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With and Without Galton

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Nikolai Krementsov

II. “Bourgeois” and “proletarian” eugenics

8. Science of the Future: With and Without Galton

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“If blind, opportunistic, and automatic natural selection could conjure man out of a viroid in a couple of thousand million years, what could not man’s conscious and purposeful efforts achieve even in a couple of million years, let alone in the thousands of millions to which he can reasonably look forward?”
Julian S. Huxley, 1962

1Vasilii Florinskii and Francis Galton, two of the major protagonists of this study, never met and were not aware of one another’s efforts to tackle their common subject, the “improvement of humankind.” But in Russia their names and their ideas became intimately linked. This peculiar linkage is visualized in the leading current Russian textbook, Clinical Genetics: the same page carries portraits of both Florinskii (on the upper left) and Galton (on the lower right). The caption under the first portrait introduces its subject as a “gynecologist-obstetrician and pediatrician,” the author of the book “Human Perfection and Degeneration (1865),” and the founder of Tomsk University. The caption under the second portrait introduces its subject as “one of the founders of human genetics and eugenics” and provides the list of his major works as follows: “Hereditary Talent and Character (1865),” “Hereditary Genius: Studies of its Laws and Consequences (1869),” and “Essays on Eugenics (1909).” The textbook’s “historical introduction” states unequivocally:

  • 1 N. P. Bochkov, Klinicheskaia genetika (M.: GEOTAR-Media, 2002), p. 9. In the last ten years the bo (...)

We can say definitively that by the mid-nineteenth century the notion of pathological heredity was firmly established and accepted by many medical schools. With this understanding of pathological heredity, the concept of the degeneration of humankind and of the necessity of its betterment was born; what is more, simultaneously and independently from each other, this concept was enunciated by V. M. Florinskii in Russia and F. Galton in England.1

2In the unlikely event that the Russian medical students for whom Nikolai Bochkov wrote (and Valerii Puzyrev updated) this textbook decide to actually check on this claim and read the original works listed in the captions under the portraits of the two “founders” of clinical genetics, they would be in for a surprise. Today, unlike a century ago, they will have no trouble finding a version of Florinskii’s book in their school library or, better still, online. But they will face considerable difficulties in finding Russian translations of Galton’s publications. Indeed, they will quickly discover that Galton’s works, in which he actually advanced his understanding of eugenics, never appeared in their native language, while Hereditary Genius, which was translated into Russian in 1874, and is currently available in a 1996 facsimile edition, does not even contain such words as “degeneration,” “pathological heredity,” and “eugenics,” to say nothing of “genetics.”

3On the previous pages I have described exactly when, how, by whom and for what purposes the linkage between Florinskii and Galton was constructed and how medical/clinical genetics became “heir” to both Florinskii’s eugamics and Galton’s eugenics in Russia. In what follows I develop further my arguments about the peculiar historical trajectory of eugenics in Russia, as seen through the biography of Florinskii’s treatise, and its implications for the understanding of the history of eugenics, locally and globally.

An (Unfinished) Biography

4Florinskii’s Human Perfection and Degeneration was published, read, and commented upon during very different periods in Russian history. It was written and first published in the aftermath of the Crimean War and at the height of the Great Reforms that completely changed Russia’s historical trajectory. But it attracted almost no attention from its prospective audience. The second time, the treatise was reprinted in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution and at the pinnacle of NEP, events that profoundly reshaped the country’s political, social, cultural, and economic landscape. Yet shortly afterwards, it was disremembered. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the last vestiges of the Thaw that inaugurated a radical departure from Stalinism, the book was brought back from oblivion and extensively discussed, even though this time its text was not republished. A new edition did appear in 1995 amidst the aftershocks of the “end” of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, accompanied by the drastic social, political, cultural, and economic reorganizations of the life of the country and its people. Most recently, it was reissued on the tails of the abandonment of perestroika’s nascent democratic reforms in favor of a new era of authoritarian rule, the replacement of the economic chaos of the previous decades with oligarchic state capitalism, and the revival in “new” Russia of imperial ambitions and Cold War-like confrontation with the West.

  • 2 Terentianus Maurus, De litteris, syllabis, pedibus et metris (London: H. Bohn, 1825), verse 1286, (...)

5What could explain the historical durability of Florinskii’s book? Why and how could the same text be published and read in such radically different times? Some clues to the answers to these questions may be found in the words of the second-century grammarian Terentianus Maurus used as the epigraph at the beginning of this book: “the capacity of the reader sets the fate of books.”2 The dates of successive revivals of Florinskii’s treatise point to an interesting regularity: each time the book appeared or was extensively discussed was within approximately a decade from a series of events that redefined the course of Russia’s history. Each of these five decades — the 1860s, the 1920s, the 1960s, the 1990s, and the 2010s — represented a break, politically, economically, socially, ideologically, culturally, and so on, with the past and was characterized by heightened social anxieties, both hopes and fears, regarding the future, which thoroughly permeated contemporary society. And each of these breaks was followed by something of a restoration — a return to certain practices, structures, and ideologies of the past and a dampening of concerns about the future (the latest one is still to come and its consequences remain to be seen). It seems that the liberating and future-oriented atmosphere stimulated an appreciation of the book’s contents by certain individuals and groups, while the “restoration” essentially led, if only temporarily, to its internment.

6The punctuated life of Florinskii’s treatise demonstrates that its meanings were defined and repeatedly redefined by — and in fact became almost inseparable from — its particular contexts: both the contexts within which the original text had been created and the contexts within which it was reissued and discussed. Various commentators did not simply read Florinskii’s essays. They actually read into the same text certain meanings and connotations absent in the original, but important and relevant to their own specific eras, contexts, interests, and agendas. They repeatedly re-interpreted its contents in the terms and concepts reflecting contemporary understandings of the ideas, values, concerns, and actions amalgamated in his eugamics, adapting them to their own ideas, values, concerns, and policies.

  • 3 The story is available in numerous editions and translations. I use here the translation by Anthon (...)

7Jorge Luis Borges has brilliantly demonstrated this phenomenon of deliberate reinterpretation of any text by its various readers in his celebrated short story “Pier Menard, Author of the Quixote” (1939). The story’s title character aspires to write de novo Cervantes’s classic only to produce a word-for-word copy of several fragments of the original. As the narrator puts it, “The text of Cervantes and that of Menard are verbally identical.”3 Yet, he claims, “The second is almost infinitely richer. (More ambiguous, his detractors will say; but ambiguity is a richness).” In a similar way, he characterizes the stylistic “differences” between the two: “Equally vivid is the contrast in style. The archaic style of Menard — in the last analysis, a foreigner — suffers from a certain affectation. Not so that of his precursor, who handles easily the ordinary Spanish of his time.” This “contrast” between the two “verbally identical” texts obviously derives from the different contexts within which the same text is placed and read.

8The narrator illustrates this — seemingly paradoxical — interdependence of a text and its contexts through an examination of Cervantes’s famous assertion: “… truth, whose mother is history, who is the rival of time, depository of deeds, witness of the past, example and lesson to the present, and warning to the future.” In the narrator’s opinion, “written by the ‘ingenious layman’ Cervantes, this enumeration is a mere rhetorical eulogy of history.” Yet the same phrase “written” by Menard acquires an entirely different meaning: “History, mother of truth; the idea is astounding. Menard, a contemporary of William James, does not define history as an investigation of reality, but as its origin. Historical truth, for him, is not what took place; it is what we think took place.” Even more, the narrator feels that “The final clauses — example and lesson to the present, and warning to the future — are shamelessly pragmatic.” The reference to James, a founder of pragmatism, in the analysis of the work by his contemporary Menard looks justified, but it would look shamelessly anachronistic in the analysis of Cervantes’s Don Quixote. Yet, as we saw, it was exactly what anthropologist Vishnevskii did in his 1926 review of Florinskii’s treatise by calling its author a “eugenicist,” and what Bochkov and Kanaev did in the 1970s by characterizing Florinskii as a “pioneer of medical genetics.”

9In Borges’s story, the narrator praises this “technique of deliberate anachronism and erroneous attributions” conceived by Menard as actually enriching “the hesitant and rudimentary art of reading.” Obviously, for any (especially fictional) text, the very possibility of its reading/interpretation in a context remote from, if not completely alien to, the contexts of the time and the place within which it was written, constitutes its great feature. “The ambiguity is a richness,” as Borges puts it — and, along with many other features, such “ambiguity” defines the text’s historical durability and cultural universality. As we saw, it was exactly the possibility of reading into Florinskii’s text certain new meanings that prompted its publishers and commentators to resurrect the long-forgotten book.

10One could suggest that what secured the continuing appeal of Florinskii’s treatise was, first and foremost, its fundamental idea: humankind is the ruler of its own future and science is the instrument of its rule. But in certain times and contexts this idea was reinterpreted by and resonated in different ways with different individuals and groups.

11The materials presented in these pages leave little doubt that both the author and the first publisher of the book strongly believed in this idea. It followed logically from Darwin’s analysis of the origin, divergence, extinction/degeneration, and progress/improvement of species and varieties in nature and under domestication. And it resonated strongly with the spirit of Imperial Russia’s Great Reforms, which convincingly demonstrated that a seemingly eternal, “God-ordained” social order could be changed by human actions informed by scientific knowledge. Florinskii’s condemnation of the existing economic, political, and cultural inequalities between sexes, social estates, religious confessions, and ethnicities as a major source of degeneration and his proposal of “rational,” “hygienic,” “mixed” marriages as a major tool of perfection were based on this very idea, even though it was not stated explicitly in his text.

12Human Perfection and Degeneration was undoubtedly a child of the Great Reforms, a fact clearly recognized by Ivan Kanaev in his likening of its author to Bazarov, the iconic image of the “man of the 1860s” perpetuated by Ivan Turgenev. The treatise responded to the invitation to the Russian educated public to express their opinions on, as Nikolai Shelgunov put it, “the future fate of the entire country,” prompted by the Crimean War fiasco and enabled by glasnost’ introduced by Emperor Alexander II. For its author Florinskii, this thought piece became an expression of his belief in the obligation of an educated person to put his knowledge to the public good and to respond to the perceived needs and concerns of his contemporary society — in Florinskii’s own words, “to bring to my Fatherland as much benefit as possible.” It also was a — somewhat accidental — venture into the “social applications” of his scientific/medical expertise and critical abilities, which reflected a new appreciation of the importance of science to the country’s future developments.

13Just a few months after the appearance of Florinskii’s essays, however, Karakozov’s assassination attempt dampened the resolve of Alexander II and his “enlightened bureaucrats” to continue and expand the Great Reforms. It also sowed in the minds of many members of the Russian educated public the seeds of doubt in the timeliness and effectiveness of their vocal critique of the existing social order and the various visions of the country’s future they advanced. Florinskii apparently was one of those affected. He never promoted or pursued further the main ideas of his treatise. Indeed, it seems as if he tried to forget he had ever written it. He found new outlets for his talents and new ways of bringing benefits to his Fatherland — writing a popular domestic medicine manual, building an education and science system in Siberia, and investigating the artefacts of “prehistoric Slavs.”

14For its first publisher, Grigorii Blagosvetlov, Human Perfection and Degeneration was an integral part of his extensive campaign to popularize the natural sciences as the ultimate remedy for numerous “social ills” that plagued the Russian Empire. He firmly believed in the power of science as a key instrument of human progress in general and the progress of his Fatherland in particular, and he spared no effort in promoting this belief through Russian Word. Karakozov’s shot that led to his arrest and the prohibition of his journal did not change Blagosvetlov’s mind. Less than two months after his release from the Peter-Paul Fortress he issued Florinskii’s essays in book format and continued to examine their major ideas on the pages of his new journal, Deed.

15Blagosvetlov seemed to be the only contemporary who fully grasped the import of Florinskii’s essays as a synthesis of Darwinism and social hygiene, which offered a scientific solution — “rational” or “hygienic” marriage — to a number of perceived social problems in post-Crimean Russia and outlined its possible effects on the country’s future. This appeared to be the reason why he reprinted them as a book and kept it in print until the end of his life. Indeed, Florinskii’s treatise inaugurated a whole series of books issued by Blagosvetlov, which in one way or another explored various questions raised in Florinskii’s tract, including translations of Karl H. Reclam’s Popular Hygiene (1869), Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man (1871-1872), and Alfred Russel Wallace’s Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection (1878), as well as publication in book format Veniamin Portugalov’s Issues in Social Hygiene (1873).

16Yet, despite its publisher’s continuing efforts to popularize its main ideas, Florinskii’s treatise failed to stir its prospective audiences into action, whether by creating a research programme that would substantiate and advance its basic conclusions, or by implementing its practical proposals into the life of his compatriots. This failure prompted its subsequent publishers and commentators to claim that the book had been ahead of its time. The nearly simultaneous appearance elsewhere of other works dealing with the same subject along similar lines, including Maximien Rey’s Dégénération de l’espèce humaine et sa régénération (1863) in France, Galton’s “Hereditary Talent and Character” (1865) in Britain, and Eduard Reich’s Ueber die Entartung der Menschen, ihre Ursachen und Verhütung (1868) in Bavaria, indicates, however, that Florinskii’s Human Perfection and Degeneration was very much in line with contemporary thinking in Europe. Indeed, it was Florinskii’s deep immersion into the problematics and debates of his western colleagues (begun during his European tour and continued afterwards in his regular extensive reviews of nearly everything published on his specialties by western colleagues) that allowed the young gynecologist to address the subject of his essays in a novel way. It was not Florinskii but rather his homeland that was behind the times — neither Russia’s scientific/medical community, nor its extensive bureaucracy paid much attention to his ideas.

17The silence that met Florinskii’s treatise after its first appearance suggests that the Russian Empire lacked the socio-economic conditions — from industrialization and urbanization to immigration and overpopulation — that fueled interest in its subject matter elsewhere during the second half of the nineteenth century. The huge, sparsely populated, agrarian, autocratic, poly-confessional, and multiethnic empire provided neither sufficient data, nor receptive audiences for concerns about “racial” degeneration and intermixing, differential fertility rates, or social degradation (seen in the spread of such social ills as crime, prostitution, pauperism, and alcoholism). In other countries, these issues drove the emergence of a particular amalgam of ideas, values, concerns, and actions aimed at averting the degeneration and advancing the improvement of humanity through deliberate interventions in human reproduction, which Galton named eugenics. Even though various “national” versions of eugenics began to infiltrate Russian professional and popular discourse shortly after Florinskii’s death, his book did not become part of the initial debate about the suitability and applicability of eugenics to the country’s life. Nor did these “national” variants of eugenics find much support among Russian anthropologists, biologists, physicians, jurists, civil servants, pedagogues, and other disciplinary, professional, and social groups, which at the time actively propagated the “improvement of humankind” elsewhere in Europe and the Americas.

18The situation changed radically after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Within just a few years after the Bolsheviks seized power, eugenics boasted a nationwide society, close links with its counterparts abroad, several research institutions, and specialized periodicals in new, Soviet Russia. It entered teaching curricula in various schools of higher learning, instigated a grassroots following, and inspired numerous cultural representations — novels, films, and plays. And it was during this period that Volotskoi discovered, actively popularized, and ultimately republished Florinskii’s treatise.

19Volotskoi was the first to explicate clearly Florinskii’s fundamental idea that humankind is the ruler of its own future (evolution) and science is the instrument of its rule. Furthermore, he pointed out that it was this very idea that underpinned both Florinskii’s and Galton’s concepts. “What we now call ‘eugenics,’ as well as Florinskii’s ‘Marriage Hygiene’,” he asserted, “is, essentially, the understanding by the species of Homo sapiens of the process of its own evolution and its striving to subordinate this process to its own will through the [scientific] study of all the factors underpinning or even tangentially influencing the evolutionary development of the human type.” This shared idea — “the self-direction of human evolution,” as it was expressed in the motto of the Second International Eugenics Congress in 1921 — determined to a large degree the subsequent entwined fates of Florinskii’s and Galton’s concepts in Russia.

20The rapid and extensive development of eugenics in Bolshevik Russia was a direct result of the combined efforts of two distinct groups. The first included educated professionals (scientists, jurists, physicians, pedagogues, historians, and so on); the second consisted of their patrons and conduits among the country’s new rulers, the Bolsheviks. The rationales and interests of these two groups in promoting eugenics differed considerably. As did their colleagues abroad, many supporters of eugenics among Russian scholars and professionals capitalized on the current popularity of eugenic ideas — manifested in their swift spread through numerous countries during the 1920s — to advance their own, varying scholarly interests, disciplinary agendas, social status, and career ambitions. The Bolsheviks’ support of eugenics derived from a close affinity of certain eugenic ideas, values, concerns, and policies with their foundational doctrine, Marxism, and their political programme of building a socialist society. Thus, propounded by Galton in 1865, the eugenic vision of creating “men of a high type” resonated strongly with the Bolsheviks’ “revolutionary dreams” of creating, in Leon Trotsky’s words, “a higher socio-biological type.”

  • 4 The phrase first appeared in the “Preface to the 1888 English Edition of the Manifesto of the Comm (...)

