RACIAL impoverishment is the plague of civilization.
This insidious disease, with its twin symptoms the ex-
tirpation of superior strains and the multiplication of
inferiors, has ravaged humanity like a consuming fire,
reducing the proudest societies to charred and squalid
  We have already examined the life process which per-
petuates both superiors and inferiors according to their
kind, so we can now pass to a practical consideration of
inferior types.
  First of all, however, let us carefully distinguish
between inferiority's two aspects: physical inferiority
and mental inferiority.  It is mental inferiority which is
our chief concern.  Physically, the human species seems
equal to all demands which are likely to he made upon
it.  Despite civilization's deleterious aspects, and despite
the combined action of modem medicine and philan-
thropy in keeping alive physically weak individuals,
humanity does not appear to be threatened with general
physical decay.  We are heirs of a physical selection which
goes back tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions
of years to the very origin of life, and its beneficial in-
fluence is so wide-spread and deep-going that a few mil-
lennia of partial escape from its workings have pro-
only superficial effects.


   Far different is the case of mental inferiority. The
special traits of intelligence which distinguish man from
the animals appeared only a few hundred thousand years
ago, and have developed strongly only in a few human
stocks.  Biologically speaking, therefore, high intelli-
gence is a very recent trait, which is still comparatively
rare and which may be easily lost.
  The rarity of mental as compared with physical sup-
periority in the human species is seen on every hand.
Existing savage and barbarian races of a demonstrably
low average level of intelligence, like the negroes, are
physically vigorous, in fact, possess an animal vitality
apparently greater than that of the intellectually higher
races.  The same is true of intellectually decadent peoples
like those about the Mediterranean, whose loss of ancient
mental greatness has been accompanied by no corre-
sponding physical decline.  Finally, even among the more
civilized and progressive present-day populations, the
great disparity between physical and mental superiority
is clear.  The recent American army intelligence tests
are a striking example of this.  Those 1,700,000 young
men who were examined were nearly all physically fine
specimens, yet less than one out of twenty (4 1/2 per cent)
possessed really high intelligence.  From all this it is
evident that mental superiority is comparatively rare,
most men being mentally either mediocre or inferior.
   We have likewise seen how civilized life has hitherto
tended to make mental superiority ever rarer and to
increase the proportion of mediocre and inferior elements.
Indeed, down to the biological discoveries of our own

days, this was believed to he a normal, rather than an
abnormal, phenomenon.  Our forebears considered so-
ciety's withering away at the top and breeding from be-
low as natural and inevitable.  Take the attitude of the
Romans, for example.  Roman society was divided into
six classes.  The sixth, or lowest, social class, made up
of paupers, vagabonds, and degenerates, was exempt
from civic duties, military service, and the payment of
taxes.  But was this class debarred from having children?
Not at all.  On the contrary, it was positively encouraged
to do so.  These dregs of the Roman populace were
termed "proletarians,"  "producers of offspring"! In
other words, a man might be incapable of civic duties,
incapable of bearing arms, incapable of paying taxes, but
was considered not only capable but specially apt for
bearing children, who were accepted as his contribution
to society.  Think what an attitude on racial matters
this implies!  No wonder Rome fell!  And yet -- let us
not forget that this was substantially the attitude of our
grandfathers, and that it is still the attitude of millions
of so-called "educated" persons.  Here is once more
evident the dead hand of the past, perpetuating old errors
and blocking the effective spread of new truths.
  This mingling of old and new forces is, in fact, mainly
responsible for the peculiarly acute nature of our social
and racial problems.  Traditional influences making for
racial decay are as active as ever, perhaps more so.  On
the other hand, many new factors like universal educa-
tion, high standards, preventive medicine, and birth
control, all of which may become powerful agents of race


betterment, have thus far worked mainly in the direction
of racial decay, by speeding up both the social steriliza-
tion of superior individuals, and the preservation of in-
  Perhaps never before have social conditions been so
"dysgenic," so destructive of racial values, as to-day.
"In the earlier stages of society, man interfered little
with natural selection.  But during the last century the
increase of the philanthropic spirit and the progress of
medicine have done a great deal to interfere with the
selective process.  In some ways, selection in the human
race has almost ceased; in many ways it is actually re-
versed, that is, it results in the survival of the inferior
rather than the superior.  In the olden days the criminal
was summarily executed, the weakly child died soon
after birth through lack of proper care and medical at-
tention, the insane were dealt with so violently that if
they were not killed by the treatment they were at least
left hopelessly 'incurable,' and had little chance of be-
coming parents.  Harsh measures, all of these; but they
kept the germ-plasm of the race reasonably purified.
  "To-day, how is it?  The inefficients, the wastrels,
the physical, mental, and moral cripples are carefully
preserved at public expense.  The criminal is turned out
on parole after a few years, to become the father of a
family.  The insane is discharged as 'cured,' again to
take up the duties of citizenship.  The feeble-minded
child is painfully 'educated,' often at the expense of his
normal brother or sister.  In short, the undesirables of
the race, with whom the bloody hand of natural selection

would have made short work early in life, are now nursed
along to old age."(1)  And, as already stated, factors like
birth control, education, and high social standards are
simultaneously extirpating the superior elements at an
unprecedented rate.
  Such is the situation.  Now, what is to he done?  Re-
turn to the grim methods of "natural selection"?  Of
course not.  No sensible person could possibly advocate
such a thing.  It would not only outrage our moral sense,
but it would also yield results far inferior to other methods
of race betterment which science has already discovered
and elaborated.  That is the hopeful aspect of the situa-
tion.  Grave though our present plight may be, we do
not have to waste precious time casting about for theo-
retical solutions.  Science, especially that branch of
science known as "Eugenics" or "Race Betterment,"
shows us a way far more efficient as well as infinitely
more humane than the crude, wasteful methods of natural
selection, which, while killing out most of the bad, took
many of the good at the same time.  Science, there-
fore, offers us a way of escape from impending perils,
not by a return to natural selection, but by way of an
improved social selection based upon natural law instead
of, as hitherto, upon ignorance and haphazard.  Detailed
discussion of the eugenic programme will be deferred till
the concluding chapter of this book.  At present, let us
continue our survey of human inferiority, in order better
to appreciate how imperative the speedy application of
eugenic measures to society has come to be.
       (1) Popenoe and Johnson, pp. 148-149


