Introduction To Eugenics

Author: John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe

                       INTRODUCTION TO EUGENICS 
                       by John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe 

[This document is a condensation of a booklet from A.L.L.  In its
digital form it is an ASCII file, with no footnotes, and with some
stylistic changes (e.g., no italics).  The original is available on
disk from John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe.  Write A.L.L. or contact ALL via
CRNET Tracey Casale.]

    The principal manifestations of eugenics are racism and 
    abortion.  Eugenics is the driving force behind euthanasia, 
    in vitro fertilization, and embryo and fetal research.  It is 
    the driving force in global population policy, and affects 
    American foreign policy.  It is the force driving much of the 
    environmentalist movement, welfare policy and welfare reform, 
    and health care.  It is found in anthropology, sociology, 
    psychology   all the social sciences.  Further, it is 
    reflected in much literature, especially science fiction.  So 
    it is worth some study. 


Eugenics is the study of methods to improve the human race by 
controlling reproduction.  The word was coined in 1883 by Francis 
Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin.  Galton believed that the 
proper evolution of the human race was thwarted by philanthropic 
outreach to the poor when such efforts encouraged them to bear 
more children.  Charity upset the mechanism of natural selection.  
Hence, the human race needed a kind of artificial selection: 
eugenics.  The word is from Greek for good birth.  Galton wanted 
eugenics to develop from a science to a policy to a religion. 

A Study ... 

Galton defined eugenics as "the science of improvement of the 
human race germ plasm through better breeding."  He also said: 
"Eugenics is the study of agencies under social control that may 
improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations, 
whether physically or mentally."  This definition was used for 
years on the cover of the Eugenics Review, a journal published by 
the Eugenics Education Society. 

A Program ... 

The American Journal of Eugenics (1906) defined it as "the 
science of good generation" and noted that the Century Dictionary 
defined it (rather primly) as "the doctrine of Progress, or 
Evolution, especially in the human race, through improved 
conditions in the relations of the sexes." 

In 1970, I. I. Gottesman, a director of the American Eugenics 
Society, defined it in this way: "The essence of evolution is 
natural selection; the essence of eugenics is the replacement of 
'natural' selection  by conscious, premeditated, or artificial 
selection in the hope of speeding up the evolution of  'desirable' 
characteristics and the elimination of undesirable ones." 

A Religion ... 

Eugenics has had a religious dimension.  Galton suggested 
that it should function as a religion, and this proposal was echoed by 
George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russel and others.  In the United 
States shortly after the turn of the century, the American Journal 
of Eugenics advertised itself by noting that it was "formerly 
known as Lucifer the Light Bearer." 

A pungent assertion of the religious character of eugenics 
comes from Julian Huxley, the first Director-General of UNESCO and a 
member of the : "We must face the fact that now, in this year of 
grace, the great majority of human beings are substandard: they 
are undernourished, or ill, or condemned to a ceaseless struggle 
for bare existence; they are imprisoned in ignorance or 
superstition. ... We must see to it that life is no longer a hell 
paved with unrealized opportunity. ... In this light, the highest 
and most sacred duty of man is seen as the proper utilization of 
the untapped resources of human beings." 

Huxley continued, "I find myself inevitably driven to use the 
language of religion.  For the fact is that all this does add up 
to something in the nature of a religion: perhaps one might call 
it Evolutionary Humanism.  The word  religion  is often used 
restrictively to mean belief in gods; but I am not using it in 
this sense ... I am using it in a broader sense, to denote an 
overall relation between man and his destiny, and one involving 
his deepest feelings, including his sense of what is sacred.  In 
this broad sense, evolutionary humanism, it seems to me, is 
capable of becoming the germ of a new religion, not necessarily 
supplanting existing religions but supplementing them." 

The Population Council, one of the new eugenic organizations 
that emerged after World War II, no longer spoke of eugenics as a 
religion (in fact, avoided the word eugenics altogether), but 
launched "studies relating to the social, ethical and moral 
dimensions" of population studies, recognizing that these 
questions involve matters "of a cultural, moral and spiritual 
nature."  The new field of bioethics is a response to issues 
raised by eugenics.  Bioethics is based on situation ethics, which 
was developed largely by Joseph Fletcher, a member of the American 
Eugenics Society. 