21Furthermore, the activist attitude towards human (social) development clearly articulated in the popular Marxist slogan, “the emancipation of the workers must be the act of the working class itself,”4 predisposed the Bolsheviks to embracing wholeheartedly the fundamental eugenic idea that humanity was the ruler of its own future. Indeed, they established a number of “agencies under social control,” which aimed, as Galton had wanted it, at improving the “qualities of future generations, either physically or mentally.” At the same time, the Bolsheviks’ recognition of science as the essential tool in fulfilling their proclaimed programme of building socialism made them accept unquestionably the notion of science as the instrument of humanity’s control over its own future. As Volotskoi put it, “a conscious, planned betterment of the human breed corresponds completely to the general goals of building a socialist Soviet society.”

  • 5 See, for instance, V. V. Bunak, “O smeshenii chelovecheskikh ras,” REZh, 1925, 3(2): 121-38.
  • 6 On the western studies of the “unfit,” see Nicole H. Rafter, White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studi (...)
  • 7 E. K. Krasnushkin, “Chto takoe prestupnik?” in Prestupnik i prestupnost’, 1926, 1: 6-33 (p. 32). F (...)

22It was the ultimate dependence of Soviet eugenicists on their state patrons, however, that, despite their close connections to foreign colleagues, made the development of eugenics in 1920s Russia so different from that in other countries. If the science of eugenics (what Kol’tsov named “anthropogenetics”) in Bolshevik Russia was virtually indistinguishable from that elsewhere, eugenics as ideology (“religion,” in Kol’tsov’s own words) and, especially, policy (“anthropotechnique,” in Kol’tsov’s terminology) diverged substantially from counterparts abroad. Indeed, the research methods employed by Soviet eugenicists — collecting pedigrees and medical histories, studying twins, and investigating genetic effects of “racial poisons” — were nearly identical to those practiced by their colleagues everywhere. But the foci of their research differed noticeably. Although the Soviet Union’s population offered ample material to study “interracial hybridization,” Soviet eugenicists paid scant attention to issues of “meticization” and “mongrelization,”5 which were a major preoccupation of their colleagues abroad (for instance, in Brazil, Germany, and the United States). Nor did they conduct much research on the “hereditary unfit” similar to such infamous studies as Henry H. Goddard’s The Kallikak Family, which became a hallmark of eugenics in the West.6 In contrast, numerous institutions the Bolsheviks set up in the early 1920s “to study the criminal and criminality” took up as their major slogan — “there is no [such thing as] an inborn criminal.”7

23Similarly, the actual policies promoted as “eugenic” by their Soviet advocates looked quite different from those proposed elsewhere. Soviet eugenicists never even attempted to introduce “sterilization laws” that were the preferred eugenic instrument in Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States at the time. To the contrary, with very few notable exceptions, such as Volotskoi and Tkachev, they repeatedly criticized their foreign colleagues for promoting sterilization. Instead, they advocated for extensive popularization of eugenic ideas, marriage regulation, re-education of criminals and so-called defective children, and artificial insemination of “willing women with the sperm of talented producers,” as Serebrovskii put it.

24These differences reflected a peculiar array of scientific ideas, a specific set of social values, a particular constellation of perceived social problems, and a distinct range of social actions deemed relevant and acceptable by the Bolshevik patrons of eugenics and expressed in a certain vision of humanity’s future imbedded in their adopted doctrine, Marxism. It was the rejection of “bourgeois” and “capitalist” ideas, values, concerns, and policies fused into “their” eugenics that inspired calls for creating a different — “proletarian” and “socialist” — “our” eugenics, which, in Volotskoi’s formulation, would “correspond to the socio-economic conditions of our great country.” And it was the close affinity of the ideas, values, concerns, and actions fused into Florinskii’s Human Perfection and Degeneration with those endorsed by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s that made the book a suitable model for such “bio-social” eugenics actively propagated by Volotskoi and his like-minded colleagues. Many scientific ideas regarding human reproduction, heredity, diversity, development, and evolution elaborated in the book were now seen as outdated and mistaken. But certain values, concerns, and actions amalgamated with these ideas appeared timely and true.

25Florinskii’s synthesis of Darwinism and social hygiene became particularly important in this context. During the 1920s, Darwinism and social hygiene came to be seen as the foundational concepts of Soviet biology and Soviet medicine/public health, respectively, and, as such, both were incorporated in the concurrent version of Marxism. This made Florinskii’s eugamics all the more appealing to “materialist-biologists,” “materialist-physicians,” and “materialist-sociologists” who passionately debated the possibility and necessity of creating their own version of eugenics. These debates addressed the foundations, agendas, and instruments of “bio-social” eugenics and garnered numerous innovations, including such theoretical concepts as genofond and euphenics and such practical tools as marriage consultations and artificial insemination.

26The perceived contradictions between Darwinism and Marxism — the two pillars of “bio-social” eugenics identified by Volotskoi — became a decisive factor in the fate of eugenics in Soviet Russia. The major source of these contradictions rested in the opposing — biological and social — interpretations of human nature and the corresponding visions — biological and social — of humanity’s future. Some Marxist proponents of eugenics attempted to resolve these contradictions by resorting to the Lamarckian notion of the inheritance of acquired characteristics. For them, Lamarckism offered a suitable mechanism for an “automatic,” as it were, translation of social actions, be they physical education or legislation, into desired biological effects, such as the hereditary betterment of the health, minds, and beauty of future generations.

27Florinskii’s acceptance of Lamarckian inheritance (which he shared with his contemporaries, including Darwin) became yet another argument for using his eugamics as a suitable model for “socialist” eugenics, while Galton’s opposition to Lamarckism became yet another reason for the rejection of his “capitalist” eugenics. The vocal critique of Lamarckian inheritance by supporters of eugenics among Soviet geneticists effectively derailed the 1920s attempts to produce a Lamarckian synthesis of Darwinism and Marxism embodied in the very notion of “bio-social” eugenics. Indeed, they separated the biological (eugenics) from the social (euphenics) and attempted to link the two through the concept of genofond as the entirety of all genes contained in a population, which, in the words of its author Serebrovskii, was affected “in one way or another, by nearly every action of every government agency.”

28The primacy of the social over the biological in the “Marxist” understanding of human nature and humanity’s future forcibly imposed during Stalin’s “revolution from above” led to the abandonment of the search for a “socialist” eugenics and the splitting of “bio-social” eugenics into its constituent biological and social parts. The biological was taken over by the new discipline of medical genetics that reduced the issues of “degeneration” to the study, diagnosis, and prevention of hereditary diseases, but steered clear of any open discussion of humanity’s future. The social was subsumed into general and specialized education, social hygiene, and ideological indoctrination now considered the exclusive tools of both “human improvement” and the realization of the Bolsheviks’ futuristic programme of building a socialist society. All the various visions of humanity’s biological future were condemned as “pernicious” biologization and replaced with a Marxist vision of a future communist society, whilst theoretical discussions of human nature and humanity’s future became an exclusive domain of Stalin’s ideologues.

29At the same time, the extensive use of racial hygiene (which Soviet observers equated with eugenics) as the “scientific foundation” of racist Nazi policies and actions provided new ammunition for the fierce attacks on eugenics as the embodiment of the “capitalist perversion” of science. As a result, any form of eugenics came to be seen as exclusively “theirs.” The subsequent condemnation of medical genetics and then general genetics as “fascist” and “imperialist” erased the biological from any discussion of human nature and humanity’s future in the Soviet Union. By the late 1940s, in the aftermath of Lysenko’s campaign, eugenics in Soviet discourse had been transformed into a “racist and imperialist pseudoscience,” its founder Galton into a “reactionary racist anthropologist,” whilst Florinskii’s Human Perfection and Degeneration, a major template for “our” eugenics, became a collateral casualty and was utterly disremembered.

30Two decades later, however, the “rehabilitation” of medical genetics, accomplished by the surviving members of the Russian Eugenics Society and the students of its late founders, reignited debates over the interrelations of the biological and the social in human nature and humanity’s future. In the liberating atmosphere of the Thaw medical geneticists managed to break the monopoly of “Marxist” philosophers and ideologues in defining the social applications and societal implications of their discipline and to reassert their own control over its “methodological issues.” As an amalgam of ideas, values, concerns, and actions regarding human nature and humanity’s future, eugenics became an important theme in these debates that echoed the earlier fierce polemics over the suitability and applicability of eugenics to socialist society.

31Both Galton’s and Florinskii’s concepts became key reference points in these debates, as witnessed by Kanaev’s publication in the early 1970s of both a biography of Galton that focused almost exclusively on eugenics and a detailed analysis of Florinskii’s treatise. Indeed, as we saw, both Galton’s eugenics and Florinskii’s eugamics became important tools in consolidating the social legitimacy and authority of medical genetics in the discipline’s re-institutionalization during the 1960s and 1970s. The discipline’s leading spokesman, Bochkov, and its leading historian, Kanaev, popularized the view of eugenics as a regrettable deviation from the true “path to medical genetics,” as Kanaev put it in the title of his article about Florinskii’s book. According to both Bochkov and Kanaev, this path had been mapped out simultaneously and independently by the discipline’s respective British and Russian “pioneers,” Galton and Florinskii, but their followers had “strayed away from” it. The “stagnation” of the Brezhnev era (1964-1983) stifled the liberating impulse of the Thaw and both eugenics and eugamics again disappeared from public view.

32Both re-emerged in the heady atmosphere of perestroika and glasnost’ ushered in by Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms and further boosted by the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. The crumbling of official “Marxist” ideology and the rising of acute anxieties regarding the future of the new, post-Soviet Russia stimulated the interest in, and extensive search for, a suitable vision of the country’s future. Eugenics offered one such vision. The 1990s witnessed the flaring up of public discussions on “issues in modern eugenics,” the appearance of the first scholarly biography of Florinskii, a new edition of his treatise, a reprint of the Russian translation of Galton’s Hereditary Genius, and a new edition of Kanaev’s biography of Galton.

33An important factor in the renewed interest in Galton’s eugenics and Florinskii’s eugamics was the introduction of several new techniques, above all, cloning and the sequencing of the human genome, which seemed to promise effective tools for intervention into human reproduction, and, hence, human future evolution. But no less important were the actual medical problematics of Florinskii’s treatise — his extensive discussion of hereditary diseases and, especially, his view of physicians as the guardians of the health of future generations. Accompanied by the rapid disintegration of the science and health protection systems, the collapse of the Soviet Union threatened the very existence of medical genetics in a new Russia struggling with deep demographic and health crises. For the discipline’s new champion Puzyrev, the republication of Florinskii’s book, then, became a suitable means to reassert the importance of medical genetics in the eyes of prospective patrons at central and local, domestic and international levels.

Fig. 8-1. A portrait of Vasilii Florinskii commissioned in 1997 to the Tomsk artist Vasilii Cheremin (1926-2002), oil on canvas, 72 x 88 cm. Modeled in part on the 1888 photograph of Florinskii (see fig. 4-6). Initially, it hanged in the lobby of the Tomsk Branch of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Now it is in Valerii Puzyrev’s office at the Tomsk Institute of Medical Genetics. Photo courtesy of V. Puzyrev.

34The subsequent 2012 edition of Florinskii’s book was also instigated by the search for a suitable vision of the country’s future. Its publisher Avdeev had found such a vision in the popular nationalist idea of “Russia for the Russians,” which he dressed in explicitly racist clothing. It was the resonance of this racist interpretation with certain conceptions of German racial hygiene that led this self-proclaimed “bio-politician” to eugenics and inspired his (purely fictitious) presentation of Florinskii’s treatise as the pioneering articulation of a particular “Russian,” “racial” eugenics.

35The possibility of reading into Florinskii’s text certain new meanings, thus, ensured the book’s continuing appeal to its various audiences, be they eugenicists, medical geneticists, or nationalists. The same possibility will perhaps inspire interest in its contents by future publishers and readers of various persuasions, or, as the case might be, will consign the book to oblivion once more.

The History of Eugenics: Local and Global

  • 8 My analysis here is based on numerous historical studies of eugenics in various countries, and esp (...)

36The peculiar historical trajectory of eugenics in Russia, as seen through the life and afterlife of Florinskii’s treatise, offers certain insights into the history of eugenics writ large, illuminating both its multiple local variations and its common global trends.8 It suggests that the amalgam of ideas, values, concerns, and actions regarding human nature (i.e. heredity, reproduction, diversity, individual and social development, and evolution), which embodied a certain vision of humanity’s future and which Galton named eugenics, had multiple “centers of origin.”

  • 9 For a fine-grained analysis of the “local” and the “general” in the history of genetics, see Jonat (...)

37In each particular setting and each specific time period, this amalgam acquired a distinct local configuration, depending on the exact combination of its constituent parts.9 In different settings, it was based on different ideas about human nature: Christian, Hobbesian, Lockean, Lamarckian, Darwinian, Galtonian, Mendelian, Marxian, and so on. It incorporated different arrays of values: progressive and conservative, religious and atheistic, democratic and authoritarian, imperialist and anticolonial, capitalist and socialist, etc. It addressed different societal concerns: physical and mental “degeneration,” racial and ethnic tensions, gender and class inequalities, “social ills” and endemic diseases, and so forth. It offered different sets of policies, tools, and practices, from sterilization laws to artificial insemination to medico-genetic consultations. It was forged by, and attracted the close attention (both criticism and support) of, numerous individuals representing a variety of professional, occupational, and other social groups. It garnered site-specific institutional arrangements, patronage patterns, and research foci. And the historical trajectory of each version of this eugenic amalgam clearly reflected local political, economic, cultural, and ideological dynamics and imperatives.

38The variable contents of this amalgam help explain certain parallelisms, convergences, and divergences in its historical development in different settings. Quite often, the same societal concerns — for instance, rising crime rates — gave birth to divergent “eugenic” solutions, such as sterilization laws in the United States, institutional segregation in the United Kingdom, and re-education in the Soviet Union. Equally often, the same policies — for example, marriage regulations — were proposed and adopted as “eugenic” solutions to different societal concerns, ranging from falling birth rates in post-World War I France, to the perceived growth of “feeblemindedness” among “lower classes” in Britain, to national minorities’ claims for equality in Romania. The same policies were at times justified by very different value systems, as reflected in both the defense and critique of “eugenic” sterilization in Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, the US, and the USSR, for instance. Certain policies and practices, such as restrictions on consanguineous marriages or sterilization, had actually predated the emergence of eugenics, and were appropriated by eugenicists. Others, such as medico-genetic consultations, were indeed pioneered by supporters of eugenics, as the history of what today is called genetic counseling in both the Soviet Union and the US readily demonstrates.

39The history of eugenics in Russia shows that particular local variants of eugenics easily penetrated national borders, often cross-pollinated, and occasionally hybridized. The migration of such “national” versions from one locale to another depended on the flow of publications, materials, techniques, and people across national borders and often followed the established cultural, political, and economic ties among separate countries. Thus, Ploetz’s Rassenhygiene shaped the development of eugenics in the German “sphere of influence” that extended from Russia to Japan to various countries in northern, eastern, and central Europe. Galton’s eugenics generated most resonance on the territories dominated at one point or another by the British Empire, from the US and Australia to Canada and New Zealand. French puériculture exerted an important influence in the development of eugenics in various countries in Latin America, Iran, and Romania. And Soviet “Marxist” eugenics affected many left-leaning eugenicists in Britain and the US, including J. B. S. Haldane, Julian Huxley, and H. J. Muller. But the actual hybridization and the incorporation of certain elements of “foreign” versions into its particular local variant always depended on their “domestication” by local communities.

  • 10 The glossaries attached to the chapters dealing with separate countries in Marius Turda’s collecti (...)

40The extensive cross-national exchange and cross-fertilization did not result in the blending of local variations of eugenics into a universal coherent concept, or in the formulation of a universally accepted programme of actions. Rather, in each particular setting, foreign imports were selected, reconstructed, adopted, and adapted to fit local agendas, interests, cultures, and concerns. Such domestication included, first and foremost, the creation of local eugenic vocabularies.10 The terms comprising such local vocabularies often had meanings, connotations, referential circles, allusions, synonymic and antonymic associations, and inferences quite different from those of imported terms and concepts. Such local terminology reinterpreted and adapted foreign concepts to a specific local culture embedded in its native tongue. The multiplicity, variety, and interrelations of such terms as antropogenetika (anthropogenetics), antropotekhnika (anthropotechnique), evgenika (eugenics), evgenetika (eugennétique), evfenika (euphenics), rasovaia gigiena (Rassenhygiene), and generativnaia gigiena or gigiena razmnozheniia (Fortpflanzungshygiene) coined, translated, and transliterated by the Russian proponents of eugenics in distinct eras provide a vivid illustration to the complexities and ambiguities of this process. The alternating synonymic, antonymic, or complementary use and disuse of these and many other eugenic terms by different authors in specific time periods serve as an effective indicator of how and which particular foreign concepts were thus appropriated or rejected.

