The Next Million Years - Part 4 - Eugenics and the Survival of Mankind
Knowledge Driven Revolution
“When homo sapiens is changing, it will not be by the whole race gaining simultaneously whatever qualities better fit it for survival, but rather by certain types of mankind proving superior to the rest in survival value, so that they contribute a larger proportion to the later generations, and in so doing drag the average qualities of humanity in the same direction.” - Charles Galton Darwin, 1952 (p96)
Charles Galton Darwin’s 1952 book The Next Million Years  attempts to give a general outline of the “future history” of mankind by using the “law of human nature”. C.G. Darwin (1887-1962) was an English physicist and grandson of Charles Darwin of evolutionary fame. Despite being concerned about the over-population of the world he had four sons and one daughter with his wife Katharine Pember. The hypocrisy of this may seem odd, but the concern about over-population only refers to inferior breeds of humans and not superior breeds like himself and his lineage. C.G. Darwin was a long time member and eventual president of the Eugenic Society (1953-59) which represented the belief system held among many of the political, scientific and aristocratic elites of his day and the present.
The first part in this series examined a variety of issues that C. G. Darwin envisions for the next million years of the future history of humanity including: the altering of human nature, the structure of government and the effects of globalization and computers. C. G. Darwin’s views on the possibility of domesticating mankind as a whole was examined in part two. The third part in this series looked at the importance of creeds in shaping society.
Some Eugenic Basics
From The Next Million Years.
“Therefore in so far as it is possible to look beyond the brute question of survival and to make subjective estimates of value about the future human race, I shall rate as admirable any improvement that in the course of the ages should develop in the intellect of mankind, and any improvement in his sense of devotion to his fellow man. A combination of the two qualities is best of all, but if it is necessary to select between them, I should assign first place to intelligence.” - 44
“General intelligence should always be of value, particularly the unspecialized intelligence that is adaptable to many varieties of purpose; so with some confidence it may be expected that man will become cleverer than he is now. It is by no means so clear that he will become morally better as well, since in a highly competitive world, the sinner has many advantages over the saint. That is disappointing, but it must be remembered that moral codes have differed a good deal at different periods in history…” - 98
A Darwin on Social Darwinism
Social Darwinism - made famous by the Nazi eugenics programs - is promoted in The Next Million Years.
“There are many other qualities, which help survival - and I shall be content to mention only a few of them, some estimable and some the reverse. We value intelligence, honest, capacity for leadership, and other similar qualities, and we mark our approval by selecting their possessors for promotion. A man is promoted on account of his individual merits, without any thought about the consequences for the distant future. In a less abnormal world than the present, his increased prosperity should lead to the man’s having a larger family than those of the less prosperous, so that the good qualities inherited from him should gradually become diffused throughout the population in later generations. At the present time the exact opposite happens all too often, in that he is likely to have a smaller family than the average; in fact success in life is at present antagonistic to success in survival.” 93
“…but still it is interesting to see how it [selective breeding] would apply to humanity, when considerations induced from ethics are for the moment forgotten. A philanthropic dictator wants to perfect the innate moral qualities of the human race; how should he go about it? Following the example of the dog trainer, he will devote all his attention to the good children, and he will neglect the worse ones, doing all he can to see that they do not succeed in life, and above all that they are not permitted to hand on their inferior qualities to later generations. Actually all too often philanthropic effort goes in exactly the opposite direction, into curing the faults of the worst, without recognizing that the acquired characters so induced are quite impermanent. In saying this I am thinking of the long-range policy, and I do not in the least want to belittle the self-sacrificing work that is done by so many noble workers in improving the conduct of the worse elements of the population. It may be justified as being a good in itself, and moreover the existence of criminals perturbs very seriously the life of the rest of the community, so that everyone benefits if this nuisance is removed. Still it is proper to note, that the policy of paying most attention to the inferior types is the most inefficient way possible of achieving the perfectibility of the human race.” [emphasis mine] - 103
“So it is surely a justifiable claim that those selected for promotion are rather more likely to have superior qualities than those who were not so selected. Now man, like every other animal, does tend to pass on his natural qualities to his offspring; there is no certainty about it, but there is a somewhat better chance that the sons of the promoted candidate will be abler than those of his unsuccessful rivals. Since there will always be need for as many able people as possible, the encouragement of the promoted man to have children increases the chance that we shall find them in the next generation. The argument may be pushed further still. There is a good deal of evidence that some men’s ability is more intimately incorporated in their heredity than it is for others. Thus there have been men of pre-eminent ability, risen from the ranks, whose descendants have sunk back in a generation or two, whereas there are families where generation after generation goes on producing men of very good ability. Clearly the probability of producing able men is rather greater in a family that has shown that it can do so over several generations.” [emphasis mine] - 137
“…it is indisputable that the more prosperous members of the community are not producing their share of the next generation, so that selection is now operating against the prosperous. As an example, if the list of candidates is examined, who are applying for any office of high or even mediocre importance, it will be found that something like nine-tenths of them have either no children, or one, or two. Of course, if everyone had exactly two children, and both these children married and had exactly two more, the population would be exactly steady, but as things are, it is a fair guess that , in each thirty years of a generation, this part of our population is reducing itself to something between a half and two-thirds. This signifies that within a century, there will at most be quarter as many people of this type as there are now. There will of course be some compensation by the rise from other levels, but, as I have pointed out, to found our hopes on them is to take a worse instead of a better chance. The whole thing is a catastrophe which it is now almost too late to prevent.” - 140
Aiding the Process: Unconscious Selection
“To conclude the chapter I return to the narrower question of the tendency of civilization to eliminate its ablest people. This has happened in the past, and is certainly happening now, and if it is always to happen, it signifies a recurrent degeneration of all civilizations, only to be renewed by the incursion of barbarians who have not suffered similarly. If any civilized country could overcome this effect, so that it alone retained both its ability and its civilization, it would certainly become the leading nation of the world. Man is a wild animal, and cannot accomplish this by using the methods of the animal breeder, but may he not be able to devise something that would go beyond the long-drawn-out automatic processes of Natural Selection? I think he can. A cruder and simpler method must be used than the animal breeder’s. Something might be accomplished on the line of what is called “Unconscious Selection” in the Origin of Species [emphasis in original].
