The professed goal of eugenics has always been the betterment of society. Think of it as cross-generational plastic surgery. Some genes are more desirable than others â€” aka, â€œadaptiveâ€ â€” so if you want a perfect world, a few bad eggs have to go under the knife.
Where bio-eugenics sought to raise our collective intelligence by snipping gonads, â€œcultural eugenicsâ€ goes directly for the brain. There are differences, of course, but the inherited attitude is obvious. Both derive from a primal need to make distasteful traits disappear.
In the early 20thÂ century, American eugenicistsÂ on the leftÂ sought to sterilize the â€œfeeble-minded,â€ the addiction-prone, and various violent genotypes to create a more peaceable society. Rooted in Darwinian theory,Â the ideaÂ was to cull the modern herd down to the fittest personality types. Eventually, you arrive at anÂ MPR paradiseÂ â€œwhere all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.â€
The New England reformist Charles Davenport, who founded the Eugenics Record Office in 1910,Â spelled outÂ the broader objective in his â€œeugenics creedâ€: â€œI believe in striving to raise the human race to the highest plane of social organization, of cooperative work and of effective endeavor.â€
As always, progressives are eager to push society forward, but rarely concerned about the damage they leave behind. In retrospect, itâ€™s easy to see that the flip-side of their utopian dream was a nightmare of forced castration and genocide. At the time, the enlightened called it â€œprogressâ€ â€” presumably in a haughty accent.
Even if bio-eugenic policies are now taboo (with the covert exceptions ofÂ selective abortionsÂ andÂ pedigree sperm donors), the same intent survives in the ongoing purge of maladaptiveÂ ideasÂ from the public mind. On the surface, it seems reasonable. Some cultures are healthier than others, and thereâ€™s always room for improvement.
What alarms me about cultural eugenics is its hygiene-obsessed, technocratic ambition. Rather than persuade, or even conquer, it seeks to systematically cleanse.
Pruning Neurons in the Global Brain
Because the internet has penetrated the minds of pretty much everyone, online expression is a primary target for censorship. Tech giants have actively culled the â€œmeme poolâ€ for years now. Weâ€™ve seen sweeping FacebookÂ bans, TwitterÂ purges, and YouTubeÂ removals. Amazon is ramping up itsÂ book-burningÂ campaign. Democrats areÂ pressuringÂ cable providers to drop Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN for spreading â€œdisinformation.â€ Disney+ isÂ restrictingÂ classic kidâ€™s movies, while Dr. Seuss books areÂ being tossedÂ on the bonfire.
A month before Project Veritas had their Twitter accountÂ permanently suspended, they released anÂ undercover recordingÂ of the principal counsel of PBS telling it straight. PBS fired the guy, but really, he only voiced an arrogant cruelty that runs deep on the left:
Even if Biden wins, we go for all the Republican voters, and Homeland Security will take their children away.â€¦ And weâ€™ll put them into re-education camps.â€¦ Americans are so f***ing dumb.
I assume he was half-joking, but the other half counts. It echoes the stateâ€™s case for forced sterilizationÂ argued beforeÂ the Supreme Court inÂ Buck v. BellÂ (1927): â€œThese people belong to the shiftless, ignorant, and worthless class of anti-social whites of the South.â€
The courtÂ ruled in favorÂ of â€œsalpingectomy,â€ with Justice Holmes delivering the opinion: â€œThree generations of imbeciles are enough.â€
From the Human Genome to Cultural DNA
As Darwinâ€™s vision expands from finches to iPhones, theories of cultural evolution are gaining ground in high places. They attempt to establish consilience in the fields of biology, psychology, sociology, and technology. TheÂ bestÂ are remarkably coherent. AÂ fewÂ areÂ brilliant.
In this worldview, cultural information is analogous to the genetic code. Much like genes in the body, â€œmemesâ€ are expressed in society as myths, laws, and machinery. Programmed by various ideas and languages, our diverse ways of life compete and evolve much like biological forms. When selective pressures intensify â€” such as war, pandemics, or winter storms â€” only the best-adapted cultures will survive.
Mining that vein, a number ofÂ serious academicsÂ andÂ best-selling authorsÂ advocate for conscious intervention in our own cultural evolution. Some want toÂ remake societyÂ in the image of quaint New England towns. Others seek to excise the â€œgod of warâ€ from the human psyche.
None of these thinkers refer to themselves as â€œcultural eugenicistsâ€ any more than social justice warriors would call themselves â€œcultural Marxists.â€ But just as the latter shift Marxist critique from economics to identity, cultural eugenics shifts social engineering from the genome to ourÂ cultural DNA.
They approach society as a garden: we choose where to plant the best seeds, how far to trim the branches, and which weeds to pull.
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