41Such domestication rested on a critical selection of foreign works on the subject to be translated into the local language, summarized in various local compilations and textbooks, and reviewed in local periodicals, as the story of Galton’s and Kammerer’s publications in Russia clearly manifests. Various factors shaped this selection process: personal contacts of local supporters (and critics) of eugenics with their foreign counterparts, local political and ideological pressures, the recognized authority of certain authors (often related to their institutional positions and international visibility), familiarity with the languages and actual availability of particular original works, diverse disciplinary affiliations of local proponents and critics of eugenics, and many others. Introductions, prefaces, and commentaries written by their translators, editors, publishers, and reviewers highlighted or down played, and sometimes simply ignored, certain elements of foreign doctrines, marking some of them as appropriate and others as inappropriate for emulation and incorporation in a local version.

42This domestication process often involved identifying (or inventing) local antecedents of imported concepts, exemplified by Volotskoi’s references to Peter the Great’s laws on “fool marriages” and his active popularization of Florinskii’s book. The proponents of eugenics in particular settings invoked such local “founding fathers” and local “proto-eugenic” conceptions to assess and legitimize the applicability or irrelevance of the imported doctrines and their particular components to local agendas, as the varied uses of Florinskii’s treatise by its later publishers and commentators, from Volotskoi to Kanaev, Bochkov, Puzyrev, and Avdeev, readily demonstrate. Indeed, they co-constructed the domestic and the foreign doctrines to fit the latter into local moldings and thus justify their acceptance or rejection. To legitimize their own conceptions, ideas, and disciplines, they created particular “genealogies” that established connections with certain acceptable and accepted “founding fathers” while excluding other existing historical connections to suspect and objectionable ones, as Galton’s “familial tree” placed on the cover of the Russian Eugenics Journal readily shows (see fig. 8-2).

Fig. 8-2. The title page of the first issue of the Russian Eugenics Journal edited by Nikolai Kol’tsov. It carries a stylized “family tree” that depicted the relations of Charles Darwin (left) to Francis Galton (right) via their grandfather, Erasmus Darwin (center). This “genealogy” was clearly meant to emphasize eugenics’ deep roots in both Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and the “materialistic philosophy” of his grandfather, whose poem “The Temple of Nature” had been translated into Russian in 1911 by Nikolai Kholodkovskii, a zoology professor at St. Petersburg University. With the very beginning of the Bolshevik regime, “materialism” became the battle cry of Bolshevik ideologues and “Darwinism” was actively incorporated into Marxism, as the materialistic explanation of biological evolution. The genealogy depicted in Russian Eugenics Journal, then, implied that eugenics founded by Erasmus Darwin’s grandson and Charles Darwin’s cousin Galton also was a “materialistic” doctrine, and thus could be accepted and developed in Bolshevik Russia. Courtesy of BAN.

43Along with domesticating its foreign versions, the local proponents of eugenics put considerable efforts into spreading a eugenics gospel beyond its “centers of origin.” The history of international eugenics conferences, organizations, and publications shows that its adherents regularly propagated — and often sought to impose — the ideas, values, concerns, and policies amalgamated into “national” variants of eugenics on the international scene. Initiated by the proponents of Rassenhygiene, these efforts were carried out largely by British and US eugenicists who hosted the three consecutive international eugenics congresses in 1912, 1921, and 1932. It was the Anglo-American leadership in the “internationalizing” of this amalgam that resulted in the wide adoption of “eugenics” as a general umbrella term covering its numerous local permutations and in the widespread acknowledgement of Galton as its “founding father.”

  • 11 Leonard Darwin, “Presidential Address,” in Problems in Eugenics, vol. I, p. 2

44As a transnational phenomenon, however, eugenics was very loosely organized, a fact clearly reflected in the very names of its flagship institutions, the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations, established in 1925, and the Latin International Federation of Eugenic Organizations, established in 1933. It was merely an aggregate of multiple local versions, each of which had its own national roots, antecedents, support base, justifications, patrons, institutions, and agendas. From the first to the last international eugenics congress, their organizers and participants showed little interest in standardizing their ideas, research practices (data collection and analysis), or policies. As Leonard Darwin emphasized in his presidential address to the 1912 London congress: “In so new a field, wide differences of opinion as to the methods to be adopted are certain to exist, and it is only by a tolerant consideration of all these divergent views that the true path of progress will ever be discovered.”11 Such a “true path,” however, proved elusive. Although by that time eugenics was not so new anymore, similar “wide differences” persisted through the next two international congresses and even led, in the aftermath of the Third International Eugenics Congress, to the formation of a “break-away” group, the Latin International Federation of Eugenic Organizations. These “differences of opinion” allowed proponents of eugenics in various countries to pick and choose from the large pool of available ideas, values, concerns, and policies covered by the umbrella term “eugenics,” liberally mixing certain elements of British or US eugenics with those of German Rassenhygiene, French puériculture, or Italian antropologia criminale.

45One could argue that the very lack of cohesiveness gave eugenics a unique strength and durability. The amalgam of widely varying ideas, ideals, concerns, and activities fused together under the name of eugenics offered to a variety of individuals in numerous countries the possibility of choosing, adopting, and adapting its particular elements to their own national, professional, institutional, and disciplinary contexts, interests, and agendas. It was this very looseness of eugenics that attracted anthropologists, educators, doctors, policymakers, public health activists, social reformers, biologists, and jurists in various countries under the banner of eugenics.

  • 12 Barrett and Kurzman, “Globalizing Social Movement

46This lack of uniformity in the concepts, concerns, ideals, and policies among the proponents of eugenics raises questions about the actual goals of their efforts to convene international congresses, form international organizations, and publish international journals, as well as about their successes and failures in spreading a eugenics gospel locally and globally. In their innovative analysis of the “transnational eugenics movement,” sociologists Deborah Barrett and Charles Kurzman have attributed the early success of eugenics on the international scene to a “global culture” that appeared conducive to the movement’s basic goals, concerns, and policies.12 They have identified two fundamental components (frames) of this global culture: the ideology of statehood and the ideology of personhood. In their view, the ideology of statehood in this period involved increasing state interventions into such novel spheres of social and individual life as family, education, health, migration, etc., thus expanding the state’s purview far beyond such traditional areas of state authority as defense, law and order, and taxation. The concurrent ideology of personhood limited “full personhood” only to propertied males, and in colonial settings only to those of European ancestry, and included a rigid hierarchization of populations according to “innate” ethnic, racial, class, and gender characteristics. Barrett and Kurzman argue that these particular ideologies permeated the “global culture” of the time and resonated strongly with eugenic ideas, values, concerns, and actions, thus enabling the success of eugenics as a transnational movement.

  • 13 For a general analysis of the attitudes of the Russian educated elites to the state’s authority, s (...)

47The history of eugenics in Russia suggests, however, that both the “global” character of these ideologies and their decisive role in the successful spread of eugenics around the world are debatable. One could suggest that these ideologies played a part not only in the “global success” but also in certain “local failures” of eugenics. As we saw, these particular ideologies of statehood and personhood were largely unacceptable to Florinskii, as well as to the Russian observers of eugenics during the late imperial period. Many members of the Russian intelligentsia saw interventions of the autocratic state (and its important component, the Orthodox Church) into civic life as unwarranted, infringing on individual liberties, and threatening to their professional aspirations and agendas.13

  • 14 For instance, an article published in Russian Thought in 1893 under characteristic title “Biologis (...)

48Indeed, Florinskii was one of the first to propose that, instead of the state’s and the church’s regulations, the issues of human degeneration and perfection could be better addressed through “rational” and “hygienic” marriage by individuals guided in their marital decisions by a physician. Florinskii also shared with many of his compatriots the belief that various social — class, ethnicity, religion, race, and gender — hierarchies constructed on the basis of “biological,” “innate” characteristics were unsubstantiated. Later Russian observers were also quite critical of the class and race biases of eugenics and were equally unsympathetic to the gender bias that occupied such a prominent place in early eugenic ideas and actions.14 This ideological incompatibility played a significant role in the failure of early eugenics to lure Russian scientists, physicians, and jurists into joining the nascent movement before 1917.

  • 15 See, for instance, Richard Cleminson, Anarchism, Science and Sex: Eugenics in Eastern Spain, 1900- (...)

49The ideology of statehood certainly contributed to the popularity and growth of eugenics, even though, as several recent studies of interrelations between anarchism and eugenics have shown, its influence varied in different settings.15 Its impact is particularly visible in the development of eugenics in various countries that emerged in post-World War I Europe on the ruins of the Habsburg, Ottoman, and Russian empires, from Austria and Poland to Czechoslovakia and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes to Estonia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. As many historians have convincingly argued, in their efforts to build a modern nation-state, certain individuals and groups in these newborn countries eagerly embraced the “blood and soil” mythology expressed in the perceived “innate” racial and ethnic hierarchies that underpinned much of contemporary eugenics. Such hierarchies, however, were anathema to the Bolsheviks who loudly denounced racism and nationalism and actively promoted internationalism. Indeed, these “innate” hierarchies became a major factor in their rejection of “bourgeois” eugenics.

  • 16 For a useful comparative overview of the place of eugenics in a “welfare state,” see Véronique Mot (...)

50Yet, although the Bolsheviks were not building a nation state, they were nevertheless building a state, creating its governing apparatus, laws, institutions, practices, and bureaucracies, and thus establishing and expanding their control over the population.16 Many historians of eugenics (particularly in other multiethnic states such as Mexico and Brazil) have argued that the extensive medicalization connected to various eugenic projects became one of the “social control” instruments of state-building and modernization. The close involvement of Soviet social hygienists, from Radin to Semashko, in elaborating “bio-social” eugenics and promulgating “eugenic” laws indicates that the ideology of statehood did exert a noticeable influence on the development of eugenics in Bolshevik Russia, albeit in ways different from those in many other countries.

  • 17 I cannot discuss here the actual implementation of this decreed gender equality in Russia, which i (...)
  • 18 The issues surrounding the actual realization of the egalitarian ethnic policies in the Soviet Uni (...)
  • 19 See Birte Kohtz, “Gute Gene, schlechte Gene. Eugenik in der Sowjetunion zwischen Begabungsforschun (...)

51The same could not be said about the “global” ideology of personhood. The Bolsheviks abolished the male-dominated model of gender relations and decreed gender equality in all forms of life: marital, social, political, economic, cultural, familial, and so on.17 Indeed, they adopted a number of policies, including legalization of abortion, abolition of the very notion of “illegitimate children,” protection of maternal health, paid maternity leave, and wife’s entitlement to alimony in case of divorce, which actually privileged women. The Bolsheviks also decreed the equality of all races and ethnicities populating the vast territories under their control.18 They put considerable effort into eliminating economic, social, and cultural disparities among various ethnic groups, which even prompted some historians to characterize Bolshevik Russia as “the affirmative action empire.” Not surprisingly, both race and gender biases so prominent in certain “national” versions of eugenics found little support among Soviet eugenicists.19 But, as we saw in Avdeev’s writings, some elements of colonial attitudes and racial hierarchies re-emerged in the post-Soviet renderings of eugenics.

  • 20 The involvement of several early proponents of eugenics, such as, for instance, eminent American z (...)
  • 21 See, for instance, Paul Weindling, “The ‘Sonderweg’ of German Eugenics: Nationalism and Scientific (...)
  • 22 Garland E. Allen, “The Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, 1910-1940: An Essay in Instit (...)

52The history of eugenics in Russia suggests that Barrett and Kurzman’s analytical scheme also needs one more component (frame): the ideology of scientific internationalism.20 The cosmopolitan, “multi-national” character of early eugenics certainly appeared a major point of attraction for its Russian observers: they repeatedly pointed out that various eugenic programmes had been advanced in numerous western countries and hence deserved serious attention at home. More important, the insistent claim of many eugenicists, beginning with Galton, that eugenics was a science, made this particular ideology highly influential in assuring the success of eugenics in various national, as well as international, settings.21 Indeed the institutional trappings of a scientific discipline, which Galton had given to his brain-child in Britain in the early 1900s, were quickly emulated elsewhere, for instance, in the United States, where Charles Davenport “borrowed” from Galton even the name for the US first eugenic institution — the Eugenics Record Office.22

  • 23 See, for instance, Jean-Jacques Salomon, “The ‘Internationale’ of Science,” Science Studies, 1971, (...)

53The power of this ideology was further enhanced by the membership composition of the early eugenics movement, which in general was limited to educated professionals and included many eminent scientists. The decades before World War I were the heyday of scientific internationalism characterized by the growing number of international meetings, journals, awards, expeditions, and societies in practically every scientific field and discipline.23 This emerging “scientific internationale” rested on the notion of the universality of scientific knowledge and aimed primarily at creating and maintaining a disciplinary consensus regarding research methods, subjects, standards, concepts, terms, boundaries, and objectives in specific fields of knowledge. But, the issues of disciplinary cohesion aside, all of these international organizations and activities also conferred on their participants from various countries shared “transnational” prestige and authority. As numerous studies of “international science” have demonstrated, such prestige and authority associated with participation in international activities and organizations proved highly instrumental in the advancement of scientists’ domestic interests and agendas, for instance, in courting local patrons or mobilizing local resources and allies.

54One could suggest that, even though many activists of the transnational eugenics movement were not particularly interested in building a disciplinary consensus, they definitely sought to capitalize on the authority and prestige attached to “international science” in the pre-World-War-I and inter-war eras to propagate their views on both domestic and international scenes. They also sought to parlay such transnational authority and prestige into certain domestic advantages and developments. As we saw in Chapter 5, the primary target of the organizers of the First International Eugenics Congress in London was the British public. But a noticeable increase in the number of publications on eugenics in Russia after the congress demonstrates that they also succeeded on an international stage: the congress did attract the close attention of numerous observers, many of whom had never before even heard of eugenics.

  • 24 The subsequent meetings were held in London (1919), New York City (1921), Brussels (1922), Lund (1 (...)

55This could be further illustrated by the rapid development of “national” eugenic organizations in France, Italy, Scandinavia, and eastern and central European countries in the aftermath of the London congress. For the most part, the very same individuals who had attended the congress and sat on its “Permanent International Eugenics Committee” spearheaded this development. Their attendance at the international gathering became a weighty argument in persuading their domestic patrons and peers of the necessity of organizing “national” eugenics in their home countries. Thus, the first 1913 meeting of the Permanent International Eugenics Committee in Paris helped the organizational efforts of French would-be-eugenicists and the advancement of their national agendas: that very year they established the Société française d’eugénique. Similarly, the post-war annual meetings of the committee facilitated the growth of national eugenics in the host countries, as well as the spread of eugenics gospel throughout the world.24

56Scientific internationalism also enabled the transnational exchange and circulation of certain ideas, techniques, concepts, and research methods developed within particular scientific disciplines regarding human reproduction, heredity, variability, development, and evolution, which became fused into eugenics. Given the wide range of disciplinary affiliations of eugenics proponents, a number of international scientific congresses in various fields of knowledge, from anthropology, mental hygiene, and psychiatry to sexology, psychology, and genetics, became venues for both the propaganda and critique of eugenics. At the same time, certain novel approaches to their specific subject matter developed within these different disciplines, be it IQ testing or artificial insemination, were quickly incorporated into the concurrent versions of eugenics and boosted the debates over their legitimacy the world over.

  • 25 For detailed examinations of the role of such networks in the history of science in general and of (...)
  • 26 For an examination of the role of international networks in the history of genetics and eugenics i (...)

57Of course, ideas and ideologies are not Kantian “things in themselves”: they do not exist in a vacuum or in the minds of historians who study them. They originate, come to being, and are effectuated by certain individuals and groups, which form particular networks.25 It was the multitudes of entwined personal networks among scientists involved with eugenics that made all the transnational transfers and exchanges possible and effective.26 Such disciplinary and cross-disciplinary networks became major channels for domestic and international exchanges of ideas, methods, results, publications, tools, honors, students, and even funding (for instance, in the form of Rockefeller fellowships). As we saw, the active efforts by Soviet scientists to tap into such international networks was an important factor in the rapid development of eugenics in their homeland during the 1920s. Individual members of such networks facilitated the spread of — and spearheaded the negotiations over — ideas, values, concerns, and policies amalgamated under the name of eugenics both across and within national borders. Examples of this international networking include Davenport sending large amounts of US eugenics literature to his Soviet colleagues in 1921-1922 and publishing information on Soviet eugenics in his Eugenical News, and Muller’s four-year stay in the Soviet Union in 1933-1937. These networks profoundly influenced the domestication of eugenics in specific locales and shaped local eugenics institutions, agendas, and practices. As we saw, it was the personal networks of teachers, their students, and students of their students that assured the temporal continuity of eugenics in Russia, despite its ideological condemnation and the nearly complete takeover of institutions for, first, eugenics, then, medical genetics, and then general genetics by “Marxist” critics and Lysenko’s disciples. One could expect to find similar networks that carried the torch of eugenics on both domestic and international scenes in other geographical and temporal settings.

58The “global” ideologies of statehood, personhood, and scientific internationalism — mediated through and by the fluid networks of eugenics’ adherents and critics — then, do illuminate some features of eugenics as both an inherently local and a transnational phenomenon, but certainly not all of them.

