Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/429

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
425
EUGENICS AND WAR

duty therefore to scan with careful criticism all practical proposals that may be hurriedly projected to meet crises of war strain. One instance may suffice. Unless the worst come to the worst, the nation should not consent to put children at the disposal of the farmer, for the effect of this would be to decrease the already too much restricted freedom of the child, and to depress still further the position of the agricultural laborer, for the needed improvement of which something would probably have been done ere now, had there not been war. Another danger, which may be mentioned, is that of permitting an interference with the liberty and dignity of women, which would not be tolerated in the case of men.

As eugenists we must resist in ourselves, and in all our organizations, the natural desire to economize in noble luxuries—in pictures and music, books and lectures, theaters and higher education. By all means let our criticism of consumption be intensified, but let it be enlightened. Let us prune our comforts before we pinch our souls. For apart from ourselves, who may be past praying for, economizing on the nobler luxuries means hardship and celibacy to those finer spirits who are the salt of the earth, whose virtue all must wish to see conserved in the natural inheritance of the race.

Without losing hold of the true idea and ideal of the state as a body politic—an organism—in which we all have our function, from cabinet ministers to road-members, we can not suppose that we are all equally irreplaceable. Indeed, the eye can not say unto the hand I have no need of thee, nor again, the head to the feet I have no need of you; but it will be agreed that true artists, for instance, are among the higher, less readily replaceable members of the community. There is no risk for us of there being too many of them. But there is great risk for them of there being too few of us to keep them and their art alive. The enforced economies of war imply lopping off super-necessaries; the danger is of crippling super-men. What has been said of artists applies also to the professions generally, and one recognizes the eugenic wisdom of the Professional Classes War Relief Council.

Those who have really learned the eugenic lesson are those who appreciate the organismal factor in evolution, who believe that the fundamental thing is the natural inheritance, bred in the bone. To those of this outlook it seldom seems promiseful to try to change by coercion what is intrinsic in the creature. The hopeful line is to make the most and the best of what we have, without tampering with that mainspring of life which is freedom. It is likely that we shall have many occasions for standing fast by this principle in the readjustments after the war. Attempts will be made to rush schemes which are non-eugenie in the sense of being coercive and incongruent with our racial temperament. One of these will be compulsory military training, of which