The Pivot of Civilization eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 187 pages of information about The Pivot of Civilization.

(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.

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The Pivot of Civilization from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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