Inspired by Charles Darwin’s ideas about evolution, the theory of eugenics arose in Victorian England as a proposal for ‘improving’ the British population. It quickly spread to America, where it was embraced by presidents, funded by Gilded Age monopolists, and enshrined into racist laws that became the ideological cornerstone of the Third Reich. Despite this horrific legacy, eugenics looms large today as the advances in genetics in the last thirty years—from the sequencing of the human genome to modern gene editing techniques—have brought the idea of population purification back into the mainstream. Today’s guest, Adam Rutherford, author of “Control: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics” calls eugenics “a defining idea of the twentieth century.” Eugenics has “a short history, but a long past,” Rutherford writes. With roots in key philosophical texts of the classical world that formed the basis of the Nazi worldview and the rationale for genocide, eugenics still informs present-day discussions and beliefs about race supremacy and genetic purity. It remains an eternal temptation
to powerful people who wish to sculpt society through reproductive control.
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LoreAaron Mahnke and Grim & Mild