Darwin on Eugenics
…I have hitherto only considered the advancement of man from a semi-human condition to that of the modern savage. But some remarks on the action of natural selection on civilised nations may be worth adding. This subject has been ably discussed by Mr. W. R. Greg, and previously by Mr. Wallace and Mr. Galton.*(2) Most of my remarks are taken from these three authors. With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed…
*(2) For Mr. Wallace, see Anthropological Review, as before cited. Mr. Galton in Macmillan's Magazine, Aug., 1865, p. 318; also his great work, Hereditary Genius, 1870.
The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected. (from Chapter V, On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties)
Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage he rarely, or never, takes any such care. He is impelled by nearly the same motives as the lower animals, when they are left to their own free choice, though he is in so far superior to them that he highly values mental charms and virtues. On the other hand he is strongly attracted by mere wealth or rank. Yet he might by selection do something not only for the bodily constitution and frame of his offspring, but for their intellectual and moral qualities. Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in any marked degree inferior in body or mind; but such hopes are Utopian and will never be even partially realised until the laws of inheritance are thoroughly known. Everyone does good service, who aids towards this end. When the principles of breeding and inheritance are better understood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining whether or not consanguineous marriages are injurious to man.
The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring. Important as the struggle for existence has been and even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man's nature is concerned there are other agencies more important. For the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c., than through natural selection; though to this latter agency may be safely attributed the social instincts, which afforded the basis for the development of the moral sense. (from Chapter XXI, General Summary and Conclusion)
Darwin on Genocide
The remarkable success of the English as colonists, compared to other European nations, has been ascribed to their "daring and persistent energy"; a result which is well illustrated by comparing the progress of the Canadians of English and French extraction; but who can say how the English gained their energy? There is apparently much truth in the belief that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well as the character of the people, are the results of natural selection; for the more energetic, restless, and courageous men from all parts of Europe have emigrated during the last ten or twelve generations to that great country, and have there succeeded best. Looking to the distant future, I do not think that the Rev. Mr. Zincke takes an exaggerated view when he says: "All other series of events—as that which resulted in the culture of mind in Greece, and that which resulted in the empire of Rome—only appear to have purpose and value when viewed in connection with, or rather as subsidiary to…the great stream of Anglo-Saxon emigration to the west." Obscure as is the problem of the advance of civilisation, we can at least see that a nation which produced during a lengthened period the greatest number of highly intellectual, energetic, brave, patriotic, and benevolent men, would generally prevail over less favoured nations. (from Chapter V, On the Development of the Intellectual and Moral Faculties)
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. (from Chapter VI, On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man)
When civilised nations come into contact with barbarians the struggle is short, except where a deadly climate gives its aid to the native race. Of the causes which lead to the victory of civilised nations, some are plain and simple, others complex and obscure. We can see that the cultivation of the land will be fatal in many ways to savages, for they cannot, or will not, change their habits. New diseases and vices have in some cases proved highly destructive; and it appears that a new disease often causes much death, until those who are most susceptible to its destructive influence are gradually weeded out; and so it may be with the evil effects from spirituous liquors, as well as with the unconquerably strong taste for them shewn by so many savages. It further appears, mysterious as is the fact, that the first meeting of distinct and separated people generates disease. Mr. Sproat, who in Vancouver Island closely attended to the subject of extinction, believed that changed habits of life, consequent on the advent of Europeans, induces much ill health. He lays, also, great stress on the apparently trifling cause that the natives become "bewildered and dull by the new life around them; they lose the motives for exertion, and get no new ones in their place."…
