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"Eugenics and Society" (The Galton Lecture given to the Eugenics Society), by Julian S. Huxley, Eugenics Review (vol 28:1) (13)

"Eugenics and Society" (The Galton Lecture given to the Eugenics Society), by Julian S. Huxley, Eugenics Review (vol 28:1) (13)
Description:
"Eugenics and Society" (The Galton Lecture given to the Eugenics Society), by Julian S. Huxley, Eugenics Review (vol 28:1) (13)
Transcript:
1836. 24 The Eugenics Review [italics]Eugenics in Relation to the Actual and the Ideal[end italics] To accept the continuance of the present type of social environment as essentially given (whether given in reality or in our hopes and fears will make no difference to our eugenic plans) means, I take it, two main things. It means that we must plan for a capitalist class-system, and for a nationalist system. We accept the division of society into economic strata, with large differences in standard of living, outlook, and opportunity between the different classes; and we accept all the implications of the principle that the earning of a return on capital is the primary aim and duty of business and finance, whatever minor modifications and regulations may be found desirable or opportune. We accept individualist competition, however much toned down in practice, as essential. Further, we accept the division of the world into nationalist states, which, however their sovereignty and independence of action may be modified or curtailed by international agreements, will be competing as well as co-operating with each other, and must in certain eventualities be prepared to resort to war. Coming down to results, we accept the economic and spiritual frustrations of the system also - that is to say, we accept the necessity of some degree of unemployment, for without that there can be no approach to a free market for labour; we accept the continuance of trade cycles of boom and slump, even though they may be toned down in amplitude. We accept the need for restriction of output whenever surplus interferes with profit. We accept the existence of a cheap supply of unskilled and semi-skilled workers; we accept the need for man-power in case of war. If so, then we must plan our eugenic policy along some such lines as the following: First comes the prevention of dysgenic effects. The upper economic classes are presumably slightly better endowed with ability - at least with ability to succeed in our social system - yet are not reproducing fast enough to replace themselves, either absolutely or as a percentage of the total population. We must therefore try to remedy this state of affairs, by pious exhortation and appeals to patriotism, or by the more tangible methods of family allowances, cheaper education, or income-tax rebates for children. The lowest strata, allegedly less well-endowed genetically, are reproducing relatively too fast. Therefore birth-control methods must be taught them; they must not have too easy access to relief or hospital treatment lest the removal of the last check on natural selection should make it too easy for children to be produced or to survive; long unemployment should be a ground for sterilization, or at least relief should be contingent upon no further children being brought into the world; and so on. That is to say, much of our eugenic programme will be curative and remedial merely, instead of preventive and constructive. Then, in systems like the present, man-power is important, and for man-power, quantity of population above a certain minimum qualitative standard is as essential as raising qualityl and if the two conflict, quantity supply must not be interfered with. For qualitative change, a dual standard is indicated - docility and industrious submissiveness in the lower majority; intelligence, leadership and strength of character in the upper few. Since a high degree of intellect and imagination, of scientific and artistic ability and other qualities, cannot be adequately expressed or utilized, under any system resembling the present, in the great majority of the lower strata, it is useless to plan for their genetic increase in these strata. Indeed, it is more than useless, it is dangerous; for the frustration of inherent capacity leads to discontent and revolution in some men, to neurosis and inefficiency in others. The case is strictly analogous to that of cattle in Africa; in an unfavourable environment, too drastic genetic improvement is worse than none. Next we come to planning for an ideal or optimum environment. An obvious difficulty here is that the various optima conceived by different minds, or groups of minds, will so different as to be irreconcilable. Putting this on one side, however, it is I think [end]
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