Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Pivot of Civilization by Margaret Sanger

Part 2 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

and awaken intelligence as to the extravagance and cost to the
community of our present codes of traditional morality. But we should
make sure in all such surveys, that mental defect is not concealed
even in such dignified bodies as state legislatures and among those
leaders who are urging men and women to reckless and irresponsible

I have touched upon these various aspects of the complex problem of
the feeble-minded, and the menace of the moron to human society, not
merely for the purpose of reiterating that it is one of the greatest
and most difficult social problems of modern times, demanding an
immediate, stern and definite policy, but because it illustrates the
actual harvest of reliance upon traditional morality, upon the
biblical injunction to increase and multiply, a policy still taught by
politician, priest and militarist. Motherhood has been held
universally sacred; yet, as Bouchacourt pointed out, ``to-day, the
dregs of the human species, the blind, the deaf-mute, the degenerate,
the nervous, the vicious, the idiotic, the imbecile, the cretins and
the epileptics--are better protected than pregnant women.'' The
syphilitic, the irresponsible, the feeble-minded are encouraged to
breed unhindered, while all the powerful forces of tradition, of
custom, or prejudice, have bolstered up the desperate effort to block
the inevitable influence of true civilization in spreading the
principles of independence, self-reliance, discrimination and
foresight upon which the great practice of intelligent parenthood is

To-day we are confronted by the results of this official policy.
There is no escaping it; there is no explaining it away. Surely it is
an amazing and discouraging phenomenon that the very governments that
have seen fit to interfere in practically every phase of the normal
citizen's life, dare not attempt to restrain, either by force or
persuasion, the moron and the imbecile from producing his large family
of feeble-minded offspring.

In my own experience, I recall vividly the case of a feeble-minded
girl who every year, for a long period, received the expert attention
of a great specialist in one of the best-known maternity hospitals of
New York City. The great obstetrician, for the benefit of interns and
medical students, performed each year a Caesarian operation upon this
unfortunate creature to bring into the world her defective, and, in
one case at least, her syphilitic, infant. ``Nelly'' was then sent to
a special room and placed under the care of a day nurse and a night
nurse, with extra and special nourishment provided. Each year she
returned to the hospital. Such cases are not exceptions; any
experienced doctor or nurse can recount similar stories. In the
interest of medical science this practice may be justified. I am not
criticising it from that point of view. I realize as well as the most
conservative moralist that humanity requires that healthy members of
the race should make certain sacrifices to preserve from death those
unfortunates who are born with hereditary taints. But there is a
point at which philanthropy may become positively dysgenic, when
charity is converted into injustice to the self-supporting citizen,
into positive injury to the future of the race. Such a point, it seems
obvious, is reached when the incurably defective are permitted to
procreate and thus increase their numbers.

The problem of the dependent, delinquent and defective elements in
modern society, we must repeat, cannot be minimized because of their
alleged small numerical proportion to the rest of the population. The
proportion seems small only because we accustom ourselves to the habit
of looking upon feeble-mindedness as a separate and distinct calamity
to the race, as a chance phenomenon unrelated to the sexual and
biological customs not only condoned but even encouraged by our so-
called civilization. The actual dangers can only be fully realized
when we have acquired definite information concerning the financial
and cultural cost of these classes to the community, when we become
fully cognizant of the burden of the imbecile upon the whole human
race; when we see the funds that should be available for human
development, for scientific, artistic and philosophic research, being
diverted annually, by hundreds of millions of dollars, to the care and
segregation of men, women, and children who never should have been
born. The advocate of Birth Control realizes as well as all
intelligent thinkers the dangers of interfering with personal liberty.
Our whole philosophy is, in fact, based upon the fundamental
assumption that man is a self-conscious, self-governing creature, that
he should not be treated as a domestic animal; that he must be left
free, at least within certain wide limits, to follow his own wishes in
the matter of mating and in the procreation of children. Nor do we
believe that the community could or should send to the lethal chamber
the defective progeny resulting from irresponsible and unintelligent

But modern society, which has respected the personal liberty of the
individual only in regard to the unrestricted and irresponsible
bringing into the world of filth and poverty an overcrowding
procession of infants foredoomed to death or hereditable disease, is
now confronted with the problem of protecting itself and its future
generations against the inevitable consequences of this long-practised
policy of LAISSER-FAIRE.

The emergency problem of segregation and sterilization must be faced
immediately. Every feeble-minded girl or woman of the hereditary type,
especially of the moron class, should be segregated during the
reproductive period. Otherwise, she is almost certain to bear
imbecile children, who in turn are just as certain to breed other
defectives. The male defectives are no less dangerous. Segregation
carried out for one or two generations would give us only partial
control of the problem. Moreover, when we realize that each feeble-
minded person is a potential source of an endless progeny of defect,
we prefer the policy of immediate sterilization, of making sure that
parenthood is absolutely prohibited to the feeble-minded.

This, I say, is an emergency measure. But how are we to prevent the
repetition in the future of a new harvest of imbecility, the
recurrence of new generations of morons and defectives, as the logical
and inevitable consequence of the universal application of the
traditional and widely approved command to increase and multiply?

At the present moment, we are offered three distinct and more or less
mutually exclusive policies by which civilization may hope to protect
itself and the generations of the future from the allied dangers of
imbecility, defect and delinquency. No one can understand the
necessity for Birth control education without a complete comprehension
of the dangers, the inadequacies, or the limitations of the present
attempts at control, or the proposed programs for social
reconstruction and racial regeneration. It is, therefore, necessary
to interpret and criticize the three programs offered to meet our
emergency. These may be briefly summarized as follows:

(1) Philanthropy and Charity: This is the present and traditional
method of meeting the problems of human defect and dependence, of
poverty and delinquency. It is emotional, altruistic, at best
ameliorative, aiming to meet the individual situation as it arises and
presents itself. Its effect in practise is seldom, if ever, truly
preventive. Concerned with symptoms, with the allaying of acute and
catastrophic miseries, it cannot, if it would, strike at the radical
causes of social misery. At its worst, it is sentimental and

(2) Marxian Socialism: This may be considered typical of many widely
varying schemes of more or less revolutionary social reconstruction,
emphasizing the primary importance of environment, education, equal
opportunity, and health, in the elimination of the conditions (i. e.
capitalistic control of industry) which have resulted in biological
chaos and human waste. I shall attempt to show that the Marxian
doctrine is both too limited, too superficial and too fragmentary in
its basic analysis of human nature and in its program of revolutionary

(3) Eugenics: Eugenics seems to me to be valuable in its critical
and diagnostic aspects, in emphasizing the danger of irresponsible and
uncontrolled fertility of the ``unfit'' and the feeble-minded
establishing a progressive unbalance in human society and lowering the
birth-rate among the ``fit.'' But in its so-called ``constructive''
aspect, in seeking to reestablish the dominance of healthy strain over
the unhealthy, by urging an increased birth-rate among the fit, the
Eugenists really offer nothing more farsighted than a ``cradle
competition'' between the fit and the unfit. They suggest in very
truth, that all intelligent and respectable parents should take as
their example in this grave matter of child-bearing the most
irresponsible elements in the community.

[1] United States Public Health Service: Psychiatric Studies of Delinquents.
Reprint No. 598: pp. 64-65.
[2] The Problem of the Feeble-Minded: An Abstract of the Report of
the Royal Commission on the Cure and Control of the Feeble-Minded,
London: P. S. King & Son.
[3] Cf. Feeble-Minded in Ontario: Fourteenth Report for the year ending
October 31st, 1919.
[4] Eugenics Review, Vol. XIII, p. 339 et seq.
[5] Dwellers in the Vale of Siddem: A True Story of the Social Aspect of
Feeble-mindedness. By A. C. Rogers and Maud A. Merrill; Boston (1919).

CHAPTER V: The Cruelty of Charity

``Fostering the good-for-nothing at the expense of the
good is an extreme cruelty. It is a deliberate storing
up of miseries for future generations. There is no greater
curse to posterity than that of bequeathing them an increasing
population of imbeciles.''

Herbert Spencer

The last century has witnessed the rise and development of
philanthropy and organized charity. Coincident with the all-
conquering power of machinery and capitalistic control, with the
unprecedented growth of great cities and industrial centers, and the
creation of great proletarian populations, modern civilization has
been confronted, to a degree hitherto unknown in human history, with
the complex problem of sustaining human life in surroundings and under
conditions flagrantly dysgenic.

The program, as I believe all competent authorities in contemporary
philanthropy and organized charity would agree, has been altered in
aim and purpose. It was first the outgrowth of humanitarian and
altruistic idealism, perhaps not devoid of a strain of sentimentalism,
of an idealism that was aroused by a desperate picture of human misery
intensified by the industrial revolution. It has developed in later
years into a program not so much aiming to succor the unfortunate
victims of circumstances, as to effect what we may term social
sanitation. Primarily, it is a program of self-protection.
Contemporary philanthropy, I believe, recognizes that extreme poverty
and overcrowded slums are veritable breeding-grounds of epidemics,
disease, delinquency and dependency. Its aim, therefore, is to
prevent the individual family from sinking to that abject condition in
which it will become a much heavier burden upon society.

There is no need here to criticize the obvious limitations of
organized charities in meeting the desperate problem of destitution.
We are all familiar with these criticisms: the common indictment of
``inefficiency'' so often brought against public and privately endowed
agencies. The charges include the high cost of administration; the
pauperization of deserving poor, and the encouragement and fostering
of the ``undeserving''; the progressive destruction of self-respect
and self-reliance by the paternalistic interference of social
agencies; the impossibility of keeping pace with the ever-increasing
multiplication of factors and influences responsible for the
perpetuation of human misery; the misdirection and misappropriation of
endowments; the absence of interorganization and coordination of the
various agencies of church, state, and privately endowed institutions;
the ``crimes of charity'' that are occasionally exposed in newspaper
scandals. These and similar strictures we may ignore as irrelevant to
our present purpose, as inevitable but not incurable faults that have
been and are being eliminated in the slow but certain growth of a
beneficent power in modern civilization. In reply to such criticisms,
the protagonist of modern philanthropy might justly point to the
honest and sincere workers and disinterested scientists it has
mobilized, to the self-sacrificing and hard-working executives who
have awakened public attention to the evils of poverty and the menace
to the race engendered by misery and filth.

Even if we accept organized charity at its own valuation, and grant
that it does the best it can, it is exposed to a more profound
criticism. It reveals a fundamental and irremediable defect. Its
very success, its very efficiency, its very necessity to the social
order, are themselves the most unanswerable indictment. Organized
charity itself is the symptom of a malignant social disease.

Those vast, complex, interrelated organizations aiming to control and
to diminish the spread of misery and destitution and all the menacing
evils that spring out of this sinisterly fertile soil, are the surest
sign that our civilization has bred, is breeding and is perpetuating
constantly increasing numbers of defectives, delinquents and
dependents. My criticism, therefore, is not directed at the
``failure'' of philanthropy, but rather at its success.

