A friend of mine recently openly scoffed at me when I mentioned that eugenical thinking was animating the current pandemic response. And because her thinking is likely to be shared by many others, I thought it might be worth explaining why I think this is so. If you back up two hundred years and understand the history of the ideas that animated the eugenics movement then it’s easier to see how these same ideas are still in operation toady. If people think that eugenics was born with the Nazis and died with Hitler – and it seems many people do think that – then they will be interpreting our current historical moment without perceiving one of the significant ideologies that, I believe, is operating to shape events around us.
To understand how eugenicists think and the ideological universe in which they operate, we need to back up two hundred years to 1798 when Thomas Malthus, an English clergyman, first published his “Essay on the Principle of Population”. Malthus theorised that a lot of the problems of human suffering were caused by an imbalance between the number of people and the resources need to sustain them. He noticed that the ability of humans to reproduce is potentially exponential, whereas the increase in rates of food production was only linear. This means that, eventually the number of people to be fed is going to outstrip the food available to feed them. This imbalance triggers a crisis in which a lot of people die. A year of bad harvest, for example, would cause mass starvation, sickness and death and these “Malthusian catastrophes”, as they were called, function to reduce the human population to sustainable levels and restore the necessary balance between humans and resources.
Obviously, the poor are hit hardest by these crises and one way to avoid triggering a Malthusian catastrophe would be for the poor to have fewer children. Malthus was optimistic that many of the problems that afflicted the poor could be alleviated by the institution of sensible government policies which involved influencing the behaviour of the population in a particular direction and centralising the distribution of resources. Malthus was instrumental in starting a regular census of the population. He also helped shape the Poor Laws, which involved abolishing the previous parish-based system of charity and building poor houses instead. These were centrally controlled and intentionally dehumanising in order to discourage poverty.
Malthus’ theory of population was influential in the development of Darwin’s theory of the “survival of the fittest”. Which portions of the population are eliminated by Malthusian catastrophes? Well, the blow falls hardest on the poor, the weak, the sick, the elderly. Those most likely to survive a Malthusian catastrophe are the strongest and fittest. Scientists before Darwin had noticed changes is species and theorised about evolution but they lacked an explanatory mechanism for what might provoke evolutionary change. Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest” filled that gap.
In turn, Darwin’s idea was taken up by Thomas Huxley who used paleontology and comparative anatomy to argue that humans and apes shared a common ancestry. We are all familiar with the sketch showing human progression from a monkey on the far left, becoming an ape, becoming a primitive human, or neanderthal, and gradually standing more upright until, on the far right of the drawing we have modern man – homo erectus, homo sapiens. This encapsulates Huxley’s explanation of how Darwinian theory applied to humanity.
Francis Galton, who was a cousin of Charles Darwin, then put metrics around this theory of human evolution, measuring facial features and cranial cavities to establish which humans were more evolved and which were more primitive. Galton is known as “the father of eugenics” for developing this system of anthropometrics.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, these ideas were taken up by America’s emerging industrial billionaires. The Rockefellers, the Carnegies and the Fords were notable investors both in academic research into eugenics and actively promoting policies and programs to translate the theory of eugenics into practice.
We can point to Margaret Sanger as a good example of how these “Neo Malthusians” – as they referred to themselves – worked to translate theory into practice. Margaret Sanger was the founder of the American Birth Control League, which later became Planned Parenthood Foundation and, later still, went global in the form of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). Sanger’s work was supported financially by the Rockefellers who shared her views of how the good of humanity was best to be secured.
Margaret Sanger knew from experience the hardship that attends large families where resources are over-stretched. In 22 years of marriage, her mother conceived 18 times, gave birth to eleven children and died at the age of 49. In the course of her work as a nurse in the slums of New York, Sanger observed first-hand the difficulties of poor women who lacked information about how to prevent pregnancy. She began her controversial work in sex education, advocacy for contraception and even, where necessary, safe abortion.