Unconscious Selection signifies that the farmer, who has no intention whatever of improving his herd, will naturally select his best and not his worst animals to breed from, and in consequence he will find that in fact he does improve the herd. As I have pointed out, we are all the time assessing the rival merits of individuals for promotion; they are each chosen for some special purpose, but like the unconscious selection of the farmer, the choice does mark the promoted person as being superior to the average. Any country that could devise a method whereby the promoted were strongly encouraged to have more children than the rest, would find itself soon excelling in the world. It would only be a rough and ready method, with many defects; for example, from the point of view of heredity women are as important as men, but it would not so often be easy to take their qualities into account. Furthermore the method would be extremely subject to fashions - in which it would resemble the animal breeder’s method - for at one time greatest value would be given to the arts, at another to military skill, and at another to administrative ability and so on. However, ability is not usually a very specialized quality, and the effect would be to preserve high ability in general, and thereby to increase it, since the abler people would be contributing more, instead of less, than their share to the next generation.
A nation might consciously adopt such a policy, or it might be that an economic policy adopted for quite other reasons should have this unintended result. Whatever way it came about, if it could last for even a few generations, the effect would begin to show. But humanity iscapricious [sic] and subject to the passions of the immediate present, and it is hardly likely that any country, whether democracy or autocracy, would follow such a policy long enough for it to really tell. The best hope for it to endure would be that it should become attached to a creed, and it would not matter very much whether the creed was reasonable or unreasonable, provided that it produced the effect. Either ancestor-worship, or a belief in the sinfulness of birth-control, would at least place the promoted on an equality with the unpromoted, and with their superior ability this would give them the advantage. But since the matter concerns the more intelligent, a reasonable creed would have a better appeal than a mere superstition. Such a creed might be one which inculcated in those who were promoted the duty of having more children than their fellows, as an act benefiting the human race. The prospect of such a creed arising does not seem very hopeful, but if by its means any country can even partly solve the problem, it will lead the world, and it will be doing so through the method of “Unconscious Selection”.” [emphasis mine] - 152
Aiding the Process: Altering Mankind
“…medical science might succeed in materially lengthening life without senility, though in a world of overcrowded population it is not very clear what would be gained. Looking a little deeper there is the possibility of substantially altering the intellectual and moral natures of individuals by some sort of hormonal injections; already great effects have been produced in animals. Finally, as the most curious speculation of all, it is not quite impossible that it may one day be feasible to select in advance the sex of each child that is to be born. Whether the decision is made by the parents, or by their rulers, this suggests that probability of a great unbalance in the populations of the world.” [emphasis mine] - 76
The idea of using injection to alter mankind was also promoted by Bertrand Russell in his 1952 book The Impact of Science on Society  :
“Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.” - 61
For more on Bertrand Russell’s views on the scientific breeding of humans, please read this previous article.
Returning to The Next Million Years:
“If a dictator should ever aspire to bring about some really permanent change in humanity, he could do it if, and only if, he knew how to alter some of the human genes, for only so could the changed quality become anchored as a fixed character of the race.” - 82
C. G. Darwin goes on to state that he does not believe that the direct scientific manipulation of genes will ever be possible but recent advances in genetics has made this a very likely possibility.
“It is always necessary to remember that nature itself is quite non-moral, and that there are many qualities which we by no means admire, which nevertheless are often regrettably effective in the struggle for life. All through the animal kingdom one of the most successful roles is that of the parasite, and there are states of human society where such a parasite as the professional beggar is as successful as anyone else. Something of the kind is unfortunately true in Britain just now. The people we are really encouraging are not those that we think we are for a great many of the people who get good promotion are contributing less than their share to the next generation. At present the most efficient way for a man to survive in Britain is to be almost half-witted, completely irresponsible and spending a lot of time in prison, where his health is far better looked after than outside; on coming out with restored health he is ready to beget many further children quite promiscuously, and these “problem children” are then beautifully cared for by the various charitable societies and agencies, until such time as they have grown old enough to carry on the good work for themselves. It is this parasitic type that is at present most favoured in our country; if nothing is done, a point will come where the parasite will kill its host by exhaustion and then of course itself perish miserably and contemptibly through having no one to support it. …” - 93
Not surprisingly, C. G. Darwin never contemplated the parasitic attributes of him and his fellow elite.
The final part in this series will examine the difficulties in controlling the size of the world population as described in C. G. Darwin’s The Next Million Years.
 Quotes from Charles Galton Darwin, The Next Million Years (1952).
 Quotes from Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society (1952). ISBN 0-415-10906-X