Volltext: Problems in eugenics

162Section IIa. F. C. S. Schiller. 
By F. C. S. Schiller, M.A., D.Sc., 
Oxford- University. 
I may probably assume that at this Congress many voices will be 
uplifted to warn society in the name of science against the reckless way in 
which it is endangering the future of the human race. For the evidence is 
accumulating, and is already convincing to the more far-sighted, that the 
present ordering of all civilized societies, and particularly of our own, is 
promoting not the improvement of the human race, but its degeneration, 
and that at a very rapid rate. It also seems probable that the self- 
destructiveness of civilization is no new thing, but that we are only 
accelerating processes which have been operative more or less ever since 
the world grew to be civilized. 
Theoretically this is a very interesting conclusion. For it explains so 
much about history. It explains why the human race does not improve, 
why man for man we do not seem to be any better than the ancients, nor 
even, in the eyes of impartiall scientists, intrinsically superior to many 
savages. It explains why civilizations have in the past decayed, why 
throughout history the proud ruling races have died out, why the meek, 
the descendants of their slaves and subjects, the hewers of wood and 
drawers of water, have inherited the earth. In a variety of ways the 
ruling races have ruled themselves out, for a variety of reasons civilized 
societies die off at the top, and it is folly to imagine that so long as we 
repeat their errors we shall escape their fate. The complex machinery of 
civilized society does not run itself : it needs men to man it, and if a 
society is not capable of providing the men capable of controlling its 
machinery, it will only precipitate the ruin of the race. It is more 
essential than ever, therefore, that a modern society should put capable 
men at its head and enable them to rise to the control of things, while 
nothing is more ominous than that personal success should have so often to 
be purchased by racial extinction. A society in which this occurs habitually 
is organized so as to debase itself. True, the “ proletariat ” from below, 
after a fashion, still supplies the gaps at the top, and enters on the 
inheritance of the mighty men of old, and this, perhaps, is “ social justice ” > 
but it should not delude the average man into thinking that he is a superior 
being entitled to look down on essential achievements he could never rival. 
The inventor of the wheel or even of a new mode of chipping flints may 
well have been as great a genius as the human race has produced, and it 
accords well with this that the early palaeolithic races seem to have 
possessed a cranial capacity, not less, but greater, than our own. For in 
the dim red dawn of man the fool-killing apparatus of nature was terribly 
effective, and society could do little to mitigate its horrors, and to protect 
its inefficient members.


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