This week, one old and discredited technological fix has reared its head: eugenics, the pseudoscientific belief that humans can be bred to “perfection” in the same way we breed cattle or domestic pets for particular traits. Developed by Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, in the 19th century, it was promoted by politicians and intellectuals in Britain, before becoming the justification for millions of involuntary sterilisations globally, mainly of the poor and disabled, and the Nazis’ devastating programme of “racial hygiene” that culminated in the Holocaust.
One might think that such a morally and scientifically vacuous ideology would be behind us by now,
Leave aside whatever opinions you might have over the moral worth of abortion. Think about it just for a moment. The current system states that a foetus (gob of meiotic cells, human being, whatever) with an extra chromosome 21 may – and in many places should – be killed at a much later stage of development than one not so blessed with genetic abundance.
Whatever we might call this, a slaughter of the innocents, just common and garden good sense, this is quite clearly eugenics and it’s a common, even cornerstone, part of our current society.
That is, we’ve not really left it behind, have we?