Full text: Problems in eugenics

F. Houssay.Practical Eugenics.161 
descendants of those who have raised themselves to the highest social 
position—is not this a social evil by reason of the failure in progress which 
they represent, by reason of the loss of great potential forces? 
In my opinion the social losses, though not expressible in identical 
terms, are of equal importance at the two extremities of the ladder— 
extreme wealth and extreme poverty—and in the quest for a remedy, we 
ought to keep in mind all cases equally, because they all appear to have 
the same natural origin. 
But what can we say of voluntary or enforced sterilization if it is to be 
applied to wealthy degenerates? Perhaps they would often be easier to 
persuade into sterilization than paupers. For the rest, the voluntary re­ 
striction of families, brought about by considerations of quite another kind, 
and specially to conserve and concentrate their hoarded wealth—acts, no 
doubt, in a eugenic sense, in not multiplying the incapables who would in a 
short time scatter their wealth, already reduced by sub-division, and would 
become a surcharge on the public more palpable but not more real than 
before. As for the enforced sterilization which we have said ought to be faced 
and legitimatised as a penalty, the rich degenerates would escape, as now, 
solely by reason of their wealth, they escape most of the penalties which 
fall upon their poorer brethren. These can now certainly commit thefts and 
swindles with impunity, for which the poor pay with imprisonment, just 
because an indemnity will stop the prosecution. In the same way, all per­ 
sonal violence, short of murder, can almost always be atoned by a money 
payment. These rich degenerates will slip out of the penalty of sterilization 
as they now slip out of all the others. It would be desirable, highly desir­ 
able, that they should come under the grip of such a law, but in actual 
reality there is reason to fear that they would not. 
The inequality which thus comes to light when one seeks to extinguish 
degenerate stocks equally in the two extreme cases disappears if our motive 
is to struggle, whether in one case or the other, against the appearance of 
defect, to hinder the production of its known evolution, to struggle against it 
before it is inveterate and as soon as it is recognised. 
The social problem which Eugenics seeks to unravel would, on this view, 
become salved on hygienic and moral lines more efficiently and extensively 
than by the proposed penalty alone. 
In this way the various biological principles, which sometimes seem 
opposed to each other and to moral principles, would become convergent, 
and would find in Eugenics a ready reconciliation, a common field of useful 
labour, and a reasonable precedence suited to their respective importance. M
	        

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