Science of the Future: A View from the Past

  • 27 See, for instance, Michael Burleigh, “Eugenic Utopias and the Genetic Present,” Totalitarian Movem (...)
  • 28 See, for instance, Anne-Laure Simmonot, Hygiénisme et eugénisme au XXe siècle à travers la psychia (...)

59Probably the most important common feature that characterized various local versions and shaped global trends of eugenics was its proponents’ explicit preoccupation with the future. This focus linked the problematics of eugenics with the fundamental existential questions of human nature, human origins, and human destiny: who are we, where did we come from, and where are we going? Fears and hopes about the future of particular communities and humanity as a whole appear to have been the major stimulus for the development of and debates over eugenics, locally and globally. The same hopes and fears made eugenics a favorite trope of the nascent literary genre of science fiction (SF) that took examination of possible futures as its core theme. Conversely, many self-identified eugenicists (and later historians of eugenics) readily appropriated as “eugenic” almost every excursion into a possible (utopian or dystopian) future that included some form of intervention into human reproduction, be it Plato’s Republic, Campanella’s City of the Sun, H. G. Wells’s Modern Utopia, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, or George Orwell’s 1984.27 This orientation made eugenics particularly appealing to every social, disciplinary, and occupational group interested in the future, be they social reformers, SF writers, evolutionary biologists, philosophers, revolutionaries, or social hygienists. Indeed, the focus on prevention — with its explicit goal to deter future diseases and epidemics — made hygiene a natural ally of eugenics, clearly expressed in the close involvement of public health specialists of all kinds with its development everywhere and the very names — “marriage hygiene,” “generative hygiene,” and “racial hygiene” — it assumed in certain settings.28

60Seen in this light, the dates of publications and intense discussions of Florinskii’s treatise in Russia reflect not merely the internal dynamics and local imperatives of the country’s political, cultural, economic, and scientific developments. They also point to certain global changes in the perception, imagination, and anticipation of the future. Welded into all of its local variations, the possibility to affect humanity’s future by deliberate intervention in human nature made eugenics repelling or appealing to various audiences especially in times of heightened anxieties about the future.

61The active development of various “eugenic” schemes in the 1860s and the subsequent waves of global interest in eugenics — from the 1900s through the 1920s, again from the 1950s through the 1970s, and, lately, from the 1990s through the 2010s — correspond closely to the periods of such heightened anxieties. Although, as we saw in the case of Russia, there certainly were some local variations, this particular chronology strongly suggests that two major groups of factors, which profoundly affected our views of possible futures, also shaped the waning and waxing popularity of eugenics. The first includes certain global scientific developments — from the Darwinian revolution to the Human Genome Project — that have redefined the understanding of life and notions of human nature (reproduction, heredity, diversity, development, and evolution). The second consists of certain global events — from the Industrial Revolution through the two World Wars to the “end” of the Cold War — that have profoundly reformatted the political, cultural, economic, and ideological terrains of the very world we live in.

62The nearly simultaneous appearance of various “eugenic” conceptions during the 1860s was undoubtedly stimulated by Darwin’s Origin, which had not only thrown “light on the origin of man and his history,” but also offered a convenient framework to illuminate humanity’s future. Almost immediately translated into the major European languages, Darwin’s concept of biological evolution ushered a radically new worldview by offering clear-cut naturalistic answers to the fundamental existential questions: who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. According to a Darwinian viewpoint, humans are a particular species of the animal kingdom; they evolved over countless millennia from some other “lower” animals; and, as any other species, they will either further evolve/diverge into different species, or become extinct.

63Furthermore, like other “laws of nature” — from the laws of celestial mechanics to the laws of thermodynamics — Darwin’s “laws of evolution” were seen as inescapable and inexorable. They implied that the factors, mechanisms, stages, and conditions, which had defined the past of the human species, would also define its future. They prompted a re-interpretation of human history (from the rise and fall of civilizations to the evolution of languages) in Darwin’s terms of “struggle for existence” and “natural selection.” They raised the frightening certainty of inevitable human degeneration and extinction. But, they also offered a comforting hope of the possibility of human “improvement” and further “progress” through a deliberate manipulation of human reproduction.

64Underpinning Darwin’s analysis of speciation, the close analogy between artificial selection (that produced new and “improved” varieties of plants and animals under domestication) and natural selection (that produced new and “improved” species in nature) provided a major intellectual impulse for elaborating various “eugenic” concepts in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the US, and elsewhere. All of these varying schemes responded to the implications of Darwin’s theory for humanity’s future by proposing certain ways of averting the looming threat of degeneration/extinction and realizing the tantalizing promise of perfection/progress, clearly expressed in the very title of Florinskii’s treatise. Not surprisingly, in searching for instruments that would be acceptable, in Galton’s formulation, “under the existing conditions of law and sentiment,” all of them relied on Darwin’s analysis of “sexual selection” and borrowed extensively from the toolbox of plant and animal breeders, including “selective mating,” “in-breeding,” and “out-breeding.”

  • 29 On the co-evolution of the notions of social hygiene and public health, see the next chapter “Apol (...)
  • 30 Edwin Chadwick, Report to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department, from (...)
  • 31 For a historical analysis of this process in France, see William Coleman, Death is a Social Diseas (...)

65Another important catalyst for the rise of these various eugenic proposals was “social hygiene” that embodied the conception of health and disease as outcomes of social conditions and, hence, subjects of social control.29 The Napoleonic wars and the Industrial Revolution of the early nineteenth century directed the attention of physicians, civil servants, scholars, and social reformers in many European countries to differential morbidity and mortality rates among separate well-defined (by location, occupation, income, sex, or age) segments of their populations, especially the military and the “labouring population,” as Edwin Chadwick put it in the title of his famous 1842 report.30 The statistical data they began to systematically collect and analyze led to a growing understanding of the socio-economic underpinnings of health and disease developed in the early studies of Johann Peter Frank in Prussia, Alexandre-Jean-Baptiste Parent-Duchâtelet and Louis René Villermé in France, Chadwick and Friedrich Engels in Britain, and Adolphe Quételet in Belgium.31

  • 32 See J. P. Frank, “The Civil Administrator, Most Successful Physician,” (1784), transl. by Jean Cap (...)

66In 1848, a pandemic of cholera, coupled with the violent uprisings that seized practically all European capitals, helped solidify the notion of the state as a key player in not merely monitoring (i.e. “medical or sanitary police”) but actually protecting and promoting the health of its citizens, first articulated in Frank’s now famous statement that the most successful physician was in fact “the civil administrator.”32 Rudolf Virchow in his analysis of the 1848 typhus epidemics further elaborated the notion of the social, economic, and political underpinnings of health and disease and actively propagated it in his writings, as well as in his practical work as a member of first the Berlin City Council and then the Prussian National Assembly.

  • 33 As we saw in Chapter 5, in his 1912 assessment of the First International Eugenics Congress, Nikol (...)

67From the 1840s through the 1860s various legislative acts — from the laws on compulsory smallpox vaccination to the sanitary regulations of water supply and sewage disposal — institutionalized the state’s responsibility for improving the health of the population and preventing future epidemics. This newfound responsibility also prodded a variety of government agencies and agents to expand collection of relevant data on health and disease status of the population, which could serve both to justify and to measure the effects of the state’s interventions. The fundamental idea that health and disease were subjects to social control paved the way to the theoretical possibility of extending such control to human reproduction in order to prevent the degeneration and to promote the improvement of the population, which were articulated in early “eugenic” proposals.33 However, for nearly forty years, all these “eugenic” schemes lay largely dormant, attracting little attention from their prospective users.

68By the 1900s, the situation began to change. Various nations were reaping both the bitter and sweet fruits of industrialization, ranging from the impoverishment, urbanization, and proletarianization of large segments of their populations to the rise of new financial, cultural, and political elites and from the rapid development of new technologies of warfare, mass production, communication, and transportation to the mass migrations to and from metropoles and colonies. All of these processes generated profound health, demographic, and social consequences, such as differential fertility, morbidity, and mortality among different segments of the population, rising rates of social “deviance” (criminality, suicide, prostitution, alcoholism, “feeblemindedness,” and so on), and growing economic, political, and cultural inequalities among different social groups. Recorded and interpreted by physicians, civil servants, and scientists of all stripes, these “side effects” of industrialization generated acute anxieties about the future of separate nations (hence, Galton’s notion of “national” eugenics) and humanity as a whole.

  • 34 David Starr Jordan, The Blood of the Nation: A Study in the Decay of Races through the Survival of (...)

69Some observers attributed these side effects to the advances of civilization. According to their views, civilization slowed down or eliminated completely natural selection in human populations and thus fostered “the survival of the unfit” (as the American eugenicist David Starr Jordan put it in the title of his 1902 pamphlet),34 who then propagated their “bad heredity” in their progeny. These anxieties over the detrimental effects of “civilization” were amplified by the notion of inevitable human degeneration, divergence, and eventual extinction “predicted” by Darwin’s inexorable laws of evolution. These anxieties were clearly expressed, for instance, in the dark visions of the future in H. G. Wells’s Time Machine (1895) and War of the Worlds (1897), both of which enjoyed enormous popularity with readers around the world. And the very same anxieties fired up interest in eugenic solutions to various social problems engendered by industrialization in Britain, France, Germany, the United States, and elsewhere, from the 1900s through the 1920s.

  • 35 See, for instance, Paul Crook, “War as Genetic Disaster?: The First World War Debate over the Euge (...)

70The Great War that redrew the world’s political map facilitated the spread of eugenics through numerous countries. The terrific and terrifying shock of the war incited the fears of the impending doom of western civilization, epitomized in Oswald Spengler’s monumental Der Untergang des Abendlandes (1918-1923) and vividly reflected in the literary fiction of the post-war decade (from Henri Barbusse to Ernest Hemingway to Erich Maria Remarque). It also fomented the Bolshevik Revolution, which materialized the “spectre of communism” that Marx and Engels had first seen “haunting Europe” amid the 1848 uprisings. The hopes and fears regarding the future fanned by World War I provided a major impetus for debates on the eugenic means to address the war’s cataclysmic economic, political, social, demographic, health, and cultural consequences.35

71These debates were empowered by the concurrent “experimentalist revolution” in what today is called the life sciences (at the time represented by the closely intertwined fields of experimental biology and experimental medicine), which dramatically changed the understanding of life (and death). Begun in the pre-war decades and spurred by the wholesale borrowing by biologists and physicians of the experimentalist spirit and experimental methods from chemistry and physics, this revolution gave birth to a host of new disciplines, from genetics, immunology, and endocrinology to biochemistry, biophysics, and “developmental mechanics” (experimental embryology). These disciplines generated numerous discoveries in the mechanisms of such basic life phenomena as metabolism and reproduction, growth and ageing, heredity and evolution, immunity and behavior, health and disease. The experimentalist revolution also stimulated the advancement of new theoretical conceptions about life and its basic features, including neo-vitalism, the concept of hormonal regulation (of reproduction, embryonic development, and growth), Mendelism, behaviorism, the chromosome theory of heredity, neo-Lamarckism, and many others.

  • 36 M. M. Zavadovskii, Pol i razvitie ego priznakov (M.: GIZ, 1922), p. 235.

72More important, experimental biology and medicine produced a whole new arsenal of practical techniques and instruments, such as organ and tissue transplants, hormones, vaccines and sera, tissue cultures, blood transfusion, and artificial insemination, which allowed scientists to manipulate life processes and which came to be seen as powerful biotechnologies that would reshape the future. As early as 1922, Mikhail Zavadovskii — a student of Kol’tsov, leading specialist in “developmental mechanics,” and active participant of debates on eugenics in Russia — envisioned “the time, when advances in the study of living nature will create conditions for the flowering of biotechnology (biotekhnii) alongside the technology of dead materials, [and when] the biologist’s tasks of making new life forms, now seem akin to [H. G.] Wells’s fantasy [The Island of Doctor Moreau (1897)], will be as mundane as those of a construction engineer.”36

  • 37 For a general assessment of the influence of Haldane’s essay, see Krishna R. Dronamraju, ed., Hald (...)
  • 38 See his groundbreaking analysis in Mark B. Adams, “The Last Judgment: Visionary Biology of J. B. S (...)
  • 39 On polemics between Haldane and Russell, see Adams, “Last Judgment”; and Charles T. Rubin, “Daedal (...)
  • 40 See, for instance, Jon Turney, Frankenstein’s Footsteps: Science, Genetics and Popular Culture (Ne (...)

73Both the new theoretical concepts and the new practical tools gave a tremendous boost to belief in science, and especially, new experimental biology and medicine, as the ultimate means of humanity’s control over its own future. Powerfully articulated in Haldane’s famous 1924 pamphlet, Daedalus; or, Science and the Future,37 this belief inspired numerous futuristic projects of manipulating life phenomena, which Adams has fittingly named “visionary biology.”38 But it also awoke deep-seated fears of potential misuses and abuses of science’s newfound powers, clearly expressed in the very title — Icarus; or, The Future of Science — of Bertrand Russell’s response to Haldane’s vision,39 and visibly manifested in the post-war revival (especially, cinematographic) of the nearly forgotten classic, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus.40

  • 41 Philip J. Pauly, Controlling Life: Jacques Loeb and the Engineering Ideal in Biology (New York: Ox (...)
  • 42 On the early history of the notion of “social engineering” and its popularity during this very per (...)
  • 43 A. E. Hamilton, “Putting Over Eugenics,” Journal of Heredity, 1915, 6(6): 281-88 (p. 281).
  • 44 For an overview of eugenics’ impact on the public imagination in the United States during the 1920 (...)

74Furthermore, advanced within the framework of experimental biology and medicine, the “engineering ideal” of controlling life, in the apt expression of historian Philip J. Pauly,41 resonated strongly with the kind of “social engineering” embedded in Galton’s conception of “agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations.”42 Indeed, as one active proponent of eugenics in the US asserted in 1915, “the work before the true promoter of Eugenics is that of social engineering.”43 Expectedly, as an essentially futuristic project, eugenics found numerous supporters, as well as critics, among experimentalists of all stripes and became a key component of “visionary biology.” A number of embryologists, biochemists, immunologists, endocrinologists, and especially geneticists came under the banners of eugenics. The new biological concepts and biotechnologies provided the prophets and apostles of eugenics around the world with new justifications for, and new instruments of, “social control” over human reproduction, heredity, diversity, development, and evolution. They contributed substantially to the growing popularity of eugenics during the 1920s and were scrutinized in such influential cultural productions as Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future (1930) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932).44

75During the 1930s, coupled with the Great Depression, the elevation of Rassenhygiene to a foundational concept in Nazi political and social programmes had a dual effect on the further development of eugenics. On the one hand, it stimulated the rise in the popularity of various eugenic schemes, especially in the countries that would form the Axis powers. On the other, it resulted in the decline of their popularity, particularly in the countries that would form the anti-fascist coalition. And, it fueled an extensive critique of the scientific foundations, stated goals, moral justifications, and adopted instruments of various (especially German and US) versions of eugenics not only in the Soviet Union but elsewhere, as evidenced by the 1937 Congress of Latin Eugenics held in Paris.

  • 45 See Leslie C. Dunn, ed., Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics during I (...)
  • 46 See Leslie C. Dunn, A Short History of Genetics: The Development of Some of the Main Lines of Thou (...)

76In the aftermath of World War II, the revelation of the Nazi atrocities committed in the name of “racial hygiene” turned the very term “eugenics” into an expletive in many different quarters, not just in Stalin’s Russia, but almost everywhere. US geneticists, for instance, made a concerted effort to distance their discipline from its stepsister. This move away from its “historic roots” was manifest during the Golden Jubilee of the rediscovery of Mendel’s laws grandly celebrated by the Genetics Society of America in September 1950.45 It was also inscribed into the histories of the discipline produced during the next decade by its leading spokesmen, Leslie C. Dunn and Alfred H. Sturtevant, both of which barely mentioned eugenics.46

  • 47 The first issue of the renamed Annals carried a brief “editorial note” that “explained” the name c (...)
  • 48 For a penetrating analysis of the movement and its connections to eugenics, see Matthew Connelly, (...)

77Yet, the attempts to obscure the close historical connections between eugenics and genetics did not result in either disappearance of eugenics or the demise of various schemes to “improve humankind” in the post-World-War-II period. Rather, the amalgam of ideas, values, concerns, and actions aimed at averting the degeneration, and advancing the improvement, of humankind through deliberate interventions in human reproduction, which Galton had named eugenics, evolved/diverged into two new “species.” As had happened in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, some ideas, values, concerns, and policies previously construed as eugenic now morphed into “human” and “medical” genetics. This metamorphosis was revealed, for instance, in the re-christening of the oracle of British eugenicists, Annals of Eugenics, into the Annals of Human Genetics in 1954,47 in the 1959 reconstitution of the Swedish Institute for Racial Biology (the stronghold of racial hygiene/eugenics established in 1922) into the Department of Medical Genetics at Uppsala University, and in the 1963 renaming of the Galton Laboratory for the Study of National Eugenics into the Galton Laboratory of the Department of Human Genetics and Biometry at University College London. At the same time, some eugenic ideas, values, concerns, and practices informed, and became incorporated into the arsenal of, the population control movement, as witnessed, for example, in the 1960 renaming of the Racial Hygiene Association of New South Wales into the Family Planning Association of Australia.48

  • 49 To list only the most prominent examples, such alliances included the North Atlantic Treaty Organi (...)

