Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Origin of eugenics

Since a fair number of people have been coming to my blog through searches for eugenics that hit this post about Glenn Beck's nonsense, I may as well post a link to my piece on Francis Galton of a few years ago. Galton was "The First Eugenicist." Excerpt:
Galton lived to see his ideas gain considerable acceptance, as eugenics societies and journals sprang up in the new century. The movement continued to grow after his death, spreading to multiple countries and across the political spectrum. Having long found acolytes on the right, eugenics now gained enthusiasts among liberals and socialists who embraced hereditary improvement as a progressive cause.
Note to Jonah Goldberg fans: Neither left nor right had any monopoly on eugenics.


Zog Karndon said...

Jonah is well aware of right-wing eugenicists. Jonah wrote _Liberal Fascism_ to highlight the forgotten left-wing eugenicists, most of whom have fallen down the memory hole.

Furthermore, most left-wingers are (intentionally or not) completely unaware of the (rather grubby) intellectual history of their ideas; it is good to remind them of their history on an ongoing basis.

Kenneth Silber said...

I actually think that endless harping on the "history of their ideas," when it has little to do with current positions, is a tedious distraction. It reminds me of Brad DeLong repeatedly denouncing National Review for its 1950s stance on civil rights.