Poor old Guardian

So they\’ve a leader in praise of Beatrice Webb. In the comments:

Are you talking about this Beatrice Webb?

The one who described her nephew\’s (Malcolm Muggeridge) reports on the great famine as being "base lies"?

Surely not?

She was also a supporter of Stalin.

http://www.mltranslations.org/Russia/webb1.htm

….

This "saintly" woman and partner in crime, her husband, lie side by side in Westminster Abbey. Placed there out of respect by those with power and privilege as a reward for protecting vested interest and laying the foundations for the masses to be bought off, manipulated and controlled from cradle to grave.

Beatrice Webb was a champagne socialist and an insiduous bitch quite honestly, it is a great shame she was ever born.

Ah yes, that would be Beatrice the Hampstead thinker and toady of tyrants. The breed is not yet dead.

….

She and her husband were a pair of humourless know it alls and part of a long line of upper bourgeois reformers who could never address the masses in anything other than patronising terms. Their book, Soviet Communism is a piece pf stalinist propaganda and a disgrace to journalism and to socialism. See also GB Shaw and Christopher Hill….

Attitude of the Webbs to eugenics:

"What we as eugenists have got to do is to \’scrap\’ the Old Poor Law with its indiscriminate relief of the destitute as such and replace it by an intelligent policy of so altering the social environment as to discour age or prevent the multiplication of those irrevocably below the National Minimum of Fitness"

("Eugenics and the Poor Law: the Minority Report" 1909 reprinted in the Eugenics Review, Vol. 60 1968, p. 75)

fghj – no wonder the loony brigade -as you describe them – get a tad irritable. Sydney and Beatrice were keen on sterilising them.

That rather tells them, doesn\’t it?

40 comments on “Poor old Guardian

  1. “What we as eugenists have got to do is to ’scrap’ the Old Poor Law with its indiscriminate relief of the destitute as such and replace it by an intelligent policy of so altering the social environment as to discour age or prevent the multiplication of those irrevocably below the National Minimum of Fitness”

    To be honest after seeing the likes of Karen Matthews and 13 year old Alfie I’m starting to have some sympathy for that viewpoint.

  2. I’ve always found it a terrible shame that the – entirely sensible – science of eugenics has become so irrevocably associated with the – utterly evil – actions of Hitler, A.

  3. “science of eugenics”

    That’ll be like the science of astrology, or scientific socialism. right? Jeesh, God save us from this inhumanity masquerading as humanism.

  4. No. The difference is that astrology is demonstrably false, whereas it’s demonstrably true that an organism’s genotype is the most important influence on its phenotype.

  5. John b:

    There is no “science” of eugenics, as Recusant has pointed out. At its most innocuous, it’s a vague political policy of improving society by controlling peoples’ reproductive function. It arrogates to itself a politically-inspired insight as to that which is to be considered “fit” to survive into the future.

    The kindest interpretation is that you’ve confused “eugenics” with “genetics.” (Of course, in any self-respecting, eugenically-engineered society, those prone to such mistakes would be candidates for sterilization, or better yet, earlier aborted to reduce demand on the resources of the fitter.)

    War has a greater claim to be an “art” than eugenics has to be a “science,” though a valid claim might be made that eugenics, like diplomacy, is “war by other means.”

  6. No, you’re a fuckwit, as is Recusant, and I’m right.

    In the same way that selective breeding is successful in other species, the aims of eugenics are to produce a better society, measured according to some explicit criteria.

    You can say ‘there’s no such thing as a better society’, and that’s a defensible position – but anyone who’s not a complete anarchist is clearly using some definition of ‘better society’ to determine when government should intervene.

    Depriving someone of their reproductive freedom is no different in kind from depriving that person of their physical liberty. For example – jail murderers for life without parole, or jail murders for 20 years and sterilise them? I’m struggling to see any moral reason (rather than the pragmatic ‘irreversible if they turn out not guilty’ point) why the latter would be worse for them.

  7. People tend to forget the socialist/progressive craze for eugenics before the Nazis actually tried it out.

    Many state socialists sought to replace private charity with state aid which would be targetted only to the ‘deserving’ as well (rather like the NHS in fact…)

    The great JM Keynes was rather supporting of government control of population (afterall, once you can control the economy the population should be easy).