                      HISTORY OF EUGENICS 

In 1798, an English clergyman and economist named Thomas 
Robert Malthus published the Essay on the Principle of Population.   
The central idea of the book is that population increases 
exponentially and will therefore eventually outstrip food supply.  
If parents failed to limit the size of their families, then war or 
famine would kill off the excess.  The idea has been remarkably 
resilient, although the specific predictions that Malthus made 
were wrong.  Malthus argued that the island of Britain could not 
sustain a population of 20 million, but 150 years later the 
population was more than triple Malthus' ceiling. 

Charles Darwin, the biologist, was immensely impressed by 
Malthus' ideas, and the Malthusian theories are embedded in 
Darwin's theory of evolution and natural selection (The Origin of 
Species, 1859, and the Descent of Man, 1871).  But after Darwin 
borrowed ideas from economics and inserted them into biology, his 
cousin reversed the process and discovered ideas in biology that 
could be applied to humans.  This is one of the first tricks that 
amateur magicians learn, like "finding" a coin in a child's ear.  
The amazing thing about Galton's stunt is that it has fooled so 
many people for so long. 

At least one contemporary understood what Galton was doing.  
Friedrich Engels, a collaborator with Karl Marx, was contemptuous 
of the way Malthus' ideas about economics were inserted into 
biology and then retrieved as gospel: "The whole Darwinist 
teaching of the struggle for existence is simply a transference 
from society to living nature of Hobbes' doctrine of bellum omnium 
contra omnes and of the bourgeois doctrine of competition together 
with Malthus' theory of population.  When this conjurer's trick 
has been performed ... the same theories are transferred back 
again from organic nature into history and it is now claimed that 
their validity as eternal laws of human society has been proved.  
The puerility of this proceeding is so obvious that not a word 
need be said about it." 

    It is noteworthy that this ideology of arrogance proved to be 
    appealing on the right (Galton), then the left (British 
    Socialists), then the right (German National Socialists), 
    then the left (American environmentalists), then the right (see 
    The Bell Curve debate). 

Galton's work is still used today.  He used statistical 
methods, including the now-famous "bell curve," to describe the 
distribution of intelligence within a population.  He devised 
various methods for measuring intelligence, and concluded that 
Europeans are smarter than Africans, on average. And he suggested 
systematic studies of twins to distinguish the effects of heredity 
from the effects of environment. 

Galton's work was carried on, especially at the University of 
London, where he endowed a Chair of Eugenics.  According to 
eugenics scholar J. Philippe Rushton, Galton's work was carried on 
especially by: Karl Pearson and Charles Spearman, then by Cyril 
Burt, and in our time by Raymond Cattell, Hans Eysenck and Arthur 
Jensen.  However, these academics were carrying on work that was 
built specifically on Galton's theories.  The eugenics ideology 
spread far beyond this core of true believers. 

                           EUGENIC SOCIETIES 

In 1904, Galton endowed a research chair in eugenics at 
University College, London University. 

In Germany in 1905, Dr. Alfred Ploetz and Dr. Ernst Rudin 
founded the Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene, or Society of Race- 

In 1907 in England, the Eugenic Education Society  (later the 
Eugenics Society) was founded. 

In 1910, the Eugenic Record Office (ERO) was founded in the 
United States.  The ERO had a different emphasis from the Birth 
Control League which sought "fewer children for laboring classes."  
The ERO felt that "ultimate economic betterment should be sought 
by breeding better people, not fewer of the existing sort." 

The First International Eugenics Congress was held was held 
at London University in 1912.  Although representatives came from a 
number of nations, the congress was revealed the strength of the 
movement especially in England, Germany and the United States. 