These dangers inherent in the very idea of humanitarianism and
altruism, dangers which have to-day produced their full harvest of
human waste, of inequality and inefficiency, were fully recognized in
the last century at the moment when such ideas were first put into
practice. Readers of Huxley's attack on the Salvation Army will
recall his penetrating and stimulating condemnation of the debauch of
sentimentalism which expressed itself in so uncontrolled a fashion in
the Victorian era. One of the most penetrating of American thinkers,
Henry James, Sr., sixty or seventy years ago wrote: ``I have been so
long accustomed to see the most arrant deviltry transact itself in the
name of benevolence, that the moment I hear a profession of good will
from almost any quarter, I instinctively look around for a constable
or place my hand within reach of a bell-rope. My ideal of human
intercourse would be a state of things in which no man will ever stand
in need of any other man's help, but will derive all his satisfaction
from the great social tides which own no individual names. I am sure
no man can be put in a position of dependence upon another, without
the other's very soon becoming--if he accepts the duties of the
relation--utterly degraded out of his just human proportions. No man
can play the Deity to his fellow man with impunity--I mean, spiritual
impunity, of course. For see: if I am at all satisfied with that
relation, if it contents me to be in a position of generosity towards
others, I must be remarkably indifferent at bottom to the gross social
inequality which permits that position, and, instead of resenting the
enforced humiliation of my fellow man to myself in the interests of
humanity, I acquiesce in it for the sake of the profit it yields to my
own self-complacency. I do hope the reign of benevolence is over;
until that event occurs, I am sure the reign of God will be

To-day, we may measure the evil effects of ``benevolence'' of this
type, not merely upon those who have indulged in it, but upon the
community at large. These effects have been reduced to statistics and
we cannot, if we would, escape their significance. Look, for instance
(since they are close at hand, and fairly representative of conditions
elsewhere) at the total annual expenditures of public and private
``charities and corrections'' for the State of New York. For the year
ending June 30, 1919, the expenditures of public institutions and
agencies amounted to $33, 936,205.88. The expenditures of privately
supported and endowed institutions for the same year, amount to
$58,100,530.98. This makes a total, for public and private charities
and corrections of $92,036,736.86. A conservative estimate of the
increase for the year (1920-1921) brings this figure approximately to
one-hundred and twenty-five millions. These figures take on an
eloquent significance if we compare them to the comparatively small
amounts spent upon education, conservation of health and other
constructive efforts. Thus, while the City of New York spent $7.35
per capita on public education in the year 1918, it spent on public
charities no less than $2.66. Add to this last figure an even larger
amount dispensed by private agencies, and we may derive some definite
sense of the heavy burden of dependency, pauperism and delinquency
upon the normal and healthy sections of the community.

Statistics now available also inform us that more than a million
dollars are spent annually to support the public and private
institutions in the state of New York for the segregation of the
feeble-minded and the epileptic. A million and a half is spent for
the up-keep of state prisons, those homes of the ``defective
delinquent.'' Insanity, which, we should remember, is to a great
extent hereditary, annually drains from the state treasury no less
than $11,985,695.55, and from private sources and endowments another
twenty millions. When we learn further that the total number of
inmates in public and private institutions in the State of New York--
in alms-houses, reformatories, schools for the blind, deaf and mute,
in insane asylums, in homes for the feeble-minded and epileptic--
amounts practically to less than sixty-five thousand, an insignificant
number compared to the total population, our eyes should be opened to
the terrific cost to the community of this dead weight of human waste.

The United States Public Health Survey of the State of Oregon,
recently published, shows that even a young community, rich in natural
resources, and unusually progressive in legislative measures, is no
less subject to this burden. Out of a total population of 783,000 it
is estimated that more than 75,000 men, women and children are
dependents, feeble-minded, or delinquents. Thus about 10 per cent. of
the population is a constant drain on the finances, health, and future
of that community. These figures represent a more definite and
precise survey than the rough one indicated by the statistics of
charities and correction for the State of New York. The figures
yielded by this Oregon survey are also considerably lower than the
average shown by the draft examination, a fact which indicates that
they are not higher than might be obtained from other States.

Organized charity is thus confronted with the problem of feeble-
mindedness and mental defect. But just as the State has so far
neglected the problem of mental defect until this takes the form of
criminal delinquency, so the tendency of our philanthropic and
charitable agencies has been to pay no attention to the problem until
it has expressed itself in terms of pauperism and delinquency. Such
``benevolence'' is not merely ineffectual; it is positively injurious
to the community and the future of the race.

But there is a special type of philanthropy or benevolence, now
widely advertised and advocated, both as a federal program and as
worthy of private endowment, which strikes me as being more
insidiously injurious than any other. This concerns itself directly
with the function of maternity, and aims to supply GRATIS medical and
nursing facilities to slum mothers. Such women are to be visited by
nurses and to receive instruction in the ``hygiene of pregnancy''; to
be guided in making arrangements for confinements; to be invited to
come to the doctor's clinics for examination and supervision. They
are, we are informed, to ``receive adequate care during pregnancy, at
confinement, and for one month afterward.'' Thus are mothers and
babies to be saved. ``Childbearing is to be made safe.'' The work of
the maternity centers in the various American cities in which they
have already been established and in which they are supported by
private contributions and endowment, it is hardly necessary to point
out, is carried on among the poor and more docile sections of the
city, among mothers least able, through poverty and ignorance, to
afford the care and attention necessary for successful maternity. Now,
as the findings of Tredgold and Karl Pearson and the British Eugenists
so conclusively show, and as the infant mortality reports so
thoroughly substantiate, a high rate of fecundity is always associated
with the direst poverty, irresponsibility, mental defect, feeble-
mindedness, and other transmissible taints. The effect of maternity
endowments and maternity centers supported by private philanthropy
would have, perhaps already have had, exactly the most dysgenic
tendency. The new government program would facilitate the function of
maternity among the very classes in which the absolute necessity is to
discourage it.

Such ``benevolence'' is not merely superficial and near-sighted. It
conceals a stupid cruelty, because it is not courageous enough to face
unpleasant facts. Aside from the question of the unfitness of many
women to become mothers, aside from the very definite deterioration in
the human stock that such programs would inevitably hasten, we may
question its value even to the normal though unfortunate mother. For
it is never the intention of such philanthropy to give the poor over-
burdened and often undernourished mother of the slum the opportunity
to make the choice herself, to decide whether she wishes time after to
time to bring children into the world. It merely says ``Increase and
multiply: We are prepared to help you do this.'' Whereas the great
majority of mothers realize the grave responsibility they face in
keeping alive and rearing the children they have already brought into
the world, the maternity center would teach them how to have more.
The poor woman is taught how to have her seventh child, when what she
wants to know is how to avoid bringing into the world her eighth.

Such philanthropy, as Dean Inge has so unanswerably pointed out, is
kind only to be cruel, and unwittingly promotes precisely the results
most deprecated. It encourages the healthier and more normal sections
of the world to shoulder the burden of unthinking and indiscriminate
fecundity of others; which brings with it, as I think the reader must
agree, a dead weight of human waste. Instead of decreasing and aiming
to eliminate the stocks that are most detrimental to the future of the
race and the world, it tends to render them to a menacing degree

On the other hand, the program is an indication of a suddenly awakened
public recognition of the shocking conditions surrounding pregnancy,
maternity, and infant welfare prevailing at the very heart of our
boasted civilization. So terrible, so unbelievable, are these
conditions of child-bearing, degraded far below the level of primitive
and barbarian tribes, nay, even below the plane of brutes, that many
high-minded people, confronted with such revolting and disgraceful
facts, lost that calmness of vision and impartiality of judgment so
necessary in any serious consideration of this vital problem. Their
``hearts'' are touched; they become hysterical; they demand immediate
action; and enthusiastically and generously they support the first
superficial program that is advanced. Immediate action may sometimes
be worse than no action at all. The ``warm heart'' needs the balance
of the cool head. Much harm has been done in the world by those too-
good-hearted folk who have always demanded that ``something be done at

They do not stop to consider that the very first thing to be done is
to subject the whole situation to the deepest and most rigorous
thinking. As the late Walter Bagehot wrote in a significant but too
often forgotten passage:

``The most melancholy of human reflections, perhaps, is that on the
whole it is a question whether the benevolence of mankind does more
good or harm. Great good, no doubt, philanthropy does, but then it
also does great evil. It augments so much vice, it multiplies so much
suffering, it brings to life such great populations to suffer and to
be vicious, that it is open to argument whether it be or be not an
evil to the world, and this is entirely because excellent people fancy
they can do much by rapid action, and that they will most benefit the
world when they most relieve their own feelings; that as soon as an
evil is seen, `something' ought to be done to stay and prevent it.
One may incline to hope that the balance of good over evil is in favor
of benevolence; one can hardly bear to think that it is not so; but
anyhow it is certain that there is a most heavy debt of evil, and that
this burden might almost all have been spared us if philanthropists as
well as others had not inherited form their barbarous forefathers a
wild passion for instant action.''

It is customary, I believe, to defend philanthropy and charity upon
the basis of the sanctity of human life. Yet recent events in the
world reveal a curious contradiction in this respect. Human life is
held sacred, as a general Christian principle, until war is declared,
when humanity indulges in a universal debauch of bloodshed and
barbarism, inventing poison gases and every type of diabolic
suggestion to facilitate killing and starvation. Blockades are
enforced to weaken and starve civilian populations--women and
children. This accomplished, the pendulum of mob passion swings back
to the opposite extreme, and the compensatory emotions express
themselves in hysterical fashion. Philanthropy and charity are then
unleashed. We begin to hold human life sacred again. We try to save
the lives of the people we formerly sought to weaken by devastation,
disease and starvation. We indulge in ``drives,'' in campaigns of
relief, in a general orgy of international charity.

We are thus witnessing to-day the inauguration of a vast system of
international charity. As in our more limited communities and cities,
where self-sustaining and self-reliant sections of the population are
forced to shoulder the burden of the reckless and irresponsible, so in
the great world community the more prosperous and incidentally less
populous nations are asked to relieve and succor those countries which
are either the victims of the wide-spread havoc of war, of
militaristic statesmanship, or of the age-long tradition of reckless
propagation and its consequent over-population.

The people of the United States have recently been called upon to
exercise their traditional generosity not merely to aid the European
Relief Council in its efforts to keep alive three million, five
hundred thousand starving children in Central Europe, but in addition
to contribute to that enormous fund to save the thirty million Chinese
who find themselves at the verge of starvation, owing to one of those
recurrent famines which strike often at that densely populated and
inert country, where procreative recklessness is encouraged as a
matter of duty. The results of this international charity have not
justified the effort nor repaid the generosity to which it appealed.
In the first place, no effort was made to prevent the recurrence of
the disaster; in the second place, philanthropy of this type attempts
to sweep back the tide of miseries created by unrestricted
propagation, with the feeble broom of sentiment. As one of the most
observant and impartial of authorities on the Far East, J. O. P.
Bland, has pointed out: ``So long as China maintains a birth-rate
that is estimated at fifty-five per thousand or more, the only
possible alternative to these visitations would be emigration and this
would have to be on such a scale as would speedily overrun and
overfill the habitable globe. Neither humanitarian schemes,
international charities nor philanthropies can prevent widespread
disaster to a people which habitually breeds up to and beyond the
maximum limits of its food supply.'' Upon this point, it is
interesting to add, Mr. Frank A. Vanderlip has likewise pointed out
the inefficacy and misdirection of this type of international

Mr. Bland further points out: ``The problem presented is one with
which neither humanitarian nor religious zeal can ever cope, so long
as we fail to recognize and attack the fundamental cause of these
calamities. As a matter of sober fact, the benevolent activities of
our missionary societies to reduce the deathrate by the prevention of
infanticide and the checking of disease, actually serve in the end to
aggravate the pressure of population upon its food-supply and to
increase the severity of the inevitably resultant catastrophe. What
is needed for the prevention, or, at least, the mitigation of these
scourges, is an organized educational propaganda, directed first
against polygamy and the marriage of minors and the unfit, and, next,
toward such a limitation of the birth-rate as shall approximate the
standard of civilized countries. But so long as Bishops and well
meaning philanthropists in England and America continue to praise and
encourage `the glorious fertility of the East' there can be but little
hope of minimizing the penalties of the ruthless struggle for
existence in China, and Nature's law will therefore continue to work
out its own pitiless solution, weeding out every year millions of
predestined weaklings.''

This rapid survey is enough, I hope, to indicate the manifold
inadequacies inherent in present policies of philanthropy and charity.
The most serious charge that can be brought against modern
``benevolence'' is that it encourages the perpetuation of defectives,
delinquents and dependents. These are the most dangerous elements in
the world community, the most devastating curse on human progress and
expression. Philanthropy is a gesture characteristic of modern
business lavishing upon the unfit the profits extorted from the
community at large. Looked at impartially, this compensatory
generosity is in its final effect probably more dangerous, more
dysgenic, more blighting than the initial practice of profiteering and
the social injustice which makes some too rich and others too poor.