  8. ….To be honest after seeing the likes of Karen Matthews and 13 year old Alfie I’m starting to have some sympathy for that viewpoint……

    We don’t need to sterilise them, just stop subsidising their lifestyle.

  9. Oh for goodness sakes John B. It’s politics, not science. The clue is in the fact that someone gets to choose which qualities or faults are favoured or discriminated against. That’ll be the State and that, dear boy, will be politics.

    Obviously “fuckwits” like myself and Gene will be first on the list for sterilisation/eradication if it was to be your politics that controlled the state.

  10. someone gets to choose which qualities or faults are favoured or discriminated against. That’ll be the State and that, dear boy, will be politics.

    I accept that. But how is it different from using the force of law for the same goals – which is something that everyone, save a few complete anarchists, views as acceptable?

  11. It’s not very different, I grant you, but you wouldn’t claim the force of law is ‘scientific’ as opposed to political, would you?

  12. veryone knows surely that eugenics is politics oi9n action rather than science and that it it simply does not work in practice – just how many times does it have to be debunked before the socialists will catch on?

  13. my reference is “Carrie Buck’s Daughter” included in The Flamingo’s Smile by Stephen Jay Gould

  14. “veryone knows surely that eugenics is politics oi9n action rather than science and that it it simply does not work in practice “

    Not sure about saying it doesn’t work in practice. the famous Steve Levitt theory about abortion cutting crime is arguably an example of non-coercive eugenics in action.

    Singapore’s population policies are also arguably eugenic in that they encourage the well off and well educated to breed but not the poor.

  15. “Not sure about saying it doesn’t work in practice. the famous Steve Levitt theory about abortion cutting crime is arguably an example of non-coercive eugenics in action. ”

    I like this hypothesis. But I don’t think Levitt argues that there is any genetic selection going on. It is more selection on circumstances. Indeed many women may have abortions as young women to become mothers in later life. It is not undesirable genes being selected out, but not bringing children up in undesirable cirumstances.

    “Singapore’s population policies are also arguably eugenic in that they encourage the well off and well educated to breed but not the poor.”
    Being well off and well educated are probably more to do with cirumstance than genes. Again, I don’t think this is really Eugenics as a genetic feature is not bein selected for.

    I could be wrong, but I would think that Eugenics would involve selection on strictly genetic criteria, from colour of skin, to health, etc.

  16. but Ross…they don’t work in the sense of improving the human species in some way – all the singapore example does is reduce population growth, a political aim that can be achieved in many other ways. the levitt argument is similarly no argument for eugenics – just for population control, which is a political aim

  17. chrism – it’s pretty hard to split genes from upbringing, sure, but if there’s no genetic heritability to intelligence then I’m the Pope on a rope…

    d1960 – no, population control wouldn’t involve favouring reproduction among higher-income groups and penalising it under lower-income groups.

  18. Diogenes, Singapore’s policy wasn’t about reducing population because they wanted graduates to have more children.

    “I could be wrong, but I would think that Eugenics would involve selection on strictly genetic criteria, from colour of skin, to health, etc.”

    Not if they view socio-economic status as a rough proxy for genetic factors.

    When you hear some of the utterences of Lee Kuan Yew it’s hard to believe that he didn’t intend it as a eugenic policy.

    Tim adds:
    “Not if they view socio-economic status as a rough proxy for genetic factors.”

    Which was roughly the Social Darwinist argument….

  19. ChrisM – “But I don’t think Levitt argues that there is any genetic selection going on. It is more selection on circumstances.”

    Well perhaps. But it depends if poor Mothers who produce children likely to commit crime have any genetic factor in their poverty. I would have once argued strongly that was not the case. Now I am not so sure. The fact that many go on to have children later on does not change the fact that fewer children are being born and hence the gene pool is changing.

    “Being well off and well educated are probably more to do with cirumstance than genes. Again, I don’t think this is really Eugenics as a genetic feature is not bein selected for.”