   Inferiority is most plainly manifest in what are known
as the "defective classes" -- the feeble-minded, the in-
sane, and certain categories of the deformed and the
diseased.  Most of these "defectives" suffer from hered-
itary defects -- in other words, from defects which are
passed on in the germ-plasm from generation to generat-
tion.  The "defective classes" are not really sundered
by any natural line of demarcation from the rest of the
population.  They are merely terms used to denote those
groups of persons who are so obviously afflicted that
they can be classified as such.  Besides these acute de-
fectives, however, there are vast numbers of persons who
show only slight taints, while still others reveal no out-
ward trace whatever, yet carry the defect in their germ-
plasm as a latent or "recessive" quality which may come
out in their children, especially if they marry persons
similarly tainted.
    Defectiveness (or, as it is frequently termed, "de-
generacy") is thus seen to be a problem as complex and
far-reaching as it is serious.  Defective persons are more
or less unfit for holding useful places in the social order
and tend to sink into the social depths, where they form
those pauper, vagabond, and criminal elements which are
alike the burden and the menace of society.  Few persons
who have not studied the problem of degeneracy have
any idea how serious it is.  Let us consider these "de-
fective classes."
   First of all, the feeble-minded. Feeble-mindedness is
a condition characterized by such traits as dull intel-
ligence, low moral sense, lack of self-control, shiftlessness,


improvidence, etc.  It is highly hereditary, and unfor-
tunately it is frequently associated with great physical
strength and vitality, so that feeble-minded persons
usually breed rapidly, with no regard for consequences.
In former times the numbers of the feeble-minded were
kept down by the stern processes of natural selection,
but modem charity and philanthropy have protected
them and have thus favored their rapid multiplication.
The feeble-minded are becoming an increasingly serious
problem in every civilized country to-day.  The number
of obviously feebleminded persons in the United States
is estimated to be at least 300,000.  During the last few
decades, to be sure, many of the worst cases have been
segregated in institutions, where they are of course kept
from breeding; but even to-day the number of the segre-
gated is only about 10 or 15 per cent of those who should
clearly be under institutional care -- the balance, mean-
while, causing endless trouble for both the present and
future generations.
  The rapidity with which feeble-minded stocks spread,
and the damage they do, are vividly illustrated by nu-
merous scientific studies which have been compiled.  Both
in Europe and America these studies tell the same story:
feebleminded individuals segregating in "clans," spread-
ing like cancerous growths, disturbing the social life and
infecting the blood of whole communities, and thriving
on misguided efforts to "better their condition," by
charity and other forms of "social service." (1)
(1) Summaries of several of the best-known of these studies
may be found in Holmes, pp. 27-40; Popenoe and Johnson,
pp. 159-161.


  A typical case is that of the "Juke family," which
was first investigated in the year 1877, and re-investi-
gated in 1915.  To quote from the original study: "From
one lazy vagabond nicknamed 'Juke,' born in rural
New York in 1720, whose two sons married five degen-
erate sisters, six generations numbering about 1,200 per-
sons of every grade of idleness, viciousness, lewdness,
pauperism, disease, idiocy, insanity, and criminality
were traced.  Of the total seven generations, 300 died
in infancy; 310 were professional paupers, kept in alms-
houses a total of 2,300 years; 440 were physically wrecked
by their own 'diseased wickedness'; more than half
the woman fell into prostitution; 130 were convicted
criminals; 60 were thieves; 7 were murderers; only 20
learned a trade, 10 of these in state prison, and all at a
state cost of over $1,250,000."(1)  By the year 1915, the
clan had reached its ninth generation, and had greatly
lengthened Its evil record.  It then numbered 2,820 in-
dividuals, half of whom were alive.  About the year 1880
the Jukes had left their original home and had scattered
widely over the country, but change of environment
had made no material change in their natures, for they
still showed "the same feeble-mindedness, indolence
licentiousness, and dishonesty, even when not handi-
capped by the associations of their bad family name and
despite the fact of their being surrounded by better social
conditions." (2)  The cost to the state had now risen to
about $2,500,000.  As the investigator remarks, all this
evil might have been averted by preventing the repro-
(1) Quoted by Popenoe and Johnson, p. 159.
(2) Ibid.,  pp. 159-160

duction of the first Jukes.  As it is, the Jukes problem is
still with us in growing severity, for in 1915, "out of ap-
proximately 600 living feeble-minded and epileptic Jukes,
them are only three now in custodial care." (1)
  A striking illustration of how superiority and degen-
eracy are alike rigidly determined by heredity is afforded
by the "Kallikak Family," of New Jersey.(2)  During the
Revolutionary war, one Martin "Kallikak," a young
soldier of good stock, had an illicit affair with a feeble
minded servant-girl, by whom he had a son. Some years
later, Martin married a woman of good family by whom
he had several legitimate children.  Now this is what
happened: Martin's legitimate children by the woman
of good stock all turned out well and founded one of the
most distinguished families in New Jersey."  In this
family and its collateral branches we find nothing but
good representative citizenship.  There are doctors, law
yers, judges, educators, traders, landholders, in short,
respectable citizens, men and women prominent in every
phase of social life.  They have scattered over the United
States and are prominent in their communities wherever
they have gone. . . .  There have been no feebleminded
among them; no illegitimate children; no immoral
women; only one man was sexually loose." (3)  In sharp
contrast to this branch of the family stand the descen-
(1) Ibid.
(2)  This is of course, not the real name of the family. It is a
scientific nickname, compounded from the Greek words "good" and
"bad" -- in short, "The Good-Bad Family," to characterize the
strongly divergent character of its two branches.
(3) Holmes, p.31.


