Ron Unz refers to my favorable review of his article on Chinese Social Darwnism. He doesn’t like the E-word and seems to think I mischaracterized his article by using “Chinese Eugenics” in the title. He might be right. I’m by no means an expert on eugenics. As I said in a comment to my original post:
I was using “eugenics” very broadly to refer to ancient eugenics, Clark’s and Unz’s selection models, and Miller’s more futuristic models. Eugenics has been happening for a very long time, so I tend to think of more in terms of the Clark model of downward social mobility / downward drift in genes, than in Miller’s more intentional model.
The gist of Unz’s criticism is that he thinks eugenics must be intentional.
But I’m not certain this is correct.
Early 20th century eugenicist Frederick Osborn thought that eugenics could be unintentional. He thought that society could be ordered in a way that it just happened. Regarding the modern state, Osborn, according to Wikipedia,
“argued that all that was needed was to simply wait until a specific set of social structures (a consumer economy and the nuclear family) developed to a point of dominance within capitalist culture. Once these structures matured, people would act eugenically without a second thought. Eugenic activity, instead of being an immediately identifiable, repugnant activity, would become one of the invisible taken-for-granted activities of everyday life (much like getting a vaccination).”
If I remember correctly what little I’ve read on eugenics, there seems to be recognition of accidental eugenics – circumstances set up such that it just happens without anyone intending it.
But I’m no expert. Perhaps Unz is correct. Thoughts?
Helmuth Nyborg, in “The decay of Western civilization: Double relaxed Darwinian Selection,” writes about dysgenic effects on society though relaxed selection pressure. There doesn’t appear to be any intentionality; I doubt most sane people would intentionally seek their own demise.
Volkmar Weiss, in “The Population Cycle Drives Human History — from a Eugenic Phase into a Dysgenic Phase and Eventual Collapse,” writes about the population structure of society bringing about eugenic and dysgenic effects. This often doesn’t appear to be intentional.
Ron Unz responds here.