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"Eugenics and Society" (The Galton Lecture given to the Eugenics Society), by Julian S. Huxley, Eugenics Review (vol 28:1) (17)

"Eugenics and Society" (The Galton Lecture given to the Eugenics Society), by Julian S. Huxley, Eugenics Review (vol 28:1) (17)
Description:
"Eugenics and Society" (The Galton Lecture given to the Eugenics Society), by Julian S. Huxley, Eugenics Review (vol 28:1) (17)
Transcript:
1840. 28 The Eugenics Review eugenic; and there will be many to uphold the value of the eugenic measures recently adopted in Germany under the stimulus of National-Socialist ideas and emotions, even if some of them be crude and unscientific. But if in the long run it leads to overpopulation and war, it is essentially dysgenic, and in matters of evolution we must, I think, take the long view. Further, if the social environment is such as to give satisfaction to the possessors of social traits such as altruism, readiness to co-operate, sensitiveness, sympathetic enthusiasm, and so forth, instead of, as now, putting a premium on many anti-social traits such as egoism, low cunning, insensitiveness, and ruthless concentration, we could begin to frame eugenic measures for encouraging the spread of genes for such social virtues. At the moment this is hardly possible, for the expression of such genes is so often inhibited or masked by the effects of the environment. This is a human illustration of Hammond's general principle, that breeding and selection for a given type can only be efficiently carried out in an environment favouring the fullest development of the type. There is no doubt that genetic differences of temperament, including tendencies to social or antisocial action, to co-operation or individualism, do exist, nor that they could be bred for in man as man has bred for tameness in and other temperamental traits in many domestic animals, and it is extremely important to do so. If we do not, society will be continuously in danger from the antisocial tendencies of its members. Just as the basic structure of our present social system is essentially dysgenic, so we may say that the genetic composition of our present population is largely and perhaps essentially antisocial. Thus both environmentally and genetically the present state of mankind is unstable, at war with itself. Another important point to remember, especially in these days when the worship of the State is imposing a mass-production ideal of human nature, is the fact and the significance of human variability. The variability of man, due to recombination between divergent types that have failed to become separated as species, is greater than that of any wild animal. And the extreme variants thrown up by the constant operation of this genetic kaleidoscope have proved to be of the utmost importance for the material and spiritual progress of civilization. Whatever bias or prejudice may beset the individual eugenist, eugenics as a whole must certainly make the encouragement of diversity one of its main principles. But here again the environment comes in. If extreme types are to be produced, especially gifted for art, science, contemplation, exploration, they must not be wasted. The social system must provide niches for them. As a special and important special case of providing for variability, there are the needs of the educational profession: At the moment, this social category seems definitely selective in that it attracts and encourages men and women of an intellectualist and academic type. This is partly because there are not sufficient outlets provided elsewhere in our social system for such types, partly because the educational profession as at present constituted does not provide sufficient attraction for contrasted types. This restriction of type among those responsible for the upbringing of the next generation cannot be satisfactory, and an altered status for the educational profession so that its genetic basis is broadened is an important task for social biology, and, since it involves genetics, legitimately part of the eugenic movement. [italics]Eugenics and Reproductive Morality and Practice[end italics] Still more important for the comparatively immediate future is the relation of the dominant group-incentive to reproductive morality, law, and practice. We all know that certain schools of Christian thought to-day are opposed on grounds of religious principle to birth-control, that indispensable tool of eugenics as well as of rational control of population, and even to the very notion of eugenics itself. But even if this opposition could be overcome, there would remain in this field grave obstacles, both to the spread of the eugenic idea and to the rate of its [end]
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