dants of the feebleminded girl.  Of those 480 have been
traced. Their record is:  143 clearly feebleminded, 36
illegitimate, 33 grossly immoral (mostly prostitutes), 24
confirmed alcoholics, 3 epileptics, 82 died in infancy,
3 criminals, 8 kept houses of ill fame.  Here are two
family lines, with the same paternal ancestor, living on
the same soil, in the same atmosphere, and under the
same general environment; "yet the bar sinister has
marked every generation of one and has been unknown
in the other." (1)
  Melancholy genealogies like these might be cited al-
most indefinitely.  And, be it noted, they represent only
direct and obvious damage.  The indirect and less ob-
vious damage done by feeblemindedness, though harder
to trace, is far more wide-spread and is unquestionably
even more serious, as we shall presently show.  Before
discussing this point, however, let us consider some of
the other acutely defective classes.
  The insane, though differing in character from the
feebleminded, present an even graver problem in many
respects.  Insanity is, of course, a term embracing all
sorts of abnormal mental states, some of which are
transient, while others, though incurable, are not in-
heritable, and, therefore, have no racial significance. But
many forms of insanity are clearly hereditary,(2) and the
harm done by these unsound strains,  spreading through
the race and tainting sound stocks, is simply incalculable.
(1) Popenoe and Johnson, p. 160
(2) For a discussion of the forms of insanity, see Holmes,
pp. 27-72; Popenoe and Johnson, pp. 157-160; 176-183.


   Unlike feeblemindedness, insanity is often associated
with very superior qualities,(1) which may render the af-
fected individuals an acute menace to society.  The
feeble-minded never overturned a state.  An essentially
negative element, they may drag a civilization down
toward sodden degeneracy, but they have not the wit
to disrupt it.  The insane, on the other hand, are apt to
be intensely dynamic and to misuse their powers for de-
structive ends.  We shall presently see how many apostles
of anarchic violence and furious discontent have been
persons of ill-balanced mind.  Such persons are, of course,
rarely "insane" in the technical sense of being clearly
"committable" to an asylum.  They represent merely
one aspect of that vast "outer fringe" of mental us-
soundness which is scattered so widely through the gen-
eral population.  But even the acute "asylum cases"
are lamentably numerous.  In the United States, for
example, the asylum population numbers over 200,000,
and it is well known that besides those actually in insti-
tutions there are multitudes of equally afflicted persons
in private custody or even at large.
   Another class of pronounced defectives are the epi-
leptics.  Epilepsy is clearly hereditary, being probably
 (1) An extraordinary idea used to he widely held that genius was
a form of insanity. Careful scientific investigation has clearly
disproved this notion. For one thing, elaborate statistical studies
of eminent persons have shown them to be less liable to insanity
than is the general population. Of course, a considerable number of
eminent men can be listed who unquestionably suffered from various
neuropathic traits. But it was not those traits that made then eminent;
on the contrary, these were handicaps. Somewhere back in their ancestry
a taint was introduced into a sound superior strain, and produced
this disharmonic combination of qualities.


due, like feeble-mindedness and hereditary insanity, to
some factor in the germ-plasm which causes abnormal
development.  Like insanity, it is often associated with
superior mental qualities, but it is even more often asso-
ciated with feeble-mindedness, and its victims tend to
be dangerously antisocial, epilepsy being frequently con-
nected with the worst crimes of violence.  The spreading
of epileptic strains among sound stocks is unquestionably
disastrous, causing grave social dangers and lamentable
racial losses.
  Besides these outstanding cases of degeneracy there
are some other forms of defect which, though individually
not so serious, represent in the aggregate a distinct bur-
den to society and drain upon the race.  Among these
may be classed congenital deafness and blindness, some
types of deformity, and certain crippling diseases like
Huntington's chorea.  All such defects, being hereditary,
inflict repeated damage from generation to generation,
and tend to spread into sound stocks.
  So ends our melancholy survey of the "defective
classes."  In every civilized country their aggregate num-
bers are enormous, and, under present social conditions,
they are rapidly increasing.  In the United States, for
example, the total number of the patently feebleminded,
insane, and epileptic is estimated to be fully 1,000,000.
And, as already stated, even this alarming total repre-
sents merely those persons suffering from the more ex-
treme forms of taints which extend broadcast through
the general population.  The extent of such contamina-
tion is revealed by several estimates made independently


by competent investigators who all consider that over
30 per cent of the entire population of the United States
carries some form of mental defect.(1)  In great part, to
be sure, defect is latent in the germ-plasm and does the
bearers no harm.  Yet the taints are there, and are apt
to come out in their children, especially if they marry
persons carrying a similar defect in their inheritance.
   And, even if we exclude from consideration all purely
latent defects, the problem presented by those actually
suffering from less acute forms of defect than those pre-
viously described is one of almost incalculable gravity
for both society and the race.  There can be no question
that inefficiency, stupidity, pauperism, crime, and other
forms of antisocial conduct are largely (perhaps mainly)
due to inborn degeneracy.  The careful scientific inves-
tigations conducted in many countries on paupers,
tramps, criminals, prostitutes, chronic inebriates, drug
fiends, etc., have all revealed a high percentage of mental
defect.(2)  When to these out-and-out social failures we
add the numberless semi-failures, grading all the way
from the "unemployable" casual laborer to the "erratic
genius" wasting or perverting his talents, we begin to
realize the truly terrible action of inherited degeneracy,
working generation after generation, tainting and spoil-
(1) Such is the opinion of some of the members of the Eugenics
Record Office, the leading American scientific investigation
centre on these problems. The well-known psychiatrists Rosanoff
and Orr believe that over 31 per cent of apparently normal people
are carriers of neuropathic defect.
(2) For summaries of several of these investigations, both American
and European, see Popenoe and Johnson, pp. 157-160; 176-183;
Holmes, pp. 73-97.


