Err, Polly, it wasn’t the Tories that were into eugenics

Some themes deep in the heart of Toryism just never go away. Up they pop, over and over. Control the lower orders, stop them breeding, check their spending, castigate their lifestyles. Poking, sneering, moralising and despising is hardwired within Tory DNA.

That idea of stopping “them” breeding is called eugenics. And it was really rather the Fabians and the like who were into it here in Britain. You know, your lot, not the Tories.

52 thoughts on “Err, Polly, it wasn’t the Tories that were into eugenics”

  1. And Marie Stopes, heroine of the birth control movement.
    She also cut her son out of her will because he married a girl who was short-sighted and wore glasses.
    Daughter of Barnes Wallis, as it happened.

  2. Stop them breeding by, say, allowing uncontrolled abortion? That’s a basic tenet of modern day ‘liberalism’.

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    JimW – “And Marie Stopes, heroine of the birth control movement.”

    Which is why she mobilised funding for the Birth Control Pill. And why it was tested in Puerto Rico. The aim was to find something so simple that even the Black working class could use it. Unlike the diaphram that was deemed too complex.

    You can ask Polly whether the Pill stands in modern Liberalism *exactly* like the Body of Christ, but it must be pretty close.

  4. So Much for Subtlety

    Roue le Jour – “Never mind eugenics. Is there anything in that list that isn’t socialist?”

    Socialist? Never mind the socialism! Is there anything in that list that is not precisely what Polly has built her career on?

    Does she do anything other than cajole the poor from the distant vistas of her villa in Umbria?

  5. “The Tories” are a strawman for Polly and here readers, there for them to project all of their mad ideas and hatreds on. It doesn’t matter if they were responsible or not – her readers are stunningly ignorant of anything which might challenge their worldview, indeed are fanatically hostile to such information and would reject it instinctively anyway.

    Another amusing fact I learned recently – the Left’s heroine, Emily Pankhurst and much of the Suffragette movement were terribly keen on the War (WW1) and deploying white feathers on any male not in uniform. Strange how I’ve never read about that in the Guardian.

  6. So this constant war against lifestyle choices made by (proportionally more) working class types.. drinking, smoking, looking at tits on page 3, voting for UKIP etc… that’s all coming from the Tories? Labour, and the Guardian, are opposed to it?

    I think I missed a memo.

  7. Never thought I’d agree with PaulB. But yes eugenics has its origins way back. Phrenology, Dalton, etc. Indeed, poor little Oedipus (the tutelary daemon of psychiatry) was exposed on a hillside because he had a club foot.

  8. Control the lower orders,

    “The nanny state is the good state. A nanny is what every well-off family hires if it can afford it. So why do the nanny-employing Tories use the word as an insult?” – Polly Toynbee

    stop them breeding,

    “Abortion is very, very ordinary and a mark of civilisation” – Polly Toynbee

    check their spending,

    “councils can apply for cash for new buses from the transport department, but only if they bring in road pricing. This should start a great environmental push to get people out of cars and on to new and better buses.” – Polly Toynbee

    “Only one weapon really works in reducing the dangerous quantities people drink – and that’s price. The proposed £5m public health warning campaign will have small effect compared with a sharp tax rise. Alcohol consumption has risen with wealth: it dips in times of recession and it falls when steeply taxed. But Gordon Brown has let it rip: drink is now 54% cheaper relative to incomes than in 1981. The very young can afford vodka that was once far beyond pocket money. The Treasury seems loth to tax it enough for its revenues to fall.” – Polly Toynbee

    castigate their lifestyles.

    “most of the dangerously obese – the 22% with a body-mass index in the red zone – are to be found carless on council estates and not in the leafy suburbs where kids are driven to school in supertanker 4x4s.” – Polly Toynbee

    “Is Britain uniquely uncouth in our filthy drinking habits, or do our peculiarly restrictive laws cause the desperate drink-to-get-drunk-quick mentality? Why, oh why, can’t we be more Italian? Take away the urgency and mystery, and maybe we could all tipple a little nip in the coffee without making a fetish of alcohol.” – Polly Toynbee

    Poking, sneering, moralising and despising is hardwired within Tory DNA.

    There’s a lot of that going about.