78This “speciation process” was driven by two concurrent sets of developments — social and scientific — that precipitated acute anxieties regarding the future around the world. On the social side, World War II and the ensuing Cold War radically redrew the world’s political map, resulting in the rise of the two opposing camps — the “socialist East” and “capitalist West” — and the emergence from the ashes of the old colonial empires of newly independent countries, many of which refused to join either camp and formed the nonaligned movement. The new political order, epitomized in the labels First, Second, and Third Worlds, led to the formation of a number of multinational agencies under the aegis of the United Nations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO). It prompted the emergence of new military and economic alliances.49 It incited a concerted attack on racism and instigated the human rights movement. The new world order also generated numerous economic, political, social, demographic, public health, and cultural challenges, ranging from the arms and space race between the superpowers to the “demographic explosion” in the Third World countries to the rapidly growing environmental pollution and degradation in industrialized nations. These new challenges threatened the survival of not just separate nations, but also humanity as a whole and, indeed, the planet itself. They played a key part in reviving the interest in various “eugenic” solutions to problems and concerns raised by these global threats.

  • 50 On “big science” and its development in western contexts, see Derek J. de Solla Price, Little Scie (...)

79On the scientific side, the post-World-War-II developments were no less dramatic. Science played a critical, though often unsavory, role in both World War II and the Cold War, and was, in turn, transformed by their global impact. It helped produce the most powerful weapons of mass destruction — nuclear, chemical, and biological — which made palpable the fears of humanity’s imminent annihilation in the next world war. But it also helped save numerous lives by producing new medicines and technologies (antibiotics and blood transfusions, amphetamines and pacemakers, organ transplants and artificial organs), which raised the hopes of extending human life considerably, if not indefinitely. Furthermore, science opened for humanity “the final frontier,” space, and thus “materialized” both the threat of alien invasions and the promise of escape from whatever problems humanity might face on its home planet, which have long been favourite tropes of SF literature. Moreover, the two wars effectively drafted science into state service, which drastically increased its size and funding and enhanced the control of state bureaucracies over scientific activities, leading to the formation of “Big Science” and the “military-industrial-scientific” complex.50

  • 51 Julian S. Huxley, Evolution. The Modern Synthesis (London: Allen and Unwin, 1942). For broad histo (...)
  • 52 See Gisela Nass, Moleküle des Lebens (Munich: Kindler, 1970); idem, Les moléculas de la vida (Madr (...)
  • 53 Lily E. Kay, The Molecular Vision of Life: Caltech, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Rise of th (...)
  • 54 See V. I. Vernadskii, Biosfera (L.: VSNKh, 1926), for the first modern articulation of this notion
  • 55 See Nancy M. Jessop, Biosphere: A Study of Life (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1970).
  • 56 This new understanding was clearly conveyed in an extensive “science program with experiments and (...)

80More important for this story, however, was the rise in the post-World-War-II decades of a new — populational, molecular, and planetary — biology that once again radically changed the understanding of life phenomena. The joint labors of numerous biologists around the world produced a “modern synthesis,” in the words of its major architect Julian Huxley, of Darwin’s evolutionary theory with the principles of population genetics and ecology.51 This synthesis shifted the attention of biologists from individual organisms to populations as the basic unit of evolutionary processes: adaptation, speciation, and extinction. It thus made the population’s genofond (gene pool, in its English version) the main arena of evolutionary events. At the same time, the accumulated efforts of experimental biologists (biochemists, endocrinologists, virologists, biophysicists, geneticists, immunologists, etc.) culminated in the deciphering of the genetic code of protein synthesis and the uncovering of the chemical composition and spatial structure of numerous hormones, enzymes, vitamins, and ribonucleic acids that came to be seen as the “molecules of life,” as the title of a 1970 book published nearly simultaneously in German, English, and Spanish readily attests.52 These exciting discoveries led to the consolidation of what historian Lily E. Kay has appropriately named “the molecular vision of life.”53 During the same period, the rapid development of ecology resulted in the formation of a planetary, cosmic vision of life, embodied in the notion of biosphere,54 as evidenced by a nearly 1,000-page volume that came out in 1970 under the title Biosphere: A Study of Life.55 As a result of these developments, life came to be seen as a molecular, a populational, and a planetary phenomenon.56

  • 57 To list just a few, almost random titles, see Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, L’avenir de l’homme (Par (...)
  • 58 See, for instance, the development of the notion of “environmental engineering” in B. MacKaye, Fro (...)

81The new concepts of life prompted the elaboration of various futuristic projects of manipulating life phenomena at a molecular, a populational, and a planetary level, reminiscent of the “visionary biology” of the 1920s. Indeed, during the late 1950s and 1960s nearly every biologist of note (not to mention a host of other science writers) published popular accounts of what the new knowledge of life engendered by new biology meant for the understanding of humanity’s past, present, and future.57 Built upon the earlier euphoric dreams and the “engineering ideal” of humanity’s control over life, these new visions of humanity’s future found expression in the rapidly growing currency of such terms as “genetic engineering,” “population control,” “environmental engineering,” “terraforming,” “biomedical engineering,” and “noosphere.”58

  • 59 See, Wolstenholme, ed., Man and his Future; T. M. Sonneborn, ed., The Control of Human Heredity an (...)
  • 60 Life Sciences: Recent Progress and Application to Human Affairs (Washington, DC: National Academy o (...)
  • 61 Philip Handler, ed., Biology and the Future of Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970).

82The very titles of several influential collections issued during the 1960s indicate the deep preoccupation with the future that seized the biological community: Man and his Future (1963); The Control of Human Heredity and Evolution (1965); Genetics and the Future of Man (1966); and Biology and the Future of Man (1970).59 A special survey compiled by the Committee on Research in the Life Sciences of the US National Academy of Sciences offers an illuminating example. It was one of several surveys of the “state of the art” in the natural sciences to be used as a foundation for articulating federal science policy in regard to specific disciplines and research directions. The survey results were issued in 1970 by the National Academy Press under the title Life Sciences: Recent Progress and Application to Human Affairs.60 But they also became the basis for a nearly 1,000-page volume for readers “with little previous, directly relevant, scientific background” that summarized “the state of the art” in all of the new areas of biology. Edited by the academy’s president, biochemist Philip Handler, it was tellingly titled Biology and the Future of Man, even though only its last, twentieth chapter addressed directly the subject indicated in its title.61

83Once again, both hopes and fears fostered by the seemingly unlimited powers of science (and especially biology) to “control” human life and death became an important impetus to revived discussions of eugenic solutions. These new societal concerns raised by World War II and the Cold War included the anticipated increase of “mutation load” as a result of nuclear weapons testing, the mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of industrial pollution, falling fertility rates in the so-called developed countries and the population explosion in “developing” ones, and the threats of new global epidemics triggered by weaponized microorganisms. And once again, these hopes and fears, threats and promises found powerful expression in the numerous SF writings of the time, from Aldous Huxley’s pessimistic Ape and Essence (1948) and Island (1962) to Robert A. Heinlein’s optimistic Beyond This Horizon (1948) and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966) to Frank Herbert’s epic Dune (1965) and its sequels.

  • 62 Some elements of these debates have been examined by Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics; Paul, The Po (...)

84New biology became part and parcel of extensive debates on “new eugenics,” which unfolded from the late 1950s through the early 1970s. Indeed, one could argue that new eugenics was but an offshoot of new biology: it was experimental/molecular and evolutionary/populational biologists who became most closely involved in both the critique and support of some old and a variety of new “eugenic” tools derived from the advances in the molecular, populational, and planetary studies of life. A fully-fledged analysis of these debates would require a massive volume of its own and is beyond the scope of this brief overview.62 But the heated polemics that flared up at the 1962 Ciba Foundation symposium on “Man and his Future” and continued during the next decade on the pages of numerous journals and books, as well as at scientific conferences, offer illuminating examples of the new biology — new eugenics nexus, as well as various factors that affected its formation and operation in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Back to the (1962) Future

  • 63 See Anon., “The Ciba Foundation,” Lancet, 1949, 254 (6566): 25-26.
  • 64 For an insider’s history of the Ciba Foundation, see F. Peter Woodford, The Ciba Foundation: An An (...)

85The Ciba Foundation was an “international scientific and educational charity” established in 1949 by the Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical company of CIBA Limited with the goal of promoting “international cooperation in medical and chemical research.”63 The foundation sought to accomplish this goal by organizing and funding symposia (up to eight separate meetings annually) on specific, narrowly defined subjects, ranging from “the chemical structure of proteins” (1953) and “bone structure and metabolism” (1955) to “the regulation of cell metabolism” (1958) and “the nature of sleep” (1960). The symposia materials were published in English in the foundation’s journal, or in book format, and widely distributed among interested specialists.64

86As its very name clearly attests, the 1962 symposium on “Man and his Future” was very different from all the previous ones. The Ciba Foundation director Gordon E. W. Wolstenholme clearly articulated its major purpose:

  • 65 Gordon Wolstenholme, “Preface,” in idem, ed., Man and His Future, p. v

The world was unprepared socially, politically and ethically for the advent of nuclear power. Now, biological research is in a ferment, creating and promising methods of interference with “natural processes” which could destroy or could transform nearly every aspect of human life which we value. Urgently, it is necessary for men and women of every race and colour and creed, every intelligent individual of our one world, to consider the present and imminent possibilities.65

  • 66 The following story of the symposium is based on its published proceedings and all of the subseque (...)

87To consider these “present and imminent possibilities” of current biological research, the foundation invited sixteen individuals to deliver reports and eleven more to comment on seven topics: world resources, world population, sociological aspects, health and disease, eugenics and genetics, future of the mind, and ethical considerations.66

  • 67 Artur Glikson came from Tel Aviv, Israel, and Marc Klein from Strasbourg, France. Since Muller cou (...)

88During the last days of November 1962 — barely a month after the end of the Cuban missile crisis that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war — hand-picked experts gathered at the foundation’s headquarters in London. Contrary to Wolstenholme’s call to “men and women of every race and colour and creed, every intelligent individual of our one world,” the group consisted of 26 white men, all but two of whom came either from Britain and the Commonwealth countries (Canada, India, and South Africa) or the United States, and no one from behind the Iron Curtain.67 Of all the “creeds” only Christianity and humanism were given voice at the symposium.

89The majority of participants represented biomedical sciences, including six Nobel laureates: Francis Crick (who was about to go to Stockholm to receive his prize), Joshua Lederberg, Fritz A. Lipmann, Peter B. Medawar, H. J. Muller, and Albert Szent-Györgyi. The group also featured former and current leaders of the international biomedical establishment: the first secretary-general of WHO, G. Brock Chisholm; the first secretary-general of UNESCO and the outgoing president of the British Eugenics Society, Julian Huxley; the current FAO deputy director-general, Norman C. Wright; and neurologist Russell Brain, the editor-in-chief of the eponymous highly influential international journal. Also in attendance were such luminaries of new biology as gerontologist Alex Comfort, geneticist, biochemist, evolutionist, and long-time supporter/critic of eugenics Haldane, biochemist N. W. Pirie, virologist and immunologist Hilary Koprowski, anatomist and evolutionist J. Z. Young, and endocrinologists Hudson Hoagland, Marc Klein, Alan S. Parkes, and Gregory Pincus.

90All other fields of science and scholarship were represented by leading nutrition specialist J. F. Brock; Jacob Bronovskii, a mathematician, historian and philosopher of science, who was one of the first to examine systematically the intersections between science and values; renowned agricultural economist Colin Clark; physical anthropologist Carleton S. Coon; famous city planner and architect Artur Glikson; Donald M. MacKay, one of the pioneers of research in information theory and artificial intelligence; Derek J. de Solla Price, a historian of science who had pioneered studies of Big Science; and the Reverend Hubert C. Trowell, a specialist in “colonial medicine” and tropical diseases.

91Eugenics was not merely one of the seven subjects discussed by the participants. It actually framed the entire symposium. Punctuated by lively discussions of its chosen topics, the five days of the symposium’s sessions were bracketed by Huxley’s meditation on “evolutionary aspects” of “the future of man” and Haldane’s speculation on “biological possibilities for the human species in the next ten thousand years.” Furthermore, judging by its published record, the session on “eugenics and genetics” turned out to be the longest and most contentious of them all. Its tone and terms were set by two formal reports: one by Muller on “Genetic Progress by Voluntary Conducted Germinal Choice” and another by Lederberg on “Biological Future of Man.” The reports presented two alternative visions of new eugenics: the first articulated the position of the older generation of “classical” geneticists; the second, the views of a new cohort of “molecular” biologists.

  • 68 See H. J. Muller, “The Guidance of Human Evolution,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 1959, 3 (...)

92Muller had been unable to come to London due to illness, and his paper was read by Ciba Foundation director Wolstenholme. The report was but an abridged version of Muller’s recent publications on the subject.68 Echoing earlier eugenic arguments, Muller described humanity’s “genetic predicament,” namely that “cultural evolution has undermined the process of genetic selection in man,” whereas, according to Muller, what “we need instead, at this juncture, is a means of enhancing genetic selection.” He considered various schemes advanced by “eugenists of the old school” for achieving this goal, as well as some new tools “to cause pre-specified changes” by “direct mutagenic operations on the genetic material.” He concluded that “all these proposed means of escaping our genetic predicament are impracticable, insufficiently effective, or even positively vicious.” What was “the most practical, effective, and satisfying means of genetic therapy,” in Muller’s opinion, was “eutelegenesis or germinal choice.”

93Under this new name, Muller largely recapitulated his earlier vision of artificial insemination with a donor’s sperm as the most appropriate tool of “socialist eugenics,” which he had elaborated in his 1935 eugenic manifesto, Out of the Night, and in his 1936 letter to Stalin. Muller suggested creating “germ-cell banks,” where the sperm of “talented producers,” as his friend Serebrovskii had put it more than thirty years earlier, would be collected for future use by any interested party. Muller “updated” his earlier scheme with several new techniques derived from the latest advancements in experimental biology, which had been made by several of the very individuals who attended the symposium and which had realized Serebrovskii’s vision of “separating sex and reproduction.” Thus, he referred to the cryopreservation of the human sperm, pioneered by Parkes, and to the development of oral contraceptives spearheaded by Hoagland and Pincus, which paved the way to the “sexual revolution,” actively promoted by its would-be guru, Comfort.

94Muller was certain that in addition to artificial insemination with a donor’s sperm, “further techniques are in the offing that will radically extend the possibilities of germinal choice,” such as the storage of eggs, cloning, and “more delicate methods of manipulating the genetic material itself — what I have termed the use of nano-needles.” He concluded that, combined with the use of contraceptives, “germinal choice” “must become increasingly applied in cases of genetic defect, genetic incompatibility, suspected mutagenesis, postponed reproduction, and finally, in serving the ardent aspiration to confer on one’s children a highly superior genetic endowment.”

95Lederberg was 35 years younger than Muller, and his report embodied the aspirations and visions of a new generation of molecular biologists. As he asserted in the opening of his presentation, “Darwin’s theory set off the historic debate on man’s past. Today, with a new biology we mirror his future.” In this “molecular” reflection, “man” was nothing more than “six feet of a particular molecular sequence of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus atoms — the length of DNA tightly coiled in the nucleus of his provenient egg and in the nucleus of every adult cell, 5 thousand million paired nucleotide units long.” To assure the future of this “molecular” man Lederberg suggested using “the direct control of nucleotide sequences in human chromosomes, coupled with recognition, selection and integration of the desired genes, of which the existing population furnishes a considerable variety.” He named such control “developmental engineering” or “euphenics.”

96For Lederberg, development was merely “the translation of the genetic instructions of the egg, embodied in its DNA, which direct the unfolding of its substance to form the living, breathing organism.” Therefore, according to Lederberg, “Man’s control of his own development, ‘euphenics’, changes the means and also the ends of eugenics, as have all the preceding cultural revolutions that have shaped the species: language, agriculture, political organization, the physical technologies.” In his opinion, “Eugenics is aimed at the design of a reaction system (a DNA sequence) that, in a given context, will develop to a defined goal.” But for him, the main instrument of eugenics, “somatic selection,” was far too “slow in its impact.” In order to address “the gravely imminent issues of human numbers and phenotype,” Lederberg suggested, “biologists should give the first priority” to euphenics. But, unlike Kol’tsov and his like-minded Russian colleagues who had incorporated in their notion of euphenics all social influences that could affect human development and thus phenotype, Lederberg explicitly excluded the social from his vision. As he put it, “Eugenics and euphenics are the biological counterparts of education, a panacea that has a longer but equally contentious tradition. The troubled history of Utopian education warns us to take care in rebuilding human personality on infirm philosophy.”