[1] Birth Control Review. Vol. V. No. 4. p. 7.

CHAPTER VI: Neglected Factors of the World Problem

War has thrust upon us a new internationalism. To-day the world is
united by starvation, disease and misery. We are enjoying the ironic
internationalism of hatred. The victors are forced to shoulder the
burden of the vanquished. International philanthropies and charities
are organized. The great flux of immigration and emigration has
recommenced. Prosperity is a myth; and the rich are called upon to
support huge philanthropies, in the futile attempt to sweep back the
tide of famine and misery. In the face of this new internationalism,
this tangled unity of the world, all proposed political and economic
programs reveal a woeful common bankruptcy. They are fragmentary and
superficial. None of them go to the root of this unprecedented world
problem. Politicians offer political solutions,--like the League of
Nations or the limitation of navies. Militarists offer new schemes of
competitive armament. Marxians offer the Third Internationale and
industrial revolution. Sentimentalists offer charity and
philanthropy. Coordination or correlation is lacking. And matters go
steadily from bad to worse.

The first essential in the solution of any problem is the recognition
and statement of the factors involved. Now in this complex problem
which to-day confronts us, no attempt has been made to state the
primary facts. The statesman believes they are all political.
Militarists believe they are all military and naval. Economists,
including under the term the various schools for Socialists, believe
they are industrial and financial. Churchmen look upon them as
religious and ethical. What is lacking is the recognition of that
fundamental factor which reflects and coordinates these essential but
incomplete phases of the problem,--the factor of reproduction. For in
all problems affecting the welfare of a biological species, and
particularly in all problems of human welfare, two fundamental forces
work against each other. There is hunger as the driving force of all
our economic, industrial and commercial organizations; and there is
the reproductive impulse in continual conflict with our economic,
political settlements, race adjustments and the like. Official
moralists, statesmen, politicians, philanthropists and economists
display an astounding disregard of this second disorganizing factor.
They treat the world of men as if it were purely a hunger world
instead of a hunger-sex world. Yet there is no phase of human
society, no question of politics, economics, or industry that is not
tied up in almost equal measure with the expression of both of these
primordial impulses. You cannot sweep back overpowering dynamic
instincts by catchwords. You can neglect and thwart sex only at your
peril. You cannot solve the problem of hunger and ignore the problem
of sex. They are bound up together.

While the gravest attention is paid to the problem of hunger and food,
that of sex is neglected. Politicians and scientists are ready and
willing to speak of such things as a ``high birth rate,'' infant
mortality, the dangers of immigration or over-population. But with
few exceptions they cannot bring themselves to speak of Birth Control.
Until they shall have broken through the traditional inhibitions
concerning the discussion of sexual matters, until they recognize the
force of the sexual instinct, and until they recognize Birth Control
as the PIVOTAL FACTOR in the problem confronting the world to-day, our
statesmen must continue to work in the dark. Political palliatives
will be mocked by actuality. Economic nostrums are blown willy-nilly
in the unending battle of human instincts.

A brief survey of the past three or four centuries of Western
civilization suggests the urgent need of a new science to help
humanity in the struggle with the vast problem of to-day's disorder
and danger. That problem, as we envisage it, is fundamentally a
sexual problem. Ethical, political, and economic avenues of approach
are insufficient. We must create a new instrument, a new technique to
make any adequate solution possible.

The history of the industrial revolution and the dominance of all-
conquering machinery in Western civilization show the inadequacy of
political and economic measures to meet the terrific rise in
population. The advent of the factory system, due especially to the
development of machinery at the beginning of the nineteenth century,
upset all the grandiloquent theories of the previous era. To meet the
new situation created by the industrial revolution arose the new
science of ``political economy,'' or economics. Old political methods
proved inadequate to keep pace with the problem presented by the rapid
rise of the new machine and industrial power. The machine era very
shortly and decisively exploded the simple belief that ``all men are
born free and equal.'' Political power was superseded by economic and
industrial power. To sustain their supremacy in the political field,
governments and politicians allied themselves to the new industrial
oligarchy. Old political theories and practices were totally
inadequate to control the new situation or to meet the complex
problems that grew out of it.

Just as the eighteenth century saw the rise and proliferation of
political theories, the nineteenth witnessed the creation and
development of the science of economics, which aimed to perfect an
instrument for the study and analysis of an industrial society, and to
offer a technique for the solution of the multifold problems it
presented. But at the present moment, as the outcome of the machine
era and competitive populations, the world has been thrown into a new
situation, the solution of which is impossible solely by political or
economic weapons.

The industrial revolution and the development of machinery in Europe
and America called into being a new type of working-class. Machines
were at first termed ``labor-saving devices.'' In reality, as we now
know, mechanical inventions and discoveries created unprecedented and
increasingly enormous demand for ``labor.'' The omnipresent and still
existing scandal of child labor is ample evidence of this. Machine
production in its opening phases, demanded large, concentrated and
exploitable populations. Large production and the huge development of
international trade through improved methods of transport, made
possible the maintenance upon a low level of existence of these
rapidly increasing proletarian populations. With the rise and spread
throughout Europe and America of machine production, it is now
possible to correlate the expansion of the ``proletariat.'' The
working-classes bred almost automatically to meet the demand for
machine-serving ``hands.''

The rise in population, the multiplication of proletarian populations
as a first result of mechanical industry, the appearance of great
centers of population, the so-called urban drift, and the evils of
overcrowding still remain insufficiently studied and stated. It is a
significant though neglected fact that when, after long agitation in
Great Britain, child labor was finally forbidden by law, the supply of
children dropped appreciably. No longer of economic value in the
factory, children were evidently a drug in the ``home.'' Yet it is
doubly significant that from this moment British labor began the long
unending task of self-organization.[1]

Nineteenth century economics had no method of studying the
interrelation of the biological factors with the industrial.
Overcrowding, overwork, the progressive destruction of responsibility
by the machine discipline, as is now perfectly obvious, had the most
disastrous consequences upon human character and human habits.[2]
Paternalistic philanthropies and sentimental charities, which sprang
up like mushrooms, only tended to increase the evils of indiscriminate
breeding. From the physiological and psychological point of view, the
factory system has been nothing less than catastrophic.

Dr. Austin Freeman has recently pointed out [3] some of the
physiological, psychological, and racial effects of machinery upon the
proletariat, the breeders of the world. Speaking for Great Britain,
Dr. Freeman suggests that the omnipresence of machinery tends toward
the production of large but inferior populations. Evidences of
biological and racial degeneracy are apparent to this observer.
``Compared with the African negro,'' he writes, ``the British sub-man
is in several respects markedly inferior. He tends to be dull; he is
usually quite helpless and unhandy; he has, as a rule, no skill or
knowledge of handicraft, or indeed knowledge of any kind....Over-
population is a phenomenon connected with the survival of the unfit,
and it is mechanism which has created conditions favorable to the
survival of the unfit and the elimination of the fit.'' The whole
indictment against machinery is summarized by Dr. Freeman:
``Mechanism by its reactions on man and his environment is
antagonistic to human welfare. It has destroyed industry and replaced
it by mere labor; it has degraded and vulgarized the works of man; it
has destroyed social unity and replaced it by social disintegration
and class antagonism to an extent which directly threatens
civilization; it has injuriously affected the structural type of
society by developing its organization at the expense of the
individual; it has endowed the inferior man with political power which
he employs to the common disadvantage by creating political
institutions of a socially destructive type; and finally by its
reactions on the activities of war it constitutes an agent for the
wholesale physical destruction of man and his works and the extinction
of human culture.''

It is not necessary to be in absolute agreement with this
diagnostician to realize the menace of machinery, which tends to
emphasize quantity and mere number at the expense of quality and
individuality. One thing is certain. If machinery is detrimental to
biological fitness, the machine must be destroyed, as it was in Samuel
Butler's ``Erewhon.'' But perhaps there is another way of mastering
this problem.

Altruism, humanitarianism and philanthropy have aided and abetted
machinery in the destruction of responsibility and self-reliance among
the least desirable elements of the proletariat. In contrast with the
previous epoch of discovery of the New World, of exploration and
colonization, when a centrifugal influence was at work upon the
populations of Europe, the advent of machinery has brought with it a
counteracting centripetal effect. The result has been the
accumulation of large urban populations, the increase of
irresponsibility, and ever-widening margin of biological waste.

Just as eighteenth century politics and political theories were unable
to keep pace with the economic and capitalistic aggressions of the
nineteenth century, so also we find, if we look closely enough, that
nineteenth century economics is inadequate to lead the world out of
the catastrophic situation into which it has been thrown by the
debacle of the World War. Economists are coming to recognize that the
purely economic interpretation of contemporary events is insufficient.
Too long, as one of them has stated, orthodox economists have
overlooked the important fact that ``human life is dynamic, that
change, movement, evolution, are its basic characteristics; that self-
expression, and therefore freedom of choice and movement, are
prerequisites to a satisfying human state''.[4]

Economists themselves are breaking with the old ``dismal science'' of
the Manchester school, with its sterile study of ``supply and
demand,'' of prices and exchange, of wealth and labor. Like the
Chicago Vice Commission, nineteenth-century economists (many of whom
still survive into our own day) considered sex merely as something to
be legislated out of existence. They had the right idea that wealth
consisted solely of material things used to promote the welfare of
certain human beings. Their idea of capital was somewhat confused.
They apparently decided that capital was merely that part of capital
used to produce profit. Prices, exchanges, commercial statistics, and
financial operations comprised the subject matter of these older
economists. It would have been considered ``unscientific'' to take
into account the human factors involved. They might study the wear-
and-tear and depreciation of machinery: but the depreciation or
destruction of the human race did not concern them. Under ``wealth''
they never included the vast, wasted treasury of human life and human

Economists to-day are awake to the imperative duty of dealing with the
whole of human nature, with the relation of men, women, and children
to their environment--physical and psychic as well as social; of
dealing with all those factors which contribute to human sustenance,
happiness and welfare. The economist, at length, investigates human
motives. Economics outgrows the outworn metaphysical preconceptions
of nineteenth century theory. To-day we witness the creation of a new
``welfare'' or social economics, based on a fuller and more complete
knowledge of the human race, upon a recognition of sex as well as of
hunger; in brief, of physiological instincts and psychological
demands. The newer economists are beginning to recognize that their
science heretofore failed to take into account the most vital factors
in modern industry--it failed to foresee the inevitable consequences
of compulsory motherhood; the catastrophic effects of child labor upon
racial health; the overwhelming importance of national vitality and
well-being; the international ramifications of the population problem;
the relation of indiscriminate breeding to feeble-mindedness, and
industrial inefficiency. It speculated too little or not at all on
human motives. Human nature riots through the traditional economic
structure, as Carlton Parker pointed out, with ridicule and
destruction; the old-fashioned economist looked on helpless and

Inevitably we are driven to the conclusion that the exhaustively
economic interpretation of contemporary history is inadequate to meet
the present situation. In his suggestive book, ``The Acquisitive
Society,'' R. H. Tawney, arrives at the conclusion that ``obsession by
economic issues is as local and transitory as it is repulsive and
disturbing. To future generations it will appear as pitiable as the
obsession of the seventeenth century by religious quarrels appears to-
day; indeed, it is less rational, since the object with which it is
concerned is less important. And it is a poison which inflames every
wound and turns each trivial scratch into a malignant ulcer. Society
will not solve the particular problems of industry until that poison
is expelled, and it has learned to see industry in its proper
VALUES. It must regard economic interests as one element in life, not
as the whole of life....''[5]

In neglecting or minimizing the great factor of sex in human society,
the Marxian doctrine reveals itself as no stronger than orthodox
economics in guiding our way to a sound civilization. It works within
the same intellectual limitations. Much as we are indebted to the
Marxians for pointing out the injustice of modern industrialism, we
should never close our eyes to the obvious limitations of their own
``economic interpretation of history.'' While we must recognize the
great historical value of Marx, it is now evident that his vision of
the ``class struggle,'' of the bitter irreconcilable warfare between
the capitalist and working classes was based not upon historical
analysis, but upon on unconscious dramatization of a superficial
aspect of capitalistic regime.