ing good stocks, imposing heavier social burdens, and
threatening the future of civilization.
  For degeneracy does threaten civilization.  The pres-
ance of vast hordes of congenital inferiors -- incapable,
unadaptable, discontented, and unruly -- menaces the
social order with both dissolution and disruption.
  The biologist Humphrey well describes the perils of the
situation.  "So," he writes, "the army of the poorly
endowed grows in every civilized land, by addition as
new incompetency is revealed, and by its own rapid multi-
plication; and to this level the human precipitate from
every degenerative influence in civilization eventually
settles.  It is a menace already of huge proportions, but
we succeed well in America in covering the extent and
rapidity of its growth with soothing drafts of charity.
And most of us rather like to remain blind to the increas-
ing proportion of poor human material.  Human interest
centres upon vigor, strength, achievement. Its back is
toward those who fail to achieve -- until, perhaps, their
sheer force of numbers brings them into unpleasant view.
  "As one reviews the latter days of the Roman Empire
and reads of the many devices in the way of public enter-
tainments for amusing and controlling the hordes of the
unsocial who had accumulated most grievously, the ques-
tion arises: How soon will we arrive at the time when
our unsocial masses shall have become unwieldy?  One
thing is certain: our more humanitarian methods are
bringing the fateful day upon us at a more rapid rate.
And our boasted Americanism is not a cure for mental
incompetency. The police blotters of our cities will show

that the mobs which spring up from nowhere at the slight-
est let-up in police control are mostly American-born,
with scarcely an illiterate among them; yet they revert
to the sway of their animal instincts quite as spon-
taneously as benighted Russians.
  "It is folly to keep up the delusion that more democ-
racy and more education will make over these all-born
into good citizens.  Democracy was never intended for
degenerates, and a nation breeding freely of the sort that
must continually be repressed is not headed toward an
extension of democratic liberties. Rather, it is inevitable
that class lines shall harden as a protection against the
growing numbers of the underbred, just as in all previous
cultures.  However  remote  a  cataclysm  may be,  our
present racial trend is toward social chaos or a dictator-
  "Meanwhile, we invite social turmoil by advancing
muddled notions of equality.  Democracy, as we loosely
idealize it nowadays, is an overdrawn picture of earthly
bliss; it stirs the little-brained to hope for an impossible
levelling of human beings.  The most we can honestly
expect to achieve is a fair levelling of opportunity; but
every step toward that end brings out more distinctly
those basic inequalities of inheritance which no environ-
mental effort can improve.  So discontent is loudest in
those least capable of grasping opportunity when it is
offered." (1)
  In this connection we must never forget that it is the
"high-grade"  defectives who are most dangerous to
		 (1) Humphrey, pp. 77-80


the social order.  It is the "near-genius," the man with
the fatal taint which perverts his talents, who oftenest
rouses and leads the mob.  The levelling social revolu-
tionary doctrines of our own day, like Syndicalism, An-
archism, and Bolshevism, superficially alluring yet basic-
ally false and destructive, are essentially the product of
unsound thinking -- by unsound brains.  The sociologist
Nordan ably analyzes the enormous harm done by such
persons and doctrines, not only by rousing the degenerate
elements, but also by leading astray vast numbers of
average people, biologically normal enough yet with in-
telligence not high enough to protect them against clever
fallacies clothed in fervid emotional appeals.
  Says Nordau:  "Besides the extreme forms of de-
generacy there are milder forms, more or less inconspic-
uous, not to be diagnosed at a first glance.  These,
however, are the most dangerous for the community,
because their destructive influence only gradually makes
itself felt; we are not on our guard against it; indeed,
in many cases, we do not recognize it as the real cause
of the evils it conjures up -- evils whose serious importance
no one can doubt.
  "A mattoid or half-fool, who is full of organic feelings
of dislike, generalizes his subjective state into a system
of pessimism, of 'Weltschmertz' -- weariness of life.  An-
other, in whom a loveless egoism dominates all thought
and feeling, so that the whole exterior world seems to
him hostile, organizes his antisocial instincts into the
theory of anarchism.  A third, who suffers from moral
insensibility, so that no bond of sympathy links him


with his fellow man or with any living thing, and who
is obsessed  by  vanity amounting to megalomania,
preaches a doctrine of the Superman, who is to know
no consideration and no compassion, be bound by no
moral principle, but 'live his own life' without regard
for others.  When these half-fools, as often happens,
speak an excited language -- when their imagination, un-
bridled by logic or understanding, supplies them with
odd, startling fancies and surprising associations and
images -- their writings make a strong impression on un-
wary readers, and readily gain a decisive influence on
thought in the cultivated circles of their time.
  "Of course, well-balanced persons are not thereby
changed into practising disciples of these morbid cults.
But the preachings of these mattoids are favorable to
the development of similar dispositions in others; serve
to polarize,  in their own sense, tendencies of hitherto un-
certain drift, and give thousands the courage openly,
impudently, boastfully, to confess and act in accordance
with convictions which, but for these theorists with their
noise and the flash of their tinsel language, they would
have felt to be absurd or infamous, which they would
have concealed with shame; which in any case would
have remained monsters known only to themselves and
imprisoned in the lowest depths of their consciousness.
  "So, through the influence of the teachings of degen-
erate half-fools, conditions arise which do not, like the
cases of insanity and crime, admit of expression in figures,
but can nevertheless in the end be defined through their
political and social effects.  We gradually observe a


general loosening of morality, a disappearance of logic
from thought and action, a morbid irritability and vacil-
lation of public opinion, a relaxation of character.
Offenses are treated with a frivolous or sentimental in-
dulgence which encourages rascals of all kinds.  People
lose the power of moral indignation, and accustom them-
selves to despise it as something banal, unadvanced,
inelegant, and unintelligent.  Deeds that would formerly
have disqualified a man forever from public life are no
longer an obstacle in his career, so that suspicious and
tainted personalities make it possible to rise to respon-
sible positions, sometimes to the control of national busi-
ness.  Sound common sense becomes more rarely and
less worthily appreciated, more and more meanly rated.
Nobody is shocked by the most absurd proposals, mea-
sures and fashions, and folly rules in legislation, adminis-
tration, domestic and foreign politics.  Every demagogue
finds a following, every fool collects adherents, every
event makes an impression beyond all measure, kindles
ridiculous enthusiasm, spreads morbid consternation,
leads to violent manifestations in one sense or the other
and to official proceedings that are at least useless, often
deplorable and dangerous.  Everybody harps upon his
'rights' and rebels against every limitation of his arbi-
trary desires by law or custom.  Everybody tries to
escape from the compulsion of discipline and to shake
off the burden of duty."
  Such is the destructive action of degeneracy, spreading
(1) Max Nordau, "The Degeneration of Classes and Peoples,"
Hibbert Journal, July, 1912.


