Full text: Problems in eugenics

S. G. Smith.Appendix.481 
the State assumes the control of the Church in economic questions in almost 
every country. The secularisation of Church property enriching the State, 
at least for a time, has also thrown upon our political institutions a weight 
of enormous burden; and not content with assuming the ancient duties of 
caring for the sick and the aged, some countries at least are undertaking 
not only to furnish education, but the opportunity of toil, or at least a 
moderate degree of the results of successful toil. This is not the time 
to discuss the wisdom of these efforts, but at any rate the modern state seems 
disposed to hesitate at no undertaking to secure the well-being of its people. 
If the State has assumed authority over the Church in all temporal 
matters, its conquest of the home is still more complete. Time was when 
the English law declared a man’s house was his castle, if it was only a 
cottage; but that time lies far behind us. The State interposes, not alone 
to regulate parental authority, but to prescribe domestic duties. In highly 
civilised communities the law sets the standard of education, of comfort, 
and of character. It is difficult to limit parenthood, but it is easy to transfer 
the custody of the child from the parent and make him the ward of the State. 
The State, therefore, takes charge not only of the dependent and the 
delinquent child, but also the child of every parent faithless to the social 
standards prescribed by law. These suggestions indicate that in the modern 
state we have an organisation that would not hesitate to grapple with the 
problems of making a better race if only the path could be surely pointed 
out. In passing, it may be useful to suggest that the new social conciousness 
is not confined to the larger state. It vitally affects persons and groups of 
persons within the state. The old order of life laid down society in strata, 
but our modern times have brought in a multitude of new interests, and 
there is developing a new kind of democracy, growing out of the participa­ 
tion of people who differ in political or economic advantage, but who come 
together in groups on account of artistic, literary, and scientific interests. 
The social spirit is helped by every opportunity for its expression, and 
there is not only a political consciousness in the modern State, but there 
is a very effective social consciousness, justly, though perhaps vaguely, char­ 
acterised by the expression—the social mind. This social mind, made up 
of those ideas, faiths, and emotions which the social group holds in common, 
seeks to conquer every individual within its limits and to impose upon him 
definite standards of thought and conduct. 
We are not seeking to build a republic as Plato was, nor with Sir 
Thomas More map out the geography of some Utopia. We wish to use 
the institutions that we have; nor will we, like St. Augustine, take refuge 
from a broken world in some ideal “City of God.” 
The problem of parenthood was not absent from the Greek mind; but 
it comes to us in an entirely new way because we are, at any rate, more 
tender-hearted, whether or not we are so clear-sighted.

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