In emphasizing the conflict between the classes, Marx failed to
recognize the deeper unity of the proletariat and the capitalist.
Nineteenth century capitalism had in reality engendered and cultivated
the very type of working class best suited to its own purpose--an
inert, docile, irresponsible and submissive class, progressively
incapable of effective and aggressive organization. Like the
economists of the Manchester school, Marx failed to recognize the
interplay of human instincts in the world of industry. All the
virtues were embodied in the beloved proletariat; all the villainies
in the capitalists. The greatest asset of the capitalism of that age
was, as a matter of fact, the uncontrolled breeding among the laboring
classes. The intelligent and self-conscious section of the workers
was forced to bear the burden of the unemployed and the poverty-

Marx was fully aware of the consequences of this condition of things,
but shut his eyes tightly to the cause. He pointed out that
capitalistic power was dependent upon ``the reserve army of labor,''
surplus labor, and a wide margin of unemployment. He practically
admitted that over-population was the inevitable soil of predatory
capitalism. But he disregarded the most obvious consequence of that
admission. It was all very dramatic and grandiloquent to tell the
workingmen of the world to unite, that they had ``nothing but their
chains to lose and the world to gain.'' Cohesion of any sort, united
and voluntary organization, as events have proved, is impossible in
populations bereft of intelligence, self-discipline and even the
material necessities of life, and cheated by their desires and
ignorance into unrestrained and uncontrolled fertility.

In pointing out the limitations and fallacies of the orthodox Marxian
opinion, my purpose is not to depreciate the efforts of the Socialists
aiming to create a new society, but rather to emphasize what seems to
me the greatest and most neglected truth of our day:--Unless sexual
science is incorporated as an integral part of world-statesmanship and
the pivotal importance of Birth Control is recognized in any program
of reconstruction, all efforts to create a new world and a new
civilization are foredoomed to failure.

We can hope for no advance until we attain a new conception of sex,
not as a merely propagative act, not merely as a biological necessity
for the perpetuation of the race, but as a psychic and spiritual
avenue of expression. It is the limited, inhibited conception of sex
that vitiates so much of the thought and ideation of the Eugenists.

Like most of our social idealists, statesmen, politicians and
economists, some of the Eugenists suffer intellectually from a
restricted and inhibited understanding of the function of sex. This
limited understanding, this narrowness of vision, which gives rise to
most of the misconceptions and condemnations of the doctrine of Birth
Control, is responsible or the failure of politicians and legislators
to enact practical statutes or to remove traditional obscenities from
the law books. The most encouraging sign at present is the
recognition by modern psychology of the central importance of the
sexual instinct in human society, and the rapid spread of this new
concept among the more enlightened sections of the civilized
communities. The new conception of sex has been well stated by one to
whom the debt of contemporary civilization is well-nigh immeasurable.
``Sexual activity,'' Havelock Ellis has written, ``is not merely a
baldly propagative act, nor, when propagation is put aside, is it
merely the relief of distended vessels. It is something more even than
the foundation of great social institutions. It is the function by
which all the finer activities of the organism, physical and psychic,
may be developed and satisfied.''[6]

No less than seventy years ago, a profound but neglected thinker,
George Drysdale, emphasized the necessity of a thorough understanding
of man's sexual nature in approaching economic, political and social
problems. ``Before we can undertake the calm and impartial
investigation of any social problem, we must first of all free
ourselves from all those sexual prejudices which are so vehement and
violent and which so completely distort our vision of the external
world. Society as a whole has yet to fight its way through an almost
impenetrable forest of sexual taboos.'' Drysdale's words have lost
none of their truth even to-day: ``There are few things from which
humanity has suffered more than the degraded and irreverent feelings
of mystery and shame that have been attached to the genital and
excretory organs. The former have been regarded, like their
corresponding mental passions, as something of a lower and baser
nature, tending to degrade and carnalize man by their physical
appetites. But we cannot take a debasing view of any part of our
humanity without becoming degraded in our whole being.''[7]

Drysdale moreover clearly recognized the social crime of entrusting to
sexual barbarians the duty of legislating and enforcing laws
detrimental to the welfare of all future generations. ``They trust
blindly to authority for the rules they blindly lay down,'' he wrote,
``perfectly unaware of the awful and complicated nature of the subject
they are dealing with so confidently and of the horrible evils their
unconsidered statements are attended with. They themselves break
through the most fundamentally important laws daily in utter
unconsciousness of the misery they are causing to their fellows....''

Psychologists to-day courageously emphasize the integral relationship
of the expression of the sexual instinct with every phase of human
activity. Until we recognize this central fact, we cannot understand
the implications and the sinister significance of superficial attempts
to apply rosewater remedies to social evils,--by the enactment of
restrictive and superficial legislation, by wholesale philanthropies
and charities, by publicly burying our heads in the sands of
sentimentality. Self-appointed censors, grossly immoral
``moralists,'' makeshift legislators, all face a heavy responsibility
for the miseries, diseases, and social evils they perpetuate or
intensify by enforcing the primitive taboos of aboriginal customs,
traditions, and outworn laws, which at every step hinder the education
of the people in the scientific knowledge of their sexual nature.
Puritanic and academic taboo of sex in education and religion is as
disastrous to human welfare as prostitution or the venereal scourges.
``We are compelled squarely to face the distorting influences of
biologically aborted reformers as well as the wastefulness of
seducers,'' Dr. Edward A. Kempf recently declared. ``Man arose from
the ape and inherited his passions, which he can only refine but dare
not attempt to castrate unless he would destroy the fountains of
energy that maintain civilization and make life worth living and the
world worth beautifying....We do not have a problem that is to be
solved by making repressive laws and executing them. Nothing will be
more disastrous. Society must make life worth the living and the
refining for the individual by conditioning him to love and to seek
the love-object in a manner that reflects a constructive effect upon
his fellow-men and by giving him suitable opportunities. The virility
of the automatic apparatus is destroyed by excessive gormandizing or
hunger, by excessive wealth or poverty, by excessive work or idleness,
by sexual abuse or intolerant prudishness. The noblest and most
difficult art of all is the raising of human thoroughbreds.''[8]

[1] It may be well to note, in this connection, that the decline in
the birth rate among the more intelligent classes of British labor
followed upon the famous Bradlaugh-Besant trial of 1878, the outcome
of the attempt of these two courageous Birth Control pioneers to
circulate among the workers the work of an American physician, Dr.
Knowlton's ``The Fruits of Philosophy,'' advocating Birth Control,
and the widespread publicity resulting fromt his trial.
[2] Cf. The Creative Impulse in Industry, by Helen Marot. The Instinct
of Workmanship, by Thorstein Veblen.
[3] Social Decay and Regeneration. By R. Austin Freeman. London 1921.
[4] Carlton H. Parker: The Casual Laborer and other essays: p. 30.
[5] R. H. Tawney. The Acquisitive Society, p. 184.
[6] Medical Review of Reviews: Vol. XXVI, p. 116.
[7] The Elements of Social Science: London, 1854.
[8] Proceedings of the International Conference of Women Physicians.
Vol. IV, pp. 66-67. New York, 1920.

CHAPTER VII: Is Revolution the Remedy?

Marxian Socialism, which seeks to solve the complex problem of human
misery by economic and proletarian revolution, has manifested a new
vitality. Every shade of Socialistic thought and philosophy
acknowledges its indebtedness to the vision of Karl Marx and his
conception of the class struggle. Yet the relation of Marxian
Socialism to the philosophy of Birth Control, especially in the minds
of most Socialists, remains hazy and confused. No thorough
understanding of Birth Control, its aims and purposes, is possible
until this confusion has been cleared away, and we come to a
realization that Birth Control is not merely independent of, but even
antagonistic to the Marxian dogma. In recent years many Socialists
have embraced the doctrine of Birth Control, and have generously
promised us that ``under Socialism'' voluntary motherhood will be
adopted and popularized as part of a general educational system. We
might more logically reply that no Socialism will ever be possible
until the problem of responsible parenthood has been solved.

Many Socialists to-day remain ignorant of the inherent conflict
between the idea of Birth Control and the philosophy of Marx. The
earlier Marxians, including Karl Marx himself, expressed the bitterest
antagonism to Malthusian and neo-Malthusian theories. A remarkable
feature of early Marxian propaganda has been the almost complete
unanimity with which the implications of the Malthusian doctrine have
been derided, denounced and repudiated. Any defense of the so-called
``law of population'' was enough to stamp one, in the eyes of the
orthodox Marxians, as a ``tool of the capitalistic class,'' seeking to
dampen the ardor of those who expressed the belief that men might
create a better world for themselves. Malthus, they claimed, was
actuated by selfish class motives. He was not merely a hidebound
aristocrat, but a pessimist who was trying to kill all hope of human
progress. By Marx, Engels, Bebel, Karl Kautsky, and all the
celebrated leaders and interpreters of Marx's great ``Bible of the
working class,'' down to the martyred Rosa Luxemburg and Karl
Liebknecht, Birth Control has been looked upon as a subtle,
Machiavellian sophistry created for the purpose of placing the blame
for human misery elsewhere than at the door of the capitalist class.
Upon this point the orthodox Marxian mind has been universally and
sternly uncompromising.

Marxian vituperation of Malthus and his followers is illuminating. It
reveals not the weakness of the thinker attacked, but of the
aggressor. This is nowhere more evident than in Marx's ``Capital''
itself. In that monumental effort, it is impossible to discover any
adequate refutation or even calm discussion of the dangers of
irresponsible parenthood and reckless breeding, any suspicion that
this recklessness and irresponsibility is even remotely related to the
miseries of the proletariat. Poor Malthus is there relegated to the
humble level of a footnote. ``If the reader reminds me of Malthus,
whose essay on Population appeared in 1798,'' Marx remarks somewhat
tartly, ``I remind him that this work in its first form is nothing
more than a schoolboyish, superficial plagiary of De Foe, Sir James
Steuart, Townsend, Franklin, Wallace, etc., and does not contain a
single sentence thought out by himself. The great sensation this
pamphlet caused was due solely to party interest. The French
Revolution had passionate defenders in the United Kingdom.... `The
Principles of Population' was quoted with jubilance by the English
oligarchy as the great destroyer of all hankerings after human

The only attempt that Marx makes here toward answering the theory of
Malthus is to declare that most of the population theory teachers were
merely Protestant parsons.--``Parson Wallace, Parson Townsend, Parson
Malthus and his pupil the Arch-Parson Thomas Chalmers, to say nothing
of the lesser reverend scribblers in this line.'' The great pioneer
of ``scientific'' Socialism the proceeds to berate parsons as
philosophers and economists, using this method of escape from the very
pertinent question of surplus population and surplus proletariat in
its relation to labor organization and unemployment. It is true that
elsewhere [2] he goes so far as to admit that ``even Malthus recognized
over-population as a necessity of modern industry, though, after his
narrow fashion, he explains it by the absolute over-growth of the
laboring population, not by their becoming relatively supernumerary.''
A few pages later, however, Marx comes back again to the question of
over-population, failing to realize that it is to the capitalists'
advantage that the working classes are unceasingly prolific. ``The
folly is now patent,'' writes the unsuspecting Marx, ``of the economic
wisdom that preaches to the laborers the accommodation of their
numbers to the requirements of capital. The mechanism of capitalist
production and accumulation constantly affects this adjustment. The
first work of this adaptation is the creation of a relatively surplus
population or industrial reserve army. Its last work is the misery of
constantly extending strata of the army of labor, and the dead weight
of pauperism.'' A little later he ventures again in the direction of
Malthusianism so far as to admit that ``the accumulation of wealth at
one pole is...at the same time the accumulation of misery, agony of
toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality and mental degradation at the
opposite pole.'' Nevertheless, there is no indication that Marx
permitted himself to see that the proletariat accommodates its numbers
to the ``requirements of capital'' precisely by breeding a large,
docile, submissive and easily exploitable population.