like a cancerous blight and threatening to corrode society
to the very marrow of its being.  Against these assaults
of inferiority; against the cleverly led legions of the de-
generate and the backward;  where can civilization look
for its champions?  Where but in the slender ranks of
the racially superior -- those "A" and "B" stocks which,
in America for example, we know to-day constitute barely
13 1/2 per cent of the population? It is this "thin red line"
of rich, untainted blood which stands between us and
barbarism or chaos.  Them alone lies our hope.  Let us
not deceive ourselves by prating about government,"
"education," "democracy":  our laws, our constitutions,
our very sacred books, are in the last analysis mere paper
barriers, which will hold only so long as there stand be-
hind them men and women with the intelligence to under
stand and the character to maintain them.
  Yet this life-line of civilization is not only thin but is
wearing thinner with a rapidity which appalls those fully
aware of the facts.  We have already stated that prob-
ably never before in human history have social conditions
been so destructive of racial values as to-day, because of
both the elimination of superior stocks and the multi-
plication of inferiors.
  One dangerous fallacy we must get out of our heads;
the fallacy of judging human populations by what we
see among wild varieties of plants and animals.  Among
these latter we observe a marked stability of type, and
we are apt to conclude that, for man as for other life
forms, "evolution is a slow process" in which a few gen-
erations count for little, and therefore that we need not


worry overmuch about measures of race betterment be-
cause we have "plenty of time."
  A perilous delusion, this! and a further indication of
our unsound thinking and superficial knowledge of the
laws of life.  A trifle more intelligent reflection would
show us the profound unlikeness of the two cases.  Ani-
mals and plants (where not "domesticated" by man)
live in the "state of nature," where they are subjected
to the practically unvarying action of "natural selec-
tion."  Their germ-plasm varies in quality just like hu-
man germ-plasm (as skilful breeders like Luther Burbank
have conclusively proved); but with them natural selec-
tion eliminates all but a narrow range of characteristics
which keeps the breed at a fixed level; whereas civilized
man, living largely under self-made conditions, replaces
natural selection by various social selections which pro-
duce the most profound -- and rapid modifications.
  There is a point which we must keep in mind: the
rapidity with which the qualities of a species can be
altered by a change in the character of biological selec-
tion.  It is literally amazing to observe how mankind has
for ages been wasting its best efforts in the vain attempt
to change existing individuals, instead of changing the
race by determining which existing individuals should,
and should not, produce the next generation.
  Of course, racial change by means of social selection
have not waited for man to discover them; they have
been going on from time immemorial.  The trouble is
that, instead of lifting humanity to the heights, as they
might have done if intelligently directed, they have been


working haphazard and have usually wrought decadence
and ruin.
  The startling rapidity with which a particular stock
may be either bred into, or out of, a given population
can be accurately determined by discovering its rate of
increase compared to that of the rest of the population.
And the ultimate factor in this rate of increase is what
is known as the "differential birth-rate."  It has long
been known that populations breeding freely tend to in-
crease extremely fast.  But what is true of a population
as a whole applies equally to any of its constituent ele-
ments.  Thus, in any given population, those elements
which reproduce themselves the fastest will dominate
the average character of the nation--and will do so at an
increasing rate.  Let us take a rather moderate ex-
ample of a differential birth-rate to show how differences
barely noticeable from year to year may in a few genera-
tions entirely transform the racial scene. Take two stocks
each consisting of 1,000 individuals, the one just failing
to reproduce itself while the other increases at, say, the
rate of the general English population -- by no means an
extreme level of fecundity.  At the end of a year the first
stock will have become 996, at the end of a century it
will have declined to 687, while after two centuries it
will number only 472.  On the other hand, the second
stock will after a year number 1,013, in a century 3,600,
and in two centuries about 13,000.  In other words, at
the end of a hundred years (from three to four genera-
tions) the more prolific stock would outnumber the less
prolific by 6 to 1, and in two centuries by 3 to 1. As-


suming that the decreasing stock possessed marked abil-
ity while the prolific stock was mediocre or inferior, the
impoverishment of the race and the setback to civiliza-
tion can be estimated.
   Now the example above offered has been purposely
simplified by combining other factors like differential
death and marriage rates which should be separately
considered in estimating the relative rates of increase
between different groups or stocks.  But it does give a
fairly accurate idea of the present average difference in
net fecundity between the very superior and the mediocre
elements in the leading nations of the civilized world,
while it greatly understates the fecundity of the distinctly
inferior elements.  The alarming truth is that in almost
all civilized countries the birth-rate of the superior ele-
ments has been declining rapidly for the past half cen-
tury, until to-day, despite a greatly lowered death-rate,
they are either stationary or actually decreasing in num-
bers; whereas the other elements are increasing at rates
proportionate to their mediocrity and inferiority.  These
facts have been conclusively proved by a multitude of
scientific researches conducted throughout Europe and
in the United States. (1)
  We can accurately determine the point at which a
group should just reproduce itself by discovering its death
and marriage rates end then estimating the average
number of children that should be born to those persons
(1) For many of these researches, including reproductions of
statistical tables and other data, see Holmes, pp. 118-180,
231-234; Whetham, pp. 59-73; McDougall, pp. 154-168.


