Book review: The Fight for our National Intelligence (Raymond Cattell)
Raymond Cattell was one of the early 1900s eminent psychologists. Like Meehl, he had a philosophical bent with some odd ideas in ethics. That ended up getting him into trouble (like yours truly). So I found one of his older books, from 1937, so before World War 2, and decided to give it a shot. Actually, I came across these pro-eugenics books due to tracing to trace the origin of the word dysgenics. Unlike eugenics, it was not coined by the master himself, but came about later. Wikipedia tells us:
The adjective "dysgenic" is the antonym of "eugenic". It was first used c. 1915 by David Starr Jordan, describing the supposed dysgenic effects of World War I. Jordan believed that healthy men were as likely to die in modern warfare as anyone else and that war killed only the physically healthy men of the populace whilst preserving the disabled at home.
The reference goes to War and the Breed: The Relation of War to the Downfall of Nations, which looks like a highly interesting book from 1915. Archive.org has a free copy. I haven't read it yet, but somehow I followed some quotes around, and ended up finding this Cattell book with roughly the same theme. I was already interested in the genetic cyclical history theory, as promoted by various authors (e.g. Volkmar Weiss in 2007), and many in the first part of 1900s. So let's start with the introduction:
In the path of progress of England and most civilised nations stands a threat, challenging all who have the intelligence to perceive it. For it is not a menace apparent to all eyes, as are the perils of economic collapse, or cultural and religious confusion, nor is it so easily dramatised as political reaction or war. Yet it strikes insidiously at the very roots of national life and brings all these evils and many more besides in its train. I refer to the approach, foreseen by scientists a generation ago, of a grave decline in the level of national intelligence. To meet and over-come this enemy is the special task of the twentieth century, and if the victory is gained there is little doubt that history will rank it as the most important achievement of Western culture, for no civilisation has achieved it before. Let us scrutinise the threat more closely and glance at the effects likely to occur if the danger materialises. Certain historians who have recently made their subject a scientific study, an affair of measuring and calculation, tell us that the decline of the early Eastern civilisations, of Greece and of Rome, was primarily due to a biological withering of those strains of the population bearing high mental capacity.1 To create a civilisation, to let it burst forth in flower from a previous state of barbarism, the race concerned must first accumulate a rich of crop men—or rather of family strains—possessed of great natural mental capacity. To maintain a civilisation in good working order it must retain an adequate proportion of these relatively gifted strains. Under every system of civilisation yet known there has been an ineradicable tendency for the population to be recruited increasingly from the sub—men. If generation after generation they have a birth rate above those of good average intelligence, and if the strains of high intelligence limit their breeding practically to the point of dying out, it does not require long, in historical time, for the quality of the breed to become entirely different. The unhappy country “grows thin on top,”loses first the fine lustre of its genius, then its moral culture and political stability and finally its arts, its material standards of living and “civilisation” itself. Not one civilisation has yet escaped this sequence and mystics such as Spengler have enshrined the occurrence in the dignity of an inexorable natural (or supernatural)law, pointing with blood—curdling cries of doom to the omens in our own midst which foreshadow the “Decline of the West” decreed by destiny. But the temper of the scientist—-—of the psychologist and biologist looking at social problems—inclines him to regard it as a natural disease which, if the scientist is given a chance, may yet be understood and mastered. Nor did human progress suffer permanent defeat as a result of these shipwrecks in eras when civilisations were small centres of light in a sea of barbarism, though doubtless the situation was desperate and forlorn enough to those who saw all that they valued sinking into night. In the surrounding masses of barbarians, the ancient law of the survival of the fittest constantly accumulated, through blood and agony, a preponderance of survivors having quick intelligence and determined foresight. These broke in upon the decrepit civilisation and, if they were minded to pick up the social heritage at the point where it had dropped from the nerveless fingers of its former keepers, generally cultivated it into blossoming with fresh vigour.1 But when the lingering death of civilisation is likely to stretch across the whole world and no gifted outsiders are left anywhere to put it out of 1ts misery, the menace of decline assumes a more forbidding aspect. It 15 a case of internal cure or nothing. Consequently, to men of ideals and determination—indeed, to all who value the slow-built heritage of civilisation—no social, political or religious problem calls so urgently for attention as this one. It requires action and thought on unprecedented lines,directed to discovering and righting that hitherto-ignored error in the construction of civilisation which condemns it to a perpetual and futile cycle of breakdowns and frustrations. Western civilisation, it is true, has had an unbroken run of some six hundred years of reasonably active intellectual and social life. It wears still, save for a few disconcerting symptoms, an air of serene or optimistic progressiveness, in this respect achieving something of a record. 