97Lederberg admitted that at the moment molecular biology did not yet have the tools for implementing his vision of “developmental engineering.” But he was certain that in the next few years such tools would be ready. As he phrased it: “Embryology is very much in the situation of atomic physics in 1900; having had an honourable and successful tradition it is about to begin! But it will not take long to mature. Most predictions of research progress have proved recently to be far too conservative.” He outlined several possible areas of immediate application for the new tools: regulation of the size and metabolism of the human brain, and hence, human intelligence and personality, by prenatal or early postnatal intervention; “development of industrial methodology for synthesis of specific proteins: hormones, enzymes, antigens, structural proteins”; “abolition of immunity to transplants introduced in early life” that would allow “engineering development of artificial organs, e.g. hearts,” for transplantations; and “vigorous eugenic programme … on some non-human species, to produce genetically homogeneous material as sources for spare parts” for the replacement of aged or diseased organs in humans.

98The two reports ignited a protracted discussion that revolved largely around the technical feasibility and social implications of the new instruments of control over “man’s future” embodied in the two versions of new eugenics. Virtually all participants lamented the low level of biological knowledge among the general public and especially among the political class as the main barrier to the advancement of new biology and new eugenics. As Pirie put it, “I would be very much happier if I thought that those who govern us knew the rudiments of biology.” And nearly all felt obliged to voice their positions vis-à-vis new eugenics.

  • 69 On the development of artificial insemination in the twentieth-century United States, see Kara W. (...)

99The discussion revealed a deep divide between two groups: one consisted mostly of biologists, another included virtually everybody else. The position of the first group was well expressed by Crick, who opened the discussion by agreeing with both Muller’s and Lederberg’s versions of new eugenics, “with a few small reservations.” Other biologists were divided in their preference for either Muller’s or Lederberg’s views and articulated such reservations by addressing various issues underpinning Muller’s germinal choice and Lederberg’s euphenics. Muller’s version commanded more attention than Lederberg’s, probably because the major tools for implementing Muller’s scheme had already been available and tested out,69 while the actual tools for Lederberg’s euphenics remained in the realm of possibilities.

100Thus, the participants did not discuss the feasibility of Muller’s proposals, but debated the question of whose sperm should be collected in “germ-cell banks” and hence provide the material for germinal choice. As Klein sarcastically pointed out: “twenty years ago, in his book Out of the Night, he asked: where is the woman who would not be eager and proud to have in her womb a product of Lenin or Darwin? I don’t think Muller would put Lenin and Darwin together now.” Since Muller was absent, his friends, Huxley and (to a lesser extent) Haldane, came to his defense. Nearly all biologists agreed with Muller’s depiction of humanity’s “genetic predicament” and his basic notion that without some form of “genetic control” humanity was doomed. Pincus put it succinctly, “you don’t get good genes by breeding in random fashion; you get good genes by selection.”

101The positions of the objectors were much more diverse but could be well exemplified by a rhetorical question posed by Bronovskii: “What problem are we trying to solve?” He found himself “out of sympathy with much that has been said in Muller’s and Lederberg’s papers.” He saw no reason “to believe that the human population is deteriorating,” which underpinned and justified all eugenics schemes, and “no evidence that the present human population is inferior, in any respect that one could quantify, to the human population fifty years ago.” To the contrary, in his opinion, certain facts suggested that the population was actually improving. Bronovskii doubted not only the effectiveness but also the very necessity of interfering with “natural means” by which “the human race seems to be improving itself.” Brock, MacKay, Glikson, Price, and Trowell expressed similar doubts. MacKay, for instance, noted the absence of clear-cut criteria for what the proponents of new eugenics wanted to accomplish: “to navigate by a landmark tied to your own ship’s head is ultimately impossible. If we are ever to make proper use of our growing eugenic powers, we shall need a wisdom greater than our own.”

102Although quite supportive of Lederberg’s discourse regarding the critical role of molecular biology in his own area of research on transplantations, Medawar expressed the same sentiment in much stronger language: “What frightens me about Muller and to some extent Huxley is their extreme self-confidence, their complete conviction not only that they know what ends are desirable but also that they know how to achieve them.” Klein, who had survived the Auschwitz death camp, referred to the example of Nazi Germany as a strong argument against any form of eugenics, an argument also invoked by MacKay and Clark. Several discussants (Clark, Klein, and MacKay) supported the notion ardently expressed by Trowell that any eugenics contradicted the fundamentals of Christian ethics. Haldane who had by that time moved from Britain to India, however, remarked that many “eugenic” practices were perfectly compatible with Hindu ethics. Price, on the other hand, pointed out what most biologists completely ignored in their comments — the role of social factors in human development. “We know that a great deal of the performance of man depends as much on social environment as on genetics,” he stressed, “and this environment might act in a way completely opposite to that which would be produced by the mechanisms of genetic control which we might introduce.”

103The chasm between the two groups was further deepened by Crick’s inflammatory suggestion that “people” do not have “the right to have children” and only those few licensed by the government should be allowed to procreate and should pay a heavy tax on every child born, which added much fuel to the unfolding discussion. Predictably, the opposing views could not be reconciled and the participants could not reach any agreement regarding “the present and imminent possibilities” of either Muller’s germinal choice or Lederberg’s euphenics.

  • 70 See, for instance, Anon., “Man and His Future,” Lancet, 6 July 1963, 33-34; Marjorie C. Meehan, “M (...)
  • 71 Berrill, “Man and His Future,” pp. 368-69.

104The Ciba symposium sparked a far wider debate. Published simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic, its proceedings were reviewed in the leading biomedical periodicals, from Science and Perspectives in Biology and Medicine to JAMA and Lancet, and generated quite a stir, even penetrating the Iron Curtain, as we saw in the previous chapter.70 But, as one reviewer astutely observed, the symposium merely featured “a group of enlightened but diversely opinioned men who individually spoke each in his accustomed tongue,” whilst its “aggregate effect” was utterly insipid: “There is no consensus, and the future of man remains shrouded by the mist of future time. Vague trends are discerned, obvious dangers recognized, but where man goes no one knows.”71

  • 72 J. Lederberg, “Molecular Biology, Eugenics and Euphenics,” Nature, 1963, 198: 428-29.
  • 73 See J. F. Crow, “Modifying Man: Muller’s Eugenics and Lederberg’s Euphenics,” Science, 1965, 148: (...)
  • 74 See, for instance, Rollin D. Hotchkiss, “Portents for a Genetic Engineering.” Journal of Heredity,(...)

105Yet, the symposium discussion on “eugenics and genetics” did elicit a vocal response. Indeed, since Muller had published versions of his report before the symposium, and Lederberg published a revised and abridged version of his presentation immediately after (in the May 1963 issue of Nature),72 the essence of the debated proposals were known to their prospective audiences even before the proceedings came out. The volume’s publication facilitated the spread of the debate that unfolded much along the lines drawn at the symposium. The enthusiasts hailed the advantages of new eugenics, comparing the benefits and shortcomings of Muller’s germinal choice and Lederberg’s euphenics.73 The opponents cautioned about the misuse and abuse of the ever growing powers of new biology, denying the urgency and necessity of any form of eugenics and questioning its moral foundations.74

  • 75 Predictably, geneticists were the most vocal group in this debate. See, for instance, Theodosius D (...)
  • 76 Sonneborn, ed., The Control of Human Heredity; see also the records of a similar discussion at a N (...)
  • 77 Hotchkiss, “Portents for a Genetic Engineering.”
  • 78 Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Changing Man,” Science, 1967, 155: 409-15.
  • 79 K. Hirschhorn, “On Re-Doing Man,” Commonweal, 1968, 88: 257-61; the article was reprinted in the A (...)
  • 80 The address was published posthumously as Jack Schultz, “Human Values and Human Genetics,” America (...)
  • 81 Joshua Lederberg, “Experimental Genetics and Human Evolution,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, (...)

106The debate continued on the pages of learned journals and books, as well as at academic conferences.75 Less than a year after the Ciba symposium, in April 1963 eminent US geneticist Tracy M. Sonneborn organized a conference on “The Control of Human Heredity and Evolution” that featured contributions by leading European and American geneticists, including Salvador E. Luria, Edward L. Tatum, Guido Pontecorvo, and Muller.76 At the 1965 annual meetings of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, Rockefeller University’s leading molecular biologist Rollin D. Hotchkiss delivered a keynote lecture on “The Portents for a Genetic Engineering.”77 The next year, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science the world’s foremost evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky devoted his plenary lecture to “Changing Man.”78 At a symposium co-sponsored by Marymount College, New York, and the Commonweal magazine in 1968, well-known human geneticist Kurt Hirschhorn spoke “On Redoing the Man.”79 At the 1968 annual meeting of the Society of American Naturalists, its president, geneticist Jack Schultz devoted his presidential address to “Human Values and Human Genetics.”80 Expectedly, both Muller and Lederberg continued to speak and publish extensively on their respective visions of “Means and Aims in Human Genetic Betterment,” as Muller titled one of his articles.81 James F. Crow, Muller’s former student and US leading population geneticist, expressed a general position shared by the advocates of new eugenics in a 1966 article with the telling title “The Quality of People”:

  • 82 James F. Crow, “The Quality of People: Human Evolutionary Changes,” Bioscience, 1966, 16: 863-67 ( (...)

The early eugenics was genetically naive and was connected with various dubious and even tragic political movements. I think the time is here when the subject should be reopened and discussed by everyone — not just biologists — with a serious consideration of the consequences of misjudgments as well as the possibilities for good.82

  • 83 See John J. Pauson, Beyond Morality and the Law (Pittsburgh, PA: Philosophical Press, 1966); Theod (...)
  • 84 See, for instance, Karl H. Hertz, “What Man Can Make of Man: Genetic Programming,” Christian Centu (...)

107Evident at the Ciba symposium, the critical assessments of the possible consequences of new eugenics found expression in numerous publications by scientists (especially biologists), philosophers, theologians, sociologists, and legal scholars. The essence of their varying concerns is well exemplified by the titles of numerous books and articles that appeared within a decade of the London meeting: Beyond Morality and the Law; “On Genetics, Sociology and Politics”; Fabricated Man: The Ethics of Genetic Control; “Ethical Aspects of Genetic Controls: Designed Genetic Changes in Man”; “Reservations Concerning Gene Therapy”; “Can Man Shape His Future?”; “The Biologists’ Dilemmas”; Social and Psychological Aspects of Applied Human Genetics; “Anxiety About Genetic Engineering,”; “Prometheus and Pandora: 1971”; and “The Dilemma of Genetic Engineering.”83 Some of these publications appeared in the same journals that carried the contributions by proponents of new eugenics, Nature, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, and Science, others on the pages of legal, medical, and theological periodicals and books.84

  • 85 See, for instance, Louis Lasogna, “Heredity Control: Dream or Nightmare?” New York Times Magazine,(...)
  • 86 Fred Warshofsky, The Control of Life (New York: Viking, 1969).

108Journalists and science writers spread the threats and promises of new eugenics. Numerous newspapers and magazines headlined and featured stories with such sensational titles as “Heredity Control: Dream or Nightmare?”; “Man into Superman: The Promise and Peril of the New Genetics”; “Genetics and the Survival of the Unfit”; “Playing God”; and so on.85 New biology and new eugenics were actively popularized in other media as well, for instance, in the CBS television series The 21st Century (1967-1970), summarized by the series science editor Fred Warshofsky in a 1969 book with the telling title, The Control of Life.86

  • 87 Anon., “New Words in Biology and Related Subjects,” Nature, 1964, 204: 628. See also, Panos D. Bar (...)
  • 88 See J. Lederberg, “Letter to the editor,” The New York Times, 26 September 1970, p. 20.
  • 89 See Blacker, Eugenics; Haller, Eugenics; Pickens, Eugenics; and Ludmerer, Genetics and American So (...)

109Lingering debates notwithstanding, the names of the two competing versions of new eugenics — germinal choice and euphenics — did not take root. The first was soon subsumed into the generic term “eugenics.” The second, despite Pirie’s suggestion to include it in the Biological Council Dictionary of new words in biology,87 was soon swallowed, against Lederberg’s vocal protestations,88 by more general terms such as “gene therapy” and “genetic engineering.” But the visions they embodied spurred more than debates between proponents and opponents. They stimulated interest in the historical development of eugenics, especially in the US.89 More important, they also prompted attempts at practical implementation of both Muller’s and Lederberg’s versions of new eugenics.

  • 90 The protestations of Muller’s widow eventually forced Graham to drop Muller’s name from his sperm (...)
  • 91 See a contemporary overview of the available techniques in E. Freese, ed., The Prospects of Gene T (...)
  • 92 See, for instance, Robert G. McKinnell and Marie A. Di Berardino, “The Biology of Cloning: History (...)

110Indeed, shortly after the Ciba symposium, US millionaire Robert Clark Graham approached Muller with an offer to fund his vision. Muller did not live to see it through, as he died in April 1967. But four years later, Graham did establish the Herman J. Muller Repository for Germinal Choice, a sperm bank for Nobel Laureates and other acknowledged “men of genius.”90 Lederberg’s prediction that it would not take long to develop technical means for his euphenics proved quite accurate. In fact, by the time of Lederberg’s report, several researchers had already demonstrated the technical possibility of transferring genetic material (DNA and RNA) from one organism to another. In less than a decade, various technologies were developed for such transfer by means of viral infections, direct transmission of exogenous or “naked” DNA into a host cell, recombinant DNA and plasmid transformation, as well as by direct transplantation of the nucleus from one cell to another.91 At the same time, cloning techniques — envisioned by both Muller and Lederberg as a possible tool of future eugenics — were making steady progress from frogs through insects and fishes towards mammals.92

  • 93 For an analysis of how western medical geneticists themselves dealt with the origins of their disc (...)
  • 94 See, for instance, a long chapter on “Eugenics, Euphenics, and Human Welfare,” in L. L. Cavalli-Sf (...)
  • 95 In contrast to the previous name change from Eugenics News to Eugenics Quarterly in 1954, which ha (...)
  • 96 Compare, for instance, Frederick H. Osborn, The Future of Human Heredity: An Introduction to Eugen (...)

111As a result of the 1960s debates, in the professional worlds of biology and medicine, new eugenics was normalized during the next decade in a number of practices that became widely accepted and construed as standard tools of medical genetics.93 Its new instruments, concerns, and policies — genetic counseling, dietary or drug therapies of certain hereditary diseases (such as phenylketonuria), artificial insemination, sperm banking, in vitro fertilization, embryo transplantation, genetic screening, and prenatal diagnosis — became the subject of special chapters in widely used textbooks on human and medical genetics.94 Indeed, by the late 1960s, eugenics had acquired yet another new name, as witnessed by the quiet rechristening of Eugenics Quarterly, the oracle of US eugenicists, into Social Biology.95 The name change was apparently meant to further distance new eugenics from its suspect ancestry.96

  • 97 See Van Rensselaer Potter, Bioethics: Bridge to the Future (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1 (...)
  • 98 See numerous references to publications in the British press in Turney, Frankenstein’s Footsteps, (...)
  • 99 Nancy M. Freedman, Joshua, Son of None (New York: Delacorte, 1973).

112At the same time, objections to the very principles of eugenics and the critique of its foundations became professionalized within the emerging field of bioethics, a new term coined in 1970 to cover theological, philosophical, sociological, legal, and moral concerns raised by new biological and medical technologies and practices.97 Expectedly, the hopes and fears associated with new eugenic ideas, technologies, and policies also found vivid expressions in popular journalistic accounts98 and SF literature, such as Nancy M. Freedman’s 1973 novel, Joshua, Son of None, whose title character was a clone of John F. Kennedy.99

  • 100 See, for instance, Judith Daar, The New Eugenics: Selective Breeding in an Era of Reproductive Tec (...)
  • 101 To list just three publications that reflected these new developments, see Jürgen Habermas, The Fu (...)
  • 102 The latest developments, from the 1990s through the 2010s, generated a huge body of literature bot (...)

