugenics from the study of evolution.

A R Wallace, who CO-discovered the process of evolution with Darwin, argued in an essay, The Action of Natural Selection on Man :

    At the present day it does not seem possible for natural selection to act in any way so as to secure the permanent advancement of morality and intelligence for it is indisputably the mediocre, if not the low, both as regards morality and intelligence who succeed best in life and multiply fastest.

The article then points out the distasteful alignment this has with Hitler's "final solution":

Eugenics held great appeal for influential people on both sides of the Atlantic. A prominent eugenist in Germany wrote,

    Because the inferior are always numerically superior to the better, the former would multiply so much faster - if they have the same possibility to survive and reproduce - that the better necessarily would be placed in the background. Therefore a correction has to be made to the advantage of the better. The nature (sic) offers such a correction by exposing the inferior to difficult living conditions which reduce their number. Concerning the rest the nature (sic) does not allow them to reproduce indiscriminately, but makes a relentless selection according to their strength and health conditions [Hitler, cited in Bondestam 1980].

The 'correction' he offered to nature's lethal ways was called the final solution. Adolf Hitler included among others, Jews, communists, homosexuals and gypsies in his grand design.

The isolation of a socio-economic class is what this Republican from Charleston ultimately seeks. He is of the persuasion that policies such as these are well and good:
Let us note that the victims of all this 'scientific' hysteria were the weak, the powerless and the helpless. That the eugenist utopia continues to exert a powerful attraction, despite being shorn of its scientific halo, is evident in even current legislation and practice; regarding, for example, the introduction of hormonal implant contraceptives in the US. Women on welfare, with either a criminal record or a record of 'child neglect', must have Norplant implanted in order to be eligible for welfare. Thus the vast majority of women subjected to Norplant are blacks or hispanics [Srinivas 1992].
There's a very interesting segue into discussions of reproductive rights and personal choice, and the article presents an interesting history of the resistance to birth control as part of its overall analysis of population control ideologies.
Birth control propaganda was initially aimed at middle class women who sought to limit fertility. The philosophy was that it was physically possible and morally desirable for husbands and wives to control the size of their families; and that the ultimate decision to have one or more children should be made by parents and not by tradition, church or state. Soon, however, the ambit was widened....

[Margaret Sanger's] primary aim was to limit what she perceived as the excessive fertility of the poor.... "Large families", Sanger wrote, "are associated with poverty, toil, unemployment, drunkenness, cruelty, fighting, jails; the small ones with cleanliness, leisure, freedom, light, space, sunshine" [Greer 1984]. Her most famous book was the 1920 publication Women and the New race, an orthodox tract of eugenics : "First stop the multiplication of the unfit. This appeared the most important and greatest step towards race betterment."
The demographic of eugenics supporters has the same suspicious imbalance as the paucity of gays or blacks who identify with Republicans. It's truly no surprise to me that it was a Republican speaking recently in favor of eugenics; in contrast you can see the (D) ringing from this response by his superior in the state senate:

"What Larry Shirley needs to talk about is getting City Council to provide some recreational facilities and activities for these kids and creating an atmosphere conducive to a normal society," said [Robert] Ford, a former councilman [and current state senator].

"We've got all sorts of things for kids to do in my neighborhood in West Ashley. They need that downtown. But he's upset that kids aren't listening to their parents. So what's new?"


"Hasn't he heard, 'It takes a village'?"
Perhaps that's why I currently don't plan to have kids. I'm too tired of trying to imbue others with values they should have learned from their parents. But selective breeding of Republicans appears to have eliminated the capacity for empathy.


demabloggery said...

It is a pretty lame argument for breeding, and you are right the mantra "they BREED" is among the more racist statements one could make. That being said, a liberal cannot be in favor of the production of a perpetual underclass, which is what I see happening in CA....and as much as the conservatives are to blame for most anything else, birth control is a class issue...

demabloggery said...

One debate I am interested in is the impact overpopulation has on the environment. Studies show that Mexicans have more children when they come to the US. If we are on the watch against overpopulation, should we prevent excessive immigration?

Texas Hippie said...

Since we are quoting studies without sources, I'll pull one from the top of my head (but I can find it if necessary) -- birth rates decrease in societies with higher standards of living. Deriving a strict solution from a simple, unverified premise allows me to claim: let's make the whole world a happier place and we'll help control population.

I appreciate your thoughts, but if you wish to boldly suggest that immigration control will reduce overpopulation and improve our environment (trying to appeal to liberals, are we?), please do so with some academic rigor - if not for my sake then for the sake of others whom you are trying to impress.

Texas Hippie said...

BTW demabloggery, your blog is quite interesting! Similar discussions such as the death penalty and bike helmet safety laws appear here and amongst the other blogs I read.

demabloggery said...

Among Mexican immigrants in the United States, for example, fertility averages 3.5 children per woman compared to 2.4 children per women in Mexico. Among Chinese immigrants, fertility is 2.3 in the United States compared to 1.7 in China. Immigrants from Canada have 1.9 children compared to 1.5 children in Canada.

demabloggery said...

Hey, and thanks for your compliments. I like your blog a lot and you can expect me to visit occasionally. Hope all is well in Texas!

Texas Hippie said...

Thanks for the link, that's an interesting study!