Enemies within

Even in 1940, at its finest hour, Britain was not united on the side of good against evil

“…Keynes advocated the widespread use of birth control, because the working class was too ‘drunken and ignorant’ to be trusted to keep its own numbers down. Shaw could write, ‘The only fundamental and possible socialism is the socialisation of the selective breeding of man’ and looked forward to a ‘Democracy of Supermen’. The New Statesman declared in July 1931: ‘The legitimate claims of eugenics are not inherently incompatible with the outlook of the collectivist movement.’ Meanwhile Russell dreamed up a wheeze that eluded the imagination even of Nazi Germany’s eugenicists. He suggested the state issue colour-coded ‘procreation tickets’. Those who dared breed with holders of a different-coloured ticket would face a heavy fine.

Few dared to talk this way after 1945, once the world had seen where the logic of eugenics led. But before the war a British leftist like J.B.S. Haldane felt no hesitation in warning that ‘Civilisation stands in real danger from over-production of “undermen”.’ Translated into German — Untermenschen — that’s a sentence to make you shudder.

It’s not that these people were Nazis; most were committed British patriots who supported war against Germany. The point, rather, is that some of the thinking we associate with Nazism and rightly find repulsive was not the exclusive preserve of Germany. It resonated even here.”

A handy reference. h/t Robert

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