113It is hardly necessary to dwell on the fact that the same two sets of factors, social and scientific, propelled a new wave of interest in eugenics (both advocacy and criticism) in the 1990s. The “end” of the Cold War and the collapse of the “socialist camp” once again reshaped the world’s political, economic, and ideological maps. It fostered the globalization of neo-liberal capitalism and further deepened economic, political, and social inequalities within and between countries. It stimulated the rise of multinational corporations as a formidable competitor to the state as both a major patron and a prime beneficiary of scientific research, which dramatically reformatted the contours of Big Science, especially in biomedical fields. At the same time, rapidly expanding biomedical research generated new discoveries, concepts, disciplines, and technologies (ranging from polymerase chain reaction to DNA sequencing machines), which made possible such monumental undertakings as the Human Genome Project and geno-geographic atlases of the world’s populations. These concurrent social and scientific developments gave rise to new fears and new hopes about humanity’s future, associated with “new genetics” and with such products of the new biomedical technologies as GMOs, Dolly the Sheep, and xenografts, to list just a few iconic examples.100 These hopes and fears, in turn, fanned the embers that had been smoldering during the previous decade, producing yet another “new” eugenics: “liberal,” “consumer,” “free-market,” “libertarian,” “homemade,” and, as we saw in the case of post-Soviet Russia, “racial.”101 And they fueled extensive debates about the historical development of eugenics and its continuing, though contested, impact on ideas, values, concerns, and policies regarding human nature and humanity’s future, which show no sign of abating.102

***

114Given its contrapuntal, polyphonic history, Bochkov’s designation of eugenics as “a science that has outlived itself” seems premature. After all, various intellectuals before, simultaneously with, and after Galton had developed versions of “eugenics” as a means to address certain social problems that they saw as threatening the future of their countries by bringing human nature under “social control” and thus arresting its “degeneration” and assuring its “improvement.” There could be little doubt that humanity’s perpetual anxiety about the future will keep alive the interest in eugenic solutions to numerous new challenges engendered by the inexorable growth of science’s powers and compounded by human ambition, bigotry, and greed. No matter what new names the particular amalgam of ideas, values, concerns, and actions regarding human reproduction, heredity, diversity, development, and evolution will assume in different contexts and settings, it will certainly continue to inspire both hopes and fears and, thus, command the attention of various individuals and groups for millennia to come.

  • 103 See http://www.tsu.ru/news/pamyatnik-osnovatelyam-tgu-florinskomu-i-mendeleev

115Seen in this light, the latest 2012 edition of Vasilii Florinskii’s book is probably not the end of its life story. Its author is now firmly inscribed into the historical record of the development of science, medicine, and education in Siberia, with Tomsk University planning to unveil a monument to its founder to mark its 140-year anniversary on 5 September 2018.103 It seems more than likely that the next wave of heightened anxieties about the future of Russia — spurred by concurrent social and scientific developments — will once again breathe life into his attempt “to bring to my Fatherland as much benefit as possible.” At this point, we cannot even fathom what kind of life it will have and what new meanings future commentators will read into Human Perfection and Degeneration.

Notes

1 N. P. Bochkov, Klinicheskaia genetika (M.: GEOTAR-Media, 2002), p. 9. In the last ten years the book appeared in five “updated and revised” editions. But its “historical introduction” remains basically the same, see, for instance, N. P. Bochkov, V. P. Puzyrev, and S. A. Smirnikhina, Klinicheskaia genetika, 4th edn. (M.: GEOTAR-Media, 2011), pp. 16-17.

2 Terentianus Maurus, De litteris, syllabis, pedibus et metris (London: H. Bohn, 1825), verse 1286, p. 57.

3 The story is available in numerous editions and translations. I use here the translation by Anthony Bonner, see Jorge Luis Borges, “Pier Menard, Author of the Quixote,” in Ficciones (New York: Grove, 1962), pp. 45-55. All the subsequent quotations are from this edition and all the emphasis is in the original.

4 The phrase first appeared in the “Preface to the 1888 English Edition of the Manifesto of the Communist Party.” See K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works (M.: Progress, 1969), vol. 1, p. 8.

5 See, for instance, V. V. Bunak, “O smeshenii chelovecheskikh ras,” REZh, 1925, 3(2): 121-38.

6 On the western studies of the “unfit,” see Nicole H. Rafter, White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies, 1877-1919 (Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, 1988); idem, Creating Born Criminals (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1998); and Richard F. Wetzell, Inventing the Criminal: A History of German Criminology, 1880-1948 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

7 E. K. Krasnushkin, “Chto takoe prestupnik?” in Prestupnik i prestupnost’, 1926, 1: 6-33 (p. 32). For a general overview of the early Soviet studies of the criminal, see Kenneth M. Pinnow, “From All Sides: Interdisciplinary Knowledge, Scientific Collaboration, and the Soviet Criminological Laboratories of the 1920s,” Slavic Review, 2017, 76(1): 122-46.

8 My analysis here is based on numerous historical studies of eugenics in various countries, and especially on several explicitly comparative collections and compilations, including Adams, ed., The Wellborn Science; Broberg and Roll-Hansen, eds., Eugenics and the Welfare State; Stepan,“The Hour of Eugenics”; Raphael Falk, Diane B. Paul, and Garland Allen, eds., Science in Context (a special issue on eugenics), 1998, 11(3-4): 329-627; Pauline M. H. Mazumdar, ed., The Eugenics Movement: An International Perspective, 6 vols. (London: Routledge, 2007); Turda and Weindling, eds., “Blood and Homeland”; Bashford and Levine, eds., Oxford Handbook; Promitzer, Trubeta, and Turda, eds., Health, Hygiene and Eugenics; Felder and Weindling, eds, Baltic Eugenics; Kühl, For the Betterment of the Race; Turda, ed., The History of East-Central European Eugenics; Turda and Gillette, Latin Eugenics; and Paul, Stenhouse, Spencer, eds., Eugenics at the Edges of Empire.

9 For a fine-grained analysis of the “local” and the “general” in the history of genetics, see Jonathan Harwood, “National Styles in Science: Genetics in Germany and the United States between the World Wars,” Isis, 1987, 78: 390-414; and idem, Styles of Scientific Thought: The German Genetics Community, 1900-1933 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993); for a concise application of similar arguments to the history of eugenics, see Adams, “Eugenics,” in V. Ravitsky, A. Fiester, and A. Caplan, eds., The Penn Center Guide to Bioethics (Cham: Springer, 2008), pp. 371-82.

10 The glossaries attached to the chapters dealing with separate countries in Marius Turda’s collection of materials on the development of eugenics in eastern and central Europe provide perfect examples of such local vocabularies, as well as differences and similarities among them. Alas, the collection’s authors have neglected to utilize these rich sources for a comparative analysis of the “domestication” of various “imported” versions of eugenics in these countries, see Turda, ed., History of East-Central European Eugenics.

11 Leonard Darwin, “Presidential Address,” in Problems in Eugenics, vol. I, p. 2

12 Barrett and Kurzman, “Globalizing Social Movement

13 For a general analysis of the attitudes of the Russian educated elites to the state’s authority, see Joseph Bradley, “Subjects into Citizens: Societies, Civil Society, and Autocracy in Tsarist Russia,” American Historical Review, 2002, 107(4): 1094-123.

14 For instance, an article published in Russian Thought in 1893 under characteristic title “Biologists on the Women Question” denied the “inherent” “biological inferiority” of women. See. L. E. Obolenskii, “Biologi o zhenskom voprose,” Russkaia mysl’, 1893, 2: 61-78. On the Russian intelligentsia’s general attitudes towards the “women question,” see Richard Stites, The Women’s Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, Nihilism, and Bolshevism, 1860-1930 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978). For a more general analysis of eugenics and gender, see Alexandra Minna Stern, “Eugenics, Gender and Sexuality: A Global Tour and Compass,” in Bashford and Levine, eds., Oxford Handbook, pp. 173-91; and Susan Klausen and Alison Bashford, “Fertility Control: Eugenics, Neo-Malthusianism, and Feminism,” in ibid., pp. 98-115.

15 See, for instance, Richard Cleminson, Anarchism, Science and Sex: Eugenics in Eastern Spain, 1900-1937 (Bern: Peter Lang, 2000); idem, “Eugenics without the State: Anarchism in Catalonia, 1900-1937,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 2008, 39(2): 232-39; and Richard Sonn, “‘Your Body Is Yours’: Anarchism, Birth Control, and Eugenics in Interwar France,” Journal of the History of Sexuality, 2005, 14(4): 415-32.

16 For a useful comparative overview of the place of eugenics in a “welfare state,” see Véronique Mottier, “Eugenics and the State: Policy-Making in Comparative Perspective,” in Bashford and Levine, eds., Oxford Handbook, pp. 134-53.

17 I cannot discuss here the actual implementation of this decreed gender equality in Russia, which is the subject of numerous historical studies. For some general observations, see Wendy Z. Goldman, Women, the State and Revolution: Soviet Family Policy and Social Life, 1917-1936 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); and Elizabeth A. Wood, The Baba and the Comrade: Gender and Politics in Revolutionary Russia (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1997).

18 The issues surrounding the actual realization of the egalitarian ethnic policies in the Soviet Union generated an extensive body of historical literature. For some general observations, see Hirsch, Empire of Nations; and Martin, Affirmative Action Empire.

19 See Birte Kohtz, “Gute Gene, schlechte Gene. Eugenik in der Sowjetunion zwischen Begabungsforschung und genetischer Familienberatung,” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, 2013, 61(4): 591-610.

20 The involvement of several early proponents of eugenics, such as, for instance, eminent American zoologist David Starr Jordan, in the nascent peace movement also suggests that perhaps a more general ideology of “international dialogue” also played a role in the eugenics movement’s success on the international scene before, and especially after, World War I.

21 See, for instance, Paul Weindling, “The ‘Sonderweg’ of German Eugenics: Nationalism and Scientific Internationalism,” British Journal of the History of Science, 1989, 22: 321-33; idem, “International Eugenics: Swedish Sterilization in Context,” Scandinavian Journal of History, 1999, 24: 179-97; and Alison Bashford, “Internationalism, Cosmopolitanism and Eugenics,” in Bashford and Levine, eds., Oxford Handbook, 254-86.

22 Garland E. Allen, “The Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, 1910-1940: An Essay in Institutional History,” Osiris, 1986, 2: 225-64.

23 See, for instance, Jean-Jacques Salomon, “The ‘Internationale’ of Science,” Science Studies, 1971, 1: 24-42; Paul Weindling, ed., International Health Organisations and Movements, 1918–1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Krementsov, International Science; a special issue on “Transnational History of Science,” British Journal for the History of Science, 2012, 45(3); and many others.

24 The subsequent meetings were held in London (1919), New York City (1921), Brussels (1922), Lund (1923), Milan (1924), London (1925), Paris (1926), Amsterdam (1927), Munich (1928), Rome (1929), Farnham, England (1930), New York City (1932), Zurich (1934), and Schweningen, the Netherlands (1936). Reports on the meetings appeared regularly on the pages of Eugenics Review.

25 For detailed examinations of the role of such networks in the history of science in general and of Soviet science in particular, see Adams, Networks in Action; and Krementsov, International Science.

26 For an examination of the role of international networks in the history of genetics and eugenics in Russia, see Krementsov, “Eugenics, Rassenhygiene, and Human Genetics.”

27 See, for instance, Michael Burleigh, “Eugenic Utopias and the Genetic Present,” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, 2000, 1(l): 56-77.

28 See, for instance, Anne-Laure Simmonot, Hygiénisme et eugénisme au XXe siècle à travers la psychiatrie française (Paris: S. Arslan, 1999).

29 On the co-evolution of the notions of social hygiene and public health, see the next chapter “Apologia.”

30 Edwin Chadwick, Report to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department, from the Poor Law Commissioners, on an inquiry into the sanitary condition of the labouring population of Great Britain; with appendices (London: Clowes, 1842).

31 For a historical analysis of this process in France, see William Coleman, Death is a Social Disease: Public Health and Political Economy in Early Industrial France (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982).

32 See J. P. Frank, “The Civil Administrator, Most Successful Physician,” (1784), transl. by Jean Captain Sabine, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1944, 16: 289-318.

33 As we saw in Chapter 5, in his 1912 assessment of the First International Eugenics Congress, Nikolai Gamaleia pinpointed the close connection between the growth of social hygiene and the rise of eugenics in Britain.

34 David Starr Jordan, The Blood of the Nation: A Study in the Decay of Races through the Survival of the Unfit (Boston, MA: American Unitarian Association, 1902).

35 See, for instance, Paul Crook, “War as Genetic Disaster?: The First World War Debate over the Eugenics of Warfare,” War & Society, 1990, 8(1): 47-70; and idem, Darwinism, War and History: The Debate over the Biology of War from the “Origin of Species” to the First World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).

36 M. M. Zavadovskii, Pol i razvitie ego priznakov (M.: GIZ, 1922), p. 235.

37 For a general assessment of the influence of Haldane’s essay, see Krishna R. Dronamraju, ed., Haldane’s “Daedalus” Revisited (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

38 See his groundbreaking analysis in Mark B. Adams, “The Last Judgment: Visionary Biology of J. B. S. Haldane,” JHB, 2000, 33: 457-91; and idem, “The Quest for Immortality: Visions and Presentiments in Science and Literature,” in Stephen G. Post and Robert H. Binstock, eds., The Fountain of Youth: Cultural, Scientific, and Ethical Perspectives on a Biomedical Goal (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 38-71.

39 On polemics between Haldane and Russell, see Adams, “Last Judgment”; and Charles T. Rubin, “Daedalus and Icarus Revisited,” The New Atlantis: The Journal of Technology and Society, 2005, 8: 73-91. Both Haldane’s Daedalus and Russell’s Icarus appeared in Russian as a single volume, see D. B. S. Holden and B. Rassel, Dedal i Ikar (Budushchee nauki) (M.-L.: Petrograd, 1926).

40 See, for instance, Jon Turney, Frankenstein’s Footsteps: Science, Genetics and Popular Culture (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998); and the first chapter in Jon Towlson, Subversive Horror Cinema: Countercultural Messages of Films from Frankenstein to the Present (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014). The Google Ngram for the word “Frankenstein” shows a doubling of its use in English books from 1910 to 1940, see https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Frankenstein&year_start=1910&year_end=1940&corpus=15&smoothing=5&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2CFrankenstein%3B%2Cc0

41 Philip J. Pauly, Controlling Life: Jacques Loeb and the Engineering Ideal in Biology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987).

42 On the early history of the notion of “social engineering” and its popularity during this very period, see David Östlund, “A Knower and Friend of Human Beings, Not Machines: The Business Career of the Terminology of Social Engineering, 1894-1910,” Ideas in History: Journal of the Nordic Society for the History of Ideas, 2007, 2(2): 43-82.

43 A. E. Hamilton, “Putting Over Eugenics,” Journal of Heredity, 1915, 6(6): 281-88 (p. 281).

44 For an overview of eugenics’ impact on the public imagination in the United States during the 1920s, see Betsy Lee Nies, Eugenic Fantasies: Racial Ideology in the Literature and Popular Culture of the 1920s (London: Routledge, 2002).

45 See Leslie C. Dunn, ed., Genetics in the 20th Century: Essays on the Progress of Genetics during Its First 50 Years (New York: Macmillan, 1951); especially the report on “Old and New Pathways in Human Genetics” by leading US human geneticist Lawrence H. Snyder, pp. 369-92. For an analysis of the Golden Jubilee’s goals and means, see Audra J. Wolfe, “The Cold War Context of the Golden Jubilee, Or, Why We Think of Mendel as the Father of Genetics,” JHB, 2012, 45(3): 389-414.

46 See Leslie C. Dunn, A Short History of Genetics: The Development of Some of the Main Lines of Thought, 1864-1939 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965); and Alfred H. Sturtevant, A History of Genetics (New York: Harper and Row, 1965). A similar process of distancing genetics from eugenics occurred in many other countries. See, for instance, a detailed analysis of this process in Italy in Cassata, Building the New Man.

47 The first issue of the renamed Annals carried a brief “editorial note” that “explained” the name change: “In the foreword to the first volume of the Annals of Eugenics, published in 1925, Karl Pearson stated that the time was ripe for a journal which should devote its pages wholly to the scientific treatment of racial problems in man but that contributions dealing with heredity in man from any scientific standpoint would be acceptable. From the outset, the journal contained many papers dealing with heredity and, in recent years, has consisted almost exclusively of contributions to the science of human genetics. It seems logical to recognize this trend by the alteration of the title from Annals of Eugenics to Annals of Human Genetics (beginning with Vol. 19, Part 1). The numbering of the volumes will follow on without any change.” Anon., “Editorial Note,” Annals of Human Genetics, 1954, 19(1): 79-80.

48 For a penetrating analysis of the movement and its connections to eugenics, see Matthew Connelly, Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008); for a more focused analysis, see Randall Hansen and Desmond King, Sterilized by the State: Eugenics, Race, and the Population Scare in Twentieth Century North America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

49 To list only the most prominent examples, such alliances included the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, 1949), the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS, 1951), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO, 1954), the World Bank (1944), and the Common Market (1958) in the “capitalist West”; the Warsaw Pact (1955) and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON, 1949) in the “socialist East”; and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN, 1967) formed by several of the nonaligned countries.

50 On “big science” and its development in western contexts, see Derek J. de Solla Price, Little Science, Big Science (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963); Peter Galison and Bruce Hevly, eds., Big Science: The Growth of Large-scale Research (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992); and Olof Hallonsten, Big Science Transformed: Science, Politics and Organization in Europe and the United States (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

51 Julian S. Huxley, Evolution. The Modern Synthesis (London: Allen and Unwin, 1942). For broad historical assessments of the synthesis, see Ernst Mayr and William B. Provine, eds., The Evolutionary Synthesis: Perspectives on the Unification of Biology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980); and Vassiliki B. Smocovitis, Unifying Biology: The Evolutionary Synthesis and Evolutionary Biology (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996).