Sanger’s reasoning comes back to the Malthusian idea that balancing population numbers against the resources needed to provide for those people is essential to creating the conditions for optimal human flourishing. Where there might be enough money for two children to be well fed and clothed and educated, the same resources spread over eight children might not provide even the basic necessities. In the absence of some mechanism for limiting the numbers of children, then the best-case scenario was sub-optimal outcomes for all the children or – in the worst case scenario – many of them would simply die. If nature is going to limit our numbers in this cruel manner, then doesn’t it make sense to try to avoid the catastrophe by limiting our numbers by some other method?
The population wide benefits of such policies sound great in theory. How do you produce a society where everyone is healthy, everyone has enough food, where there are sufficient resources to educate everyone, where the world is free of crime and delinquency and where you have even eliminated war (because people don’t have to fight over resources anymore)? Well, one way to achieve all this it to eliminate (quote) “the unfit” – the mentally ill, the disabled, the sickly, the diseased, the weak, the poor, the unintelligent… as Margaret Sanger called them, “the human weeds.” In this way, population reduction inevitably leads to eugenics. Once you decide that you are going to reduce the human population then the next logical question is “which parts of the population, which individuals, are going to be targeted for “reduction””?
At the soft end of eugenics, you have selective breeding and contraception but this is only part of a spectrum. Because exactly the same logic also supports less morally palatable methods of population reduction like selective killing, abortion, forced sterilisation, infanticide, euthanasia, even genocide. All of these are simply different methods – more of less nasty – of achieving the Utopian dream of a flourishing society.
Eugenicists also believed that the costs of not giving nature a helping hand were too ghastly to contemplate. Sanger used to write with dread about “the rising tide of the unfit” that seemingly threatened to swamp civilisation. Her ideas were quite widespread. A 1912 article published in the Spectator openly explained that:
The only way of cutting off the constant stream of idiots and imbeciles and feeble-minded persons who help to fill our prisons and workhouses, reformatories, and asylums is to prevent those who are known to be mentally defective from producing offspring. Undoubtedly the best way of doing this is to place these defectives under control. Even if this were a hardship to the individual it would be necessary for the sake of protecting the race.
In early twentieth century America, you could make some headway advocating the soft end of eugenics – you could encourage selective breeding, you could banning inter-racial marriage, even contraception at a push. Some particularly progressive states passed bills to forcibly sterilise the insane. Certain doctors could get away with bumping off patients in mental asylums on the quiet while no one was looking. But the harder measures that eugenicists felt were necessary to achieve the best results were impossible in the American context because America was a democracy and the public – mostly Christians, of course – simply would not have it.
In Nazi Germany, however, totalitarianism made all things possible. Hitler drew his inspiration from the American eugenicists who looked on with envy as he, to paraphrase one, “beat us at our own game”. Without necessarily informing the public of what he was doing, Hitler set about killing off “the unfit” – occupants of mental hospitals, disabled children, the elderly, homosexuals. Eventually of course he moved on to people groups, Gypsies, Slavs and Jews. Among the enlightened elites of Europe, Hilter’s policies enjoyed a modicum of support. After all, it is inarguable that the economic burden of caring for the poor, the sick, the disabled, the insane and the elderly, is a significant one. Isn’t it better for the country to invest constrained resources on ensuring better life outcomes for fewer people?
This way of thinking stands in opposition to the Christian understanding of inherent human dignity. The Judeo-Christian tradition understands each individual human – however compromised by circumstance or sickness their lives might appear – as infinitely precious, a deliberate creation of God, unique, marvellous, unrepeatable. Obviously, eugenics leaves no room for that. In the worldview of eugenicists, humans are stripped of individual value and become units – I would say interchangeable units except that clearly eugenicists think some human units are more valuable than others. Interestingly, when Nazi Germany tendered for industrialists to build the gas chambers one of the specifications was that these must be able to process a certain number of “units” per day. They used that word. The dehumanisation is very clear.
Obviously, the Judeo-Christian tradition gives us a very different worldview to the one in which eugenicists operate. If you were to ask a Christian and a Eugenicist the question “how do we best achieve the common good?” you will get very different answers. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the common good is achieved by providing as best we can for everyone, caring for the poor, the sick, the elderly. For the eugenicist, the common good is achieved by eliminating those who are most likely to suffer.