In October 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth 
control clinic in the United States.  Several months later, she founded 
the Birth Control Review.  She and her co-workers incorporated the 
American Birth Control League in 1922.  (The organization was 
renamed the Birth Control Federation of America in 1939, and in 
1942 was renamed the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.)  
She wrote: "Birth control is thus the entering wedge for the 
Eugenic educator ... the unbalance between the birth rate of the 
'unfit' and the 'fit' is admittedly the greatest present menace to 
civilization ... The most urgent problem today is how to limit and 
discourage the overfertility of the mentally and physically 

In 1922, the American Eugenics Society was founded.  Founders 
included: Madison Grant, Henry H. Laughlin, Irving Fisher, 
Fairfield Osborn, and Henry Crampton.  Grant was the author of The 
Passing of the Great Race (1916) and wrote the preface to The 
Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy.  Laughlin was 
the Superintendent of the Eugenics Record Office from 1910 to 
1921; he was later President of the Pioneer Fund, a white 
supremacist organization that is still functioning today.  Fisher, 
who taught economics and political economy and economics at Yale 
University for 40 years, said that the purpose of the society was 
to "stem the tide of threatened race degeneracy" and to protect 
the United States against "indiscriminate immigration, criminal 
degenerates, and race suicide."  Fairfield Osborn was the 
president of the American Museum of Natural History from 1908 to 
1933; he wrote about evolution in From the Greeks to Darwin.  In 
1923, during a national debate on restricting immigration, Osborn 
spoke enthusiastically about the results of intelligence testing 
carried out by the Army: "I believe those tests were worth what 
the war [World War I] cost, even in human life, if they served to 
show clearly to our people the lack of intelligence in our 
country, and the degrees of intelligence in different races who 
are coming to us, in a way which no one can say is the result of 
prejudice. ...  We have learned once and for all that the negro is 
not like us."   

This list of organizations is far from exhaustive.  The point 
here is simply that eugenics in the first part of the 20th century 
was not an academic exercise.  Eugenicists were organizing, 
particularly in Germany, England and the United States, to 
implement policies consistent with their theories. 

The work of the eugenicists included: racism and white 
supremacy, promoting birth control among the dysgenic, restricting 
immigration, sterilizing the handicapped, promoting euthanasia, 
and seeking for ways to increase the number of genetically well- 
endowed individuals. 

                            HITLER'S EMBRACE 

A key program of the eugenicists was cleansing the human race 
by sterilizing the "unfit." By 1931, sterilization laws had been 
enacted in 27 states in the United States, and by 1935 
sterilization laws had been enacted in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, 
Switzerland and Germany.  But the efficiency of the German 
eugenicists caused trouble. 

Galton's ideas had been taken up in Germany by Friedrich 
Nietzsche in the 19th century.  Then Ploetz and Rudin laid the 
foundations of an effective eugenics program in Germany.  In 1922, 
two men   a lawyer and a psychiatrist, Karl Binding, J. D., and 
Alfred Hoche, M.D.   cooperated on a short book entitled Die 
Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens (Permission to 
Destroy Life Devoid of Value).  The book encouraged Austrian 
physicians who were beginning to practice euthanasia illegally.  
And then Adolf Hitler, who had described his own eugenic ideas in 
Mein Kampf, came to power. 

Hitler's determination to establish his "Master Race" was 
embraced by German eugenicists.  And eugenicists elsewhere 
failed to criticize the Germans.  In the United States, the Birth 
Control Review praised the effectiveness of the Germans, and 
published articles by Rudin and others. 

In the United States today, there is a great deal of 
confusion about Hitler's view of abortion.  Pro-lifers denounce  
abortionists furiously for imitating Hitler, who legalized abortion, and 
proponents of abortion denounce pro-lifers furiously for imitating 
Hitler, who outlawed abortion.  In fact, both sides are half 
right.  Hitler was a eugenicist, and he outlawed aborting Aryan 
babies for eugenic reasons, but encouraged aborting Slavs and Jews 
also for eugenic reasons. 

After Hitler had killed millions of people, including one 
third of the Jews in the world, he lost the war.  The name of his 
political party became and remains one of the most offensive words 
in the language, and ideas that are tightly associated with him 
are universally condemned.  So the idea of building a master race 
became extremely unpopular.  However, the eugenics movement did 
not die. 

                       EUGENICS AFTER WORLD WAR II 

Most people have never heard of eugenics, and most of those 
who have heard of it think it died with Hitler.  Of the few people who 
are aware that eugenics was still a force after World War II, many 
believe that its remnants were reformed.  In fact, the eugenics 
movement continued to thrive, without reform.  The development and 
promotion of birth control was a major eugenic success.  The 
discovery of the population explosion and the hysteria about the 
need to control it was a major eugenic success.  The field of 
genetics grew faster than fruit flies in the 1950s, and although 
the accumulating knowledge was valuable, the field was dominated 
by eugenicists, who could use their knowledge for eugenic 
purposes.  UNESCO, founded in 1948, was directed by Julian Huxley, 
a determined eugenicist who used his global platform very 
effectively.  The welfare state in Britain was based largely of 
the work of Richard Titmuss, John Maynard Keynes and William Henry 
Beveridge, members of the Eugenics Society. 