…When Tasmania was first colonised the natives were roughly estimated by some at 7000 and by others at 20,000. Their number was soon greatly reduced, chiefly by fighting with the English and with each other. After the famous hunt by all the colonists, when the remaining natives delivered themselves up to the government, they consisted only of 120 individuals, who were in 1832 transported to Flinders Island. This island, situated between Tasmania and Australia, is forty miles long, and from twelve to eighteen miles broad: it seems healthy, and the natives were well treated. Nevertheless, they suffered greatly in health. In 1834 they consisted (Bonwick, p. 250) of forty-seven adult males, forty-eight adult females, and sixteen children, or in all of 111 souls. In 1835 only one hundred were left. As they continued rapidly to decrease, and as they themselves thought that they should not perish so quickly elsewhere, they were removed in 1847 to Oyster Cove in the southern part of Tasmania. They then consisted (Dec. 20th, 1847) of fourteen men, twenty-two women and ten children. But the change of site did no good. Disease and death still pursued them, and in 1864 one man (who died in 1869), and three elderly women alone survived. The infertility of the women is even a more remarkable fact than the liability of all to ill-health and death. At the time when only nine women were left at Oyster Cove, they told Mr. Bonwick (p. 386), that only two had ever borne children: and these two had together produced only three children!…
…The cases which I have here given all relate to aborigines, who have been subjected to new conditions as the result of the immigration of civilised men. But sterility and ill-health would probably follow, if savages were compelled by any cause, such as the inroad of a conquering tribe, to desert their homes and to change their habits. It is an interesting circumstance that the chief check to wild animals becoming domesticated, which implies the power of their breeding freely when first captured, and one chief check to wild men, when brought into contact with civilisation, surviving to form a civilised race, is the same, namely, sterility from changed conditions of life.
Finally, although the gradual decrease and ultimate extinction of the races of man is a highly complex problem, depending on many causes which differ in different places and at different times; it is the same problem as that presented by the extinction of one of the higher animals—of the fossil horse, for instance, which disappeared from South America, soon afterwards to be replaced, within the same districts, by countless troups of the Spanish horse. The New Zealander seems conscious of this parallelism, for he compares his future fate with that of the native rat now almost exterminated by the European rat. Though the difficulty is great to our imagination, and really great, if we wish to ascertain the precise causes and their manner of action, it ought not to be so to our reason, as long as we keep steadily in mind that the increase of each species and each race is constantly checked in various ways; so that if any new check, even a slight one, be superadded, the race will surely decrease in number; and decreasing numbers will sooner or later lead to extinction; the end, in most cases, being promptly determined by the inroads of conquering tribes. (from Chapter VII, On the Races of Man)
Darwin's "Main Conclusion"
The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly organised form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on first seeing a party of Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be forgotten by me, for the reflection at once rushed into my mind—such were our ancestors. These men were absolutely naked and bedaubed with paint, their long hair was tangled, their mouths frothed with excitement, and their expression was wild, startled, and distrustful. They possessed hardly any arts, and like wild animals lived on what they could catch; they had no government, and were merciless to every one not of their own small tribe. He who has seen a savage in his native land will not feel much shame, if forced to acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature flows in his veins. For my own part I would as soon be descended from that heroic little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to save the life of his keeper, or from that old baboon, who descending from the mountains, carried away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of astonished dogs—as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions…
The Great Scientist Of Greater Britain
Darwin, as readers may now have seen for themselves, was writing to reassure the ruling class of England's Second Empire that the God of BioMechanics was surely with them; was working, in ways no longer mysterious, His wonders to perform. Call Him from the high altar of Westminster Abbey or call it nature, the most wonderful of that god's works was the upper and middling ranks, the "Better class" of Englishmen. For theirs was the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, and theirs the task of justifying the blood, purifying the race and sanctifying the world. On the one hand Grace, on the other Genocide.
Dawkins, as Mr Clough quotes him, was almost right. After Darwin it was possible to be an intellectually fulfilled racist.
The science of Darwin's Descent of Man seems to me to be sloppily researched, shoddily organised and poorly thought out. Race, national and class prejudice invariably and interminably take the place of clear definition, objective observation and coherent classification. From a literary as much as a moral perspective, it simply reeks.
From any perspective it reeks—of smugness at the heart of slaughter, banality by the pit of blood, cloying sentimentality in a charnel-house.
Above all it reeks of policy.
