Heredity and Politics

JBS Haldane

Allen and Unwin: London, 1938.

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In the last fifty years we have learned something about human biology, and particularly about human inheritance. This knowledge has so far found little application in Britain or America. But it has been used to support proposals for very drastic changes in the structure of society. And the stringent measures which have been taken in Germany, both for the expulsion of Jews from many walks of life, and for the compulsory sterilization of many Germans, are said to be based on biological frets. I do not believe that our present knowledge of human heredity justifies such steps. I will doubtless be accused of allowing my political opinions to override my scientific judgement. It is therefore worth pointing out that the questions with which I shall deal cut right across the usual political divisions. For example, the English National Council of Labour Women has recently passed a resolution in favour of the sterilization of defectives, and this operation is legal in Denmark and other countries considerably to the 'left' of Britain in their social policies. It may well be that an increase in our knowledge will fully justify the application to man of certain measures which have led to improvements in the quality of our domestic animals ...