Historians who rely too heavily on the eugenicists themselves 
will overlook a great deal.  Daniel Kevles, for example, makes the 
post-war eugenics movement sound like a group of dusty academics.  
But one of their activities in Britain beginning in the 1960s was 
running a flourishing abortion business.  Beginning in the 1960s, 
a few members of the Eugenics Society built and controlled almost 
the entire private abortion industry.  Whether you think abortion 
is killing a child or exercising a fundamental liberty, this 
bloody and emotional activity is not the work of dusty academics: 
at least some of the eugenicists were activists. 

The influence on the eugenicists on abortion in America is 
perhaps best seen by comparing Roe v. Wade and a book by Professor 
Glanville Williams, The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law.  
The book is cited repeatedly in the 1973 abortion decision, but 
the numerous citations do not reveal the full extent of the 
influence.  Justice Blackmun lifted his whole argument from 
Williams, including the history of abortion, ancient attitudes, 
the influence of Christianity, common law, Augustine's and 
Aquinas' teaching, canon law and English statutory law.  And 
Williams was a member of the Eugenics Society.  Roe v. Wade was 
based on eugenics. 

Even in Germany, the eugenics movement did not die out.  The 
most offensive example of its resurgence after Hitler was the 
rehabilitation of Professor Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer.  
In 1935, von Verschuer said that he was "responsible for 
ensuring that the care of genes and race, which Germany is leading 
worldwide, has such a strong base that it will withstand any 
attacks from outside."  In 1937, he was Director of the Third 
Reich Institute for Heredity, Biology and Racial Purity. 
Von Verschuer was Josef Mengele's mentor before the Nazi 
holocaust, and his collaborator during the holocaust.   

Mengele's horrific experiments at Auschwitz have put his name alongside 
those of Hitler and Eichmann.  And yet, a few years after the war, 
von Verschuer founded the Institute of Human Genetics in Munster, 
where he worked educating another generation until his death in 
1969.  He had not turned away from his old ideas: was an adviser 
for the Mankind Quarterly, and a member of the American Eugenics 

The rehabilitation of Mengele's mentor and collaborator was 
not an accidental oversight.  Eugenicists in America were aware of von 
Verschuer;  several stories about him appeared in English in the 
Eugenical Neews in the 1930's.  The first, review of his book 
Erbpathologie, said: "Race culture, the selection of proposed cases for 
sterilization or marriage advice [i.e., genetic counseling] are impossible 
without the ernest collaboration of the entire medical profession . . . 
In this book the author clearly outlines the duties of the physician  
to the nation.  The word 'nation' no longer means a number of citizens 
living within certain boundries, but a biological entity.  This point of 
view also changes the obligation of the physician . . .Dr. von Verschuer 
has succesfully bridged the gap between medical practice and theoretic 
scientific research."  

Another article about von Verschuer appeared in the Eugenical News May/ 
June 1936, which specifically mentioned that Von Vershcuer intended to  
use twin studies to test a racist idea (Mengele's horror's at Auschwitz 
were twin studies), and there was a follow-up article in October 1937. 


    In 1968, the Eugenics Review ran an article summarizing some 
of the activities of the Eugenics Society.  The article quoted a 
proposal made by in the late 1950s by Dr. Carlos Paton Blacker, 
who had been an officer in the Eugenics Society  since 1931 
(Secretary, then General Secretary, then Director, then Chairman): 

    That the Society should pursue eugenic ends by less obvious 
    means, that is by a policy of crypto-eugenics, which was 
    apparently proving successful in the US Eugenics Society. 

In 1960, Blacker's proposal was adopted by the Eugenics 

A resolution which was accepted stated (in part): 

    The Society's activities in crypto-eugenics should be pursued 
    vigorously, and specifically that the Society should increase 
    its monetary support of the FPA [Family Planning Association, 
    the English branch of Planned Parenthood] and the IPPF 
    [International Planned Parenthood Federation] and should make 
    contact with the Society for the Study of Human Biology, 
    which already has a strong and active membership, to find out if 
    any relevant projects are contemplated with which the Eugenics 
    Society could assist. 

