Thursday, May 25, 2017

Are We At 1910, 1917 or Later? This Stuff Isn't In The Past It's Being Promoted Now

I was not certain about posting this because it is a piece of Nazi eugenic propaganda, a short film called Das Erbe - The Inheritance.   I'm not sure about the motives of whoever it is who posted it at Youtube but the introductory music doesn't encourage me to think it's innocuous.  I've posted it to start at the beginning credits of the movie.  It's in German but, really, you can probably guess at most of what's being said.  It's Nazi propaganda.

It's a really eye-opening example of how the Nazis based their biological-racial-eugenics on a classical Darwinian presentation of natural selection, I believe you could find exactly every example "from nature" presented in the film or its close approximation within On The Origin of Species and the arguments when it turns even more sinister in which they treat human beings in The Descent of Man or in the works that Darwin cited to support his own conclusions in that book, especially by his closest German colleague and friend, Ernst Haeckel.   I think the example of the breeding of hunting dogs and race horses is especially Darwinian, the thing that links "nature" to assertions about human selection and breeding and culling.

The beginning, showing the pretty female lab assistant calling the wise old professor in to see the "struggle for life" between two stag beetles carries some pretty overt claims that what is relevant for that struggle is also relevant to human society, which is classic Darwinism.  Not "social Darwinism" though as Darwin, himself said, when he said "natural selection" he meant "survival of the fittest". That is the conclusion of Miss Volkmann ( "Volk" "Mann" standing in for the average consumer of the propaganda film) as the wise professor indoctrinates her in natural selection.*

Of especial interest for Americans comes at about 7:55  in the film when they give the "case" by the American eugenicist Henry Herbert Goddard  of "The Kallikak Family" which was still cited in American textbooks when I was in school, though it had been pretty thoroughly discredited as science and genealogy before the Nazis used it to support what would turn into the T-4 program of murdering the disabled.   You will notice how seamlessly that morphs into a quote by Hitler about how much caring for the disabled costs and how it robs "normal" Germans and promotion of Nazism as the thing that will produce biologically superior people through things like "the struggle of sport" and military aggression.   You might want to watch the whole thing or notice that whenever you see stuff about the Nazis on Youtube you are likely to get more overt current promotion of Nazism in the side bar.

I wish I could find an English translation of the text because some of what it says sounds a lot like what you can hear in the current debates over proposed Republican legislation.   Going over the history of German eugenics, from its beginning in the late 19th century, as it became steadily more extreme.  As the loss in the First World War popularized eugenics, gradually building as more "moderate" eugenics was popularized, only to become Nazi eugenics as the Weimar period declined into the Nazi years and as it developed into mass murder by 1939, you read and hear familiar phrases from our current politics anticipated.

Again, much of the English online mention of this film is ideologically sanitized.  In context, as a milestone in the gradual transformation of Germany from the "moderate" eugenics of the Weimar period to killing people in the hundreds of thousands and millions, this is really disturbing.

* I'll remind you that in his second consideration of Darwinism, Karl Marx noted that Darwin had, actually, attributed the vicious struggle of the British Class system to nature and turned Malthus upside down.

Update:  I located the source of that quote, Goddard's book Psychology of the Normal and Subnormal.  I've looked at the sections from which that quote is taken and it is quite an eye-opener into his motives.  It would seem, to me, that Goddard was in the business of creating "morons" as a large percentage of the human population so as to make an argument against democracy as the consent of the governed into a rule by "a truly benevolent aristocracy" composed of those who were deemed the most intelligent by scientific means.  Of course, that would mean that his kind of scientist would have a huge hand in determining that,  scientific Koch brothers, as it were.

And it all sounds very logical and very rational until you consider that the central problem of democracy isn't a matter of who is the most intelligent, it's a matter of who is the most moral and there's no guarantee that the most intelligent will be the most moral, the most willing to put aside their ability to game things for their own advantage so as to promote the common good.  That Goddard, the prissy, social and academic climber that he was, wanted to conflate the two.  He seems to think that if he can find a Greek word to do it with that that seals the argument for his kind of fascism of the smartest.  I'll probably write more about that later.


  1. "You will notice how seamlessly that morphs into a quote by Hitler about how much caring for the disabled costs...."

    Mick Mulvaney? Ebenezer Scrooge? Hard to tell the difference from here....(and of course Dickens was mocking Malthus)

  2. Ah yes, anything to get centuries of European anti-Semitism off the hook for the Holocaust.

    You're nothing if not predictable, Sparkles.