    The Singaporean Government does not think so. They think that free education produced a once off increase in social mobility and now all people genetically fit to be educated have been – and so Singapore can import smart people or encourage the educated to have more children. Again, once I would have objected to this, but actually it also explains Britain’s education results. Grammar schools used to work. They have worked for everyone who can be helped.

    I am not sure I buy into it yet, but I am less dogmatic about it. After all people are smarter than dogs. Most of them. For purely genetic reasons. Why is it such a stretch to assume some people are too?

    “I could be wrong, but I would think that Eugenics would involve selection on strictly genetic criteria, from colour of skin, to health, etc.”

    China has recently adopted openly eugenic policies. You need permission to marry and have children. Those with genetic diseases will not get it. We, on the other hand, are far more permissive. We just take the children of the mentally subnormal while their mothers are in hospital recovering from birth.

  20. John B. I don’t doubt that there is a genetic componant to intelligence. But the claim was that Well off and/ educated people were encouraged to reproduce and poor / uneducated discouraged. I do not think being educated (an aquired characteristic) and being intelligent (an inherited one) are the same thing. And still less so for income level. To be Eugenics I would expect at least an IQ test to be used. These are arguably very flawed tools which measure one or two types of intelligence, but it is at least carrying out Eugenics in the spirit of the game.

  21. A very successful and uncontroversial eugenics programme has just occurred to me- the screening for Tay-Sachs among people of Jewish origin, which has virtually eliminated the disease.

    This is less ambiguous than the Singapore or Levitt example because it is explicitly about the genes.

  22. “…if poor Mothers who produce children likely to commit crime have any genetic factor in their poverty. I would have once argued strongly that was not the case. Now I am not so sure. The fact that many go on to have children later on does not change the fact that fewer children are being born and hence the gene pool is changing.”

    Not necessarily. They may have the same number of children, but just later. Still it is a fair point. I would however hesitate to call it Eugenics if the mothers chose to abort rather than were encouraged to. I guess lock-step behaviour and eugenics may sometimes give similar outcomes, but eugenics implies a coordinated effort to improve the species rather than individual choices which just so happen to improve the species – if indeed they do. (The latter is virtually good old evolution, organisms propogating or not based on choices they made).

    I agree on Singapore and China, that does sound like Eugenics.

    I have no objection to people screening out pregnancies they don’t want, either by screening or abortion. I don’t like eugenics for 2 main reasons. First and foremost it involves a coercive aspect to it. Secondly, given currently knowledge, I think screening out known congenital diseases is one thing, but screening out personality traits is not something the current state of knowledge even allows to do with any sort of accuracy, and it is hubris to think we do.

  23. “the screening for Tay-Sachs among people of Jewish origin, which has virtually eliminated the disease.”

    Yes, I suppose this is where it is worth differentiating between two types of Eugenics programs, those to eliminate a disease, and those to improve the species.

  24. “…if there’s no genetic heritability to intelligence then I’m the Pope on a rope…”

    We need more evidence, I think. Were your parents dim, too…?

  25. Arguendo, eliminating a disease via genetics is improving the species, inasmuch as the average reproductive fitness of a population that might hitherto have been susceptible to the disease has been enhanced. No-one would claim that engineering, say, resistance to insect infestation in a crop was not ‘improving the species’.

    The ‘eu’ in eugenics lends the lie that it is a scientific process, even though science would be used in its implementation. A more value-neutral description would be ‘sociobiological engineering’.

  26. JuliaM, it probably even worse than not having evidence. Intelligence is something that is a lot easier to recognise than it is to define. Its one thing to be able to select for eye colour, height, weight, stength etc where the measurements are simple to do and the thing we are selecting for easy to define. But we don’t have 6’2″ of intelligence, or 200 pounds of intelligence or even blonde or brunette intelligence. We have something that is objective in that a lot of us can agree when we see it, but pretty hard to quantify and therefore select for.

  27. Ross – “A very successful and uncontroversial eugenics programme has just occurred to me- the screening for Tay-Sachs among people of Jewish origin, which has virtually eliminated the disease.”

    Except it is not a eugenics programme. It is a, for want of a better word, disgenical one. They have eliminated the disease, but not the gene. You need two carriers to produce it, which results is no surviving children. Now every carrier marries a non-carrier. They all have surviving children. The rate at which the gene occurs in the population is increasing because some children are no longer dying.

