The National Post reports on this exhibition on eugenics at the Canadian War Museum. The exhibition “reveals how it was not thoughtless right-wing thugs as much as writers and scientists, the intellectual elite, who led the movement.”
It also fails to stress just how much the socialist left initiated and supported the eugenics campaign, not only in Germany but in Britain, the U. S. and the rest of Europe. Playwright George Bernard Shaw, English social democrat leader Sydney Webb and, in Canada, Tommy Douglas were just three influential socialists who called, for example, for the mass sterilization of the handicapped. In his Master’s thesis The Problems of the Subnormal Family, the now revered Douglas argued that the mentally and even physically disabled should be sterilized and sent to camps so as not to “infect” the rest of the population.
It is deeply significant that few if any of Douglas’s left-wing comrades in this country or internationally were surprised or offended by his proposals. Indeed the early fascism of 1920s Italy, while unsavoury and dictatorial, had little connection with social engineering and eugenics. The latter German version of fascism was influenced not by ultra conservatism in southern Europe but, as is made clear in the writings of the Nazi ideologues, by the Marxist left.
In England H. G. Wells proposed forced abortion and the elimination of inferior races.
South of the Canadian border the left also led the eugenics movement:
In the United States socialist writer Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and the mother of the abortion movement, called for a radical eugenics approach as early as the first years of the 20th century. She wrote of the need for “a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring. It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them. Herein lies the key of civilization.”