Had the purpose of Marx been impartial and scientific, this trifling
difference might easily have been overcome and the dangers of reckless
breeding insisted upon. But beneath all this wordy pretension and
economic jargon, we detect another aim. That is the unconscious
dramatization of human society into the ``class conflict.'' Nothing
was overlooked that might sharpen and accentuate this ``conflict.''
Marx depicted a great melodramatic conflict, in which all the virtues
were embodied in the proletariat and all the villainies in the
capitalist. In the end, as always in such dramas, virtue was to be
rewarded and villainy punished. The working class was the temporary
victim of a subtle but thorough conspiracy of tyranny and repression.
Capitalists, intellectuals and the BOURGEOISIE were all ``in on'' this
diabolic conspiracy, all thoroughly familiar with the plot, which Marx
was so sure he had uncovered. In the last act was to occur that
catastrophic revolution, with the final transformation scene of the
Socialist millenium. Presented in ``scientific'' phraseology, with all
the authority of economic terms, ``Capital'' appeared at the
psychological moment. The heaven of the traditional theology had been
shattered by Darwinian science, and here, dressed up in all the
authority of the new science, appeared a new theology, the promise of
a new heaven, an earthly paradise, with an impressive scale of rewards
for the faithful and ignominious punishments for the capitalists.

Critics have often been puzzled by the tremendous vitality of this
work. Its prediction s have never, despite the claims of the
faithful, been fulfilled. Instead of diminishing, the spirit of
nationalism has been intensified tenfold. In nearly every respect
Marx's predictions concerning the evolution of historical and economic
forces have been contradicted by events, culminating in the great war.
Most of his followers, the ``revolutionary'' Socialists, were swept
into the whirlpool of nationalistic militarism. Nevertheless, this
``Bible of the working classes'' still enjoys a tremendous authority
as a scientific work. By some it is regarded as an economic treatise;
by others as a philosophy of history; by others as a collection of
sociological laws; and finally by others as a moral and political book
of reference. Criticized, refuted, repudiated and demolished by
specialists, it nevertheless exerts its influences and retains its
mysterious vitality.

We must seek the explanation of this secret elsewhere. Modern
psychology has taught us that human nature has a tendency to place the
cause of its own deficiencies and weaknesses outside of itself, to
attribute to some external agency, to some enemy or group of enemies,
the blame for its own misery. In his great work Marx unconsciously
strengthens and encourages this tendency. The immediate effect of his
teaching, vulgarized and popularized in a hundred different forms, is
to relieve the proletariat of all responsibility for the effects of
its reckless breeding, and even to encourage it in the perpetuation of

The inherent truth in the Marxian teachings was, moreover, immediately
subordinated to their emotional and religious appeal. A book that
could so influence European thought could not be without merit. But
in the process of becoming the ``Bible of the working classes,''
``Capital'' suffered the fate of all such ``Bibles.'' The spirit of
ecclesiastical dogmatism was transfused into the religion of
revolutionary Socialism. This dogmatic religious quality has been
noted by many of the most observant critics of Socialism. Marx was
too readily accepted as the father of the church, and ``Capital'' as
the sacred gospel of the social revolution. All questions of tactics,
of propaganda, of class warfare, of political policy, were to be
solved by apt quotations from the ``good book.'' New thoughts, new
schemes, new programs, based upon tested fact and experience, the
outgrowth of newer discoveries concerning the nature of men, upon the
recognition of the mistakes of the master, could only be approved or
admitted according as they could or could not be tested by some bit of
text quoted from Marx. His followers assumed that Karl Marx had
completed the philosophy of Socialism, and that the duty of the
proletariat thenceforth was not to think for itself, but merely to
mobilize itself under competent Marxian leaders for the realization of
his ideas.

From the day of this apotheosis of Marx until our own, the
``orthodox'' Socialist of any shade is of the belief that the first
essential for social salvation lies in unquestioning belief in the
dogmas of Marx.

The curious and persistent antagonism to Birth Control that began with
Marx and continues to our own day can be explained only as the utter
refusal or inability to consider humanity in its physiological and
psychological aspects--these aspects, apparently, having no place in
the ``economic interpretation of history.'' It has remained for
George Bernard Shaw, a Socialist with a keener spiritual insight than
the ordinary Marxist, to point out the disastrous consequences of
rapid multiplication which are obvious to the small cultivator, the
peasant proprietor, the lowest farmhand himself, but which seem to
arouse the orthodox, intellectual Marxian to inordinate fury. ``But
indeed the more you degrade the workers,'' Shaw once wrote,[3]
``robbing them of all artistic enjoyment, and all chance of respect
and admiration from their fellows, the more you throw them back,
reckless, upon the one pleasure and the one human tie left to them--
the gratification of their instinct for producing fresh supplies of
men. You will applaud this instinct as divine until at last the
excessive supply becomes a nuisance: there comes a plague of men; and
you suddenly discover that the instinct is diabolic, and set up a cry
of `over-population.' But your slaves are beyond caring for your
cries: they breed like rabbits: and their poverty breeds filth,
ugliness, dishonesty, disease, obscenity, drunkenness.''

Lack of insight into fundamental truths of human nature is evident
throughout the writings of the Marxians. The Marxian Socialists,
according to Kautsky, defended women in industry: it was right for
woman to work in factories in order to preserve her equality with man!
Man must not support woman, declared the great French Socialist
Guesde, because that would make her the PROLETAIRE of man! Bebel, the
great authority on woman, famous for his erudition, having critically
studied the problem of population, suggested as a remedy for too
excessive fecundity the consumption of a certain lard soup reputed to
have an ``anti-generative'' effect upon the agricultural population of
Upper Bavaria! Such are the results of the literal and uncritical
acceptance of Marx's static and mechanical conception of human
society, a society perfectly automatic; in which competition is always
operating at maximum efficiency; one vast and unending conspiracy
against the blameless proletariat.

This lack of insight of the orthodox Marxians, long represented by the
German Social-Democrats, is nowhere better illustrated than in Dr.
Robinson's account of a mass meeting of the Social-Democrat party to
organize public opinion against the doctrine of Birth Control among
the poor.[4] ``Another meeting had taken place the week before, at
which several eminent Socialist women, among them Rosa Luxemburg and
Clara Zetkin, spoke very strongly against limitation of offspring
among the poor--in fact the title of the discussion was GEGEN DEN
GEBURTSTREIK! `Against the birth strike!' The interest of the
audience was intense. One could see that with them it was not merely
a dialectic question, as it was with their leaders, but a matter of
life and death. I came to attend a meeting AGAINST the limitation of
offspring; it soon proved to be a meeting very decidedly FOR the
limitation of offspring, for every speaker who spoke in favor of the
artificial prevention of conception or undesired pregnancies, was
greeted with vociferous, long-lasting applause; while those who tried
to persuade the people that a limited number of children is not a
proletarian weapon, and would not improve their lot, were so hissed
that they had difficulty going on. The speakers who were against
the...idea soon felt that their audience was against them....Why was
there such small attendance at the regular Socialistic meetings, while
the meetings of this character were packed to suffocation? It did not
apparently penetrate the leaders' heads that the reason was a simple
one. Those meetings were evidently of no interest to them, while
those which dealt with the limitation of offspring were of personal,
vital, present interest....What particularly amused me--and pained me-
-in the anti-limitationists was the ease and equanimity with which
they advised the poor women to keep on bearing children. The woman
herself was not taken into consideration, as if she was not a human
being, but a machine. What are her sufferings, her labor pains, her
inability to read, to attend meetings, to have a taste of life? What
does she amount to? The proletariat needs fighters. Go on, females,
and breed like animals. Maybe of the thousands you bear a few will
become party members....''

The militant organization of the Marxian Socialists suggests that
their campaign must assume the tactics of militarism of the familiar
type. As represented by militaristic governments, militarism like
Socialism has always encouraged the proletariat to increase and
multiply. Imperial Germany was the outstanding and awful example of
this attitude. Before the war the fall in the birth-rate was viewed by
the Junker party with the gravest misgivings. Bernhardi and the
protagonists of DEUTSCHLAND-UBER-ALLES condemned it in the strongest
terms. The Marxians unconsciously repeat the words of the government
representative, Krohne, who, in a debate on the subject in the
Prussian Diet, February 1916, asserted: ``Unfortunately this view has
gained followers amongst the German women....These women, in refusing
to rear strong and able children to continue the race, drag into the
dust that which is the highest end of women--motherhood. It is to be
hoped that the willingness to bear sacrifices will lead to a change
for the better....We need an increase in human beings to guard against
the attacks of envious neighbors as well as to fulfil our cultural
mission. Our whole economic development depends on increase of our
people.'' Today we are fully aware of how imperial Germany fulfiled
that cultural mission of hers; nor can we overlook the fact that the
countries with a smaller birth-rate survived the ordeal. Even from
the traditional militaristic standpoint, strength does not reside in
numbers, though the Caesars, the Napoleons and the Kaisers of the world
have always believed that large exploitable populations were necessary
for their own individual power. If Marxian dictatorship means the
dictatorship of a small minority wielding power in the interest of the
proletariat, a high-birth rate may be necessary, though we may here
recall the answer of the lamented Dr. Alfred Fried to the German
imperialists: ``It is madness, the apotheosis of unreason, to wish to
breed and care for human beings in order that in the flower of their
youth they may be sent in millions to be slaughtered wholesale by
machinery. We need no wholesale production of men, have no need of
the `fruitful fertility of women,' no need of wholesale wares,
fattened and dressed for slaughter What we do need is careful
maintenance of those already born. If the bearing of children is a
moral and religious duty, then it is a much higher duty to secure the
sacredness and security of human life, so that children born and bred
with trouble and sacrifice may not be offered up in the bloom of youth
to a political dogma at the bidding of secret diplomacy.''

Marxism has developed a patriotism of its own, if indeed it has not
yet been completely crystallized into a religion. Like the
``capitalistic'' governments it so vehemently attacks, it demands
self-sacrifice and even martyrdom from the faithful comrades. But
since its strength depends to so great a degree upon ``conversion,''
upon docile acceptance of the doctrines of the ``Master'' as
interpreted by the popes and bishops of this new church, it fails to
arouse the irreligious proletariat. The Marxian Socialist boasts of
his understanding of ``working class psychology'' and criticizes the
lack of this understanding on the part of all dissenters. But, as the
Socialists' meetings against the ``birth strike'' indicate, the
working class is not interested in such generalities as the Marxian
``theory of value,'' the ``iron law'' of wages, ``the value of
commodities'' and the rest of the hazy articles of faith. Marx
inherited the rigid nationalistic psychology of the eighteenth
century, and his followers, for the most part, have accepted his
mechanical and superficial treatment of instinct.[5] Discontented
workers may rally to Marxism because it places the blame for their
misery outside of themselves and depicts their conditions as the
result of a capitalistic conspiracy, thereby satisfying that innate
tendency of every human being to shift the blame to some living person
outside himself, and because it strengthens his belief that his
sufferings and difficulties may be overcome by the immediate
amelioration of his economic environment. In this manner,
psychologists tell us, neuroses and inner compulsions are fostered.
No true solution is possible, to continue this analogy, until the
worker is awakened to the realization that the roots of his malady lie
deep in his own nature, his own organism, his own habits. To blame
everything upon the capitalist and the environment produced by
capitalism is to focus attention upon merely one of the elements of
the problem. The Marxian too often forgets that before there was a
capitalist there was exercised the unlimited reproductive activity of
mankind, which produced the first overcrowding, the first want. This
goaded humanity into its industrial frenzy, into warfare and theft and
slavery. Capitalism has not created the lamentable state of affairs
in which the world now finds itself. It has grown out of them, armed
with the inevitable power to take advantage of our swarming, spawning
millions. As that valiant thinker Monsieur G. Hardy has pointed out [6]
the proletariat may be looked upon, not as the antagonist of
capitalism, but as its accomplice. Labor surplus, or the ``army of
reserve'' which as for decades and centuries furnished the industrial
background of human misery, which so invariably defeats strikes and
labor revolts, cannot honestly be blamed upon capitalism. It is, as
M. Hardy points out, of SEXUAL and proletarian origin. In bringing
too many children into the world, in adding to the total of misery, in
intensifying the evils of overcrowding, the proletariat itself
increases the burden of organized labor; even of the Socialist and
Syndicalist organizations themselves with a surplus of the docilely
inefficient, with those great uneducable and unorganizable masses.
With surprisingly few exceptions, Marxians of all countries have
docilely followed their master in rejecting, with bitterness and
vindictiveness that is difficult to explain, the principles and
teachings of Birth Control.