  9. Interested: That’s the whole point of the welfare state – tax the middle classes so heavily they cant afford kids and pay benefits to the retards to breed.

  10. Yes, you will have to go a long, long way to find a more moralising, sneering, poking example than your average Guardian reader.

  11. Steve

    Welcome back – that must have taken some work, and is absolutely, as always, spot on the money. If I loathe one vice is it hypocrisy and Toynbee exudes it from every pore. You might well have added her stance during the petrol crisis in Blair’s first term – she sounded almost like Marie Antoinette. Unfortunately she was never subject to the guillotine but I live in hope.

  12. Paul B: “Eugenics had its supporters across the political spectrum. Winston Churchill and Herbert Hoover were particularly enthusiastic.”

    Amongst its supporters was socialist puke Geo Bernard Shaw. Who openly expressed his wish that defectives could be got rid of by means of “some humane gas”. The humane and defective bits are bullshit but his fellow socialist A Hitler put Georgie’s wish into action a decade or so later. Not a bad waiting time as far as socialism goes. The Fabians were quite fond of Mussolini as well but he must have disappointed them in the “humane defective removal” stakes.

  13. Eugenics is one strand of the humanist idea that Mankind is self-sufficient – the concept is that he/she/they can improve all plants and animals including humanity itself.
    To accuse High Church Tories of supporting Eugenics is an example of Plly’s chutzpah.

  14. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Virtually the entire content of Kommentar macht Frei consists of the paranormal ‘we’, when some jumped-up little shit makes a sneering or censorious observation about something or other and then spins 2000 words out of it to the effect that all right-thinking people agree it should be banned/regulated/mocked out of existence. As Ian B says, they’re the new Puritans and simply cannot grasp the concept of people disagreeing with them. They’re not content with observing. They want to do something about it. Take your pick: fluorescent Green hair shirt-wearers; people who think that cupcakes are an emblem of modern barbarism; radical feminists who seem to want some sort of regression to neo-Victorian prudishness and female cocooning but with lots and lots of lesbianism. They’re all fucking weird.

  15. Hold on a second, this didn’t come from nowhere: “people who think that cupcakes are an emblem of modern barbarism”.

    Are there people that think that?

    I can’t say cupcakes are entirely my thing, however I associate them with mothers teaching their children how to cook rather than barbarism.

  16. bloke (not) in spain

    “people who think that cupcakes are an emblem of modern barbarism”.

    Wasn’t it “emblem of capitalist oppression”. CiF column, couple years back?

    Or different cupcake rant?

  17. No, BiCR, that’s why I asked where it had come from, and thanks for the link.

    Is this Matt a woman? He seems to think he is. I think it’s supposed to be ironic, but it’s fucking ghastly nonetheless

  18. Eugenics has the same flaw as universal tertiary education.

    Assume a population with the “inferiors” bred out, and where everyone has a degree.

    Who will pour the pints and clean the toilets?

  19. “Eugenics had its supporters across the political spectrum.” This feeble attempt to imply that the support was equally spread across the spectrum won’t wash on this blog.

  20. Oh, fair point.

    Ok, have checked that this Matt Seaton twit is male, so his article does one of two things, or both:

    1) Presumes to speak on behalf of all women
    2) Lectures women on their lack of seriousness, and their inability to resist prettified girly cakes

    In the Guardian? Jeepers.

  21. @ Jack C
    “mothers teaching their children how to cook” – that would be currant buns and rock cakes rather than cupcakes which are for showing off (arguably part of modern barbarism) .
    The Grauniad is very good at looking down on people with one hand and accusing the Tories of doing that (even, or especially, when they don’t) with the other.

  22. You lot don’t understand that when the left wing do exactly the same as the right wing, “it’s different”.

    Right now, Labour is organising a petition against the ‘evil monstrous’ ‘bedroom tax’ which applies to public sector housing.

    The “Local Housing Allowance” which applied virtually identical rules to private sector housing was introduced by Labour in April 2008.

    But that’s different.

  23. Ted S,
    Thanks for that, I think? Or do you hate me? I was unable to read more than x amount of it, and had to read what I did read several times over.