At the time this resolution was adopted by the Eugenics 
Society, Blacker was the Administrative Chairman of IPPF.  When IPPF was 
founded in 1952, it was housed in the offices of the Eugenics 

The dominant figure in the eugenics movement in the United 
States, considered by the English to be a model of crypto- 
eugenics, was Major General Frederick Osborn, a master 
propagandist.  In 1956, he said people "won't accept the idea that 
they are in general, second rate.  We must rely on other 
motivation."  He called the new motivation "a system of voluntary 
unconscious selection."  The way to persuade people to exercise 
this voluntary unconscious selection was to appeal to the idea of 
"wanted" children.  Osborn said, "Let's base our proposals on the 
desirability of having children born in homes where they will get 
affectionate and responsible care."  In this way, the eugenics 
movement "will move at last towards the high goal which Galton set 
for it." 

Osborn stated the public relations problem bluntly: "Eugenic 
goals are most likely to be attained under a name other than 
eugenics."  He pointed to genetic counseling as a prime example: 
"Heredity clinics are the first eugenic proposals that have been 
adopted in a practical form and accepted by the public. ... The 
word eugenics is not associated with them." 

Osborn is often credited with reforming the eugenics movement 
after World War II, and purging the racism.  However, during the 
time of this reform, he was President of the Pioneer Fund, holding 
that office secretly from 1947 to 1956.  The Pioneer Fund is a 
notorious white supremacist organization.  Obviously, a secret 
racist wouldn't purge racism; he would purge open racism, leaving 
a policy that critics might call "crypto-racism."  

In 1960, a member of the Eugenics Society, Reginald Ruggles 
Gates, founded a new periodical to advance racist ideas.  The 
Advisory Council of the new journal, Mankind Quarterly, included 
yet another member of the Darwin family, Charles Galton Darwin.  
One idea advanced in the journal is the belief that anthropology, 
if it is understood honestly, shows that mankind is divided into 
four species.  The first issue stated that desegregation happened 
because "American anthropologists were responsible for introducing 
equalitarianism into anthropology, ignoring the hereditary 
differences between races, ...until the uninstructed public were 
gradually misled.  Equality of opportunity, which everyone 
supports, was replaced by a doctrine of genetic and social 
equality, which is something quite different." 

                          THE SHIFT TO GENETICS 

Before the war, the American Eugenics Society laid out its 
research aims, including many investigations in sociology, 
psychology, anthropology and biology.  But they noted especially 
the important new fields: population study and genetics. 

After the war, research in genetics was led by one of the 
German eugenicist besides von Verschuer who had continued his work, Dr. 
Franz J. Kallmann.  He had been "associated with Dr. Ernst Rudin, 
investigating in genetic psychiatry."  He was half Jewish, so he 
was driven out of Germany in 1936 by Hitler.  Nonetheless, he 
testified on behalf of von Verschuer after the war.  Kallmann 
taught psychiatry at Columbia, and in 1948 he founded the American 
Society of Human Genetics.  He became a member of the American 
Eugenics Society.  This Society developed hundreds of prenatal 
tests but did not look for cures, although every test was hyped as 
a potential lead towards a cure. 

Over the next years, at least 124 people were members of both 
Kallmann's American Society of Human Genetics and the American 
Eugenics Society.  The overwhelming evidence of a commitment to 
eugenics at the American Society of Human Genetics is especially 
troubling when you note that members of this society promoted, 
developed and now lead the multi-billion dollar Human Genome 

Negative eugenics, or ending the over-production of the 
"unfit," is obviously well underway with widespread contraception, 
sterilization and abortion.  But positive eugenics, or the 
increased production of the "fit," can be advanced through 
artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and genetic 
engineering.  The Human Genome Project would certainly help in a 
scheme of positive eugenics. 


After World War II, the eugenics movement discovered (or 
invented) the population explosion, and whipped up global hysteria 
about it.  From 1952 on, a major part of  the eugenics movement 
was the population control movement.  The population explosion 
made it possible for eugenics movement to continue its work  more 
from the fit, less from the unfit   with the same people to do the 
same things, but with a new public rationale. 

