There are few policy debates that fascinate and compel otherwise principally disinterested persons to active engagement, to one degree or another, than those involving matters related to Eugenics. The term itself has become, within the public mind, a synonym for a gross and hubristic enterprise, grounded in nothing more substantive than a tautological rationale - itself derivative of the brutish, social Darwinism characteristic of the 20th century, and no more relevant to the present day other than as a “cautionary tale’’ of executive overreach and the categorical victimization of subjectively identified undesirables.
In other words, Eugenics qua eugenics is insinuated into official histories as an ongoing pogrom, directed against arbitrarily shunned populations; and only made possible by an impoverishment of empathy at scale for the weak and the wretched, owing, axiomatically, to an absence of adequate social compassion and political education within the body politic. If one accepts that Liberal Progressivism is, at base, an ongoing, ritual exercise in discourse and oratory masquerading as a discrete philosophical tradition – in which competing Humanist tendencies are considered by its most committed partisans to represent ethical heresies - it should be quite clear even to the casual student of Enlightenment philosophes and the contemporary progeny of that ethical schema that Eugenics and Eugenic reasoning is presented by the global Regime as a sort of mocking blasphemy, splendidly and diametrically opposite to the absolute Liberal demand that the dignity of the human being be acknowledged without regard nor resort to aesthetic criteria. This begs the question of, quite literally, “Why eugenics?’’ Or perhaps more properly, “Why eugenics now?’’ The answer is more complicated than is superficially apparent.
What Is ‘Eugenics’?
The Liberal-Progressive intellectual tradition arguably reached its zenith in an absolute capacity, and inarguably did so as an applied sociological enterprise, during what Hobsbawm referred to as the long century - the vigorously dynamic, yet remarkably peaceable, period after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo until the Edwardian era just prior to the Great War - wherein the death of God appeared (to all but the most pessimistic of historicists and their fellow travelers of the counter-Enlightenment) to be mitigated by the imminent advent of a telluric utopia within the confines of the civilized world and that would indubitably uplift the most primitive races by way of material abundance, social engineering, and scientific advancement.
Any traumatic upheaval wrought by the practical transcendence of the Machine Age, then well underway, whereby noblesse oblige had become not so much quaintly abolished as the lynchpin of the social contract as it had been swept away by the total and complete reconfiguration of internal political sociology within the Westphalian state, was guaranteed by public intellectuals - and the politicians whose oratory was substantively constituted in its entirety by the assurances, premonitions and admonitions of these self-appointed augurs - to be mitigated in absolute capacities by the looming eradication of material poverty and violence to the body and moral dignity of the human being. It was owing to the emergence of a planned society, organized according to a formal and rational calculus whereby the appropriate management of variables would abolish social injustice and deprivations of the mind, body and conscience for all time.
Within this fervently Revolutionary, although heretofore not particularly sanguinary, intellectual and sociopolitical climate, the impulse towards social engineering as policy and the belief in the capacity to improve - if not outright perfect - the menschenmaterial of the body politic had - by the advent of the 1933 revolutions in America and the German Reich, respectively - in a few short years ceased to be a utopian ambition invoked as a rhetorical device in much the same manner as were guarantees of an “end to poverty’’ and had become an essential aspect of applied social engineering throughout the civilized world but most punctuated in the United States of America, where in a true sense applied Eugenics could be cited, not incorrectly, as the conceptual vector of “scientific’’ Progressivism as policy.
Eugenics was emergent from this zeitgeist owing in no small measure to an absolute belief in discrete, material phenomena as the causal engine and prime movant of human affairs at scale; and the hubristic conceit that the historical process was reducible to a developmental sociology, splendidly capable of manipulation, with the ultimate goal of ending history. Far from being the product of the fevered imaginings of Fascist romantics and Right-Heglians, who viewed historical processes as the mind of God at work in the ambitions of mankind at war and at peace or as the revelation of the destinies of culturally sophisticated races who were capable of value creation that facilitated transcendence of concerns and ambitions of a merely instinctive and pragmatic origin, Eugenics rather can only properly be understood, conceptually, as a consummately Liberal-Progressive enterprise.
The first mention of “Eugenics” in the commonly understood meaning of the term is found in Francis Galton’s 1883 book, Inquiries into Human Fertility and its Development. Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, coined the term Eugenics, in derivation of the Greek word eugenes - which translates approximately as, “good in birth’’ or “of desirable stock’’ - presumably to insinuate an intrinsic, if subtle, core of virtu into a paradigmatic body of social science that otherwise tended towards an existentially debased account of human affairs suggestive of animal husbandry and the management of livestock.
Expressed as formal policy, applied eugenics finds purpose in the alleviation of personal suffering and the excising of social pathologies and, otherwise immutable, behaviors that - when considered collectively as a causal nexus - were (and to varying degrees still are) alleged to be the source of the ongoing tragedy of the commons that stubbornly endures despite a practically infinite abundance of material capital situated (at least for the time being and probably foreseeable future) in the developed world (or world-systemic core if the reader prefers). However callous or elitist this paradigm may seem to contemporary “woke” audiences, the guiding ethical polestars of the entire body of theory and simultaneous policy efforts was (and remains) a banal humanism, singularly concerned with and oriented towards a discretely pragmatic understanding of social justice and Progressive morality.