    What’s the ukulele stuff all about? And, an offer I felt I could easily refuse:

  24. So Much for Subtlety

    Jack C – “If we see the paradigmatic mechanisms of social oppression operative today in the form of a cupcake”

    Oh please, don’t. I am still recovering from the thought of BiCR pulling one out of his ar$e.

    I like that eugenics is one of those things that people take against so seriously they have to be dysgenic – insist that it is great if the manifestly unfit have children. I suppose that the old fashioned Tory solution – leaving the poor to die of hunger – is not viable these days. But the problem does not go away because we hate to think about it. How can we encourage people to be responsible parents? There are fewer and fewer of them around and yet we need them.

  25. @ SMFS
    There are still a lot of responsible parents – it is just that the minority of irresponsible parents cause most of the newspaper headlines. Saturday’s FT included a letter glorifying irresponsible American grandparents, while this morning I got a Christmas letter, describing en passant how my old friends are actively responsible grandparents. The latter will never get a newspaper headline.

  26. I picked up a collection of Eugenics literature from the 20s/30s in a car boot sale a few years back (in a box with a load of sleazy pulp magazines like Spicy Adventure Stories). They make for interesting reading.

    One thing people who believed they could selectively breed humanity into utopia generally had in common was their resolutely leftist and progressive views, especially considering the time when they were writing.

    For example, in Eugenics and Sex Harmony (1933), author Dr Herman H. Rubin gushes praise over the USSR, and argues that the West could learn a lot from the Soviet state’s “paternalism” (yes, that’s presented as a positive thing). He takes an explicitly feminist stance on many issues, e.g. describing traditional marriage as the “sexual slavery of women”, and calling for state funded maternity leave and child care to help women “emancipate” themselves through financial independence.

    Of course, a few pages on from something that’d have a feminist nodding along today, you’ll find praise for programmes to “end the suffering of children” by forcibly sterilising people with physical deformities or epilepsy.

    Within a few years of that eugenics had become tainted by association with the Nazis, but for decades it was a perfectly respectable progressive ideal.

  27. Polly is such an evil cunt.

    “How can we encourage people to be responsible parents? There are fewer and fewer of them around and yet we need them.”

    Allow life to happen without state intervention so that responsible parenting is advantageous in terms of survival and success.

  28. Van_Patten, mike fowle – thank you!

    It wasn’t hard to find Polly quotes, but after perusing a few of her articles I did notice she has an annoying tendency to beg the question and also to avoid directly saying what she wants.

    She prefers to paint a misleading or outright dishonest picture of reality that points towards what actions she’d like to be taken rather than explicitly endorsing a propsed solution.

  29. “This feeble attempt to imply that the support was equally spread across the spectrum won’t wash on this blog.”

    I accept that many of the commentators on this blog won’t allow reality to intrude on their world-view. But…

    Here‘s a report in the BMJ on the “First International Eugenics Congress”. The Principal Speaker was Arthur Balfour, previously Conservative Prime Minister. The President was Leonard Darwin, previously a Liberal Unionist MP in alliance with the Conservatives. Other prominent politicians in attendance were Winston Churchill, at that time a Liberal MP but previously and subsequently a Conservative, and Richard Webster (then Baron, later Viscount Alverstone), previously a Conservative MP and Attorney-General.

    Which is not to deny that some on the left were similarly keen on eugenics. The difference is that the modern left wants to expose this history and learn from it, to the extent that you can sometimes read about past leftist advocacy of eugenics, in the Guardian and suchlike. Whereas the right just ignores its involvement altogether.

  30. Bloke in Costa Rica

    “she has an annoying tendency to beg the question and also to avoid directly saying what she wants.”

    In other words, suggestio falsi and suppressio veri. Sounds about right.

  31. “Which is not to deny that some on the left were similarly keen on eugenics. The difference is that the modern left wants to expose this history and learn from it, to the extent that you can sometimes read about past leftist advocacy of eugenics, in the Guardian and suchlike. Whereas the right just ignores its involvement altogether.”

    Lots of Conservatives are leftists.

    The modern left likes to highlight group (including racial) differences and act upon these differences via politics. If this isn’t racism then what is? Just because it tends to be white male people at the bottom of the lefty political hierarchy of guilt doesn’t mean it is ok.

  32. So Much for Subtlety

    tomsmith – “Allow life to happen without state intervention so that responsible parenting is advantageous in terms of survival and success.”