    “This is less ambiguous than the Singapore or Levitt example because it is explicitly about the genes.”

    But it is not. It is about marriages. It works by recommending some but not others. The rate at which the gene causing the disease occurs is increasing, or at least not declining.

  28. ChrisM – “Not necessarily. They may have the same number of children, but just later. Still it is a fair point.”

    It would be an excellent test for the genetic component of crime and intelligence – if women had children later, would those children do better? I would think so but perhaps not by as much as I used to think. But the birth rate has been declining. I doubt that the same number of children are being born here.

    “I would however hesitate to call it Eugenics if the mothers chose to abort rather than were encouraged to.”

    If the Government gave a tax break of up to 100,000 pounds for a third child, you would expect to see more births among the very rich. Beveridge did in fact have a slightly eugenic aim in his Report. Would a deliberate State encouragement of rich people to have more children amount to eugenics?

    “I have no objection to people screening out pregnancies they don’t want, either by screening or abortion.”

    I am less convinced. There is an impact on all of society and some times those impacts can be large. Gender ratios for instance. Birth is a lottery and I would like to keep it that way. It is a fundamentally equalising force in society and I would not like to see that changed.

    “but screening out personality traits is not something the current state of knowledge even allows to do with any sort of accuracy, and it is hubris to think we do.”

    So far. Give us time.

  29. “It would be an excellent test for the genetic component of crime and intelligence – if women had children later, would those children do better? I would think so but perhaps not by as much as I used to think.”

    I am not sure how you could actually construct the experiment though as you are dealing with counterfactuals. And even if you used controls and large sample sizes I cannot see how you can distinguish between genetics and self selection.

    “If the Government gave a tax break of up to 100,000 pounds for a third child, you would expect to see more births among the very rich. Beveridge did in fact have a slightly eugenic aim in his Report. Would a deliberate State encouragement of rich people to have more children amount to eugenics?”

    I would definitely say that is eugenics, or at least an attempt at it. Because I don’t beleive there to me much a link between rich people and their genes, I don’t suppose it would acheive much in terms of changing the species. But the malign attempt is present so its probably eugenics. (Personally I don’t like many things that belong with eu)

    “I am less convinced. There is an impact on all of society and some times those impacts can be large. Gender ratios for instance. Birth is a lottery and I would like to keep it that way. It is a fundamentally equalising force in society and I would not like to see that changed.”

    There is a difference between screeening for gender and screening for congenital disease.

  30. if there’s no genetic heritability to intelligence then I’m the Pope on a rope…

    if yhou read the essay by Gould to which I alluded eaqrlier, then His Excellence had better start selecting his rope.

  31. Many people seem to take the view that Gould was a lying marxist git. There may be a case for citing someone who is widely accepted as being an honest writer.

  32. For those who are interested:

    Levitt’s explanation of crime reduction as the result of abortion has been pretty well picked apart and shown to be mostly trash, first by Steve Sailer and then by a number of other pundits; Levitt himself has as much as given up trying to defend the data, its analysis, and the conclusion advanced in his book.

    Google: “abortion” “crime” “Levitt” “Sailer”
    and ther’ll be plenty to absorb.

  33. While I’ve no great brief for Levitt, the idea that Steve Sailer is anything other than an ignorant bigoted hack is not quite in line with the data.

  34. dearieme – can you give any examples of these people, a Marxisant train of thought being very hard to detect in the essays that I have read? Or alternatively explain why Gould’s analysis of eugenics is flawed?

  35. diog, for the marxism, how about http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/4544 ? Otherwise, my suggestion was precisely what it was; if I were arguing for a proposition and wished to cite a writer in support of it, I’d try to find a writer who was respectedby his opponents, rather than cite Gould, who was distrusted and despised by many of his opponents.

  36. diogenes:

    I’m with “dearieme” all the way on this. I’m not sure that Gould is specifically guided by Marx (and I’m not going to go check it out) but there can be no doubt whatever that he’s in the tank for the collectivist, egalitarian, and socialist
    view of everything. It is not unlikely that “dearieme” simply chose the Marx reference to convey Gould’s distinct leftist “take.”

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