The transformation from open eugenics to population planning 
is described well by Germaine Greer: "It now seems strange that men 
who had been conspicuous in the eugenics movement were able to 
move quite painlessly into the population establishment at the 
highest level, but if we reflect that the paymasters were the same 
Ford, Mellon, Du Pont, Standard Oil, Rockefeller and Shell are 
still the same, we can only assume that people like Kingsley 
Davis, Frank W. Notestein, C. C. Little, E. A. Ross, the Osborns 
Frederick and Fairfield, Philip M. Hauser, Alan Guttmacher and 
Sheldon Segal were being rewarded for past services."  That is, 
the population control movement was the same money, the same 
leaders, the same activities with a new excuse. 

One of the organizations that promoted eugenics under the new 
population rubric was the Population Council.  It was founded in 
1952 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, and spent $173,621,654 in its 
first 25 years.  That is not a bad budget for one of the 
organizations in a dead movement!  Clearly, the people who think 
the eugenics movement died in the rubble in Berlin do not 
understand crypto-eugenics, genetics or population control! 

The extent of the population control movement is hard to 
imagine, and harder to exaggerate.  During the past 25 years, 
there have been approximately 1.5 billion surgical abortions 
globally.  The United Nations Population Fund has sponsored three 
meetings bringing together the heads of state from most of the 
world to develop a global population strategy, in Bucharest in 
1974, Mexico City in 1984, and in Cairo in 1994.  No other global 
problem has been the occasion for meetings comparable to these 
three.  The World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International 
Development, and governmental agencies from nearly all the 
industrialized nations have contributed billions of dollars to 
campaigns designed to decrease population growth. 

The population control movement has not been noted for 
respect for human rights. In 1972, for example, essays by members of the 
American Eugenics Society appeared in Readings in Population.  
Kingsley Davis explained the need for genetic control, and 
examined the obstacles, including a widespread attachment to the 
ideal of family life.  But he saw some hope of developing a more 
effective program of improving the human race, although 
improvement would be slow: 

Under the circumstances, we shall probably struggle along 
with small measures at a time, with the remote possibility that 
these may eventually evolve into a genetic control system. 
    The morality of specific techniques of applied genetics   
    artificial insemination, selective sterilization, ovular 
    transplantation, eugenic abortion, genetic record keeping, 
    genetic testing   will be thunderously debated in theological 
    and Marxian terms dating from ages past.  Possibly, within 
    half a century or so, this may add up to a comprehensive 

What he wanted, though was "the deliberate alteration of the 
species for sociological purposes," which would be "a more fateful 
step than any previously taken by mankind. ...  When man has 
conquered his own biological evolution he will have laid the basis 
for conquering everything else.  The universe will be his, at 

In the same book, Philip M. Hauser, also a member of the 
American Eugenics Society, explained the difference between family 
planning, which relies on the voluntary decisions of individuals 
or couples, and population control, which would include abortion, 
a commitment to zero population growth, coercion, euthanasia and 
restrictions on international migration. 

Perhaps the clearest example of the power of the eugenics 
movement today is in China, with its one-child-only family policy.  
This policy is an assault on prenatal life and on women's privacy, 
both.  The program was described and praised in 16 articles in a 
remarkable issue of IPPF's quarterly journal, People, in 1989, on 
the eve of the massacre in Tiananmen Square.  But this anti- 
life, anti-choice policy is not unique to China; most of the 
nations of Asia have some coercive elements in their population 

The coercive Chinese policy has a great deal of acceptance 
and support in the United States, including from feminist leaders like 
Eleanor Smeal and Molly Yard.  When the Reagan administration cut 
off funds for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because 
of its support for the Chinese population program, two American 
organizations sued to restore funds: Rockefeller's Population 
Council and the Population Institute in Washington.  A 1978 survey 
of members of the Population Association of America found that 34 
percent of members agreed that "coercive birth control programs 
should be initiated in at least some countries immediately."   