who marry.  Taking the civilized world as a whole, it
has been found that about four children should be born
per marriage if a stock is to reproduce itself. In a few
countries like Australia and New Zealand, and in certain
high-grade groups, where the death-rates are very low,
an average of three children per marriage may be enough
to reproduce the stock, but that seems to be about the
absolute minimum of fecundity which will ever suffice.
  Now bearing in mind these reproductive minima, what
do we actually find? We find that in Europe (excluding
the more backward countries) the superior elements of
the population average from two to four children per
marriage; that the mediocre elements average from four
to six children per marriage, that the inferior elements,
considered as a whole, average from six to seven and one-
half children per marriage; while the most inferior ele-
ments like casual laborers, paupers, and feeble-minded
defectives, considered separately, average about seven to
eight children (illegitimate births of course included).
The differential birth-rates in the different quarters of
the great European cities are typical. Some years before
the late war, the French sociologist Bertillon found that
in Paris and Berlin the births in the slum quarters were
more than three times as numerous as the births in the
best residential sections, while in London and Vienna
they were about two and one-half times as numerous.
  In the United States conditions are no better than in
Europe -- in some respects they seem to be rather worse.
Outside of the South and parts of the West the old native
American stock is not reproducing itself, the birth-rates


of immigrant stocks from northern and western Europe
are rapidly falling, while the birth-rates among the im-
migrant stocks from southern and eastern Europe remain
high and show comparatively slight diminution.  The
American intellectual groups are much less fertile than
similar European groups. The average number of chil-
dren per married graduate of the leading American col-
leges like Harvard and Yale Is about two, while among
the leading women's colleges it is about one and one-half.
Furthermore, the marriage-rates of college men and
women are so low that, considering married and single
graduates together, the statistical average is about one
and one-half children per college man and something less
than three-fourths of a child per college woman.  Pro-
fessor Cattell has investigated the size of families of 440
American men of science, choosing only those cases in
which the ages of the parents indicated that the family
was completed. Despite a very low death-rate, the birth-
rite was so much lower that, as he himself remarks, "it
is obvious that the families are not self-perpetuating.
The scientific men under fifty, of whom there are 261
with completed families, have on the average 1.88 chil-
dren, about 12 per cent of whom die before the age of
marriage.  What proportion will marry we do not know;
but only about 75 per cent of Harvard and Yale graduates
marry; only 50 per cent of the graduates of colleges for
women marry.  A scientific man has on the average about
seven-tenths of an adult son.  If three-fourths of his
sons and grandsons marry, and their families continue
to be of the aame size, 1,000 scientific men will leave about


350 grandsons to marry and transmit their names and
their hereditary traits.  The extermination will be still
more rapid in female lines."
  In sharp contrast to these figures, note the high birth-
rates in the tenement districts of America's great cities.
In New York, for example, the birth-rate on the East
Side is over four times the birth-rate in the smart
residential districts.  Commenting on similar conditions
in Pittsburg, where the birth-rate in the poorest ward
is three times that of the best residential ward, Messrs.
Popenoe and Johnson remark: "The significance of such
figures in natural selection must be evident.  Pittsburgh,
like probably all large cities in civilized countries, breeds
from the bottom. The lower a class is in the scale of in-
telligence, the greater is its reproductive contribution.
Recalling that intelligence is inherited, that like begets
like in this respect, one can hardly feel encouraged over
the quality of the population of Pittsburgh a few genera-
tions hence." (1)
  Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that such dif-
ferential birth-rates imply for America problems more
complex even than those in Europe; because, whereas
in Europe they involve mainly shifts in group-intelligence,
in America they mean also changes of race with all that
that implies in modifications of fundamental national
temperaments, ideals, and institutions.  And that is
precisely what is taking place in many parts of America
to-day.  New England, for example, once the prolific
nursery of the ambitious, intelligent  "Yankee stock,"
	   (1) Popenoe and Johnson, p. 139.


which trekked forth in millions to settle the West, is fast
ceasing to be Anglo-Saxon country.  In Massachusetts
the birth-rate of foreign-born women is two and one-half
times as high as the birth-rate among the native-born;
in New Hampshire two times; in Rhode Island one and
one-half times -- the most prolific of the alien stocks being
Poles, Polish and Russian Jews, South Italians, and
French-Canadians.  What this may mean after a few
generations is indicated by a calculation made by the
biologist Davenport, who stated that, at present rates of
reproduction, 1000 Harvard graduates of to-day would
have only fifty descendants two centuries hence, whereas
1,000 Rumanians to-day in Boston, at their present rate
of breeding, would have 100,000 descendants in the same
space of time.
   To return to the more general aspect of the problem,
it is clear that both in Europe and America the quality
of the population is deteriorating, the more intelligent
and talented strains being relatively or absolutely on the
decline.  Now this can mean nothing less than a deadly
menace both to civilization and the race.  Let us consider
how the psychological experts who formulated the Amer-
ican army intelligence tests characterized the upper in-
telligence grades.  "A" men were described as possessed
of "the ability to make a superior record in college";
"B" men "capable of making an average record in col-
lege"; "C" men "rarely capable of finishing a high-
school course," and, on the basis of the army ratings,
nearly 75 per cent of the whole population of the United
States is to-day below the C+ level!


   Since the American population (with the exception of
its south and east European immigrant stocks and its
negroes) probably average about as high in intelligence
as do the north European peoples, it is not difficult to
foresee that if intelligence continues to be bred out of
the race at its present rate, civilization will either slump
or crash from sheer lack of brains. The fatal effects of
a brain famine are well described by Professor McDougall
in the following lines:
   "The civilization of America depends on your con-
tinuing to produce A and B men in fair numbers.  And
at present the A men are 4 per cent, the B men 8 per
cent, and you are breeding from the lower part of the
curve.  The A men and B men, the college-bred, do not
maintain their numbers, while the population swells
enormously.  If this goes on for a few generations, will
not the A men, and even the B men, become rare as white
elephants, dropping to a mere fraction of 1 per cent?
It is only too probable.
   "The present tendency seems to be for the whole carve
to shift toward the wrong end with each successive gen-
eration.   And this is probably true of moral qualities,
as well as intellectual stature.  If the time should come
when your A and B men together are no more than 1
per cent, or a mere fraction of 1 per cent, of the popula-
tion what will become of your civilization?
    "Let me state the ease more concretely, in relation to
one of the great essential professions of which I have
some inside knowledge; namely, the medical profession.
Two hundred or one hundred years ago, the knowledge


