The Eugenics Movement
By Marica Micallef
How did the Eugenics movement start?
In the late nineteenth century, during a critical period in the development of science, British scholar Sir Francis Galton coined the term “eugenics” in his book “Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development”.
Galton, Charles Darwin’s cousin, hoped to ‘improve humankind’ through the ‘science of improving the human species’ by selectively mating people with specific desirable hereditary traits.
Decades of research on ‘controlled breeding,’ including sterilization, became mainstream science around the turn of the century, and the eugenics movement was born.
Eugenicists believe that people are born with mental illnesses, criminal tendencies, and even poverty and that these traits can be ‘bred out’ of the human gene pool through forced sterilization. Unsurprisingly, ‘unwanted’ characteristics were concentrated in poor, uneducated, and minority populations.
Many scientists and biologists rigorously researched ways to ‘improve the human race’ by eliminating these ‘negative traits,’ and the movement quickly gained widespread political support — particularly in Australia.
Professor Richard Berry and the growing Eugenics Societies of NSW and Victoria played pivotal roles in mass campaigns for legislation allowing the establishment of a “lethal chamber” to euthanize what these groups referred to as “the grosser types of our mental defectives.”
Following World War I, a slew of eugenics-based ideologies began to seep into mainstream societies around the world. However, after Hitler adopted these concepts and implemented an aggressive version of them, the world became sour and a new change was required to continue.
Following World War II, the concepts of eugenics were not exorcised from Western thinking; rather, they went underground or were reinvented under more “compassionate” guises.
Julian Huxley’s significant contributions to the movement ensured that the underlying ideas associated with eugenics would be transformed and carried forward into new social movements.
During the 1950s, these groups redefined eugenics as “socially progressive,” with ties to newly formed and comprehensive welfare states that provided “solutions” to poverty and disease.
The Rockefeller Foundation generously funded the modern eugenics movement and think tanks like the Tavistock Institute gave birth to a slew of influential individuals and ‘social’ organizations.
Huxley skillfully linked the ‘new and modern’ eugenics movement to a variety of reformist ideologies, including the popularization of birth control, the decriminalization of homosexuality, and abortion law reform. He referred to this as “eugenic modernisation.”
The basic premise, however, remained the same: it is far easier to eliminate the poor and the suffering than it is to eliminate the complex and tenacious causes of their poverty and suffering.
These individuals believe that the masses are too stupid to govern themselves.
In recent years, the term has resurfaced in bioethical debates about the use of new technologies such as CRISPR and genetic screening, with a heated debate over whether these technologies should be referred to as eugenics or not.
Some fear future “eugenics wars” as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of people with genetic defects, institutionalized killings or genocides, and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior.
Professors of health law George Annas and technology law Lori Andrews are prominent proponents of the view that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.
During the era of ‘counter-culture,’ a plethora of new-age organizations and movements would emerge, and as this ‘progression’ continued, who do you think came part of the picture as well? Bill Gates who has a net worth of €97.8 billion.
Bill Gates has been positioned as a likable, mild-mannered figure through “philanthropic projects”, expressing his desire to improve the health of the world through new vaccine development and technological innovation.
A closer look reveals that the Gates family has documented ties to modern-day reinvented eugenics movements, and the work done by their organization demonstrates ulterior motives contrary to saving lives, which I will write about in another piece.