Exploring the Social Imagination

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The State and the Evils of the Social Imagination

The Holocaust of WWII should be a reminder that the State and its ambitions have few good intentions for society, though they promise it. It is when the state usurps the natural role of the human being: mother, father and family and attempts to build its own by means of what it deems science that the State destroys that which it wishes to be perfectly. The argument held by Nazi Germany was that the State is superior and is the best means for 'pure' and good society.  

According to the ideology of Nazi nationalism, the central entity or unit governing political and cultural life is the nation. Each individual 'belongs to' a particular nation and attains identity by virtue of his or her relationship to the nation and its 'national life.'~ Richard Koenigsberg

The means to attain this kind of 'national life/good society' was seen through the implementation of Eugenics which is the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, typically in reference to humans. The popular theory supporting this was that life for humans in society can and should be ruled the fittest. By WWI, many scientific authorities and political leaders supported eugenics. Though some say it failed as a science, in the 1930s and ’40s, there were eugenicists practicing this as a science. The Nazis used eugenics to support the extermination of entire races.

Are there scientists/doctors since the 30s and 40s that still study or practice eugenics? In 1954, Britain’s Annals of Eugenics was renamed Annals of Human Genetics. In 1972, the American Eugenics Society adopted the less-offensive name Society for the Study of Social Biology. Its publication, once popularly known as the Eugenics Quarterly, had already been renamed Social Biology in 1969.

U.S. Senate hearings in 1973, chaired by Edward Kennedy, revealed that thousands of U.S. citizens had been sterilized under federally supported programs. The U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare proposed guidelines encouraging each state to repeal their respective sterilization laws. Other countries, most notably China, continue to support eugenics-directed programs openly in order to ensure the genetic makeup of their future.

Despite the dropping of the term eugenics, eugenic ideas remain prevalent in many issues surrounding human reproduction. Because certain diseases are now known to be genetically transmitted, many couples choose to undergo genetic screening, in which they learn the chances that their offspring have of being affected by some combination of their hereditary backgrounds. Couples at risk of passing on genetic defects may opt to remain childless or to adopt children. 

Many couples choose to terminate a pregnancy that involves a genetically disabled offspring. These developments have reinforced the eugenic aim of identifying and eliminating undesirable genetic material. Counterbalancing this trend, however, has been medical progress that enables victims of many genetic diseases to live fairly normal lives. Direct manipulation of harmful genes is also being studied. If perfected, it could obviate eugenic arguments for restricting reproduction among those who carry harmful genes. 

Such conflicting innovations have complicated the controversy surrounding what many call the “new eugenics.” Moreover, suggestions for expanding eugenics programs, which range from the creation of sperm banks for the genetically superior to the potential cloning of human beings, have met with vigorous resistance from the public, which often views such programs as unwarranted interference with nature or as opportunities for abuse by authoritarian regimes.

Applications of the Human Genome Project are often referred to as “Brave New World” genetics or the “new eugenics”; however, the ethical, legal, and social implications of this international project are monitored much more closely than were early 20th-century eugenics programs. Still, with or without the use of the term, many eugenics-related concerns are reemerging as a new group of individuals decide how to regulate the application of genetics science and technology. 


Though eugenics then and now under new names, may sound as a reasonable option, it allows the State and its experts in their scientific institutions to make decisions which no longer considers the human being as superior ...this is the main agenda of the State and evils of the social imagination. 

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