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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

EUGENICS AND SOCIETY
recent article on Eutelegenesis * and Professor Muller's book Out of
the Night.2 Here it must suffice to point out that unless we alter the
social framework of law and ideas so as to make possible the divorce
between sex and reproduction, or if you prefer it between the in-
dividual and the social sides of our sexual functions, our efforts at
evolutionary improvement will remain mere tinkering,, no more de-
serving the proud title of eugenics than does the mending of saucepans
deserve to be called engineering.
That consummation, you will perhaps say, is impossibly remote
from our imperfect present, hardly to be affected by any of our little
strivings to-day. That may be so: but I am not so sure. Let us
remember that modern science is a mere three centuries old: yet it
has already achieved changes in outlook that are of comparable
magnitude. Biological science is only now attaining its maturity, and
the social sciences are mere infants. Looked at in the long perspective
of evolution, the present phase of human activity is one of transition
between that of acceptance and that of control of destiny, between
magic and science, between unconsciously-nurtured phantasy and
consciously-faced reason. It is, in the sense of the word used in
physics, a critical phase: and being so, it cannot be either stable or
long-enduring.
It is to my mind not only permissible but highly desirable to look
far ahead. Otherwise we are in danger of mistaking for our eugenic
ideal a mere glorification of our prejudices and our subjective wish-
fulfilments. It is not eugenics but left-wing politics if we merely talk
of favouring the survival and reproduction of the proletariat at the
expense of the bourgeoisie. It is not eugenics but right-wing politics
if we merely talk of favouring the breeding of the upper classes of our
present social system at the expense of the lower* It is not eugenics
but nationalist and imperialist politics if we speak in such terms as
subject races or miscegenation. Our conclusions in any particular
case may be on balance eugenically correct (though the correlation
between broad social or ethnic divisions and genetic values can never
be high), yet they will not be based primarily upon eugenic considera-
tions, but upon social or national bias. The public-school ideal, or
that of the working-class movement, or that of colonial imperialism^
may be good ideals; but they are not eugenic ideals.
Before concluding, I should like to draw attention to one eugenic-
ally important consequence of recent progress in pure genetics,   In all
organisms so far investigated, deleterious mutations far outnumber
useful ones.   There is an inherent tendency for the hereditary con-
1 Brewer, H., 1935.                      a Mutter, H. J., 1935.
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