In fact, the United States government is responsible for much 
of the global population control.  In 1976, a formal definition of 
national security interests, NSSM 200, described the major threats 
to the United States.  Some of these are obvious.  The first, of 
course, was Communism in Europe, with the military charged with 
principal responsibility for defending American national security 
from this threat.  In the Pacific, the threat was the possibility 
of losing bases; the military was charged with the principal 
responsibility for defending this national interest.  In Latin 
America, there was the threat of incipient Communism; the CIA had 
principal responsibility for our defense.  In Africa, according to 
the American government in 1976 and ever since, the threat to 
American national security interests is population growth.  The 
Agency for International Development was given the responsibility 
of defending America from this grave threat.  This document was 
classified until 1992; when it was de-classified, the Information 
project for Africa distributed it, and the covert depopulation 
policy tucked into the American foreign aid program caused a great 
deal of resentment. 

                          CURRENT DEVELOPMENT 

In late 1994, the publication of The Bell Curve made the word 
"eugenics" known again.  The research quoted in the book is drawn 
overwhelmingly from members of the American Eugenics Society and 
other eugenic groups.  Curiously, most commentators focused on one 
chapter in the lengthy book, and debated whether it was racist.  
The conclusion of the book is that men are not equal, and that the 
Declaration of Independence is badly worded.  This lengthy 
restatement of eugenics was on the bestseller list for weeks. 

The book was generally praised by conservatives (see The 
National Review, December 5, 1994, an issue devoted to The Bell 
Curve) and attacked by liberals (see The New Republic, October 31, 
1994, which included a lengthy defense of the book by its authors 
and 21 critical or hostile responses). 

                           SYSTEMATIC RESPONSE 

One excellent way to understand the eugenics movement in our 
time is to read through a list of the members of the Eugenics 
Society and its successor, the Society for the Study of Social 
Biology.  Eugenics is not a conspiracy, it is a movement and an 
ideology.  But the pieces of it are often considered in isolation, 
perhaps because of the success of the strategy of crypto-eugenics.  
Reading through the list of members helps to see the whole 
picture.  (A list of members of the American Eugenics Society, 
with notes, is available from American Life League.) 

In 1925, John Thomas Scopes was charged with teaching 
evolution in a public school in Tennessee, in violation of state law.   
The trial became a highly visible confrontation between Fundamentalist 
views of Scripture and the theory of evolution.  Shaping the 
debate this way allowed the proponents of evolution to score a 
tremendous public relations victory.  Nonetheless, the questions, 
then and now, are theological and moral, not just scientific.  
Darwin and the evolutionists and eugenicists had indeed 
precipitated a religious crisis, and were debating the existence 
of God and the meaning of human life. 

From the beginning, the great obstacle to the eugenics 
movement has been the Roman Catholic Church, and the Church's position  
has been repeatedly distorted.  A sketch of the Church's position can 
be found in: 

    Gaudium et Spes or The Church in the Modern World the 
    Vatican II document explaining to all people of good will why  
    the Church wants to be involved in discussions of the problems  
    facing the world and what she thinks she offers; 

Humanae Vitae-  Pope Paul VI's letter on human life, best 
known for his re-statement of the Church's unwavering assertion that 
contraception is objectively and cannot be made moral, but also 
contains a sharp warning about the threat of coercive population 

Populorum Progressio-  Pope Paul VI's powerful letter on 
development, urging the wealthy nations to help the poor 
generously, and calling development the "new name for peace"; 
Laborem Exercens-   Pope John Paul II's letter on work, 
offering a radically new approach to the place of work in the life  
of an individual and a society; and Familiaris Consortio    
Pope John Paul II's letter on family life, best known for re-stating  
opposition to contraception, but defends the rights of families,  
including the right to migrate in search of a better economic life; 

Sollicitudo Rei Socialis-   one of Pope John Paul II's letters 
on the crises facing the modern world, stating that the measure of  a 
social program is its impact on the dignity of the individual, and 
stating that the route to freedom from social evil is solidarity 
with the victims of the evil. 

    The social sciences in our time are thoroughly imbued with 
    eugenic theory.  It would be a noble work to rescue them, to 
    work through the basic texts and theories of each field, 
    identifying the eugenic taint and replacing it with an 
    unswerving devotion to the dignity of the individual, 
    including the poor. 

    John Cavanaugh-O'Keefe 
    January 1995 

  The electronic form of this document is copyrighted.
  Copyright (c)  American Life League BBS
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