“Philanthropic compassion for the vulnerable” might sound great but look out because a eugenicist will mean something very different by it. For a eugenicist, the best way to reduce human suffering is to eliminate those humans who are most likely to suffer. It’s not illogical and, from a eugenicist’s point of view, it’s not even immoral. Margaret Sanger was emphatic that the greatest sin was to let a child be born into the world into poverty, suffering or disability. The take-home message from all this is that, when someone comes offering to help you in your affliction, you probably want to read the fine print to be sure of exactly what they have in mind. Not all belief systems place a high value on individual lives.
Like Marxism, Neo Malthusian thinking ranks the collective above the importance of the individual. Unlike Marxists, eugenicists cannot even kid themselves that they assent to the proposition that all men are created equal. The theory of Marxism sounds noble – it aims to return power to the people by ensuring collective ownership of the means of production and the even distribution of economic wealth among the masses. Of course, we know from a century of human experimentation that Marxism doesn’t work in practice and ends up with power and wealth concentrated in the hands of an all-powerful oligarchy. But it at least pretends to care about the masses in theory.
It’s much harder for eugenicists to hide the fact that establishing an all-powerful oligarchy is a fundamental part of their plan. You see, the problem with the masses is that they don’t always understand what it is good for them. They probably won’t, for example, hand over their disabled children to be killed or agree that the State should bump off granny when she gets sick. So it is necessary for the “enlightened and intelligent elite” to shoulder the burden of making the tough decisions for them. (The enlightened and intelligent elite, of course are wealthy too and can afford to keep their disabled children and support granny in comfort. They will not be affected by these policies).
If you explore their vision for how the world might be run, the picture that emerges is a sort of throw-back to feudalism. Their ideal would be for the ruling oligarchy to own all the resources and to manage the rest of us as a sort of serf population, deciding what work we do, who we marry, how many children we have, constraining our freedom of movement, deciding what we eat, administering medications as they see fit and putting us down when we had finished our useful lives – a bit like a farmer would manage a herd of cattle. They imagine that life in this farm for human run by the state might even be quite nice. We would own nothing but we would be happy, relieved of the burden of making our own decisions and running our own lives. If this all seems quite fantastical, just look at the Chinese social credit system and think about what is planned in the Great Reset. These plans did not materialise last week. They have been in train for a very long time.
Clearly, democracies are a bit of a problem for this would-be neo-feudal oligarchy. In a democracy, eugenicists are pretty much constrained to the softer methods of encouraging the peasants to make the right decisions through persuasion and education. Everyone knows what happened under Hitler, and so the peasants are probably not going to support eugenics where it is openly declared. Eugenicists haven’t changed their thinking but, since WWII, they have been obliged to disguise their agenda using euphemism. In the post-war period, there was a flurry of rebranding: The British Eugenics Society became “The Galton Society”, “Eugenics Quarterly” became “Social Biology”, the NSW “Racial Improvement Society” founded in 1926 and renamed “Racial Hygiene Association” in 1928, became “NSW Family Planning”. Was it in this period that eugenicists started calling themselves secular humanists or rationalists? I haven’t researched the history of the language there but I strongly suspect that this is the case.
Eugenicists remained committed to the belief that population control was necessary for human flourishing but their mission was now global. In the post-war period, they established supranational organisations to implement their agenda. In 1952, John D. Rockefeller founded The Population Council, to support and promote population control experiments, policies, and programs in underdeveloped countries. The Rockefellers supported the expansion of Margaret Sanger’s work launching International Planned Parenthood Federation. The globalist eugenicists, of course, have significant ties to Big Pharma, and worked to develop methods of contraception such as the Pill, IUDs, RU486 the home abortion pill. The plan is now global population reduction but they dress it up in nice phrases like “family planning” and “reproductive health”.