    I am all for it but I don’t think that is a solution. Because responsible parenting always involves sacrifices from the parents. Women are not inclined to do that these days. But it was always a poor deal for men and it has only got much worse. The incentives for men are to be [email protected] To be feckless and irresponsible. The choice is to do the right thing, work hard, save up a lot of money so your wife can have a comfortable retirement – all for a good chance of a cold and sexless marriage – or, to be feckless and enjoy yourself with occasional work and an ever-changing rota of young girlfriends.

    In the old days we had the Methodists that told men they had to do this. These days we don’t. Why do men do it? Gradually young men are going to realise what pathetic deal it is and join the feckless.

  33. “In the old days we had the Methodists that told men they had to do this. These days we don’t. Why do men do it? Gradually young men are going to realise what pathetic deal it is and join the feckless.”

    I don’t think it’s quite as bad as that yet. I think that many women might be inclined not to make the sacrifices they might have done at one time largely because the social support systems in western counties mean they aren’t penalised by reality for that choice. Most importantly the government will support them if they want to have children alone. If government stopped making the anti family choice easy by withdrawing support then I think society would respond by again coalescing around the family as the fundamentally important unit of individual support.

    Why do men continue to do it in spite of the disincentives? I would say for love and for the chance to have children. Merely procreating is easy and cheap but I don’t see it as satisfying in the same way that raising a family and having a relationship with them is. Likewise chasing lots of different women can be very exciting but it doesn’t involve the deeper closeness that a long term relationship with the woman who had my children can provide.

    These are not things that government can give me and I will continue to hold on to them no matter how difficult it becomes. I think many other people would say the same.

  34. Paul B: Ho-Ho-Fucking-Ho

    Yes, the left is known worldwide for its willingness to own up and make profound grovelling apologies.

    “Yes–a few bad lads sorta used to think about eugenics-long ago–before we knew better”

    And the 150 million murders? And millions more lives ruined.

    Apology for that on the cards is it? Don’t bother. Insult and injury etc.

  35. So Much for Subtlety

    tomsmith – “I don’t think it’s quite as bad as that yet.”

    I think you need to hang out with more working class lads. It is getting there.

    “I think that many women might be inclined not to make the sacrifices they might have done at one time largely because the social support systems in western counties mean they aren’t penalised by reality for that choice.”

    I agree. But the social support systems in the West do penalise men for their choices. Child support is not a joke and is getting more penal. But men still aren’t doing it.

    I agree that ending the government’s anti-family agenda would be a good first step. But it is not going to solve the problem because men are still not throwing their lives away like they used and they are not going to start doing it again any time soon.

    “Why do men continue to do it in spite of the disincentives? I would say for love and for the chance to have children.”

    It is well known that little boys grow up dreaming of having children. That men are delighted when they are told their girlfriends are pregnant. I am sure that many men do get some consolation out of being a Father, although even that is being turned to dust these days given pretty much everyone’s anti-Father agenda. But it is a consolation, not a reason to be married.

  36. As has already been pointed out, this was hardly unique to the Fabians, or indeed the Left in the Edwardian period.

    The rejoinder is as biased as the original judgment.

    Don’t believe me? Just go and look. G. R. Searle’s book on ‘Eugenics and Politics’ was published in 1971, but apparently some of you haven’t caught up yet…

  37. Nobody said a taste for eugenics was unique to the left. However sanctimonious bullshit as thick as Ice Age glaciers is a major characteristic of the left. The entire thread started with Pol’s demonstration of that fact–squarking about eugenics as if socialism had nothing to do with it.

    As Scrooge (Alastair Sim) said to Marley (Michael Horden) attending on the latter’s deathbed:
    “We’ve been worse than the next man–nor no better either if it comes to that”.

  38. Late at night–should read “no worse than the next man”–although socialism has been worse than just about everybody else.

  39. “Who will pour the pints and clean the toilets?”

    Well, until we discover the genes which are the basis of intelligence, the ‘less talented’ tenth. Who will be paid an actual decent wage due to their scarcity. Or imported labour from countries which do not practice eugenics.

    At least until we have robots to do all this stuff that you can’t possibly do without importing near-retarded cheap labour, just like Japan is doing right now.

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