Genes vs. Ideas: The quest for the modern population

 

What is more important in a child’s value to the state, their genes or their ideas?  During the interwar period Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union would have answered that question in contradictory ways even though both countries were attempting a massive increase in reproduction.  Hoffman and Timmin in “Utopian Biopolitics” from Beyond Totalitarianism  argued that the summation of a child’s value to the state depended on the ideology propounded by the governing party.1  In Germany under the National Socialst party racial hygiene was the most important aspect of the population increase.  … Read the rest here

The Modernity Debate

In the article “European Modernity and Soviet Socialism,” David Hoffman strives to eradicate the notion of Russia being unique in comparison with other European countries (and therefore backwards and uncivilized).  While Russia did not follow the path of “…liberal democracy and industrial capitalism which characterized the political and economic systems of England, France, and the United States,” (Hoffman, 245) Russia certainly can be perceived as modern, if only the very definition of modernity be broadened.

Hoffman notes that in Western Europe, the definition of modernity and what constitutes as “modern” is very specific.… Read the rest here

Nazis 25 points: Modern eugenics taken to the extreme.

The 25 points, is a document which outlined the main goals of the burgeoning Nazi party in the 1920’s. The party gained mass support for there extreme combination of nationalist,  militarist, and socialist ideas throughout Germany. The party was seen as an organization that would be able to rise Germany from the destruction that followed after the end of World War One. At this time the liberal minded government of the Weimar Republic was seen as weak.… Read the rest here

Russell – The Future of Science

In this article, Russell likens the progress of science to the inventions of Daedalus and the inherent selfishness of mankind as Icarus. As the myth goes, Icarus flies too close to the sun, has his wings melted and falls to his death. He predicts a similar fate for humankind if they are given the technology to fly towards the sun.

This article has many metaphors and summaries about technological development, but from reading his introduction and conclusion, one gets the impression that he is using science as an example to debate the human psyche.… Read the rest here

The “Seeds” of Eugenics

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In this overt example of interwar propaganda, the practice of eugenics is promoted through a poignant visual and textual analogy to agriculture.  The double meaning of the key term “seed” is utilized in a comparison between spreading healthy plant seed for a bountiful harvest and spreading healthy human “seed” for the purposes of procreation, specifically the creation of a physically fit, mentally proficient, racially pure population.

The first block of text that appears at the top of the poster, “Only healthy seed must be sown!”, alludes to the exclusionist principles of eugenics.  … Read the rest here

Eugenics in Interwar Europe

“Eugenics is the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage,” states Francis Galton in his article, Eugenics: It’s Definition, Scope, and Aims in July 1904. Eugenic ideas spread through out Europe following the First World War. While eugenics is supposed to be about race quality, it became prevalent in interwar Europe mainly due to fear, and the need to transfer blame.… Read the rest here

British Eugenics: Race Versus Class

This eugenicist poster presents the differences between different African faces, highlighting the features of the so-considered “criminal” and “civil insane.”  I found it to be a good demonstration of the belief within eugenics that someone’s facial features could be used to determine their personality type.  Eugenicists believed that one’s personality could be determined by their appearance.  Having a “shorter, broader, higher head” for example could classify one as a criminal according to this poster.  Biology and anthropology were used as both logical proof and a moral conscience for these claims. … Read the rest here

Eugenics in the Modern Socialist State

With the rise of the modern socialist state, states now found themselves responsible for the well-being of their citizens. Because of the physical and mental capabilities of some citizens, many countries in Europe during the inter-war period began to advocate and implement eugenics programs in order to decrease the strain and burden on the bureaucratic system.

States such as France and Germany began to give benefits to its working class; the right to vote, improved health care, education, etc to name a few.… Read the rest here

Eugenics in Europe

Eugenics, the science of improving a countries human stock through specific breeding, had a significant impact on interwar Europe. Stone and Auslander both give their interpretations of how eugenics affected Europe. Stone discusses how, contrary to popular belief, eugenics in Britain was not exclusively targeted towards class, but how it was inadvertently also about race. Auslander explains how eugenics in interwar Europe manifests itself in the citizens aesthetic lifestyle choices, which reflects the sense of the countries nationalist philosophies.… Read the rest here

Eugenics in Interwar Europe

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http://www.ushmm.org/propaganda/archive/film-eternal-jew/

This is a German poster for a government scripted movie, entitled the “The Eternal Jew”. It is described as a documentary, but a cursory glance at the poster reveals that it is a eugenics motivated propaganda film. The features of the Jew on the cover are deliberately depicted as ugly and evil, reminiscent of a witch from the tales of the Brothers Grimm. This movie was released in 1940, and represents the exaggerated European eugenicist view of “degenerates” (Stone, 98) during the interwar period.… Read the rest here