52 See Gisela Nass, Moleküle des Lebens (Munich: Kindler, 1970); idem, Les moléculas de la vida (Madrid: Ediciones Guadarrama, 1970); and idem, The Molecules of Life (London: Weidenfeld and Nickolson, 1970).

53 Lily E. Kay, The Molecular Vision of Life: Caltech, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Rise of the New Biology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

54 See V. I. Vernadskii, Biosfera (L.: VSNKh, 1926), for the first modern articulation of this notion.

55 See Nancy M. Jessop, Biosphere: A Study of Life (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1970).

56 This new understanding was clearly conveyed in an extensive “science program with experiments and observations for the student” published in the popular textbook series “Today’s Basic Science.” See John Gabriel Navarra, Joseph Zafforoni, John E. Garone, Today’s Basic Science: The Molecule and the Biosphere (New York: Harper and Row, 1965).

57 To list just a few, almost random titles, see Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, L’avenir de l’homme (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1955), published in English as P. Teilhard de Chardin, Phenomenon of Man (London: Collins, 1959); Jean Rostand, Peut-on modifier l’homme? (Paris: Gallimard, 1956), published in English as J. Rostand, Can Man be Modified? (New York: Basic, 1959); Lewis Mumford, The Transformations of Man (London: Allen and Unwin, 1957); D. C. Rife, Heredity and Human Nature (New York: Vantage, 1959); P. B. Medawar, The Future of Man (New York: Basic, 1960); C. H. Waddington, The Ethical Animal (London: Allen and Unwin, 1960); Garrett Hardin, Nature and Man’s Fate (New York: New American Library, 1961); H. Hoagland and R. W. Burhoe, eds., Evolution and Man’s Progress (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962), a collection of articles originally published in the summer of 1961 as a special issue of the journal Daedalus; Theodosius Dobzhansky, Mankind Evolving: The Evolution of the Human Species (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1962); H. L. Carson, Heredity and Human Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963); R. Dubos, Man Adapting (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965); and many others.

58 See, for instance, the development of the notion of “environmental engineering” in B. MacKaye, From Geography to Geotechnics (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1968); and B. H. Jennings, Environmental Engineering: Analysis and Practice (New York: International Textbook Company, 1970); for the notion of “biomedical engineering,” see J. H. U. Brown, John E. Jacobs, and Lawrence Stark, eds., Biomedical Engineering (Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis, 1970); and Heinz Siegfried Wolff, Biomedical Engineering (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970).

59 See, Wolstenholme, ed., Man and his Future; T. M. Sonneborn, ed., The Control of Human Heredity and Evolution (New York: Macmillan, 1965); and John D. Roslansky, ed., Genetics and the Future of Man (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1966).

60 Life Sciences: Recent Progress and Application to Human Affairs (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1970).

61 Philip Handler, ed., Biology and the Future of Man (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970).

62 Some elements of these debates have been examined by Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics; Paul, The Politics of Heredity; Comfort, The Science of Human Perfection; Diane B. Paul, “Genetic Engineering and Eugenics: The Uses of History,” in Harold W. Baillie and Timothy K. Casey, ed., Is Human Nature Obsolete?: Genetics, Bioengineering and the Future of Human Condition (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005), pp. 134-63; and many others. For insightful but necessarily brief overviews, see Alison Bashford, “Epilogue: Where Did Eugenics Go?” in Bashford and Levine, eds., Oxford Handbook, pp. 539-58; and Carolyn Burdett, “Introduction: Eugenics Old and New,” New Formations, 2007, 60: 7-12.

63 See Anon., “The Ciba Foundation,” Lancet, 1949, 254 (6566): 25-26.

64 For an insider’s history of the Ciba Foundation, see F. Peter Woodford, The Ciba Foundation: An Analytic History, 1949-1974 (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1974); see also a favorable review of this history by one of the participants of the 1962 symposium, Alan S. Parkes, “The Ciba Foundation, 1949-1974: An Appreciation,” Journal of Biosocial Science, 1976, 8(1): 69-73.

65 Gordon Wolstenholme, “Preface,” in idem, ed., Man and His Future, p. v

66 The following story of the symposium is based on its published proceedings and all of the subsequent quotations are taken from this volume, Wolstenholme, ed., Man and his Future.

67 Artur Glikson came from Tel Aviv, Israel, and Marc Klein from Strasbourg, France. Since Muller could not come to London due to illness, only 26 invited participants actually attended the symposium.

68 See H. J. Muller, “The Guidance of Human Evolution,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 1959, 3: 1-43; and idem, “Human Evolution by Voluntary Choice of Germ Plasm,” Science, 1961, 154: 643-49.

69 On the development of artificial insemination in the twentieth-century United States, see Kara W. Swanson, “The Birth of the Sperm Bank,” The Annals of Iowa, 2012, 71: 241-76.

70 See, for instance, Anon., “Man and His Future,” Lancet, 6 July 1963, 33-34; Marjorie C. Meehan, “Man and His Future,” JAMA, 1963, 187(2): 159; N. J. Berrill, “Man and His Future,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 1964, 7 (3): 368-69; Charles D. Aring, “Man and His Future,” Archives of Internal Medicine, 1964, 113: 458-59.

71 Berrill, “Man and His Future,” pp. 368-69.

72 J. Lederberg, “Molecular Biology, Eugenics and Euphenics,” Nature, 1963, 198: 428-29.

73 See J. F. Crow, “Modifying Man: Muller’s Eugenics and Lederberg’s Euphenics,” Science, 1965, 148: 1579-80.

74 See, for instance, Rollin D. Hotchkiss, “Portents for a Genetic Engineering.” Journal of Heredity, 1965, 56: 197-202.

75 Predictably, geneticists were the most vocal group in this debate. See, for instance, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Heredity and the Nature of Man (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1964); idem, The Biology of Ultimate Concern (New York: New American Library, 1967); I. Michael Lerner, Heredity, Evolution and Society (San Francisco, CA: Freeman, 1968); Arne Muntzing, Biological Points of View on Some Humanistic Problems (Lund: Gleerup, 1968); and C. H. Waddington, Biology, Purpose and Ethics (Barre, MA: Barre Publishing Company, 1971).

76 Sonneborn, ed., The Control of Human Heredity; see also the records of a similar discussion at a Nobel conference held in 1965 at Gustavus Adolphus College in John D. Roslansky, ed., Genetics and the Future of Man (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1966).

77 Hotchkiss, “Portents for a Genetic Engineering.”

78 Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Changing Man,” Science, 1967, 155: 409-15.

79 K. Hirschhorn, “On Re-Doing Man,” Commonweal, 1968, 88: 257-61; the article was reprinted in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1971, 184: 103-12, as part of a special issue on “Environment and Society in Transition.”

80 The address was published posthumously as Jack Schultz, “Human Values and Human Genetics,” American Naturalist, 1973, 107: 585-97.

81 Joshua Lederberg, “Experimental Genetics and Human Evolution,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1966, 22(8): 4-11; also reprinted in American Naturalist, 1966, 100 (915): 519-31; and H. J. Muller, “Means and Aims in Human Genetic Betterment,” in Sonneborn, ed., The Control of Human Heredity, pp. 100-22; and idem, “What Genetic Course Will Man Steer?” in James F. Crow and James V. Neel, eds., Proceedings of the Third International Congress of Human Genetics (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967), pp. 521-43.

82 James F. Crow, “The Quality of People: Human Evolutionary Changes,” Bioscience, 1966, 16: 863-67 (p. 867).

83 See John J. Pauson, Beyond Morality and the Law (Pittsburgh, PA: Philosophical Press, 1966); Theodosius Dobzhansky, “On Genetics, Sociology and Politics,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 1968, 11: 544-54; Paul Ramsey, Fabricated Man: The Ethics of Genetic Control (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1970); Joseph Fletcher, “Ethical Aspects of Genetic Controls: Designed Genetic Changes in Man,” New England Journal of Medicine, 1971, 285: 776-83; B. Glass, “Prometheus and Pandora: 1971,” Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 1971, 47: 1045-58; M. S. Fox, et al., “Reservations Concerning Gene Therapy,” Science, 173: 195; Anon., “The Biologists’ Dilemmas,” Nature, 1970, 228: 900-01; P. Handler, “Can Man Shape His Future?” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 1971, 14: 207-27; P. R. Abelson, “Anxiety About Genetic Engineering,” Science, 1971, 173: 285; James J. Nagle, “The Dilemma of Genetic Engineering,” Journal of Religion and Health, 1972, 11(4): 370-76; James R. Sorenson, Social and Psychological Aspects of Applied Human Genetics: A Bibliography (Bethesda, MD: Fogarty International Center, 1973); and many others.

84 See, for instance, Karl H. Hertz, “What Man Can Make of Man: Genetic Programming,” Christian Century, 1967, 84(25): 807-10; Michael Hamilton, “New Life for Old: Genetic Decisions,” ibid., 1969, 86(22): 741-44; H. B. Kuhn, “Prospect of Carbon-Copy Humans,” Christianity Today, 1971, 15: 11-12; Charles T. Epstein, “Medical Genetics: Recent Advances with Legal Implications,” The Hastings Law Journal, 1969, 21: 35-49; Bernard D. Davis, “Ethical and Technical Aspects of Genetic Intervention,” New England Journal of Medicine, 1971, 285: 799-801; Michael P. Hamilton, ed., The New Genetics and the Future of Man (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 1972); and many others.

85 See, for instance, Louis Lasogna, “Heredity Control: Dream or Nightmare?” New York Times Magazine, 5 August 1962, 7: 58-61; Lucy Eisenberg, “Genetics and the Survival of the Unfit,” Harper’s Magazine, 1966, 232: 53-58; “Man Into Superman: The Promise and Peril of the New Genetics,” Time, 19 April 1971: 33-52; “Playing God,” Newsweek, 23 November 1970, 76: 120; Albert Rosenfeld, “Science, Sex and Tomorrow’s Morality,” Life, 13 June 1969, 66: 37-50.

86 Fred Warshofsky, The Control of Life (New York: Viking, 1969).

87 Anon., “New Words in Biology and Related Subjects,” Nature, 1964, 204: 628. See also, Panos D. Bardis, “Eudemics, Eugenics, Euphenics, Euthenics,” Phi Kappa Phi Journal, 1972, 52(3): 37.

88 See J. Lederberg, “Letter to the editor,” The New York Times, 26 September 1970, p. 20.

89 See Blacker, Eugenics; Haller, Eugenics; Pickens, Eugenics; and Ludmerer, Genetics and American Society.

90 The protestations of Muller’s widow eventually forced Graham to drop Muller’s name from his sperm bank. For details, see Cynthia R. Daniels and Janet Golden, “Procreative Compounds: Popular Eugenics, Artificial Insemination and the Rise of the American Sperm Banking Industry,” Journal of Social History, 2004, 38(1): 5-27; David Plotz, The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank (New York: Random House, 2005); Martin Richards, “Artificial Insemination and Eugenics: Celibate Motherhood, Eutelegenesis and Germinal Choice,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 2008, 39(2): 211-21; and Kara W. Swanson, Banking on the Body: The Market in Blood, Milk, and Sperm in Modern America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).

91 See a contemporary overview of the available techniques in E. Freese, ed., The Prospects of Gene Therapy (Bethesda, MD: Fogarty International Center, 1972); for a concise summary, see James J. Nagle, “Genetic Manipulations in Humans I: The Potentials for Gene Therapy,” Bios, 1976, 47(1): 3-13; for a brief historical account co-written by Lederberg himself, see J. A. Wolffand J. Lederberg, “A History of Gene Transfer and Therapy,” in Jon A. Wolff, ed., Gene Therapeutics: Methods and Applications of Direct Gene Transfer (Boston, MA: Birkhäuser, 1994), pp. 3-25.

92 See, for instance, Robert G. McKinnell and Marie A. Di Berardino, “The Biology of Cloning: History and Rationale,” BioScience, 1999, 49(11): 875-85; and a popular account in Gina Kolata, Clone: The Road to Dolly, and the Path Ahead (New York: William Morrow, 1998).

93 For an analysis of how western medical geneticists themselves dealt with the origins of their discipline in eugenics, see Diane B. Paul, “From Eugenics to Medical Genetics,” Journal of Policy History, 1997, 9: 96-116; and Comfort, The Science of Human Perfection.

94 See, for instance, a long chapter on “Eugenics, Euphenics, and Human Welfare,” in L. L. Cavalli-Sforza and W. F. Bodmer, The Genetics of Human Populations (San Francisco, CA: Freeman, 1971), pp. 753-804.

95 In contrast to the previous name change from Eugenics News to Eugenics Quarterly in 1954, which had been justified at length in a special editorial (see, Anon., “Editorial comment,” Eugenics Quarterly, 1954, 1(1): 1-3), the 1969 renaming was not explained or even mentioned in any of the materials appearing in the journal, see Social Biology, 1969, 1-4.

96 Compare, for instance, Frederick H. Osborn, The Future of Human Heredity: An Introduction to Eugenics in Modern Society (New York: Weybright and Talley, 1968) and John K. Brierley, Biology and the Social Crisis: A Social Biology for Everyman (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1970).

97 See Van Rensselaer Potter, Bioethics: Bridge to the Future (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1971). For historical accounts of the new field, see Albert R. Jonsen, A Short History of Medical Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); and John H. Evans, The History and Future of Bioethics: A Sociological View (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

98 See numerous references to publications in the British press in Turney, Frankenstein’s Footsteps, such as, for instance, Anon., “New Hopes for the Childless,” The Guardian, 14 February 1969, p. 1; and Anon, “Test-tube Fertility Hope for Women,” The Times, 15 February 1969, p. 1. Similar publications appeared in US magazines, see Edward Grossman, “The Obsolescent Mother: Is the Artificial Womb Inevitable?,” The Atlantic, 1971, 227 (May): 16-32; James D. Watson, “Moving toward the Clonal Man: Is This What We Want?,” ibid., 1971, 227 (May): 50-63; C. Stinson, “Theology and the Baron Frankenstein: Cloning and Beyond,” Christian Century, 1972, 89(3): 60-63; and many others.

99 Nancy M. Freedman, Joshua, Son of None (New York: Delacorte, 1973).

100 See, for instance, Judith Daar, The New Eugenics: Selective Breeding in an Era of Reproductive Technologies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017).

101 To list just three publications that reflected these new developments, see Jürgen Habermas, The Future of Human Nature (Cambridge: Polity, 2003), originally published as idem, Die Zukunft der menschlichen Natur. Auf dem Weh su einer liberalen Eugenik? (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2001); Nicholas Agar, Liberal Eugenics: In Defense of Human Enhancement (Boston, MA: Blackwell, 2004); and John Glad, Future Human Evolution: Eugenics in the Twenty-first Century (Schuylkill Haven, PA: Hermitage, 2006).

102 The latest developments, from the 1990s through the 2010s, generated a huge body of literature both pro and contra the newest incarnations of eugenics, which is beyond the scope of this project. See, for instance, Harold W. Baillie and Timothy K. Casey, eds., Is Human Nature Obsolete?: Genetics, Bioengineering, and the Future of the Human Condition (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004); Jean Gayon and Daniel Jacobi, eds., L’éternal retour de l’eugénisme (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2006); Calum MacKellar and Christopher Bechtel, eds., The Ethics of the New Eugenics (New York: Berghahn, 2014); Henry T. Greely, The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016); Daar, The New Eugenics; Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg, A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution (Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2017); and many others.

103 See http://www.tsu.ru/news/pamyatnik-osnovatelyam-tgu-florinskomu-i-mendeleev

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 8-1. A portrait of Vasilii Florinskii commissioned in 1997 to the Tomsk artist Vasilii Cheremin (1926-2002), oil on canvas, 72 x 88 cm. Modeled in part on the 1888 photograph of Florinskii (see fig. 4-6). Initially, it hanged in the lobby of the Tomsk Branch of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Now it is in Valerii Puzyrev’s office at the Tomsk Institute of Medical Genetics. Photo courtesy of V. Puzyrev.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7414/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 285k
Légende Fig. 8-2. The title page of the first issue of the Russian Eugenics Journal edited by Nikolai Kol’tsov. It carries a stylized “family tree” that depicted the relations of Charles Darwin (left) to Francis Galton (right) via their grandfather, Erasmus Darwin (center). This “genealogy” was clearly meant to emphasize eugenics’ deep roots in both Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and the “materialistic philosophy” of his grandfather, whose poem “The Temple of Nature” had been translated into Russian in 1911 by Nikolai Kholodkovskii, a zoology professor at St. Petersburg University. With the very beginning of the Bolshevik regime, “materialism” became the battle cry of Bolshevik ideologues and “Darwinism” was actively incorporated into Marxism, as the materialistic explanation of biological evolution. The genealogy depicted in Russian Eugenics Journal, then, implied that eugenics founded by Erasmus Darwin’s grandson and Charles Darwin’s cousin Galton also was a “materialistic” doctrine, and thus could be accepted and developed in Bolshevik Russia. Courtesy of BAN.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/7414/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 114k

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