2 A careful sociological analysis would prob—ably shew3 that owing to a fortunate coincidence of property customs, migration, the incidence of disease and recruiting for war, blind spots in Christian practice,etc., the survival rate of the more able has been about the same as that of the less gifted over most of this period. Even two generations ago when Francis Galton first drew attention to the extent of inheritance of mentaland physical traits and began to examine birth rates——thereby founding the science of eugenics—there was no convincmg evidence of anything but a happy state of affairs in the nation’s breeding of intelligence. It is only in the last thirty years that a number of signs discernible to the sociologist have pointed to the grim conclusion that we have entered on a phase in which low—grade mentality is reproducing itself with unhindered prolificness, whilst families of more than average intelligence are failing even to maintain their numbers. Unfortunately this evidence, which I have discussed in connection with other problems of social psychology elsewhere,5 is of too oblique and inferential' a nature for its convincingness to be grasped by those not at home in the statistical analysis of social problems.Rhetoricians can blur its outlines with a word and anyone with strong political prejudices can ride rough—shod over its delicate mosaic of reasoning. If right-thinking men and women are to be united in a course of action, therefore, it is urgently necessary to uncover direct evidence, proving up to the hilt and beyond emotional disputation the state of affairs that actually exists.
Boom! The main research content of the book is actually about a study of children and counting their number of siblings and so on. This stuff is not so interesting and produced the normal dysgenic findings. The main part of the book are the historical and philosophical discussions. Intelligence myopia from social stratification:
The correlation of intelligence of brothers and sisters is well known (giving a coefficient of about 0.5). To those who think from casual observations that the intelligence of children in one family normally varies greatly I would point to an illusion which causes error in this and many related fields. The individual gets his idea of “average” from his own family, friends and social class. Few people realise to what extent they do this or how narrow their field is compared with the ranges of mental capacity in the population as a whole.A man’s social environment is always well sifted. At school he is classified with similar people, first by the nature of the school itself, then by class sorting.The same occurs in occupations, except in special instances. Few people have attempted to converse with an Einstein and the imbeciles in a defective institution on the same day. Unaware of the heights above them and the depths below, most people magnify the individual difference of members of families and groups which they know.
On IQ shredders, as we now call them following Spandrell 2013:
Note on Difference of Urban and Rural Intelligence—What is perhaps the most thorough of American surveys (Jones, H. E., et al., 1932, “Environmental Handicap in Mental Test Performance,” Univ. Calif. Public.) shews ten points of I.Q. superiority in the town and concludes “about half of the average difference of ten points I.Q. is attributable to factors other than those derived from the social and educational environment.” With the more recent tests used here the effect of environment would not be so great, indeed it would be generous to allot two points to it, and that because of the accidental circumstance that the town group was already familiar with intelligence tests.For it is a naive supposition that the town environment is more favourable to the development of intelligence. This allowance for town familiarity with tests would give a difference of town and country of five points, which is in agreement with the eventual conclusion on the American results.As is well known, town children are also superior in general physique, stature, etc. This aligns itself with the fact that positive correlation (of a low order) exists between good intelligence and good physique and points to the conclusion that the town’s advantages attract a superior biological sample of the population, though (as I have pointed out in Psychology and Social Progress) the city tends to sterilise and kill the very qualities which it attracts. The country continually supplies the cities with its better men, but the cities do not maintain them. (In this survey, for instance, the average birth rate in the country was 3-62, in the city 3-36—an indication dysgenic in itself.) Consequently, the cities will move towards the present intelligence level of the country.
