Full text: Problems in eugenics

A. Loria.Sociology and Eugenics.183 
Now, all this clearly cannot be understood or explained unless it is 
understood that the economically superior classes are not psychically superior 
classes, and on that account capable of producing a progeny superior to an 
indifferent average. If marriages included in this class gave origin to truly 
select off-shoots, there would be in this fact an indication of the mental 
superiority of the progenitors. But if, on the contrary, these marriages gave 
origin to a degenerate offspring, it seems to me that such a fact throws a 
sufficiently unfavourable light upon the qualities of the progenitors, and 
that it destroys the theories that the economic élite are identical with the 
élite of thought and virtue. 
With all this, naturally we do not wish to assert the opposite con­ 
clusion—that the economically superior classes are always inferior psychically 
and vice versâ—a position which is disproved by the most elementary experi­ 
ence. More modestly affirming the absolute independence between the 
superiority of income and the superiority of intellect, we believe that we 
scrupulously attain to the proof from actual fact, which affords the clearest 
evidence of this independence. 
And this conclusion seems to us the only one which can inspire a decisive 
and rational line of conduct to the existing Eugenic movement. In fact, if 
we admit that a superiority of income indicates by itself a psycho-physical 
superiority, we must conclude that the conjugal selection which takes place 
to-day in the circle of class is at present conformable to eugenic principles 
and altogether excludes any practical propaganda to effect it. Do we 
desire, on the contrary, to accept the opposite affirmation, according to which 
psycho-phvsical eminence would be exclusively met with in the inferior 
classes? Well, then, in such a case we should be obliged to applaud the 
conjugal selection which is practised to-day, which, accelerating the extinc­ 
tion of the superior classes, removes from the theatre of life degenerate 
individuals and finally secures the survival of well-balanced and vigorous 
popular elements. 
Thus any theory which recognises the existence of a relation, direct or 
indirect, between psycho-physical superiority and economic superiority leads 
fatally to a eugenic nihilism and destroys all practical action. But, on the 
contrary, when one recognises (what is, besides, consistent with the facts) 
the absolute independence of psycho-physical and economical superiority, a 
precise field of action is open to eugenic policy. It is requisite to proceed 
to a minute and positive examination of individual characters, which must 
be directly ascertained and not inferred from the fantastic criterion of their 
economic position, and it is necessary to take care, by means of wise institu­ 
tions, so that marriages may take place exclusively amongst the most select 
class, physically and mentally. This will certainly be a difficult task, and 
one demanding assiduous collective labour ; and we are convinced that only 
this conscientious effort can lead to positive results, and such as will throw 
light upon our practical action.

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