The suggestion that applied biological intervention, at scale, can - if correctly tailored - eradicate criminality, poverty, child abuse, and categorical inequities intrinsic to industrial age labor and production schema (and beyond) - although for purposes of historical analysis of applied Eugenics/Eugnics as policy, this author would direct the reader’s attention to the origin of Eugenics as a fundamentally ethical philosophy. Simply stated, a class-based noblesse oblige in the form of remedial measures for benefit of those most injuriously impacted by the relentless advance of the Industrial Age, provided by a Bourgeoisie caste who presided over the extrication of sovereignty from the literal person of the Monarch and its vesting in a public bureaucracy whose claim to legitimacy is absolutely contingent upon its ability and willingness to act as steward of the needs of the commons in a capacity abjectly superior to the ancien regime.
There is, of course, a naked contradiction apparent within the enterprise of Progressive government at any juncture wherein policy is directed according to biological phenomena or criteria, no matter if such considerations are primary and central to the issue(s) presented or if such factors are fledgling and oblique. At the same time, these nuances come into greater clarity and - as the diligent student of political theory derived from ‘’Enlightenment’’ philosophes will quickly discover - the paramount concern of Liberal humanism is the dignity of all persons; accordingly, if there can be said to be a soteriology or its functional equivalent within the conceptual schema of Liberal political theology, human dignity takes the place of the rational human soul, and accomplishing an equality of dignity among all classes of persons and social identities (however contrived) takes precedence over more concrete and practical understandings of material equity.
What is ‘Racial Hygiene’
Lothrop Stoddard, one of many 20th century, interwar personages who was redacted from the historical record for all practical purposes, was a pop-sociologist of the sort whose journalistic efforts tended to focus on race and discourse in public policy as it related to the American situation with a topical particularism that was not unheard of a century ago yet could not be said to be conventional. Stoddard was famously, and punitively, parodied by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the pages of the latter’s novels - which arguably, prior to the information age, was all that remained of Stoddard in the American civic memory save for the fact that he was the one American journalist who both published a contemporaneous account of life in the Third Reich and was able to finagle a personal interview with Adolf Hitler.
The resulting volume, titled somewhat misleadingly, Into the Darkness, “darkness’’ being a euphemism for the unknown rather than a metaphor for an ominous evil or abyssic moral void (at least such was the claim of the author himself, at the time and in years subsequent) is a fascinating documentation of applied eugenics as policy within the German Reich as well as the pre-War disposition of the Führer towards the American journalistic establishment, but it acts as a discursive exercise in contrasts between American and Continental (and specifically, National Socialist) views of race and the role of eugenics in political life.
Whatever the shortcomings of Stoddard’s volume, and however superficial his understanding of the gravity of Hitler’s messianic ascendancy (in historical terms) there are flashes of a comparatively deep conceptual appreciation of the aforementioned perspectives:
As is well known, the Nazi viewpoint on race and the resultant policies are set forth by Adolf Hitler himself in the pages of Mein Kampf, the Bible of National Socialism. The future Führer therein wrote: ‘It will be the duty of the People’s State to consider the race as the basis of the community’s existence. It must make sure that the purity of the racial strain will be preserved. It must proclaim the truth that the child is the most valuable possession a nation can have. It must make sure that only those who are healthy shall beget children and that there is only one infamy: namely, for parents who are ill or show other defects to bring children into the world. But on the other hand it must be branded as reprehensible to refrain from giving healthy children to the nation. Herein the State must come forward as the trustee of a millennial future, in face of which the egotistic desires of individuals count for nothing. Such individuals will have to bow to the State in such matters. In order to achieve this end the State will have to avail itself of modern advances in medical science. It must proclaim that all those people are unfit for procreation who are afflicted with some visible hereditary disease, or are the carriers of it; and the State must adopt practical means of having such people rendered sterile. On the other hand, the State must make sure that the healthy woman will not have her fertility restricted through a financial and economic system of government which looks on the blessing of children as a curse to their parents. The State will have to abolish the cowardly and even criminal indifference with which the problem of social provision for large families is treated, and it will have to be the supreme protector of this greatest blessing that a people can boast of. Its attention and care must be directed towards the child rather than towards the adult.’
Most significantly, for purposes of this essay, and most indicative of Stoddard’s rare insight into the National Socialist political mind and the German peoples’ cultural understanding of rasse qua rasse contra the (reductionist and epistemically inadequate) American understanding of race as an exclusively biological phenomenon:
Another misconception is that the Nazis regard the Jews as a distinct race. To be sure, that term is often used in popular writings and many ignorant Nazis may believe it, but their scientific men do not thus defy obvious anthropology. They therefore refer to the Jews as a Mischrasse. By this they mean a group which, though self-consciously distinct, is made up of several widely diverse racial strains. It is because most of those strains are deemed too alien to the Germanic blend that the Nazis passed the so-called Nuremberg Laws prohibiting intermarriage between Jews and Germans. Without attempting to appraise this highly controversial racial doctrine, it is fair to say that Nazi Germany’s eugenic program is the most ambitious and far reaching experiment in eugenics ever attempted by any nation.