Hunger alone is not responsible for the bitter struggle for existence
we witness to-day in our over-advertised civilization. Sex,
uncontrolled, misdirected, over-stimulated and misunderstood, has run
riot at the instigation of priest, militarist and exploiter.
Uncontrolled sex has rendered the proletariat prostrate, the
capitalist powerful. In this continuous, unceasing alliance of sexual
instinct and hunger we find the reason for the decline of all the
finer sentiments. These instincts tear asunder the thin veils of
culture and hypocrisy and expose to our gaze the dark sufferings of
gaunt humanity. So have we become familiar with the everyday
spectacle of distorted bodies, of harsh and frightful diseases
stalking abroad in the light of day; of misshapen heads and visages of
moron and imbecile; of starving children in city streets and schools.
This is the true soil of unspeakable crimes. Defect and delinquency
join hands with disease, and accounts of inconceivable and revolting
vices are dished up in the daily press. When the majority of men and
women are driven by the grim lash of sex and hunger in the unending
struggle to feed themselves and to carry the dead-weight of dead and
dying progeny, when little children are forced into factories,
streets, and shops, education--including even education in the Marxian
dogmas--is quite impossible; and civilization is more completely
threatened than it ever could be by pestilence or war.

But, it will be pointed out, the working class has advanced. Power
has been acquired by labor unions and syndicates. In the beginning
power was won by the principle of the restriction of numbers. The
device of refusing to admit more than a fixed number of new members to
the unions of the various trades has been justified as necessary for
the upholding of the standard of wages and of working conditions.
This has been the practice in precisely those unions which have been
able through years of growth and development to attain tangible
strength and power. Such a principle of restriction is necessary in
the creation of a firmly and deeply rooted trunk or central
organization furnishing a local center for more extended organization.
It is upon this great principle of restricted number that the labor
unions have generated and developed power. They have acquired this
power without any religious emotionalism, without subscribing to
metaphysical or economic theology. For the millenium and the earthly
paradise to be enjoyed at some indefinitely future date, the union
member substitutes the very real politics of organization with its
resultant benefits. He increases his own independence and comfort and
that of his family. He is immune to superstitious belief in and
respect for the mysterious power of political or economic nostrums to
reconstruct human society according to the Marxian formula.

In rejecting the Marxian hypothesis as superficial and fragmentary, we
do so not because of its so-called revolutionary character, its threat
to the existing order of things, but rather because of its
superficial, emotional and religious character and its deleterious
effect upon the life of reason. Like other schemes advanced by the
alarmed and the indignant, it relies too much upon moral fervor and
enthusiasm. To build any social program upon the shifting sands of
sentiment and feeling, of indignation or enthusiasm, is a dangerous
and foolish task. On the other hand, we should not minimize the
importance of the Socialist movement in so valiantly and so
courageously battling against the stagnating complacency of our
conservatives and reactionaries, under whose benign imbecility the
defective and diseased elements of humanity are encouraged ``full
speed ahead'' in their reckless and irresponsible swarming and
spawning. Nevertheless, as George Drysdale pointed out nearly seventy
years ago;

``...If we ignore this and other sexual subjects, we may do whatever
else we like: we may bully, we may bluster, we may rage, We may foam
at the mouth; we may tear down Heaven with our prayers, we may exhaust
ourselves with weeping over the sorrows of the poor; we may narcotize
ourselves and others with the opiate of Christian resignation; we may
dissolve the realities of human woe in a delusive mirage of poetry and
ideal philosophy; we may lavish our substance in charity, and labor
over possible or impossible Poor Laws; we may form wild dreams of
Socialism, industrial regiments, universal brotherhood, red republics,
or unexampled revolutions; we may strangle and murder each other, we
may persecute and despise those whose sexual necessities force them to
break through our unnatural moral codes; we may burn alive if we
please the prostitutes and the adulterers; we may break our own and
our neighbor's hearts against the adamantine laws that surround us,
but not one step, not one shall we advance, till we acknowledge these
laws, and adopt the only possible mode in which they can be obeyed.''
These words were written in 1854. Recent events have accentuated
their stinging truth.

[1] Marx: ``Capital.'' Vol. I, p. 675.
[2] Op. cit. pp, 695, 707, 709.
[3] Fabian Essays in Socialism. p. 21.
[4] Uncontrolled Breeding, By Adelyne More. p. 84.
[5] For a sympathetic treatment of modern psychological research as
bearing on Communism, by two convinced Communists see ``Creative
Revolution,'' by Eden and Cedar Paul.
[6] Neo-Malthusianisme et Socialisme, p. 22.

CHAPTER VIII: Dangers of Cradle Competition

Eugenics has been defined as ``the study of agencies under social
control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future
generations, either mentally or physically.'' While there is no
inherent conflict between Socialism and Eugenics, the latter is,
broadly, the antithesis of the former. In its propaganda, Socialism
emphasizes the evil effects of our industrial and economic system. It
insists upon the necessity of satisfying material needs, upon
sanitation, hygiene, and education to effect the transformation of
society. The Socialist insists that healthy humanity is impossible
without a radical improvement of the social--and therefore of the
economic and industrial--environment. The Eugenist points out that
heredity is the great determining factor in the lives of men and
women. Eugenics is the attempt to solve the problem from the
biological and evolutionary point of view. You may ring all the
changes possible on ``Nurture'' or environment, the Eugenist may say
to the Socialist, but comparatively little can be effected until you
control biological and hereditary elements of the problem. Eugenics
thus aims to seek out the root of our trouble, to study humanity as a
kinetic, dynamic, evolutionary organism, shifting and changing with
the successive generations, rising and falling, cleansing itself of
inherent defects, or under adverse and dysgenic influences, sinking
into degeneration and deterioration.

``Eugenics'' was first defined by Sir Francis Galton in his ``Human
Faculty'' in 1884, and was subsequently developed into a science and
into an educational effort. Galton's ideal was the rational breeding
of human beings. The aim of Eugenics, as defined by its founder, is
to bring as many influences as can be reasonably employed, to cause
the useful classes of the community to contribute MORE than their
proportion to the next generation. Eugenics thus concerns itself with
all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with
those that develop them to the utmost advantage. It is, in short, the
attempt to bring reason and intelligence to bear upon HEREDITY. But
Galton, in spite of the immense value of this approach and his great
stimulation to criticism, was completely unable to formulate a
definite and practical working program. He hoped at length to
introduce Eugenics ``into the national conscience like a new
religion....I see no impossibility in Eugenics becoming a religious
dogma among mankind, but its details must first be worked out
sedulously in the study. Over-zeal leading to hasty action, would do
harm by holding out expectations of a new golden age, which will
certainly be falsified and cause the science to be discredited. The
first and main point is to secure the general intellectual acceptance
of Eugenics as a hopeful and most important study. Then, let its
principles work into the heart of the nation, who will gradually give
practical effect to them in ways that we may not wholly foresee.''[1]

Galton formulated a general law of inheritance which declared that an
individual receives one-half of his inheritance from his two parents,
one-fourth from his four grandparents, one-eighth from his great-
grandparents, one-sixteenth from his great-great grandparents, and so
on by diminishing fractions to his primordial ancestors, the sum of
all these fractions added together contributing to the whole of the
inherited make-up. The trouble with this generalization, from the
modern Mendelian point of view, is that it fails to define what
``characters'' one would get in the one-half that came from one's
parents, or the one-fourth from one's grandparents. The whole of our
inheritance is not composed of these indefinitely made up fractional
parts. We are interested rather in those more specific traits or
characters, mental or physical, which, in the Mendelian view, are
structural and functional units, making up a mosaic rather than a
blend. The laws of heredity are concerned with the precise behavior,
during a series of generations, of these specific unit characters.
This behavior, as the study of Genetics shows, may be determined in
lesser organisms by experiment. Once determined, they are subject to

The problem of human heredity is now seen to be infinitely more
complex than imagined by Galton and his followers, and the optimistic
hope of elevating Eugenics to the level of a religion is a futile one.
Most of the Eugenists, including Professor Karl Pearson and his
colleagues of the Eugenics Laboratory of the University of London and
of the biometric laboratory in University College, have retained the
age-old point of view of ``Nature vs. Nurture'' and have attempted to
show the predominating influence of Heredity AS OPPOSED TO
Environment. This may be true; but demonstrated and repeated in
investigation after investigation, it nevertheless remains fruitless
and unprofitable from the practical point of view.

We should not minimize the great outstanding service of Eugenics for
critical and diagnostic investigations. It demonstrates, not in terms
of glittering generalization but in statistical studies of
investigations reduced to measurement and number, that uncontrolled
fertility is universally correlated with disease, poverty,
overcrowding and the transmission of hereditable taints. Professor
Pearson and his associates show us that ``if fertility be correlated
with anti-social hereditary characters, a population will inevitably

This degeneration has already begun. Eugenists demonstrate that two-
thirds of our manhood of military age are physically too unfit to
shoulder a rifle; that the feeble-minded, the syphilitic, the
irresponsible and the defective breed unhindered; that women are
driven into factories and shops on day-shift and night-shift; that
children, frail carriers of the torch of life, are put to work at an
early age; that society at large is breeding an ever-increasing army
of under-sized, stunted and dehumanized slaves; that the vicious
circle of mental and physical defect, delinquency and beggary is
encouraged, by the unseeing and unthinking sentimentality of our age,
to populate asylum, hospital and prison.

All these things the Eugenists sees and points out with a courage
entirely admirable. But as a positive program of redemption, orthodox
Eugenics can offer nothing more ``constructive'' than a renewed
``cradle competition'' between the ``fit'' and the ``unfit.'' It sees
that the most responsible and most intelligent members of society are
the less fertile; that the feeble-minded are the more fertile. Herein
lies the unbalance, the great biological menace to the future of
civilization. Are we heading to biological destruction, toward the
gradual but certain attack upon the stocks of intelligence and racial
health by the sinister forces of the hordes of irresponsibility and
imbecility? This is not such a remote danger as the optimistic
Eugenist might suppose. The mating of the moron with a person of
sound stock may, as Dr. Tredgold points out, gradually disseminate
this trait far and wide until it undermines the vigor and efficiency
of an entire nation and an entire race. This is no idle fancy. We
must take it into account if we wish to escape the fate that has
befallen so many civilizations in the past.

``It is, indeed, more than likely that the presence of this impairment
in a mitigated form is responsible for no little of the defective
character, the diminution of mental and moral fiber at the present
day,'' states Dr. Tredgold.[2] Such populations, this distinguished
authority might have added, form the veritable ``cultures'' not only
for contagious physical diseases but for mental instability and
irresponsibility also. They are susceptible, exploitable, hysterical,
non-resistant to external suggestion. Devoid of stamina, such folk
become mere units in a mob. ``The habit of crowd-making is daily
becoming a more serious menace to civilization,'' writes Everett Dean
Martin. ``Our society is becoming a veritable babel of gibbering
crowds.''[3] It would be only the incorrigible optimist who refused to
see the integral relation between this phenomenon and the
indiscriminate breeding by which we recruit our large populations.