to be acquired by the medical student, before entering
upon the practice of his profession, was a comparatively
small body of empirical rules. The advance of civiliza-
tion has enormously multiplied this knowledge, and the
very existence of our civilized communities depends upon
the continued and effective application of this vast body
of medical art and science.  The acquiring and the ju-
dicious application of this mass of knowledge makes very
much greater demands upon the would-be practitioner
than did the mastery of the body of rules of our fore-
fathers.   Accordingly the length of the curriculum pre-
scribed for our medical students has constantly to be
drawn out, till now its duration is some six years of post-
graduate study.
   "The students who enter upon this long and severe
course of study are already a selected body; they have
passed through high school and college successfully.  We
may fairly assume that the great majority of them be-
long to the A or B or at least the C+ group in the army
scale of intelligence.
   "What proportion of them, do you suppose, prove
capable of assimilating the vast body of medical knowl-
edge to the point that renders them capable of applying
it intelligently and effectively?  If I may venture to
generalize from my own experience,  I would say that a
very considerable proportion, even of those who pass
their examinations, fail to achieve such effective assimi-
lation.  The bulk of modern medical knowledge is too
vast for their capacity of assimilation, its complexity too
great for their power of understanding.  Yet medical


science continues to grow in bulk and complexity, and
the dependence of the community upon it becomes ever
more intimate.
  "In this one profession, then, which makes such great
and increasing demands on both the intellectual and the
moral qualities of its members, the demand for A and
B men steadily increases; and the supply in all prob-
ability is steadily diminishing with each generation.
  "And what is taking place in this one profession is,
it would seem, taking place in all the great professions
and higher callings.  Our civilization, by reason of its
increasing complexity, is making constantly increasing
demands upon the qualities of its bearers; the qualities
of those bearers are diminishing or deteriorating, rather
than improving." (1)
  The larger aspects of the problem are ably stated by
Whetham, who writes: "When we come to consider the
birth-rate as at present affecting our social structure, we
find that it is highest in those sections of the community
which, like the feebleminded and the insane, are devoid
of intelligent personality, or, like many of the unemployed
and casual laborers, seem to be either without ideals or
without any method of expressing them.  In all the social
groups which have hitherto been distinguished for co-
herence, for industry, for good mental and physical ca-
pacity, for power of organization and administration, the
birth-rate has fallen below the figures necessary to main-
tain the national store of these qualities.  Great men are
scarce; the group personality is becoming indistinct and
	     (1) McDougall, pp. 163-168.


the personality of the race, by which success was attained
in the past, is therefore on the wane, while the force of
chaos are once more being manufactured in our midst
ready to break loose and destroy civilization when the
higher types are no longer sufficient in numbers and ef-
fectiveness to guide, control or subdue them." (1)
    The unprecedented rapidity of our racial impoverish-
ment seems due, as already stated, to many causes, some
old and others new.  We have seen that the stressful
complexity of high civilizations has always tended to
eliminate superior stocks by diverting their energy from
racial ends to individual or social ends, the effects show-
ing in an increase of celibacy, late marriage, and few
children.  Most of the phenomena underlying these
racially destructive phenomena can be grouped under
two heads:  the high cost of living and the cost of high
living.  Behind those two general phrases stand a multi-
tude of special factors, such as rising prices, higher stand-
ards, desire for luxury, social emulation, inefficient gov-
ernment, high taxation, and (last but not least) the pres-
sure of ever-multiplying masses of low-grade, incompetent
humanity, acting like sand in the social gears and con-
suming an ever-larger portion of the national wealth
and energy for their charitable relief, doctoring, educat-
ing, policing, etc.
   Now all these varied factors, whatever their nature,
have this in common: they tend to make children more
and more of a burden for the superior individual, however
necessary such children may be for civilization and the
		 (1) Whetham, p. 72.


race. The fact is that, under present conditions, com-
paratively few people of the right sort can afford to raise
large families of well-born, well-cared-for, and well-edu-
cated children. This is the basic reason for that sharp
drop in the birth-rates of the upper and middle classes
of all civilized lands which has occurred during the past
half century.  Of course, the drop has been hastened by
the simultaneous discovery of various methods for pre-
venting conception which are collectively termed "birth-
control."  However, it was not so much the new methods
as the insistent economic and social pressure to employ
them which accounts for the rapidity in the fecundal
decline.  Under the conditions of modern life a pro-
nounced decline in the birth-rate was inevitable.  To
cite only one of several reasons, the progress of medical
science had greatly reduced the death-rate and had thus
made possible an enormous net increase of population.
To have maintained an unchecked birth-rate would have
meant for the Western nations congested masses of hu-
manity like those of Asia, dwelling on a low level of
  To escape this fate, the more intelligent and farsighted
elements in every civilized land began quickly to avail
themselves of the new contraceptive methods and to
limit the size of their families in this manner. That raised
a great public outcry (largely on religious grounds), and
in most countries (1) the imparting of contraceptive knowl-
(1) In a few enlightened communities, notably Australia, Holland, and
New Zealand, contraceptive methods were welcomed and birth-control
knowledge is freely imparted to all classes. The social and racial
results have been excellent, particularly in minimizing differential
birth-rates and thus averting sudden group shifts in the population.


edge was legally prohibited.  Such action was extremely
stupid -- and very disastrous.  To farsighted communi-
ties it should have been evident that with the appearance
of new social factors like lowered death-rates, higher liv-
ing costs, and rising standards, a lower birth-rate was
simply inevitable; that civilized peoples could not, and
would not, go on breeding like animals, as they had done
in the old days of cheap living and low standards, when
a high birth-rate was offset by the unchecked ravages of
  But, a reduced birth-rate being inevitable, the only
questions which remained were: How, and by whom,
should it be reduced?  Should it be by the traditional
methods of celibacy (tempered by illicit sex-relations and
prostitution), deferred marriage, infanticide, and abor-
tion; (1) or should it be by the new contraceptive methods?
Again: Should all sections of the population lower their
birth-rates, or should only the more intelligent classes?
Unfortunately for the race, it was the latter alternative
which prevailed.  Instead of spreading contraceptive
knowledge among the masses and thus mitigating as
far as possible the evils of a racially destructive differen-
tial birth-rate, society succeeded in keeping the masses
in ignorance and high fecundity, whereas it emphatically
did not succeed in keeping contraceptive knowledge from
the more intelligent, who increasingly practised birth-
(1) Abortion must be carefully distinguished from prevention of
conception. Methods of preventing conception are recent discoveries;
abortion has been practised since very ancient times. Some of the
most primitive surviving peoples, like the Australian blacks and
the South African bushmen, are highly skilled in procuring abortions.