What Was the Historical Mission of National Socialism?
Why was a regime that was so Revolutionary in its ambitions, so singularly oriented towards the tragic essence of historical time, and the inevitability of (racial) death and historical processes, so zealously and apparently incongruously, dedicated to European palingenesis and the survival of the culture-bearing (Aryan) type in perpetuity? The answer owes, like National Socialism itself - and arguably all axiomatically German political philosophies of the Right from the Pietist tendency in Lutheranism, to Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger down to the Führer - to a unique (though not provincially exclusive) European conceptual horizon, the essential epistemic priors of which entail a belief that:
Consciousness is a historical phenomenon that is inextricably tethered to symbolic psychology and racial memory, man qua man is only redeemable as a culture-bearing organism. The capacity for culture is what distinguishes man from beasts of the field; and concomitantly, a world without culture would be world fit only for beings less than human - including those who had been diminished and rendered slaves by way of an unnatural and programmatic social engineering (of the sort that Americans have been so availed since 1933 and the German people, incident to de facto Jewish occupation, since 1945).
Most strikingly perhaps - at least to the American mind (existentially as well as philosophically speaking) is the National Socialist (and more broadly German) ontological claim(s) about the nature of life and death and the manner in which the individual - spiritually, socially, and psychologically adrift amidst conditions of hyper-modernity - comes to terms with death, in lieu of succumbing to a consuming despair of passive nihilism or, alternatively, courting his own destruction in effort to remedy the frantic terror of, living-merely-to-die. The adept student of Third Reich history - competence therein necessarily including a familiarity with the (often amateurishly shrill) post-bellum American and British claims about the character of the German Reich and its purportedly singular evilness.
Karl Wolff, adjutant to the Reichsführer-SS, was a deeply flawed man - yet he was also a witness to pure history at epochal junctures so profound in impactfulness on human affairs in (literally) global terms that he likely was awed into proffering honest testimony in spite of himself in recounting the key events of his truly remarkable career as a knight of the Third Reich, serving Himmler himself in an intimate capacity, in the uniform of the awesome and dreaded Schutzstaffel. In May of 1945, as Europe lay in ruins as the Red Army (like their Mongol forebears) exterminated everything in their path, Wolff opined to nobody in particular (while in Allied captivity and perhaps owing an uncharacteristic eloquence to remorse at the fate which befell him):
“In the beginning, we had very gifted and decent chaps in the SS - men who really could have become the nobility of a new society…’’ On some basic level, the enemy realizes the truth of what Wolff asserted - which is why, in part, there is a perennial cottage industry of anti-Fascist propaganda, rather lazily dressed up as “historical’’ research or terse, value-neutral sociological analysis. This author recalls in particular when Daniel Goldhagen’s bizarre book on the topic which purported, among other things, to “explain Hitler’’, according to the diagnostic criteria and methodology of secular-humanist psychology.
Goldhagen begins from the premise that Adolf Hitler himself, presumably in common with quasi-mythical enemies of Judea such as Haman and the Pharaoh, was an entity both less than human and more than human - owing to a purportedly demonic nature that was as singularly malevolent as it was rare. The text, among other canards common to treatments of the Second World War by court historians, suggested that the Führer was inclined towards suicide for the entirety of his adult life, that Hitler ultimately committed suicide owing to this psychotic defect (disregarding the fact that not a single Prussian feldmarschall - exempting Paulus - had ever allowed himself be captured by enemy forces in lieu of taking his own life; to say nothing of the fact that the horrors of the fate awaiting Hitler had he embraced cowardice and delivered himself into Communist captivity likely defy comprehension) and that this latent tendency towards madness was intrinsic not merely to the Führer, but to the German race in toto.
To Goldhagen and to the Jewish cultural mind generally (though the exponents of this sort of simpleminded propaganda are by no means exclusively Jewish themselves), to the men whose lurid imaginings and fantastical horror stories came to constitute the mythology - and subsequent political Theology - of the Nuremberg show trials and the juristic-ethical paradigm that the former established, every aspect of the Third Reich that is edifying, tragic, or that evinces a conscious awareness of historical engagement is vilified as necrophilic, as an iteration of a primitively pagan “death worship”, or of a chauvinistic maladaptiveness that prefers oblivion to what the Jewish (and debased Anglophone) species arbitrarily declares to represent ‘Progress’.
To the Judeo-American mind, every hero is a tyrant, every great monument a tombstone, any acknowledgment of the immutability of death is the blaspheming of a necrophile. In reality, as any thoughtful man who has reached middle age comes to understand, making a friend of death is sublimely life-affirming - to genuflect before its monumental power is to live historically, to embrace it with the quiet reverence yet unwavering zeal of a pious initiate is the way of the Aryan - of a disciple of Christ, and of a National Socialist.
THIS PIECE IS AVAILABLE IN PRINT FORM IN VOLUME II ISSUE VI