From the late 1950s, under the auspices of Nelson Rockefeller who was in charge of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare at the time, “family planning” became a key element of US foreign aid to developing countries. A recent e-petition begging the Australian government to increase financial support for “family planning” under the umbrella of “foreign aid” demonstrates the thinking is alive and well today and Australia is funding this agenda. The anonymous author explained:
It has been widely recognised that family planning provides many benefits, including: improving educational outcomes for women, increasing per capita wealth, and reducing environmental harm. Given that the world is massively overpopulated, more money must be allocated to reputable family planning organisations overseas such as Marie Stopes and Population Services International. Women in developing nations must be provided with the educational tools and autonomy to make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to reproduce. [emphasis added]
While it’s all dressed up as “a woman’s choice”, it’s hard for liberal progressives to argue with. On the other hand, you don’t have to dig far to realise that the eugenicists’ commitment to women’s autonomy is only absolute only up to the point that women make choices that the globalists don’t like, such as deciding to keep their babies or have more children.
IPPF worked hand-in-hand with the CCP to implement China’s “One Child Policy” – a policy responsible for hundreds of millions of forced abortions, sterilizations and untold human suffering. More recently, the state-run media, China Daily, explained that their program of genocidal forced sterilisation of the Uyghur women in Xinjiang Province has, in fact, “emancipated” these women, securing “gender equality and reproductive health”. Uyghur women are “more confident and independent”, we are told, because they are “no longer baby-making machines”. Really, we should pity any populations that are targeted for the “philanthropy” of eugenicists.
In the US, black community leaders have been complained of a black genocide. Black babies have an almost 1 in 2 chance of being aborted. Planned Parenthood argues that the disproportionate density of their clinics in predominantly black and Hispanic communities is simply an expression of their concern to help the most poor and marginalised. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Except that, by now, you will be realising that for the eugenicist, philanthropy and selective culling are two sides of the same coin.
We certainly should not believe they are committed in any way to the autonomy of the individual. Bernard Berelson, the Population Council’s fourth President, and a former Director of Planned Parenthood, openly acknowledged the illusory nature of “choice” and the potential benefits of coercion when he said:
“The familiar choice presented in the policy literature—that voluntarism is good and ‘coercion’ bad—is clearly simplistic. We are all of us ‘coerced’ daily by both culture and law, in countless accepted ways … the issue turns on what end is served by a coercive policy and the participatory conditions under which it is implemented.”
So coercion is okay, as long as it serves the right policy objective. When the peasants won’t co-operate, sometimes the elites just need to take things into their own hands – if education and encouragement don’t work, there is always lying and propaganda and, beyond that, the use of force if necessary.
The self-appointed elite who think they rule the world have been perfecting techniques of public manipulation for decades. They are masters of propaganda because they have been practicing since WWI. Returning from the war, Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud and the “father of spin”, consciously adapted war-time propaganda techniques to the project of manipulating a peace-time general public through covert psychological warfare.
From 1917, the American Congressional record notes that Rockefellers had acquired controlling interests in 25 of America’s most widely-circulated papers and installed editors to control the content. The free press that is necessary to keep the public correctly informed and to hold democratic governments to account has been compromised for a very long time. They have only become more sophisticated over a century of perfecting their techniques.
In a 1962 lecture given to Berkeley University California, Aldous Huxley openly admitted:
“[W]e are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy that have always existed and presumably always will exist, to get people actually to love their servitude.”
The moderator explains that Huxley had just returned from a conference at the Institute for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara where the discussion focussed on the development of new techniques by which to control and direct human behaviour. He says:
“Traditionally, it has been possible to suppress individual freedom through the application of physical coercion, through the appeal of ideologies, through the manipulation of man’s physical and social environment and more recently through the … cruder techniques of psychological conditioning. The Ultimate Revolution, about which Mr Huxley will speak today, concerns itself with the development of new behavioural controls, which operate directly upon the psycho-physiological organisms of man; that is, the capacity to replace external constraint for internal compulsions.”
In other words, they have been working out how to get us to co-operate with their agenda because ultimately, that’s just so much more efficient that having to use force.
Huxley then elaborates on these techniques which include using terrorism and trauma. Pavlov had noted that beliefs instilled in a state of stress or fatigue go much deeper than conditioning installed at other times. Suggestion and hypnosis were possibilities because, as Huxley tells us, “20% of people really can be persuaded into believing almost anything.” The repetition of particular messages is an effective way of making people believe what you want them to believe and then, of course, then they act on those beliefs. Pharmacological methods and mind-changing drugs were also contemplated by Huxley. All of these can be used both at an individual level but also at a population level to manipulate human behaviour in ways that the elite sees as desirable.