The policy was not Darwin's so much as it was in pursuit of a reason which Darwin (however sloppily and shoddily) supplied. So much for reason. Here is policy.
Two years before the publication of the Descent of Man, in 1869, Macmillan published Charles Dilke's Greater Britain (A record of travel in English-speaking countries during 1866 and 1867). Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, BART., M.P. was a front runner in the prime ministerial stakes until he slipped and fell at the Beecher's Brook of a divorce scandal. Poor Charlie! I can't say that he ever broke bread or sipped tea with our Charlie but he knew policy and had at least a nodding acquaintance with the right reason. So clap hands, here comes…
…When you ask a Western man his views on the Indian question, he says:—"Well, sir, we can destroy them by the laws of war, or thin ‘em out by whisky; but the thinning process is plaguy slow."
There are a good many Southerners out upon the Plains. One of them, describing to me how in Florida they had hunted down the Seminoles with bloodhounds, added, "And sarved the pesky sarpints right, sah!" South-western volunteers, campaigning against the Indians, have been known to hang up in their tents the scalps of the slain, as we English used to nail up the skins of the Danes.
There is in these matters less hypocrisy among the Americans than with ourselves. In 1840, the British Government assumed the sovereignty of New Zealand in a proclamation which set forth with great precision that it did so for the sole purpose of protecting the aborigines in the possession of their lands. The Maories numbered 200,000 then; they number 20,000 now. (p. 85)
…The English everywhere attempt to introduce civilization, or to modify that which exists, in a rough-and-ready manner which invariably ends in failure or in the destruction of the native race. A hundred years of absolute rule, mostly peaceable, have not, under every advantage, seen the success of our repeated attempts to establish trial by jury in Bengal. For twenty years the Maories have mixed with the New Zealand colonists on nearly equal terms, have almost universally professed themselves Christians, have attended English schools, and learnt to speak the English language, and to read and write their own; in spite of all this, a few weeks of fanatic outburst were enough to reduce almost the whole race to a condition of degraded savagery. The Indians of America have within the last few years been caught and caged, given acres where they once had leagues, and told to plough where once they hunted. A pastoral race, with no conception of property in land, they have ben manufactured into freeholders and tenant farmers: Western Ishmaelites, sprung of a race which has wandered since its legendary life begins, they have been subjected to homestead laws and title registration. If our experiments in New Zealand, in India, and on the African coast have failed, cautious and costly as they were, there can be no great wonder in the unsuccess that has attended the hurried American experiments. It is not for us, who have the past of Tasmania and the present of Queensland to account for, to do more than record the fact that the Americans are not more successful with the red men of Kansas than we with the black men of Australia.
The Bosjesman is not a more unpromising subject for civilization than the red man: the Ute is not even gifted with the birthright of most savages, the mimetic power. The black man in his dress, his farming, his religion, his family life, is always trying to imitate the white. In the Indian there is none of this: his ancestors roamed over the Plains—he will roam; his ancestors hunted—why should not he hunt? The Amrican savage, like his Asiatic cousins, is conservative; the African changeable, and strong in imitative faculties of the mind. Just as the Indian is less versatile than the negro, so, if it were possible gradually to change his mode of life, and slowly to bring him to the agricultural state, he would probably become a skilful and laborious cultivator, and worthy inhabitant of the western soil; as it is, he is exterminated before he has time to learn. "Sculp ‘em fust, and then talk to ‘em," the Coloradans say…
…After all, if the Indian is mentally, morally, and physically inferior to the white man, it is in every way for the advantage of the world that the next generation that inhabits Colorado should consist of whites instead of reds. That this result should not be brought about by cruelty or fraud upon the now-existing Indians, is all that we need require. The gradual extinction of the inferior races is not only a law of nature, but a blessing to mankind.
The Indian question is not likely to be one much longer: before I reached England again, I learnt that the Coloradan capital had offered "twenty dollars apiece for Indian scalps with ears on." (pp 86-88)
…The first thing that strikes the Englishman just landed in New York is the apparent Latinization of the English in America; but before he leaves the country, he comes to see that this is at most a local fact, and that the true moral of America is the vigour of the English race—the defeat of the cheaper by the dearer peoples, the victory of the man whose food costs four shillings a day over the man whose food costs four pence Excluding the Atlantic cities, the English in America are absorbing the Germans and the Celts, destroying the Red Indians, and checking the advance of the Chinese.
The Anglo-Saxon is the only extirpating race on earth. Up to the commencement of the now inevitable destruction of the Red Indians of Central North America, of the Maories, and of the Australians by the English colonists, no numerous race had ever been blotted out by an invader. (page 223)
…In America we have seen the struggle of the dear races against the cheap—the endeavours of the English to hold their own against the Irish and Chinese. In New Zealand, we found the stronger and more energetic race pushing from the earth the shrewd and laborious descendants of the Asian Malays; in Australia, the English triumphant, and the cheaper races excluded from the soil not by distance merely, but by arbitrary legislation; in India, we saw the solution of the problem of the officering of the cheaper by the dearer race. Everywhere we have found that the difficulties which impede the progress to universal dominion of the English people lie in the conflict with the cheaper races. The result of our survey is such as to give us reason for the belief that race distinctions will long continue, that miscegenation will go but little way towards blending races; that the dearer are, on the whole, likely to destroy the cheaper peoples, and that Saxondom will rise triumphant from the doubtful struggle.
The countries ruled by a race whose very scum and outcasts have founded empires in every portion of the globe, even now consist of 9 1/2 millions of square miles, and contain a population of 300 millions of people. Their surface is five times as great as that of the empire of Darius, and four and a half times as large as the Roman Empire at its greatest extent. It is no exaggeration to say that in power the English countries would be more than a match for the remaining nations of the world, whom in the intelligence of their people and the extent and wealth of their dominions they already considerably surpass. Russia gains ground steadily, we are told, but so do we. If we take maps of the English-governed countries and of the Russian countries of fifty years ago, and compare them with the English and Russian countries of to-day, we find that the Saxon has outstripped the Muscovite in conquest and colonization. The extensions of the United States alone are equal to all those of Russia. Chili, La Plata, and Peru must eventually become English: the Red Indian race that now occupies those countries cannot stand against our colonists; and the future of the table lands of Africa and that of Japan and of China is as clear. Even in the tropical plains, the negroes alone seem able to withstand us. No possible series of events can prevent the English race itself in 1970 numbering 300 millions of beings—of one national character and one tongue. Italy, Spain, France, Russia become pigmies by the side of such a people.
Many who are well aware of the power of the English nations are nevertheless disposed to believe that our own is morally, as well as physically, the least powerful of the sections of the race, or, in other words, that we are overshadowed by America and Australia. The rise to power of our southern colonies is, however, distant, and an alliance between ourselves and America is still one to be made on equal terms. Although we are forced to contemplate the speedy loss of our manufacturing supremacy as coal becomes cheaper in America and dearer in Old England, we have nevertheless as much to bestow on America as she has to confer on us. The possession of India offers to ourselves that element of vastness of dominion which, in this age, is needed to secure width of thought and nobility of purpose; but to the English race our possession of India, of the coasts of Africa, and of the ports of China offers the possibility of planting free institutions among the dark-skinned races of the world.
The ultimate future of any one section of our race, however, is of little moment by the side of its triumph as a whole, but the power of English laws and English principles of government is not merely an English question—its continuance is essential to the freedom of mankind. (pp 572-573)
It doesn't matter in the slightest whether the racial policy or the scientific reason came first, here science and policy are two sides of a coin. Civilization is mass murder and savagery is the social disposition of its victims. Darwin is Dilke's reason. Dilke is Darwin's policy. Indians, Negroes, Maoris, Aborigines, Malays and so many more, so many millions, are dead. Darwin was buried with all the trappings of great occasion in Westminster Abbey. What ditches and swamps, asylums and labour camps house the remains of his research, the results of his science?
Darwin doesn't matter. Evolution doesn't matter. The murdered matter.