Publication - Anarchism and eugenics: An unlikely convergence, 1890-1940

To announce the publication of the 14th monograph in the Contemporary Anarchist Studies book series, Richard Cleminson's Anarchism and eugenics: An unlikely convergence, 1890-1940, the book description follows:

At the heart of this book is what would appear to be a striking and fundamental paradox: the espousal of a 'scientific' doctrine that sought to eliminate 'dysgenics' and champion the 'fit' as a means of 'race' survival by a political and social movement that ostensibly believed in the destruction of the state and the removal of all hierarchical relationships. What explains this reception of eugenics by anarchism? How was eugenics mobilised by anarchists as part of their struggle against capitalism and the state? What were the consequences of this overlap for both anarchism and eugenics as
transnational movements?

Further information about the book may be found on the Manchester University Press CAS website, here:

There are 8 Comments


It was more related to '20s socialists (like Sanger) and had little support among the anarchists, save from one of two anarcho proto-transhumanists.

Sanger was more of an anarchist than a socialist. she broke with the socialists because of her direct action tactics. she was also chummy with Emma Goldman, a more canonical anarchist, who helped spread Sanger's eugenically-inflected birth control propaganda. Goldman agreed with Sanger that the so-called "feeble-minded" should be sterilized to prevent them from reproducing their kind.

” ‘Before eugenists and others who are laboring for racial betterment can succeed, they must first clear the way for Birth Control. Like the advocates of Birth Control, the eugenists, for instance, are seeking to assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit. Both are seeking a single end but they lay emphasis upon different methods…. Eugenists imply or insist that a woman’s first duty is to the state; we contend that her duty to herself is her duty to the state’.”

- Margaret Sanger 1919

i'm not sure how this contradicts anything i said. in fact, it provides good evidence for it. look at how, in Sanger's view (which was by no means idiosyncratic for her time), she champions self-determination against the state, but does so (and this is crucial) within a discourse that views self-determination as a fulfillment of one's duty to the state. it's no surprise that anarchists would agree with the rhetoric of self-determination and were supportive of Sanger's illegalist tactics. what makes this alliance seem so strange today and provokes gut reactions like yours, anon, is that eugenics is mostly remembered for its manifestation in coercive state-sponsored programs, like the Nazi Aktion T4. but there was a liberal and, supposedly, liberatory current of eugenics that people like Sanger and Goldman promoted.

just more mainstream academic cash-grabbing on tredy topics or niche markets (i say after reading the sample chapters of other books in this series, which are available at their site, so it's my impression of the series as a whole. very much bore-fest snooze-fest, babbling about precedents and framework and methodology and political theory and analysis) MY OPINION DOESN'T MATTER! CARRY ON!

but that author does have another book about @ and sexuality and it's online, i dunno somebody check that instead, or not

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