During the first three decades of the twentieth century, eugenics, the scientific control of human breeding, was a popular cause within enlightened and progressive segments of the English-speaking world. The New York Times eagerly supported it, gushing about the wonderful "new science." Prominent scientists, such as the plant biologist Luther Burbank, were among its most enthusiastic supporters. And the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations generously funded eugenic research intended to distinguish the 'fit' from the 'unfit.’
This prophetic volume counters the intellectual nihilism of Nietzsche, while simultaneously rebuking Western notions of progress—biological or otherwise. Chesterton expands his criticism of eugenics into what he calls “a more general criticism of the modern craze for scientific officialism and strict social organization.”
Table of Contents
TO THE READER
Chapter I What Is Eugenics?
Chapter II The First Obstacles
Chapter III The Anarchy From Above
Chapter IV The Lunatic and the Law
Chapter V The Flying Authority
Chapter VI The Unanswered Challenge
Chapter VII The Established Church Of Doubt
Chapter VIII A Summary Of A False Theory
THE REAL AIM
Chapter I The Impotence Of Impenitence
Chapter II True History of a Tramp Chapter III True History of a Eugenist
Chapter IV The Vengeance of the Flesh
Chapter V The Meanness of the Motive
Chapter VI The Eclipse of Liberty
Chapter VII The Transformation of Socialism
Chapter VIII The End of the Household Gods
Chapter IX A Short Chapter
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874–1936) was an English writer. He wrote on philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton is often referred to as the "prince of paradox". Whenever possible, Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, and allegories—first carefully turning them inside out. Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even some of those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both progressivism and conservatism, saying, "The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify such a position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism from High Church Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius".Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"There exists to-day a scheme of action, a school thought, as collective and unmistakable as any of those by whose grouping alone we can make any outline of history. . . . I know that it numbers many disciples whose intentions are entirely innocent and humane; and who would be sincerely astonished at my describing it as I do. But that is only because evil always wins through the strength of its splendid dupes; and there has in all ages been a disastrous alliance between abnormal innocence and abnormal sin. . . . But Eugenics itself does exist for those who have sense enough to see that ideas exist; and Eugenics itself, in large quantities or small, coming quickly or coming slowly, urged from good motives or bad, applied to a thousand people or applied to three, Eugenics itself is a thing no more to be bargained about than poisoning."
Institutionalizing the Unfit
"I will call it the Feeble-Minded Bill, both for brevity and because the description is strictly accurate. It is, quite simply and literally, a Bill for incarcerating as madmen those whom no doctor will consent to call mad. It is enough if some doctor or other may happen to call them weak-minded."
"Indeed one Eugenist, Mr. A. H. Huth, actually had a sense of humour, and admitted this. He thinks a great deal of good could be done with a surgical knife, if we would only turn him loose with one. And this may be true. A great deal of good could be done with a loaded revolver, in the hands of a judicious student of human nature."
The Tyranny of Science
"The thing that really is trying to tyrannise through government is Science. The thing that really does use the secular arm is Science. And the creed that really is levying tithes and capturing schools, the creed that really is enforced by fine and imprisonment, the creed that really is proclaimed not in sermons but in statutes, and spread not by pilgrims but by policemen‹that creed is the great but disputed system of thought which began with Evolution and has ended in Eugenics."
"There is no reason in Eugenics, but there is plenty of motive. Its supporters are highly vague about its theory, but they will be painfully practical about its practice. And while I reiterate that many of its more eloquent agents are probably quite innocent instruments, there are some, even among Eugenists, who by this time know what they are doing."
The Poor Man and his Child
"There is one human thing left it is much harder to take from him. Debased by him and his betters, it is still something brought out of Eden, where God made him a demigod: it does not depend on money and but little on time. He can create in his own image. The terrible truth is in the heart of a hundred legends and mysteries. As Jupiter could be hidden from all-devouring Time, as the Christ Child could be hidden from Herod‹so the child unborn is still hidden from the omniscient oppressor. He who lives not yet, he and he alone is left; and they seek his life to take it away."
The Rich Begin To Fear the Poor
"So at least it seemed, doubtless in a great degree subconsciously, to the man who had wagered all his wealth on the usefulness of the poor to the rich and the dependence of the rich on the poor. The time came at last when the rather reckless breeding in the abyss below ceased to be a supply, and began to be something like a wastage; ceased to be something like keeping foxhounds, and began alarmingly to resemble a necessity of shooting foxes."
"That is the problem, and that is why there is now no protection against Eugenic or any other experiments. If the men who took away beer as an unlawful pleasure had paused for a moment to define the lawful pleasures, there might be a different situation. If the men who had denied one liberty had taken the opportunity to affirm other liberties, there might be some defence for them. But it never occurs to them to admit any liberties at all. It never so much as crosses their minds. Hence the excuse for the last oppression will always serve as well for the next oppression; and to that tyranny there can be no end."
"In short, people decided that it was impossible to achieve any of the good of Socialism, but they comforted themselves by achieving all the bad. All that official discipline, about which the Socialists themselves were in doubt or at least on the defensive, was taken over bodily by the Capitalists. They have now added all the bureaucratic tyrannies of a Socialist state to the old plutocratic tyrannies of a Capitalist State."
The Working Classes
"The working classes have no reserves of property with which to defend their relics of religion. They have no religion with which to sanctify and dignify their property. Above all, they are under the enormous disadvantage of being right without knowing it. They hold their sound principles as if they were sullen prejudices. They almost secrete their small property as if it were stolen property. Often a poor woman will tell a magistrate that she sticks to her husband, with the defiant and desperate air of a wanton resolved to run away from her husband. Often she will cry as hopelessly, and as it were helplessly, when deprived of her child as if she were a child deprived of her doll."
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Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 166 pages. 9.00x6.00x0.38 inches. In Stock. This item is printed on demand. Bookseller Inventory # 1495454207
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