The danger of recruiting our numbers from the most ``fertile stocks''
is further emphasized when we recall that in a democracy like that of
the United States every man and woman is permitted a vote in the
government, and that it is the representatives of this grade of
intelligence who may destroy our liberties, and who may thus be the
most far-reaching peril to the future of civilization.

``It is a pathological worship of mere number,'' writes Alleyne
Ireland, ``which has inspired all the efforts--the primary, the direct
election of Senators, the initiative, the recall and the referendum--
to cure the evils of mob rule by increasing the size of the mob and
extending its powers.''[4]

Equality of political power has thus been bestowed upon the lowest
elements of our population. We must not be surprised, therefore, at
the spectacle of political scandal and graft, of the notorious and
universally ridiculed low level of intelligence and flagrant stupidity
exhibited by our legislative bodies. The Congressional Record mirrors
our political imbecility.

All of these dangers and menaces are acutely realized by the
Eugenists; it is to them that we are most indebted for the proof that
reckless spawning carries with it the seeds of destruction. But
whereas the Galtonians reveal themselves as unflinching in their
investigation and in their exhibition of fact and diagnoses of
symptoms, they do not on the other hand show much power in suggesting
practical and feasible remedies.

On its scientific side, Eugenics suggests the reestabilishment of the
balance between the fertility of the ``fit'' and the ``unfit.'' The
birth-rate among the normal and healthier and finer stocks of
humanity, is to be increased by awakening among the ``fit'' the
realization of the dangers of a lessened birth-rate in proportion to
the reckless breeding among the ``unfit.'' By education, by
persuasion, by appeals to racial ethics and religious motives, the
ardent Eugenist hopes to increase the fertility of the ``fit.''
Professor Pearson thinks that it is especially necessary to awaken the
hardiest stocks to this duty. These stocks, he says, are to be found
chiefly among the skilled artisan class, the intelligent working
class. Here is a fine combination of health and hardy vigor, of sound
body and sound mind.

Professor Pearson and his school of biometrics here ignore or at least
fail to record one of those significant ``correlations'' which form
the basis of his method. The publications of the Eugenics Laboratory
all tend to show that a high rate of fertility is correlated with
extreme poverty, recklessness, deficiency and delinquency; similarly,
that among the more intelligent, this rate of fertility decreases. But
the scientific Eugenists fail to recognize that this restraint of
fecundity is due to a deliberate foresight and is a conscious effort
to elevate standards of living for the family and the children of the
responsible--and possibly more selfish--sections of the community.
The appeal to enter again into competitive child-bearing, for the
benefit of the nation or the race, or any other abstraction, will fall
on deaf ears.

Pearson has done invaluable work in pointing out the fallacies and the
false conclusions of the ordinary statisticians. But when he attempts
to show by the methods of biometrics that not only the first child but
also the second, are especially liable to suffer from transmissible
pathological defects, such as insanity, criminality and tuberculosis,
he fails to recognize that this tendency is counterbalanced by the
high mortality rate among later children. If first and second
children reveal a greater percentage of heritable defect, it is
because the later born children are less liable to survive the
conditions produced by a large family.

In passing, we should here recognize the difficulties presented by the
idea of ``fit'' and ``unfit.'' Who is to decide this question? The
grosser, the more obvious, the undeniably feeble-minded should,
indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their
kind. But among the writings of the representative Eugenists one
cannot ignore the distinct middle-class bias that prevails. As that
penetrating critic, F. W. Stella Browne, has said in another
connection, ``The Eugenics Education Society has among its numbers
many most open-minded and truly progressive individuals but the
official policy it has pursued for years has been inspired by class-
bias and sex bias. The society laments with increasing vehemence the
multiplication of the less fortunate classes at a more rapid rate than
the possessors of leisure and opportunity. (I do not think it relevant
here to discuss whether the innate superiority of endowment in the
governing class really is so overwhelming as to justify the Eugenics
Education Society's peculiar use of the terms `fit' and `unfit'!) Yet
it has persistently refused to give any help toward extending the
knowledge of contraceptives to the exploited classes. Similarly,
though the Eugenics Review, the organ of the society, frequently
laments the `selfishness' of the refusal of maternity by healthy and
educated women of the professional classes, I have yet to learn that
it has made any official pronouncement on the English illegitimacy
laws or any organized effort toward defending the unmarried mother.''

This peculiarly Victorian reticence may be inherited from the founder
of Eugenics. Galton declared that the ``Bohemian'' element in the
Anglo-Saxon race is destined to perish, and ``the sooner it goes, the
happier for mankind.'' The trouble with any effort of trying to
divide humanity into the ``fit'' and the ``unfit,'' is that we do not
want, as H. G. Wells recently pointed out,[5] to breed for uniformity
but for variety. ``We want statesmen and poets and musicians and
philosophers and strong men and delicate men and brave men. The
qualities of one would be the weaknesses of the other.'' We want,
most of all, genius.

Proscription on Galtonian lines would tend to eliminate many of the
great geniuses of the world who were not only ``Bohemian,'' but
actually and pathologically abnormal--men like Rousseau, Dostoevsky,
Chopin, Poe, Schumann, Nietzsche, Comte, Guy de Maupassant,--and how
many others? But such considerations should not lead us into error of
concluding that such men were geniuses merely because they were
pathological specimens, and that the only way to produce a genius is
to breed disease and defect. It only emphasizes the dangers of
external standards of ``fit'' and ``unfit.''

These limitations are more strikingly shown in the types of so-called
``eugenic'' legislation passed or proposed by certain enthusiasts.
Regulation, compulsion and prohibitions affected and enacted by
political bodies are the surest methods of driving the whole problem
under-ground. As Havelock Ellis has pointed out, the absurdity and
even hopelessness of effecting Eugenic improvement by placing on the
statute books prohibitions of legal matrimony to certain classes of
people, reveal the weakness of those Eugenists who minimize or
undervalue the importance of environment as a determining factor.
They affirm that heredity is everything and environment nothing, yet
forget that it is precisely those who are most universally subject to
bad environment who procreate most copiously, most recklessly and most
disastrously. Such marriage laws are based for the most part on the
infantile assumption that procreation is absolutely dependent upon the
marriage ceremony, an assumption usually coupled with the
complementary one that the only purpose in marriage is procreation.
Yet it is a fact so obvious that it is hardly worth stating that the
most fertile classes who indulge in the most dysgenic type of
procreating--the feeble-minded--are almost totally unaffected by
marriage laws and marriage-ceremonies.

As for the sterilization of habitual criminals, not merely must we
know more of heredity and genetics in general, but also acquire more
certainty of the justice of our laws and the honesty of their
administration before we can make rulings of fitness or unfitness
merely upon the basis of a respect for law. On this point the eminent
William Bateson writes:[6] ``Criminals are often feeble-minded, but as
regards those that are not, the fact that a man is for the purposes of
Society classified as a criminal, tells me little as to his value,
still less as to the possible value of his offspring. It is a fault
inherent in criminal jurisprudence, based on non-biological data, that
the law must needs take the nature of the offenses rather than that of
the offenders as the basis of classification. A change in the right
direction has begun, but the problem is difficult and progress will be
very slow....We all know of persons convicted, perhaps even
habitually, whom the world could ill spare. Therefore I hesitate to
proscribe the criminal. Proscription...is a weapon with a very nasty
recoil. Might not some with equal cogency proscribe army contractors
and their accomplices, the newspaper patriots? The crimes of the
prison population are petty offenses by comparison, and the
significance we attach to them is a survival of other days. Felonies
may be great events, locally, but they do not induce catastrophies.
The proclivities of the war-makers are infinitely more dangerous than
those of the aberrant beings whom from time to time the law may dub as
criminal. Consistent and potentous selfishness, combined with dulness
of imagination is probably just as transmissible as want of self-
control, though destitute of the amiable qualities not rarely
associated with the genetic composition of persons of unstable mind.''

In this connection, we should note another type of ``respectable''
criminality noted by Havelock Ellis: ``If those persons who raise the
cry of `race-suicide' in face of the decline of the birth-rate really
had the knowledge and the intelligence to realize the manifold evils
which they are invoking, they would deserve to be treated as

Our debt to the science of Eugenics is great in that it directs our
attention to the biological nature of humanity. Yet there is too
great a tendency among the thinkers of this school, to restrict their
ideas of sex to its expression as a purely procreative function.
Compulsory legislation which would make the inevitably futile attempt
to prohibit one of the most beneficent and necessary of human
expressions, or regulate it into the channels of preconceived
philosophies, would reduce us to the unpleasant days predicted by
William Blake, when

``Priests in black gowns will be walking their rounds And binding
with briars our joys and desires.''

Eugenics is chiefly valuable in its negative aspects. It is
``negative Eugenics'' that has studied the histories of such families
as the Jukeses and the Kallikaks, that has pointed out the network of
imbecility and feeble-mindedness that has been sedulously spread
through all strata of society. On its so-called positive or
constructive side, it fails to awaken any permanent interest.
``Constructive'' Eugenics aims to arouse the enthusiasm or the
interest of the people in the welfare of the world fifteen or twenty
generations in the future. On its negative side it shows us that we
are paying for and even submitting to the dictates of an ever
increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never
should have been born at all--that the wealth of individuals and of
states is being diverted from the development and the progress of
human expression and civilization.

While it is necessary to point out the importance of ``heredity'' as a
determining factor in human life, it is fatal to elevate it to the
position of an absolute. As with environment, the concept of heredity
derives its value and its meaning only in so far as it is embodied and
made concrete in generations of living organisms. Environment and
heredity are not antagonistic. Our problem is not that of ``Nature
vs. Nurture,'' but rather of Nature x Nurture, of heredity multiplied
by environment, if we may express it thus. The Eugenist who overlooks
the importance of environment as a determining factor in human life,
is as short-sighted as the Socialist who neglects the biological
nature of man. We cannot disentangle these two forces, except in
theory. To the child in the womb, said Samuel Butler, the mother is
``environment.'' She is, of course, likewise ``heredity.'' The age-
old discussion of ``Nature vs. Nurture'' has been threshed out time
after time, usually fruitlessly, because of a failure to recognize the
indivisibility of these biological factors. The opposition or
antagonism between them is an artificial and academic one, having no
basis in the living organism.

The great principle of Birth Control offers the means whereby the
individual may adapt himself to and even control the forces of
environment and heredity. Entirely apart from its Malthusian aspect
or that of the population question, Birth Control must be recognized,
as the Neo-Malthusians pointed out long ago, not ``merely as the key
of the social position,'' and the only possible and practical method
of human generation, but as the very pivot of civilization. Birth
Control which has been criticized as negative and destructive, is
really the greatest and most truly eugenic method, and its adoption as
part of the program of Eugenics would immediately give a concrete and
realistic power to that science. As a matter of fact, Birth Control
has been accepted by the most clear thinking and far seeing of the
Eugenists themselves as the most constructive and necessary of the
means to racial health.[7]

[1] Galton. Essays in Eugenics, p. 43.
[2] Eugenics Review, Vol. XIII, p. 349.
[3] Cf. Martin, The Behavior of Crowds, p. 6.
[4] Cf. Democracy and the Human Equation. E. P. Dutton & Co., 1921.
[5] Cf. The Salvaging of Civilization.
[6] Common Sense in Racial Problems. By W. Bateson, M. A. A., F. R. S.
[7] Among these are Dean W. R. Inge, Professor J. Arthur Thomson,
Dr. Havelock Ellis, Professor William Bateson, Major Leonard Darwin
and Miss Norah March.