This is 1937, I remind you. On group-level average intelligence and prosperity:
Note on Regional Prosperity and Regional Intelligence—I have been much impressed in this survey by the differences of intelligence between one Village and another. Likewise, one cannot read widely in the literature of intelligence test surveys without becoming convinced that marked regional differences exist even within the same country and race. The character of the village itself, its cleanliness, the planfulness of its buildings and the level of its prosperity were often strikingly related to the level of intelligence found. In nearly every case an estimate of intelligence made on the appearance of the children and their enterprise in work and play was found to anticipate the independent test results. Dr. Allan Price, who has carried out intelligence test surveys in most villages which fall under his supervision as a Medical Officer of Health, tells me that he is convinced there would be a high correlation between the prosperity of a village, its freedom from preventable ill-health, and the level of inborn mental capacity. At any rate this contention that average mental capacity in the long run determines the prosperity of a group is one which deserves thorough investigation, and one which could well be tackled experimentally by some refinement of the plan of comparing villages for intelligence, income per head, incidence of preventable disease, etc. (See research in New York, p. 84.) In relatively small villages an unusual level of intelligence was often obviously due to the effect of one or two families, the inbreeding of good families producing good intelligence and of defectives even more defectives. An excess of low intelligence was almost invariably found in small towns of great age which had been important and prosperous in the Middle Ages. It is as if old cities, like old fires, accumulate much ash. The study of such connections is of great importance to the population planning of the country as a whole and also with regard to the growing tendency deliberately to shift population about the country in a wholesale fashion, e.g. from depressed to prosperous areas, for in some cases the disease(of low intelligence, prolificness and poverty) may be transmitted with the people. Basing my conclusions partly on proven results and partly on indications known to research students I should describe the regional distribution of intelligence in Great Britain roughly as follows. It is in general higher in towns than country villages, but in very remote villages never tapped by the towns it is a little higher than in the towns. It is higher in Scotland than in England, but the Scottish towns are lowered by Edinburgh and especially Glasgow which has had a big influx of Mediterranean Irish. East Anglia and the home counties are probably slightly higher than the rest of England(excepting Yorkshire), whilst Greater London itself may well be as much as three points higher than the rest of England. I mention these indications not only because they are of general interest, but because they suggest that the standardisation of the present non-verbal test, which shews rural Devonshire as distinctly below average and a Midland manufacturing city as a shade below average, is about correct in level for the composite population of Great Britain as a whole when London and Scotland any spark purpose are included: i.e. the I.Q.’s which it gives have meaning in relation to “the average dweller in Great Britain.” It is of interest to get away from mere averages: a comparison of the two histogram outlines above Shews a marked preponderance of mental defectives and borderline mental defectives in the rural area, a result in agreement with the Wood Report of 1929 which found 10-49 per thousand of the rural population defective and only 6 '71 per thousand of the urban population. Neurotic conditions and insanity, on the other hand, are more common in the towns, a result in accord with the Statement that they are more environmental in origin. The shape of the histogram for the country is as if a slice had been taken from the middling-upper intelligence section, where we should expect a deficiency if there is selective migration to the towns. It is interesting to notice that Thomson (“The Northumberland Mental Tests,” Brit. :7. Frye/101., Vol. XII)found a good, normal level of intelligence in villages too remote from towns to be much affected by migration. A Devonshire farmer tells me that in spite of unemployment he has to advertise farming jobs in the most attractive terms, adding “two minutes from nearest bus route to city” if he is to get a workman.
So, averages, and distributions, and tails. This foreshadows later work on the cognitive elite/cognitive capitalism model that Heiner Rindermann has been pushing for some time, and before that smart fraction theory (La Griffe du Lion). It also foreshadows my own work on the S factor the last 7 year or so. And talk of 'racial superiority' and suppression:
Again, there are others with a sense of racial inferiority arising from the mischievous use of “superior” and“inferior” in reference to racial differences, or people, racially in a temporarily awkward tactical position, who desire to lay as little emphasis as possible on racial differences. Intelligence tests point to significant differences between races: therefore the innateness of intelligence is a dangerous doctrine, to be covered at once with a fog of casuistry. Among those enemies of democracy, the eighteenth-century democrats, there is a conviction that “all men are born equal” (not merely equal in the right to opportunity). For them the psychologist’s researches demonstrating individual differences in inborn mental endowment are works of the devil. Finally, there are sentimentalists who wish to believe that no living being is limited at all in the possibilities of his mental development. Every child is potentially anything and only the wickedness and stupidity of society prevent his development into a genius. “Know thyself,” in the sense of recognising in what manner one’s abilities are limited by endowment, and making the very best of them,“ is beyond the scope of their wisdom. Encouragement is given to such critics, by the circumstance that, since the facts are open to everyone’s observation, everyone is a psychologist. The layman is, in any case, inclined to think from unsystematic observation that intelligence varies widely with environmental influences, but he is unable, through lack of training, to separate mental capacity from acquired information and skills. A large book could be filled with popular notions concerning psychology which experiments have shewn to be hopelessly perverse. biologists and philosophers, hopelessly perverse. Sociologists, economists, biologists and philosophers, moreover, blithely make holiday in the field of psycho—logy, presumably when the confusion of their own subjects becomes too Oppressive, and after arranging statistics concerning psychological facts with which they have no firsthand acquaintance proceed to make “authoritative” statements about mental testing or any other matter which must be fitted into their favourite theories. It is obvious that in psychology, as in medicine, there is a sense which comes from first—hand experience and immersion in the facts. The psychologist studies the parts not from the angle of a political or social theory but as everyday matters of his science, and no psychologist engaged day after day in testing and watching intimately the progress of children and the reactions of adults, doubts that there are two distinct entities—the veneer of education and the inextensible innate capacity. Usually if a tool is faulty the person who has to use it most is the first to complain. It is a striking fact that in this field the people who have least practical experience are the most loudly critical.
So, suppression of such topics did not come first from the fallout of World War 2. This stuff was there before. Indeed, if one reads history, there's a lot of social psychologists from about 1900 pushing this angle that we still see today. Doomposting:
Civilisation, then, is not a thing in itself which can be transported hither and thither and which can live in virtueof its own vigour. It may linger in a preserved state in the dusty pages of books, but it lives again only in relation to living flesh and blood. The noblest thoughts of Greece went begging for a home when the germ plasm carried by Homer, Plato and Pheidippides had died. Similarly, the sweetness and light of the best ideas of today will remain but a haunting reproach if the brain of the race takes on mean proportions. Civilisation must be thought of as a melody played on the living brains of men. However magnificent may be the music which past andpresent geniuses have composed it can never be rendered fully on instruments which have lost the original complement of strings.
We just need to build them better houses:
Of all the complacent, unscientific thinking of our age the worst is that which treats the slum problem as if itwere a question of bricks and mortar. Dr. J. J. Mallon writes, in support of further subsidised building, and admitting that “the Government has not been mactiveor the Acts ungenerous”:
“Since the war 3,000,000 dwellings—approximately one-third of all the inhabited dwellings in the country—have been erected.But slums remain and many are more acutely overcrowded than in 1920. . . . Surely we shall soon have done with slums and overcrowding! There is unhappily no certainty about it. Likethe mills of God, the Acts work slowly. But they do not grind the rents sufficiently small!”
Unlike the mills of God they do not grind to the tune of the parable of the talents, but to a crazy modern song of indulgence that has disaster at the end of it.It has taken a bishop to remind us that “the slumite is a far worse problem than the slum,” but the fact should be deducible easily enough from the fact that hundreds of well-built spacious streets in London and other cities are now slums.
On economists and the interchangeable homo economicus:
Unemployment—persistent, chronic unemployment—-which, incidentally, is not a post-war problem, but dates from about the same period as the dysgenic birth rate,has been debated from every possible political and economic angle. The economists only consider men in their arguments as units—“economic men”; indeed if the population were changed overnight into a collection of apes many of these advanced thinkers would continue with their economic explanations quite undisturbed. It is this blind spot which prevents the economist giving any true account or solution of unemployment. For it is essentially a psychological problem.
One very wrong forecast and capitalists and cheap labor imports:
systematic unemployment.1I am not suggesting, however, that we should let the constitution of the race be dictated by the needs of industry: the race worth anything at all has greater aims than material production. In the first place industry maintains a “reserve of unemployed” in addition to the permanently unemployable 1 I have been discussing. Ina rationally organised industry this could be cut down to a minimum. Some employers—a stupid minority, I believe—welcome a large reserve of unskilled labour for purely selfish reasons and are not likely to co-operate in efforts to reduce the birth rate of the sub-intelligent.
Yet that is precisely what big industry did. Capitalism is amazing but it is oh so short-sighted. On warfare and intelligence:
Although a disproportionate swelling of the population at lower capacity levels tends to a solution of tension through physical warfare, it by no means favours a successful outcome of the war once it has begun. In hand-to-hand fighting and to some extent in static trench warfare, victory may be only a matter of the arithmetic of numbers. (I am supposing for the moment equality of the higher intelligences of the strategists on each side, and considering only the effects of differences of average intelligence of the body of the army.) But there are strong arguments, both in theory and in the verdict of experience, for believing that in modern mechanised war—fare and in older warfare where the management of complex contrivances such as ships was concerned, the victory would go to the more intelligent though they were fewer in numbers. This applies most clearly to the fighting services, for war is a great test of intelligence, making demands in its surprise situations upon the very essence of untrainable mental capacity; but it applies also to the non—combatants, who have intelligently to construct the engines of war. In a war of tanks, submarines and large fleets of aeroplanes, victory to the nation with the larger percentage of high I.Q.’s is even more certain, for the men fit to handle these instruments successfully are not found every day. I will not labour the matter further, but will ask which of the fighting services has given any thought at all to the origin of its recruits? The Air Force, even in peacetime, kills off about a hundred of the most all-round mentally and physically fit young men in the country,men such as will only be found in the proportion of about I in 50 of the general population; and it discourages the remainder from marrying. By any long-distance view of national security, reckless folly could go no further. For that matter there is little doubt, either from the verdict of history or of sociology,2 that modern war itself is highly dysgenic, doing damage to the breed that is often irreparable under ordinary conditions. Because of the bitter losses in the last war, which undermined the genetic constitution of the race, we ought to be thinking especially hard to—day of eugenic measures. Those who do not see the necessity of improving the race ought at least to be concerned to repair it.
There has been some studies on this. Richard Lynn recently looked into this but could not confirm the dysgenics of war. War on cancer, redux:
Few things are more provoking to the psychologist, therefore, than the popular assumption that it is only to divert more to research in field necessary money any in order to get more discoveries. A great daily news—paper complacently prophesies in its leading article. “Cancer must and will be crushed, and the front of the disease will one day be crumpled back in one more triumph of the clinic or the laboratory.” How reminiscent of the optimistic war—time directions, made by those who knew nothing of the difficulties of the front line, on how to win the war! The good research worker is born,not bought, and though much more money is needed,advances in knowledge on a bold scale will only occur when society takes especial care to see that the birth rate of its preoccupied high intelligence groups is augmented. It is nevertheless true that at the moment we do not use on research the trained minds we actually possess. It would be possible to name in psychology alone a dozen very able research workers who are compelled to waste their time in lecturing, or practising in psycho-pathology, on the crude and limited basis of facts so far attained on parsimonious research. If we were relieved, as a nation, of a fraction of the 500,000 mental defectives we now support, these able men, and hundreds more, could be supported in full—time research work. Science is being impoverished of its true rewards by the carelessness of a community which prefers to sup—port half a million dull individuals uselessly on a pittance rather than a thousand brilliant individuals fully in creative labours. Our population is materially well off beyond the wildest dreams of its ancestors. It works less, eats more, travels comfortably and is dressed and entertained in a manner to awaken the envy of kings of earlier ages.All this comes from no efforts of the population as a whole: it is the work of a minute of scientific group“cranks.” Indeed, as a result of our shameless sponging on science, which has resulted in the survival of the defective and the spawning of the sub—average, the population is inferior to its less-pampered ancestors.What will happen, then, when the springs of fresh unearned wealth dry up, as they will tend to do with the dwindling of the highly gifted children?
