Eugenics and Transhumanism

Eugenics, well it’s all about killing off genetic defectives, gassing people designated as insane or subhuman and giving lethal injections to kids with learning difficulties. Or at least it has become that in popular imagination. 

The original impetus for eugenics was the observation by certain members of Victorian era Middle Class scientific establishment that the feckless poor (and therefore stupid) were out-breeding clever people and thereby dumbing down Humanity as a whole and the “superior races” in particular. Ways had to be found of discouraging big families amongst the “wrong people” and encouraging the “right people” to breed a bit more. Since the “right people” were generally fairly intelligent, articulate and wealthy nobody was actually going to make them do any excess breeding against their will, so the focus shifted to those who could be persuaded or coerced – the poor and stupid. 

The result was mostly an extension of existing practices such as locking up mental defectives, by  sterilizing the feeble minded or those born disabled and subsequently institutionalized. On a more positive note eugenicists were generally in favor of making contraception available to limit population. 

And there things remained right up until Nazi Germany decided to do all of the stuff described in the first paragraph, whereupon it became the touchstone for all that is evil and eugenics was indelibly tarred with some seriously bad PR. Of course, that did not actually stop all state sanctioned eugenics programs such as Sweden’s, which was still going in the 1970s, or the various eugenics laws in the USA. It just meant that killing people was off the official eugenics menu. 

So, fast forward to the present day and suddenly there are claims that Transhumanism is the new eugenics, with the murderous subtext unspoken but strongly implied. What is the truth of the matter? 

Well, let’s start with a question. Who is responsible for the most murderous eugenics programs in history? Easy – the Nazis! WRONG. 

The most murderous eugenics program in history is ongoing and being run all across the world, most notably in the liberal secular democratic West. Of course, we do not actually call what’s happening eugenics – it’s wrapped up in cozy liberal cotton wool words like “screening” and “a woman’s right to choose”. Nevertheless, we have killed more genetic defectives than the Nazis could even dream about. This is apart from abortions undertaken for the sake of convenience, around 40 million per year, and which makes the Holocaust seem insignificant if one believes that Human life starts at conception. Yet somehow we liberals are supposed to cheer on abortion as a woman’s right, and approve of her choice to undergo genetic screening of the unborn child, but also simultaneously condemn eugenics? Well, anyone who takes those positions together is either a fool or a hypocrite. 

It is also telling to note that even societies that oppose abortion on demand on religious grounds will generally allow it if the embryo is genetically defective. That is, it carries a defect such as Down’s Syndrome, Sickle Cell Anemia, Huntington’s Disease etc etc. Indeed, the list of defects to be screened for increases relentlessly year on year and generally results in a death sentence for the potential child. Of course, it does not stop there. What is considered defective is often socially conditioned. For example, females being aborted disproportionately in Asia. 

So, what of Transhumanism in all this? Well, the central tragedy of society’s existing eugenics program is that almost inevitably the child being aborted is actually wanted by the woman – which is why she is screening in the first place. Our solution? There are gene therapies in testing that can potentially repair defective genes in the embryo. Fix the problem, don’t kill the child! 

Nevertheless, what some people hate about Transhumanism is not the fact that we want to save lives and create healthy people, but we want to make people “better than well”. That, in their mind, is the central meme to be opposed by any means, even slanderous attempts to link us to their eugenics program. So next time you hear of Transhumanism being “the new eugenics” perhaps you should point out the existing mass murder they are already condoning, and the fact that we want to end it.

Dirk Bruere

Attended Nottingham University and later what is now Westminster University, and has a BSc in Physics. Subsequently pursued a career in electronics and computer research and is a research engineer at Surface Measurement Systems. A founder member of Zero State (ZS) and a member of the Futurists Board of the Lifeboat Foundation. Founder of The Consensus in 2002CE, a political party with a core philosophy of Transhumanism, which has been influential in Zero State and the Wave. Other interests include the interface between technology and theology explored in the books TechnoMage and The Praxis, and was co-presenter of a UK radio show, OneTribe. Head of The Praxis, a ZS spiritual organization. For several years held the position of Branch Master in the World Shorinji Kempo Organization, teaching Zen and martial arts, although is now retired from a teaching role.

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