Hitler was vegetarian. If you want to work on sustainability, you will face people pointing out this history. They don’t point out that he also promoted larger families, but many feel like it checkmates all cases for changing diet.
Beyond diet, I’ve talked a lot about population since reading podcast guest Alan Weisman‘s Countdown and learning of guest Mechai Viravaidya‘s lowering Thailand’s birth rate through purely voluntary, often fun, means. I knew human population affected all our environmental problems since reading Limits to Growth, but declined to talk about it because I thought controlling population could only result in One Child policy-like disasters.
What about eugenics and ecofascism?
I thought ecofascism was a slur at people who hug trees. It turns out many fascists and neo-Nazis embrace some aspects of sustainability. I’m seeing more lenses through which many people see any talk about population.
I posted below a series of articles, books, and videos on eugenics, ecofascism, and a bit on anti-miscegenation.
As much as I disagree with the people trying to control others’ fertiliaty, I believe should be publicized, not hidden. We don’t want to repeat their coercion or non-science, but shouldn’t hide that many embraced the claims, including many scientists. Still, many vehemently opposed it, showing it as bogus. We can learn from them too. I don’t know how big these movements were in other countries, but I presume many as much as U.S., Germany, India, China.
According to what I read, until recently, into the 1970s and to some extent more recently, many scientists agreed with eugenics, including Harvard Medical School, some Gamble heirs of the Procter & Gamble fortune, a Nobel laureate, and other prominent people. Their work overlaps often with racism, sexism, nationalism, and fascism, though some eugenicists made a point of not discriminating by any of those measures. Top universities supported it across the country, including several Ivies, Caltech, but also Howard University, not a place associated with supporting racism. It saw support from the ACLU, YMCA, and NAACP along with neo-Nazis. The practice endured well past World War II. It preceded Nazis in this country too. They learned from American scientists and followed American practices, sometimes to the praise of Americans during the 1930s and 1940s.
Note that like governments today, eugenicists promoted large families too for some people, so those today promoting, paying for, and otherwise coercing more children have as much to explain about their roots in eugenics too.
They accomplished a lot. In United States over 80,000 sterilized, a number dwarfed by India’s 6.1 million men in one year of many over-one-million years. They thought they were improving humanity with all their hearts. We have to be careful today not to believe we are helping people and conclude to promote something similar.
As best I can tell, everyone I’ve spoken to bases their promoting lower birth rate in personal freedom, particularly freedom from government coercion. I know many people happy and proud to have had tubal ligations and vasectomies.
Many did then, totally voluntarily, without coercion. Martin Luther King expressed interest in speaking at The Association for Voluntary Sterilization and it’s hard to accuse him of racism. Parts of the eugenics movement overlapped with people trying to make access to contraception a basic right, which many today would support.
I conclude that it’s reasonable for someone to view talking about population with skepticism.
I’m just stating, but I’ve read the following and recommend them, though they’ll take you many hours to read.
- The Conversation: Forced sterilization policies in the US targeted minorities and those with disabilities – and lasted into the 21st century
- The Conversation: Forced sterilization programs in California once harmed thousands – particularly Latinas
- NBC News: ‘No Más Bebés’ Looks Back at L.A. Mexican Moms’ Involuntary Sterilizations
- Scientific American: The Early Days of Eugenics, quoting its 1911 editorial, The Science of Breeding Better Men
- PBS American Experience: Before Loving: Nineteen years before the landmark case, California legalized interracial marriage
- Indy Week: The American eugenics movement after World War II (part 2, part 3)
- Alexandra Minna Stern‘s book: Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America
- Zócalo Public Square: When California Sterilized 20,000 of Its Citizens
- The Conversation: White nationalists’ extreme solution to the coming environmental apocalypse
- Newsweek: It’s Come to This: White Nationalism Is Inciting Mass Murder in America
- The New Yorker: Environmentalism’s Racist History (nonpaywall)
- GQ: What Is Eco-Fascism, the Ideology Behind Attacks in El Paso and Christchurch?
- The Guardian: Eco-fascism is undergoing a revival in the fetid culture of the extreme right
- Vice: Understanding the Alt-Right’s Growing Fascination with ‘Eco-Fascism’
- The New Statesman: Eco-fascism: The ideology marrying environmentalism and white supremacy thriving online
- Mel Magazine: In 1976, More Than 6 Million Men in India Were Coerced into Sterilization
- BBC News: India’s dark history of sterilisation
- Population Research Initiative: Stop Forced Sterilizations in India
Some of that stuff is hard to read or watch, but worth it for someone planning to talk population, as I do.
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