The perils of morality:
5. THE PERIL OF VAGUE AND SENTIMENTAL CHARITY Well—conceived State systems of levelling up environment, therefore, need applying with certain caveats; but indiscriminate philanthropy and organised charities as such have all the evil features of levelling without its ultimate good. To say that most philanthropists are parasites on misery is as true in social effects—since in the long run the charity mongers encourage the disease and poverty they busy themselves with—as it is in its effects on their individual psychology, for there they encourage in themselves a monstrous mentality which takes delight chiefly in what is defective. Giving way to the impulsive satisfaction of sympathy,or the less altruistic motives behind much charity, ends by being the most insidious of vices and the most destructive sin against evolution. Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien. If, before indulging the satisfaction of his impulses,the giver would use the reason which God has given him for the purpose, the distribution of charitable endowments would be made very differently indeed from what it is to—day; misery would be cut at its roots instead of in the fruit. It is one thing to give religious consolation to sufferers; it is a better thing, without prejudice to religion, to cure their suffering. It is a further advance to provide hygienic education which will prevent that suffering ever being incurred; it is a still further advance to prevent children being born with defects or into over-crowded families and to encourage the birth of the more educable. Wisdom thus leads charity to more and more fruitful use of her At the moment need above all things endowments devoted solely to providing us with knowledge of the social and biological means of controlling the inborn constitution of the future population, that all may be well born; but only the minutest fraction of the national expenditure on welfare work has yet trickled through to this vital root—research.
Democracy and intelligence:
Such sub-average [70-85 IQ] types are often only fitfully employed, cannot co-operate in hygienic measures and in enlightened methods of bringing up children, and cannot comprehend political issues. Because they are the ready prey of newspapers with large circulations and microscopic intelligence, they constitute a dangerous shifting ballast in the ship of state. For no fault of their own, but from a constitutional weakness as blameless as, but more important than, that which makes a white man fall amore ready victim than the negro to malaria, they are more prone to join the ranks of the criminal, the unemployed, the sick, the exploited, the destroyers of aesthetic life, the wasters on crude forms of amusement,the defaulters in the active duties of citizenship.
The national suicide club:
The Haslams live in an atmosphere of assertive over-compensation, trained to social climbing. Their bridge game, product of intensive training, is the terror of the neighbourhood, whilst their dominance on the committee of the suburban tennis club is unquestioned. In clothes and cars they go from strength to strength; in fact, they and their like are so successful that in two or three generations they will be as extinct as the Dodo. Their title should be the National Suicide Club and they spread, wherever they go, the false values, the sounding rules and strangling regulations of their set. As the carriers of a fatal and contagious moral disease the members of our Suicide Clubs should be isolated. The problem of national survival is that of on meeting the one flank the blindly driven hordes of Civilisation Wreckers, Unlimited, and on the other, the insidious contagion of the National Suicide Club.
Population halving soon!
The facts of this decline are well known, for our press and the governments of such countries as France,Germany and Italy have recently given the matter ample notice. In England the “net reproduction rate” is about0-75, i.e. about three-quarters of a daughter is born to the average woman in England and Wales in her lifetime.2At that rate in the next forty years there will be a notice-able decrease in the proportion of children accompanied by an increase in the proportion of old people, and there-after a rapid fall in all sections of the population. These changes, together with the decay in the mental capacity of the generation now appearing, will, incidentally,combine severely to reduce the enterprise and effectiveness of this country in the near future. However, for the moment we are concerned with numbers only.Population statisticians will point out that the present fall of numbers is serious because, like an avalanche, it will tend to increase as it continues, indeed, nothing whatever that we do now is soon to prevent the enough population of Britain falling decidedly in the latter part of this century. Furthermore, even if the average reproduction rate falls no more the people of these islands will disappear within a couple of centuries. That is a somewhat theoretical calculation in view of the rapid happenings in Europe, but we may at least concern ourselves with the fact that the population of Great Britain will be halved in less than a century unless some drastic change of mentality occurs. The size of the average family must be increased considerably, to something between three and four children per pair of parents, if numbers are to be maintained. Nervousness about birth control is evidently justified but ill—directed.