control -- and diminished their contributions to the popu-
  Here, then, was a great potential  instrument of race
betterment perverted into an agent of race decadence.
With blind insistence upon mere numbers and an utter
disregard of quality, society deliberately fettered the in-
ferior elements at the expense of the superiors. The re-
sults are such as we have already examined in our study
of the differential birthrates of to-day.
  So ends our survey of the general factors of race im-
poverishment.  Before closing, however, we must note
one special factor of the most melancholy significance --
the Great War.  The Great War was unquestionably the
most appalling catastrophe that ever befell mankind.
The racial losses were certainly as grave as the material
losses.  Not only did the war itself destroy immeasurable
racial values, but its aftermath is proving only slightly
less unfavorable to the race.  Bad social conditions and
the frightfully high cost of living continue to depress the
birth-rates of all save the most reckless and improvident
elements, whose increase is a curse rather than a blessing.
  To consider only one of the many causes that to-day
keep down the birth-rate of the superior elements of the
population, take the crushing burden of taxation through-
out Europe, which hits especially the increase of the upper
and middle classes.  The London Saturday Review ex-
plained this very clearly when it wrote editorially: "From
a man with 2,000 a year the tax-gatherer takes 600.
The remaining 1,400, owing to the decreased value of
money, has a purchasing power about equal to 700 a


year before the war.  No young man will, therefore, think
of marrying on less than 2,000 a year.  We are thinking
of the young man in the upper and middle classes. The
man who starts with nothing does not, as a rule, arrive
at 2,000 a year until he is past the marrying age. So
the continuance of the species will be carried on almost
exclusively by the class of manual workers of a low aver-
age caliber of brain."
   In similar vein the London Times describes in the fol-
lowing words what it terms "The Death of the Middle
Classes":  "The fact is, that with the present cost of
living, the present taxation, the present price of houses,
a 'family,' as that term used to be understood, is impos-
sible.  It means, not discomfort, but privation, with con-
sequent deterioration of health. It is, therefore, far better
to bring up one healthy child and afford it a reasonable
education than to attempt to bring up three children on
insufficient food and without the hope of being able to
afford them a training for their life's work.  But the mis-
chief does not stop there by any means.  It is common
knowledge that marriages, especially middle-class mar-
rages being postponed at present on account of hous-
ing and food difficulties, and there can be no doubt that
many men are avoiding marriage altogether because of
the severe financial strain which it imposes. The world
is in a gay mood; the attractions of domestic life on a
salary barely enough for two are not conspicuous.  As a
bachelor, a man may indulge his tastes, preserve his free-
dom of action, and can afford to amuse himself with his
friends.  He shrinks from the alternative of stern hard


work, frugal living, a minimum of pleasure, and a maxi-
mum of anxiety."
 Although the war did not hit America as hard as it
did Europe, its racially evil effects are evident here also.
A recent editorial of the New York Times  well describes
not merely some of the effects of war, but likewise some
of the results of that short-sighted philanthropy which
penalizes the thrifty and the self-respecting elements to
coddle the charity-seeking and the improvident.  Says
this editorial; "Health Commissioner Copeland's state-
ment that the birth-rate of native Americans is declining
in comparison with that of the foreign element in our
population contains nothing new, except it be his remark
that the decline has been accelerated by the war. That
such a result was inevitable has long been evident.  A
vast preponderance of the foreign element are wage-
earners, whose incomes rose doggedly, step by step, with
the cost of living.  Natives of native parentage are pre-
ponderantly brain workers, whose salaries remained much
what they had been.  The result was a sharp lowering of
their standard of living, which could only have checked
their already low birth-rate.  During the war the Com-
missioner of Charities, Bird S. Coler, reported that, for
the first time in the history of his commission, educated
people who had hitherto been self-sustaining and self-
respecting members of the middle class brought him their
children, saying that they could no longer provide food
and clothing.
  "Doctor Copeland's statistics of infant mortality tell
a similar story. Among infants of native-born mothers


the rate is 90 per 1,000 -- as against 79 for French mothers,
75 for Bohemian, 69 for Austro-Hungarian, 64 for Rus-
sian, 58 for Swedish, and 43 for Scotch.  This difference
Doctor Copeland attributes to the fact that American
mothers are less inclined to make use of the Baby Health
Stations which are conducted by his department.  For-
eign-born mothers are 'accustomed to depend on these
and other governmental agencies.'  It is only under the
bitterest compulsion, such as led middle-class parents to
bring their children to the Commissioner of Charities,
that Americans apply for public aid in their family life.
Meantime, these people of native birth pay largely in
taxes for the many 'governmental agencies' that aid the
immigrant laborer and his family.  During the war Henry
Fairfield Osborn protested against this inequity on the
ground that it was making life impossible for the edu-
cated American, whose home is the stronghold of our
national traditions.
   "How serious the situation has become is evident in
the statistics of our population.  In 1910, there were in
New York 921,318 native Americans of native parentage.
Of natives of foreign or mixed parentage there were
1,820,141, and of the foreign-born 1,927,703 -- a total of
3,747,844, as against the 921,318 natives of native parent-
age.  Complete figures for 1920 are not yet available, but
Doctor Copeland is authority for the statement that the
proportion of those whose traditions are of foreign origin
is rapidly increasing.  His statement ends with an exhor-
tation against birth-control, the spirit of which is ad-
mirable though its logic is not clear.  What he has in


mind, evidently, is not birth-control but birth-release
among Americans of the older immigrations. That, as
he apparently believes, is a merely moral matter, but his
own statement shows that it has a deeper basis in modern
economic conditions.  These were doubtless emphasized
by the war, but they had been operating for many dec-
ades before it and continue to exercise their influence
with increasing force."
   That is precisely it.  The war, terrible as it was, merely
hastened a racial impoverishment which had been long
at work; wore somewhat thinner the life-line of civiliza-
tion which was already wearing thin, and spurred to
fiercer energy those waxing powers of barbarism and
chaos which we shall now directly consider.

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