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“Eugenicons”? Call Them What They Are — Social Darwinists

Photo: An image from Human Zoos, via Discovery Institute.

Compact is an interesting publication, complicated to define ideologically, that says it “challenge[s] the overclass that controls government, culture, and capital.” That sounds good, though they could include science and academia in the mix as well. Journalist Michael Lind has a long and worthwhile essay there, “Against the Eugenicons,” whose only serious fault is that it’s mistitled. “Eugenicon” is Lind’s neologism for…well, modern-day Social Darwinists. He speaks of “eugenic conservatives,” who lay emphasis on racial or genetic heredity, but to call these people “conservative” is a mistake, much as it’s a mistake to call an anti-Semitic white supremacist like Nick Fuentes a “Christian conservative,” even if he styles himself that way.

In general, the words “liberal” and “conservative” have become seriously antiquated for characterizing the forces competing for influence in our politics and culture. The 1980s are long gone. Is there, for example, anything “liberal” about gender-obsessed woke ideology? Not really. Nor is there anything genuinely conservative about the people Lind is writing about. Let’s, I would suggest, have an end to forming neologisms that include “con” in them, and let’s retire confusing terms like “neocon.” If you simply replace “eugenicons” and “eugenic conservatives” everywhere in Lind’s long article with “modern-day Social Darwinists,” you will be in good shape.

Emerging from Underground

Lind reviews some of the history of Darwinian racism and pseudoscientific eugenic thinking that John West covers in his award-winning documentary Human Zoos.

Lind notes, “Social Darwinism went underground after the Holocaust. But its catechism — now more than a century old and consisting of both axioms and policy prescriptions derived from the axioms — is finding new and faithful devotees.” Indeed. His survey of “eugenicons” includes writers who have been around for a long time, like Steve Sailer, and publications like VDare and Taki’s, and much younger entrants to the field like Richard Hanania. They explain crime and other social ills in terms of race and genetics rather than, as Lind prefers, in terms of culture. He lists the axioms and political proposals of the modern-day Social Darwinists:

The axioms:

  • Human races are few, identifiable, discrete, and enduring through time.
  • The existing hierarchy of education and wealth within a race corresponds to the genetic fitness of individuals and families in that race.
  • Just as some individuals are genetically superior to others within a race, so some races are genetically superior to other races.
  • Most economic growth and scientific and cultural progress in history are the result of genetic endowments of superior individuals, families, and races.

The policy prescriptions:

  • Taxing the eugenic elite hurts both them and the dysgenic majority, by redistributing resources that the creative rich can put to best use for the long-term benefit of the benighted majority.
  • Antipoverty policy, beyond establishing a floor of basic income for the poor, a proposal of Milton Friedman and Charles Murray, is doomed to fail, because poverty has a genetic basis.
  • Public policy should encourage the limitation of the numbers of the genetically unfit, by voluntary or involuntary contraception, abortion, and euthanasia.
  • Immigration by inferior races and intermarriage between members of superior and inferior races should be discouraged to prevent the reduction of the genetic fitness of superior races.
  • One-person, one-vote democracy is dangerous and intolerable, because the genetically inferior majority might vote to tax and redistribute the income and wealth of the genetically superior minority.

A systematic eugenicon program, then, would combine economic (not civil) libertarianism with promotion of birth control (for the inferior masses, not the superior classes, whose propagation should be encouraged) and rule by the numerically small cognitive elite, disguised if necessary by meaningless elections.

Losing an Old Friend

As I said, I don’t see much that’s recognizably “conservative” about any of that, any more than there is about the “Alt-Right,” which we’ve written about in the past at Evolution News (see here, here, here, here, here, and here) and that is just a nastier version of the same “eugenicon” tendency.

It’s sad when once-useful words turn stale and disintegrate — like losing an old friend, or like food that you worked hard in making that’s now gone bad in the refrigerator. The mainstream American political parties, Republican and Democrat, persist under those names, but it’s time to be more thoughtful about what we call the philosophies, such as they are, that seek to guide or control our country. At least, as a consolation, one term remains as meaningful as ever, designating a perspective that hasn’t changed much since the events documented in Human Zoos. The Social Darwinists, the pseudoscientific racists, are still around. And their continued existence remains as good a reason as ever for thinking critically about the evolutionary science that they embrace as a rationale.