"nothing whatever" except of course, large scale migration of non-Brits! The battle for national IQs:
The coming of eugenic competition between nations is certain in the near future. Attention to quantity of population is the infancy of an idea which will grow till it becomes a jealous care of quality. It is a safe generalisation that at present a dysgenic trend exists in all civilised countries of the European pattern. Which will gain the great advantage of being the first to pull out of the decline? Germany has the credit of being the first to adopt sterilisation together with a positive emphasis on racial improvement. The Scandinavian countries, Holland and Switzerland are equally advanced in their practice of sterilisation and their consciousness of the need for maintaining and improving inherited qualities. Actually the U.S.A. seems to have been the first country in which sterilisation has been legalised, and it is in the favourable position of spending more on psychological and biosocial research than any other country, thereby providing an “intelligence department” which keeps it exceptionally well informed of the changes that are going on in the population and of the causes responsible for them. But whether the education of the rank and file of American democracy is good enough to support effective action and control is quite another matter. In no country to-day is anything organised which does not lag far behind even a moderate use of the possibilities which the human sciences already indicate to us. England has been the birthplace of eugenics (if we overlook the premature theorising of Greece). Its population has long harboured a deep sense of the significance of race and breeding, which has, for example, without the help of explicit legislation, prevented in our colonies and protectorates that facile miscegenation with native races which marred the colonisation efforts of Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. Incidentally that miscegenation has frequently struck back at the motherland itself, to the extent that in Portugal, for instance, the bulk of the population is decidedly negroid. As Professor Haldane has recently pointed out, the lack of this same sense of the importance of hereditary type may end by causing Italy to be peopled in the future largely by Abyssinian half-castes. Yet in spite of these initial advantages in outlook and in original scientific leadership, and in spite of the excellence of our technical knowledge in medicine and psychology, this country is a regrettably slow starter inputting eugenic ideas into practice. It is, however, only fair to admit that sterilisation, as the above considerations shew, is not a proper test case of the nation’s eugenic consciousness. Let us hope that the most thorough—going eugenic measures and ideals will be first adopted in this country and by the will of a democracy.
It's the same song now a days about national competition. China will soon breed super babies! says the academic in 2013. Here in 2021, China has banned CRISPR babies and imprisoned their forerunner scientist.
There lies before us, then, an epoch in which states will give far more thought, to rivalling each other in the production of fine human types than in the production of armies of uniformed, destructive imbeciles. The irfirst concern will be, not the number of bombing planes built, but the number of great men in the making, and the race for armaments will give way or subordinate itself to a grander game of groping towards the superman.
This epoch is still ahead of us it seems. On modern decadence:
This is not to advocate the solution that when culture presses too heavily upon its bearers the repression must be removed in a wholesale fashion. Through the comparatively high standard of suppression characteristic of this country we do at least keep our fools silenced, inactive and without followers, when some other countries are noisy with foolhardy new schemes and sentiments. Yet it is obvious that the modern world needs a discriminating provision of new loyalties and sentiments if it is to have a healthy and vigorous emotional life, if it is to adjust to new conditions and if it is to avoid suicide. Without them culture is stagnant and the individuals composing a society suffering from social melancholia become miserable and lifeless under the sheer weight of repression. Deprived of satisfying purpose they turn at best to overloading their esthetic satisfactions, at worst to the opium of sheer sensuality. Then there spring up in society devices catering for such substitute satisfactions, at first in the few, but later, through the contagion of habit and fashion, in the majority. Thus the false psychological habits and values, begun as a pisaller, end by having a positive life of their own as agents whereby the instinctive energies of society may be deflected from useful biological ends. When society becomes shot through with these false, substitute values the young acquire them with their frustrations, before marriage, and find themselves after marriage already possessed of the compensatory values, the satisfying investments and fixations of emotional energy which leave no room for interest in children. Both through these psychological habits themselves and through the economic burden which they occasion there is neither will nor material facility for having children. They must have cinemas, excessive social engagements and motor-cars rivalling those of their neighbours; but children “get on their nerves,” as do all things which impinge on a person’s life without evoking an adequate positive emotional response.