Even by the early 1960s, Huxley was pleased to note the progress with this program. He said:
“I think there is a real difference between ourselves and, say, the inquisitors of the sixteenth century. We know much more precisely what we are doing than they knew and we can extend – because of our theoretical knowledge – we can extend what we are doing over a wider area with a great assurance of producing something which really works.”
If Huxley’s audience took his lecture as a warning, I think they are assuming, without evidence, that he was decrying the plan of the oligarchs. Rather, I think he was just explaining it. It’s all out there in plain sight. We expect that any reasonable person, would think this is all very terrible. That assumption prevents us hearing what Huxley is really saying, which is that this oligarchic control of humanity is an inevitability. We don’t need to either approve or disapprove because, as far as Huxley is concerned, it is going to happen anyway. He even explains that the goal of the Ultimate Revolution is “to standardize the population… ‘mass produced’ models of human beings arranged in some kind of a scientific cast system.” Well, doesn’t that sound nice?
Now that we have the eugenicists clearly in view, it is possible to see how thoroughly they have infiltrated our institutions – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say they have built our institutions for their own purposes and we just didn’t fully see what they were about. Take Science, for example. Just think about all the things that we are not allowed to question, investigate or talk about – there seems to be a growing list. As a rule of thumb, I always think it’s telling when a particular topic is marked as “off limits” for public discussion. When people scream at you for asking questions or call you nasty names, or assume that you’re a flat earther who just hasn’t got with the latest science or is committing some sort of heresy in challenging what “we all know to be true”. well it could be that there is something there they don’t want you to investigate – some lie that won’t really stand up if it is dragged out into the clear light of day. Those are precisely the things I think we should be looking at particularly closely.
If you’re looking for a nice land mine to step on, say something in public about transgenderism, or the push to sexualise children, or the BLM movement, or climate change, or, most recently, vaccines. Have you noticed what happens to anyone who questions the pandemic response, those pesky “anti-vaxxers” wonders why treatments for covid have been overlooked in the rush to roll out an experimental vaccine; those people who refuse to submit themselves to non-individuated “health care” which this is deemed necessary by the state? As far as I can tell, all of these things have one thing in common – they all speak to the Neo-Malthusian wish list in one way or another. Whenever free speech and intellectual inquiry is suppressed or punished, we should smell a rat … and perhaps we should not be surprised to find it is, very often, the same rat.
There is a great deal more to say about where the Neo Malthusian agenda would like to take us -particularly about the genetic revolution (which, as Jamie Metlz explains in his new book, Hacking Darwin, involves humanity taking charge of its own evolution) or about transhumanism, which involves merging our biology with technology. But there are others better qualified than I to speak on those subjects. My hope today was that by explaining the history of the ideas that have animated and continue to animate this movement, that we will be able to see how they are at work in our current historical moment.
I’m not saying that eugenicists are everywhere but we do need to recognise that they are still among us, that high-sounding, philanthropic, progressive policies might simply be clever marketing, obscuring a less palatable agenda. I hope this will give some people pause for thought and reason to read the fine print carefully when Big Government proposes to start making health decisions for us, while punishing any doctors who question their policies (as the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority is clearly doing now). When “experts” swan in promising they have your best interests at heart, it’s worth checking that their moral co-ordinates are not patterned on the ideas of eugenicists.
Humans are social creatures and it’s so much easier to go with the flow so I can understand the temptation to simply comply with government edict. On the other hand, I also believe that there are far more dangerous things in the world than a virus. And people like my friend – who laughed at the idea of eugenics still being alive and well – are apparently entirely unaware of these potential dangers.
If I have given even one person pause for thought or if I have confirmed the suspicions of another, if understanding the history of these ideas encourages anyone to read the fine print and question government policy, then my time will have been well rewarded today.
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Dr Elisabeth Taylor is a graduate from the University of Sydney and Commonwealth scholar with a PhD in Medieval Women’s History from Cambridge University. She now works as a researcher, writer and speaker, presenting on issues relating to gender and sexuality.
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