CHAPTER IX: A Moral Necessity

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ``Thou shalt not'' writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

William Blake

Orthodox opposition to Birth Control is formulated in the official
protest of the National Council of Catholic Women against the
resolution passed by the New York State Federation of Women's Clubs
which favored the removal of all obstacles to the spread of
information regarding practical methods of Birth Control. The
Catholic statement completely embodies traditional opposition to Birth
Control. It affords a striking contrast by which we may clarify and
justify the ethical necessity for this new instrument of civilization
as the most effective basis for practical and scientific morality.
``The authorities at Rome have again and again declared that all
positive methods of this nature are immoral and forbidden,'' states
the National Council of Catholic Women. ``There is no question of the
lawfulness of birth restriction through abstinence from the relations
which result in conception. The immorality of Birth Control as it is
practised and commonly understood, consists in the evils of the
particular method employed. These are all contrary to the moral law
because they are unnatural, being a perversion of a natural function.
Human faculties are used in such a way as to frustrate the natural end
for which these faculties were created. This is always intrinsically
wrong--as wrong as lying and blasphemy. No supposed beneficial
consequence can make good a practice which is, in itself, immoral....

``The evil results of the practice of Birth Control are numerous.
Attention will be called here to only three. The first is the
degradation of the marital relation itself, since the husband and wife
who indulge in any form of this practice come to have a lower idea of
married life. They cannot help coming to regard each other to a great
extent as mutual instruments of sensual gratification, rather than as
cooperators with the Creating in bringing children into the world.
This consideration may be subtle but it undoubtedly represents the

``In the second place, the deliberate restriction of the family
through these immoral practices deliberately weakens self-control and
the capacity for self-denial, and increases the love of ease and
luxury. The best indication of this is that the small family is much
more prevalent in the classes that are comfortable and well-to-do than
among those whose material advantages are moderate or small. The
theory of the advocates of Birth Control is that those parents who are
comfortably situated should have a large number of children (SIC!)
while the poor should restrict their offspring to a much smaller
number. This theory does not work, for the reason that each married
couple have their own idea of what constitutes unreasonable hardship
in the matter of bearing and rearing children. A large proportion of
the parents who are addicted to Birth Control practices are
sufficiently provided with worldly goods to be free from apprehension
on the economic side; nevertheless, they have small families because
they are disinclined to undertake the other burdens involved in
bringing up a more numerous family. A practice which tends to produce
such exaggerated notions of what constitutes hardship, which leads men
and women to cherish such a degree of ease, makes inevitably for
inefficiency, a decline in the capacity to endure and to achieve, and
for a general social decadence.

``Finally, Birth Control leads sooner or later to a decline in
population....'' (The case of France is instanced.) But it is
essentially the moral question that alarms the Catholic women, for the
statement concludes: ``The further effect of such proposed legislation
will inevitably be a lowering both of public and private morals. What
the fathers of this country termed indecent and forbade the mails to
carry, will, if such legislation is carried through, be legally
decent. The purveyors of sexual license and immorality will have the
opportunity to send almost anything they care to write through the
mails on the plea that it is sex information. Not only the married
but also the unmarried will be thus affected; the ideals of the young
contaminated and lowered. The morals of the entire nation will

``The proper attitude of Catholics...is clear. They should watch and
oppose all attempts in state legislatures and in Congress to repeal
the laws which now prohibit the dissemination of information
concerning Birth Control. Such information will be spread only too
rapidly despite existing laws. To repeal these would greatly
accelerate this deplorable movement.[1]''

The Catholic position has been stated in an even more extreme form by
Archbishop Patrick J. Hayes of the archdiocese of New York. In a
``Christmas Pastoral'' this dignitary even went to the extent of
declaring that ``even though some little angels in the flesh, through
the physical or mental deformities of their parents, may appear to
human eyes hideous, misshapen, a blot on civilized society, we must
not lose sight of this Christian thought that under and within such
visible malformation, lives an immortal soul to be saved and glorified
for all eternity among the blessed in heaven.''[2]

With the type of moral philosophy expressed in this utterance, we need
not argue. It is based upon traditional ideas that have had the
practical effect of making this world a vale of tears. Fortunately
such words carry no weight with those who can bring free and keen as
well as noble minds to the consideration of the matter. To them the
idealism of such an utterance appears crude and cruel. The menace to
civilization of such orthodoxy, if it be orthodoxy, lies in the fact
that its powerful exponents may be fore a time successful not merely
in influencing the conduct of their adherents but in checking freedom
of thought and discussion. To this, with all the vehemence of
emphasis at our command, we object. From what Archbishop Hayes
believes concerning the future blessedness in Heaven of the souls of
those who are born into this world as hideous and misshapen beings he
has a right to seek such consolation as may be obtained; but we who
are trying to better the conditions of this world believe that a
healthy, happy human race is more in keeping with the laws of God,
than disease, misery and poverty perpetuating itself generation after
generation. Furthermore, while conceding to Catholic or other
churchmen full freedom to preach their own doctrines, whether of
theology or morals, nevertheless when they attempt to carry these
ideas into legislative acts and force their opinions and codes upon
the non-Catholics, we consider such action an interference with the
principles of democracy and we have a right to protest.

Religious propaganda against Birth Control is crammed with
contradiction and fallacy. It refutes itself. Yet it brings the
opposing views into vivid contrast. In stating these differences we
should make clear that advocates of Birth Control are not seeking to
attack the Catholic church. We quarrel with that church, however,
when it seeks to assume authority over non-Catholics and to dub their
behavior immoral because they do not conform to the dictatorship of
Rome. The question of bearing and rearing children we hold is the
concern of the mother and the potential mother. If she delegates the
responsibility, the ethical education, to an external authority, that
is her affair. We object, however, to the State or the Church which
appoints itself as arbiter and dictator in this sphere and attempts to
force unwilling women into compulsory maternity.

When Catholics declare that ``The authorities at Rome have again and
again declared that all positive methods of this nature are immoral
and forbidden,'' they do so upon the assumption that morality consists
in conforming to laws laid down and enforced by external authority, in
submission to decrees and dicta imposed from without. In this case,
they decide in a wholesale manner the conduct of millions, demanding
of them not the intelligent exercise of their own individual judgment
and discrimination, but unquestioning submission and conformity to
dogma. The Church thus takes the place of all-powerful parents, and
demands of its children merely that they should obey. In my belief
such a philosophy hampers the development of individual intelligence.
Morality then becomes a more or less successful attempt to conform to
a code, instead of an attempt to bring reason and intelligence to bear
upon the solution of each individual human problem.

But, we read on, Birth Control methods are not merely contrary to
``moral law,'' but forbidden because they are ``unnatural,'' being
``the perversion of a natural function.'' This, of course, is the
weakest link in the whole chain. Yet ``there is no question of the
lawfulness of birth restriction through abstinence''--as though
abstinence itself were not unnatural! For more than a thousand years
the Church was occupied with the problem of imposing abstinence on its
priesthood, its most educated and trained body of men, educated to
look upon asceticism as the finest ideal; it took one thousand years
to convince the Catholic priesthood that abstinence was ``natural'' or
practicable.[3] Nevertheless, there is still this talk of abstinence,
self-control, and self-denial, almost in the same breath with the
condemnation of Birth Control as ``unnatural.''

If it is our duty to act as ``cooperators with the Creator'' to bring
children into the world, it is difficult to say at what point our
behavior is ``unnatural.'' If it is immoral and ``unnatural'' to
prevent an unwanted life from coming into existence, is it not immoral
and ``unnatural'' to remain unmarried from the age of puberty? Such
casuistry is unconvincing and feeble. We need only point out that
rational intelligence is also a ``natural'' function, and that it is
as imperative for us to use the faculties of judgment, criticism,
discrimination of choice, selection and control, all the faculties of
the intelligence, as it is to use those of reproduction. It is
certainly dangerous ``to frustrate the natural ends for which these
faculties were created.'' This also, is always intrinsically wrong--
as wrong as lying and blasphemy--and infinitely more devastating.
Intelligence is as natural to us as any other faculty, and it is fatal
to moral development and growth to refuse to use it and to delegate to
others the solution of our individual problems. The evil will not be
that one's conduct is divergent from current and conventional moral
codes. There may be every outward evidence of conformity, but this
agreement may be arrived at, by the restriction and suppression of
subjective desires, and the more or less successful attempt at mere
conformity. Such ``morality'' would conceal an inner conflict. The
fruits of this conflict would be neurosis and hysteria on the one
hand; or concealed gratification of suppressed desires on the other,
with a resultant hypocrisy and cant. True morality cannot be based on
conformity. There must be no conflict between subjective desire and
outward behavior.

To object to these traditional and churchly ideas does not by any
means imply that the doctrine of Birth Control is anti-Christian. On
the contrary, it may be profoundly in accordance with the Sermon on
the Mount. One of the greatest living theologians and most
penetrating students of the problems of civilization is of this
opinion. In an address delivered before the Eugenics Education
Society of London,[4] William Ralph Inge, the Very Reverend Dean of
St. Paul's Cathedral, London, pointed out that the doctrine of Birth
Control was to be interpreted as of the very essence of Christianity.

``We should be ready to give up all our theories,'' he asserted, ``if
science proved that we were on the wrong lines. And we can
understand, though we profoundly disagree with, those who oppose us on
the grounds of authority....We know where we are with a man who says,
`Birth Control is forbidden by God; we prefer poverty, unemployment,
war, the physical, intellectual and moral degeneration of the people,
and a high deathrate to any interference with the universal command to
be fruitful and multiply'; but we have no patience with those who say
that we can have unrestricted and unregulated propagation without
those consequences. It is a great part of our work to press home to
the public mind the alternative that lies before us. Either rational
selection must take the place of the natural selection which the
modern State will not allow to act, or we must go on deteriorating.
When we can convince the public of this, the opposition of organized
religion will soon collapse or become ineffective.'' Dean Inge
effectively answers those who have objected to the methods of Birth
Control as ``immoral'' and in contradiction and inimical to the
teachings of Christ. Incidentally he claims that those who are not
blinded by prejudices recognize that ``Christianity aims at saving the
soul--the personality, the nature, of man, not his body or his
environment. According to Christianity, a man is saved, not by what
he has, or knows, or does, but by what he is. It treats all the
apparatus of life with a disdain as great as that of the biologist; so
long as a man is inwardly healthy, it cares very little whether he is
rich or poor, learned or simple, and even whether he is happy, or
unhappy. It attaches no importance to quantitative measurements of
any kind. The Christian does not gloat over favorable trade-
statistics, nor congratulate himself on the disparity between the
number of births and deaths. For him...the test of the welfare of a
country is the quality of human beings whom it produces. Quality is
everything, quantity is nothing. And besides this, the Christian
conception of a kingdom of God upon the earth teaches us to turn our
eyes to the future, and to think of the welfare of posterity as a
thing which concerns us as much as that of our own generation. This
welfare, as conceived by Christianity, is of course something
different from external prosperity; it is to be the victory of
intrinsic worth and healthiness over all the false ideals and deep-
seated diseases which at present spoil civilization.''

``It is not political religion with which I am concerned,'' Dean Inge
explained, ``but the convictions of really religious persons; and I do
not think that we need despair of converting them to our views.''

Dean Inge believes Birth Control is an essential part of Eugenics, and
an essential part of Christian morality. On this point he asserts:
``We do wish to remind our orthodox and conservative friends that the
Sermon on the Mount contains some admirably clear and unmistakable
eugenic precepts. `Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of
thistles? A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, neither can a
good tree bring forth evil fruit. Every tree which bringeth not forth
good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.' We wish to apply
these words not only to the actions of individuals, which spring from
their characters, but to the character of individuals, which spring
from their inherited qualities. This extension of the scope of the
maxim seems to me quite legitimate. Men do not gather grapes of
thorns. As our proverb says, you cannot make a silk purse out of a
sow's ear. If we believe this, and do not act upon it by trying to
move public opinion towards giving social reform, education and
religion a better material to work upon, we are sinning against the
light, and not doing our best to bring in the Kingdom of God upon

Book of the day: