Chapter XI


WITH the nineteenth century there grew up all over Europe, in some countries faster than in others, the Industrial Age, which made a change in every aspect of the conditions of life of the peoples. The great towns, the centres of the unrestrained race mixture, grew fast; the expanding industries could offer increasing wages to ever more workers; but the workers whom industry could make use of, and did attract, were not those of the age, now ending, of craftsmen. In this latter it was the more skilful man producing on a small scale who best throve and found it possible to found a numerous family, while the less capable man in competition with the many individual workers would often not find himself in a position to found a family. The Industrial Age now opened the way for men of even decidedly inferior hereditary capacity to thrive. Large scale industry found a use, above all, for men to whom the proud individuality of the Nordic was foreign, for men to whom mass-life, life as one of a herd, was not spiritually repugnant, or was even congenial. It was Alpine and East Baltic men who now found a better opening than before in central Europe; in England it was the Mediterranean lower class. On the other hand, the Nordic race 'cannot properly adapt itself to the demands made upon it by industrialism. It desires a freer, less constrained life; it lacks the endurance necessary for carrying on a uniform kind of labour.'1 It is therefore also probable that in a people which still has a fair amount of Nordic blood there is a greater danger of upheaval, the more Nordic blood there still is among the working masses in the great industries, and the more individual Nordic men of the working classes, owing to their capabilities, find themselves in a wider, more executive sphere of activity. The Nordic head of a miner of Meunier may well be the symbol of such men (Fig. 303).

Always, where the hindrances are not too great, the average higher gifts of the more Nordic men lead them into the upper classes, and so along the road of a less numerous offspring. It has been proved that the higher classes, who on the average have more Nordic blood than the lower, show the lowest rate of increase. It is just the families with the best hereditary equipment that are going fastest throughout the West towards extinction, so that, if the present trend of selection is still followed, there can be only the one result of a speedy retrogression in the capacities of the Western nations. In England, Pearson has already pointed out this retrogression. In Germany, Grotjahn, the social eugenist, who belongs to the Social-democratic party (and therefore would not favour anything which would increase the importance of the upper classes), has thus described the position: 'Moreover the state of things now existing, whereby the numbers of the upper classes are kept up not so much by their own increase as by the rise of individuals out of the lower classes, must in course of time unfailingly lead to the nation being utterly impoverished in its capable, gifted, and strong-willed elements.'2

Fig. 303 - Head of a miner of Meunier, Nordic

Thus, if no change comes about, that 'Fall of the West' must be the result which was first pointed to by Count Gobineau. 'The steady flow of Nordic elements into the prosperous and cultured classes brings down their birth-rate below what is needed to keep up the numbers. For some time yet the flow of Nordic blood can go on from out of the population of the countryside and the lower classes, but gradually this blood must run dry; for wars, too, mainly destroy the Nordic elements. The nation affected sinks down slowly from its heights.'3 To-day (unlike the Middle Ages) the peoples of Germanic speech make up their numbers through a stream of population that rises from the lower to the upper classes, and their relatively most Nordic districts receive a gradual immigration from the south. Both these movements have now reached the lands which are the very heart of the Nordic race; in Sweden, too, the districts with the strongest strain of Nordic race have the lowest birth-rate.4 The marriage-rate (which in Sweden is the lowest in Europe) is very probably also much smaller there in the upper, most Nordic classes than in the lowest classes. The birth-rate in Europe decreases as we go from east to west, and from south to north -- that is to say, inversely to the proportion of Nordic race in the European population. In the Western nations its decrease is greater, the higher the social class. In England in 1913, taking each 1000 persons of the highest class, and of the upper middle class -- that is to say, of the section of the nation which is richest in Nordic blood -- it was calculated that the number of children was 119, while the number for the rest of the middle class was 132, for skilled craftsmen 153, and for unskilled workmen 213. The proportions are the same in all Western nations.

Up till now the importance of the birth-rate in the several classes of a people for its rise and its fall have been far too little considered. Siemens5 gives a simple example which is well calculated to change many of the views on national life, and suggest sound ones. It is as follows:

'If the proportion between the average number of children of two races A and B is 3:4, then the numbers of the two races which are assumed to have been originally in the proportion of 1:1 (that is, equal), become after one single generation in the proportion to one another of 3:4 (or expressed in percentages 43:57); after two generations the proportion is 9:16 (in percentages, 35:64); after three generations or barely a hundred years, the percentage proportion is 30:70; and after three hundred years, if conditions remain the same, the race A, from being the half of a population, will have sunk to 7 per cent., a proportion which will be outwardly hardly noticeable.'

The Industrial Age, however, has had a far-reaching influence not only on the class structure of the nations, but also on their eugenic conditions. In the above example, instead of 'Race A' we can put the section of the people which has an inheritance of health and moral excellence, and instead of 'Race B' the section with an inheritance of ill-health and moral weakness; this will give a picture of the road along which the West is going to its 'fall.' Denordization and degeneration are the marks of every 'fall' of a people with Nordic leadership. The problems of degeneration can here only be lightly touched upon; they belong to the domain of eugenics or racial hygiene. The nineteenth century witnessed the grievous 'sins of industry against race and the health of the people' which Lundborg6 has searchingly described, and which here will only be shown in outline by means of a figure (Fig. 304).

Fig. 304 - Attempt to illustrate a theory as to the increase and the degeneration of a people which is being industrialized, and does not protect itself by eugenic measures.
1-4 Successive periods of time
I Governing class
II Middle class and peasantry
III Working classes
IV Lowest class without any real occupation
The small lines denote the inferior hereditary qualities.

The heavy increase in inferior hereditary qualities brought in by the nineteenth century should have been met by a correspondingly active interest among the nations in the problems of eugenics, an interest which would have led to the legal measures which have to-day been adopted by the United States. But the legislation of the nineteenth century, however well meant it may have been, helped on degeneration and denordization among the Western nations by obeying the spirit of 'humanity.' It was from this same spirit that Goethe had feared for a lowering of the capabilities of the peoples, for as a result of 'humanity,' in the end 'the world will be a huge hospital, and each one will be the other's humane sick-nurse.'7 A mistaken 'love of mankind' has to-day in the Western nations led to the point where 'philanthropy' and 'social measures' devote themselves most to those with inferior hereditary qualities: the weak, the unstable, the work-shy, the harlot, the tramp, the drunkard, the weakminded, even the criminal. In the case of nearly all institutions 'for the common good' it is the section with the higher hereditary qualities that pays for the others. This is seen over and over again in an aggravated form in the case of many 'social' institutions in the states of Europe. Great sums of money must continually be paid away by the hereditarily sound and capable section of the nations for the worthless and even the criminal section; and these sums in the end are made use of by the inferior section to reach a high birth-rate, whereas that section of the nation with the more valuable hereditary endowment puts a check on the number of its births, that it may find the sums demanded of it. It is well known that the descendants of a couple endowed with bad characteristics often cost the State millions for their care.8

It would be otherwise, indeed, with the nations of Europe, if the great sums always being paid out for the useless and for criminals could be applied towards raising the number of births among the capable. But the insight which in the United States has led to the sterilization of the mentally diseased and criminals has not yet made its way in Europe into the laws. European law-making to-day is generally no more than the attempt to be 'just' to the daily needs of the individual. The courage is lacking to look at the ruthless rules, the laws governing the life of the nations; responsibility for the future is wanting. European law-making bears the stamp of the woman's characteristic of looking with pity on every exception, on every individual drunkard and criminal, and of letting him 'be cared for,' where a man's mind, for the sake of bettering the whole in accordance with the law of life among the peoples, would deem the encouragement of inherited fitness to be its highest purpose. 'All laws are made by the old and by men. The young and women wish for the exception, the old for the rule' -- so Goethe has written. He would probably to-day, however, see the spirit of 'the young and of women' in European law-making, and that 'humanity,' too, of which he gave warning, and whose failure lies rooted in its 'absolute refusal to face inevitable facts, if such facts appear cruel.'9 Nietzsche's saying, 'That which falls must be pushed as well,' taken as the maxim for law-making, would for all its seeming cruelty bring about the best results for the nations. The 'sympathy' which has penetrated the laws of our time shows itself especially kind towards any accused whom the defence can call 'weighed down by heredity,' and so it brings about the ever wider diffusion of hereditary criminal tendencies. It has helped to create that 'criminal countenance of the present day' which Aschaffenburg (Das Verbrechen, etc., 1923) was forced to draw (cp., on the other hand, the Germanic laws).

The laws made in the United States of America are the result of preliminary work which makes them a model for the future; they show the measures which the State must take if it is not to allow State care to become a kind of help to propagation.10 It is a question of finding the means whereby the hereditary part of any ill-endowed individual can be separated out of the inheritance of the people without his being in any way harmed in his own individual life. The distinction must be drawn between the 'right to live' and the 'right to give life.'11 Of a great many hereditary tendencies to illness and moral inferiority what Grotjahn says of tuberculosis is true: 'Only when we have cut off consumptives from the power of handing on their bodily inferiority through the action of heredity, can we allow ourselves to enjoin on them measures of a medical, prudential, hygienic, and economic kind without having the fear that we are thereby bringing down more harm than good on the community.'12

Fig. 305 - Statesman Fig. 306 - Professor at Yale University, Connecticut
Fig. 307 - Professor at Stanford University, California Fig. 308 - Professor and Chancellor of Stanford University, California

That social care which puts the man with an inferior hereditary equipment in a position to beget children has led to the existence in all European nations of something very like the conditions described for Germany by Kuhn (in his book, well worth reading, Von deutschen Ahnen und Enkeln, 1924): 'According to a very careful estimate, we have now about 240,000 mentally afflicted, 20,000 epileptics, 170,000 dipsomaniacs, 36,000 blind, 18,000 deaf-mutes, 156,000 cripples, and 300,000 seriously consumptive citizens, of whom a great part owe their affliction to an inherited constitution. To these must be added the mentally unsound of every kind, and the army of criminals.' American eugenism has, therefore, gone over to the side of a legally controlled sterilization of the unfit and the criminal, and it has been found that the persons concerned welcome it (it involves no loss of sensation). After the favourable experience in North America of sterilization, a committee there has drawn up a programme for the extension of eugenetic laws, according to which about a tenth of those living at any time are to be made sterile.13 This would be bound in the end to lead to an extraordinary rise in the level of capacity of the North American people.

Fig. 309 - James Monroe (1758-1831), President Fig. 310 - Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), President
Fig. 311 - R. W. Emerson (1803-82), Poet and Philosopher Fig. 312 - Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), President
Fig. 313 - Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64), Writer Fig. 314 - Longfellow (1807-82), Poet

Although the feeling of responsibility towards the coming generations will for a long time yet not be awakened in Europe to the same degree as in the United States, it is yet a welcome sign that the understanding of the demands of eugenics (which alone can give the foundation for effective social work) has led in Sweden to the foundation of a State institute for eugenic research (Statens Institutet för Rasbiologi) -- the Swedish example has lately been followed by Soviet Russia -- and that the understanding of eugenics is growing in Germany, especially since the excellent Grundriss menschlichen Erblichkeitslehre of Baur-Fischer-Lenz has begun to have its effect. It is particularly significant for the future in Germany that, owing to the writings of the Social-democratic eugenist, Grotjahn (see above), democratic and Social-democratic circles, too, are now being won over to the idea of eugenics, against which formerly they at times harboured a certain suspicion. Thus the Swedish Labour paper, Arbetet, of 30th November 1925, writes: 'All the humanity of which our time is justly so proud, and which is the great ideal of democracy, leads to a lessening of the racial health, if it is not thought out clearly to its end. It is a false humanity which thinks of the individual at the cost of the race. Reverence for the sacredness of life must not lead to a sentimentalism that stunts it.'

It is all the more needful for the European States and their representatives to give heed to the demand made by eugenics, in that the Great War has brought incalculable losses on them through the contra-selection of the most capable. The pick of these stood for our years in the fight, and suffered heavy losses. 'Patroclus lies buried and Thersites comes back' (Schiller). The pick of the inefficient, of the 'worthless,' could meanwhile raise families. In Germany 2.7 per cent. of the population fell. Lenz thus describes the German losses:14 'In the German Army about 10 million men were in the field; of them 19 per cent. fell (including those missing). We can get a picture of the losses in the various age-classes by comparing the numbers at each age for both sexes according to the 1919 census. For age 25-30 the number of men is 26 per cent. less than that of the women, while before theWar these numbers were almost exactly equal. Since, too, the mortality among women during the War was somewhat higher, we must conclude that out of the whole of this age-class, including the non-combatants, over 26 per cent. fell, and, therefore, of the first-line fighters in this class fully a third. Between ages 20-25 in 1919 the men were 21 per cent. fewer than the women; between ages 30-35 they were 18 per cent. fewer; taking all ages between 20-40 together, the men were 20 per cent. fewer than the women. Of all first-line fighters between 20-40, therefore, probably, over a quarter fell. Of the officers on the active list as many as 39.2 per cent. fell, of the younger ones over one-half. A like sacrifice of blood was made by the educated civilian class. Of the students and the gymnasiasts who went forth, a good half must have never come back; of those who went into the field in 1914, much more than a half. It is probably not too much to say that of that tenth of the young men of Germany which stood highest in mental capacity, most are no more.'

Such a toll of blood, which in some cases was yet heavier, utterly exhausted the peoples who had been fighting for four years. But -- and this is the important point for the purpose of this book -- in every European war, and so again in the Great War, it is the Nordic section in the warring nations that has suffered the heaviest losses. The Nordic man has the most warlike disposition, and is the first to rush into the fight. 'Before this he is already found in the army, as a result of his height, in a greater proportion than in the population as a whole. In the Guards and Household troops, who for well-known reasons suffer more heavily in most wars than their comrades, he is still more strongly represented. Most of all he is met with among the officers, whose losses, owing to their exposing themselves more, are on the average twice to thrice as heavy as those among the men. Frequent wars have, therefore, the tendency to lower the numbers of the Nordic type, and to coarsen it, whether through the survival of its own lower-grade members (such as are shown by all types owing to the great range of variation) or through admixture.'15 The relatively far heavier losses of the Nordic race are indicated for Germany by the portraits given in the Woche from 1914-8 of the officers and men decorated with the Iron Cross of the First Class. Many of those so decorated are already marked on the portrait as having fallen. So it was in England, where, too, the best Nordic figures were to be found in the periodicals which published during the War the portraits of fallen officers. Thus Grant relates, and adds: 'No nation, not even England, although richly endowed with a Nordic gentry, can stand the loss of so much good blood.'16

Of the nobility of the warring peoples there is a minority, the result of mixed marriages with Jewish women, which shows more of the blood of the races represented in the Jewish people than the lower and middle orders of those peoples. But a very great majority has always preserved a stronger predominance of Nordic blood than the average among the people as a whole. The heavy losses in the War of the nobility of the warring peoples have thus contributed greatly to the loss of Nordic elements. The judgment of an outsider, Stoddard,17 the American historian and anthropologist, who calls the Prussian nobility 'the most virile and capable aristocratic group on the European continent' -- this judgment may give an idea of the contra-selection which Germany suffered through the losses in war among this nobility, which sent out and lost especially many very young volunteers, that is, men who had not yet left any offspring to the German people. While Bavaria lost 4.7-5 per cent. of her men, the losses in the Bavarian nobility were 8.4 per cent.

The rush of the warlike-natured Nordic men into the army was naturally seen clearer in the United States, where service was voluntary. Osborn, in the introduction to Grant's book, writes stirringly of the Nordic pick of the American volunteers, and the French anthropologist, de Lapouge, emphasizes the Nordic look he observed on the arrival of American troops. The Great War was for all the nations drawn into it a loss of Nordic elements and a eugenic weakening which make the thoughtful man shudder, but which are being attentively followed by all peoples of the races outside Europe, who are eager for the dying out of the leader class in Europe, and foster this bond of a common aim.18

The deeply penetrating denordization of the Great War was followed in all the Western nations, including those who had not taken part in the War, by the denordization arising out of the ever-growing burden of taxation, which forces those very classes richest in Nordic blood to a further restriction on the number of children. Nordic blood (to use an expression of Grant's) is now being very truly taxed out of existence throughout the West. Grant speaks of 'the destruction of superior types -- by massacre, as in Russia, or by taxation, as in England.' The economic pressure on the middle class, which, too, was the beginning of the decay of Rome, hits the Nordic stream just as it is rising through this class, and keeps down its birth-rate. The character of the Nordic race makes any thought of State help impossible, such as de Lapouge has thought he detects in the Alpine race.19

It is only the awakening of a racial consciousness in predominantly Nordic men that can stay the dying out of the Nordic race. The question is: How are those of predominantly Nordic race to recover the higher birth-rate? This question must, if a new upward movement is to come about, become the foremost one in all the peoples that still have a measure of Nordic blood. Since France aims racially at a union with her African citizens, and politically at friendship with the Eastern Asiatics, particularly the Japanese, the Nordic ideal, which the French Count Gobineau, was the first to formulate and call into being, will probably find a home only among the peoples of Germanic speech. If the ruling classes in these peoples take to themselves the Nordic ideal as a common gift and possession, then there are grounds to hope for a new Nordicizing of the Germanic peoples.

The racial position of the United States is no less terrifying than Germany's or England's. If Ploetz is right when he supposes there to be now in North America only 30 per cent. of Nordic blood (though this estimate is, I think, too low), then the position there is even more terrifying. In 1888 the immigrants were as much as 72.6 per cent. from Northern and Western Europe; 1892 was that memorable year in the eyes of those Americans who have awakened to the importance of race which for the first time witnessed an immigration that as to nearly one-half came from eastern and southern Europe. In 1896 the south and east Europeans for the first time were in the majority among the immigrants. In 1901 the immigrants from northern Europe were only 23.7 per cent.; in 1907 those from eastern and southern Europe were 76.2 per cent. According to a further American calculation, the United States since 1900 have taken in as immigrants six million souls who eugenically must be called 'inferior' or 'very inferior.' Thus the North American people, too, are threatened with degeneration and denordization, and denordization is spreading wider in that the more Nordic sections show an alarmingly low birth-rate.20 Grant thus describes the position: 'We Americans must realize that the altruistic ideals which have controlled our social development during the past century, and the maudlin sentimentalism that has made America "an asylum for the oppressed," are sweeping the nation towards a racial abyss.'21

It is the same factors as in Europe that are concerned in the low rate of increase of the Nordic section of North America. Fahlbeck, the Swedish investigator into heredity, has given four children to a marriage as the 'maintenance minimum' for a human group (according to Lenz, this is more exactly 3.6 children). In all the peoples of Germanic speech we find marriages with four children among the families richest in Nordic blood comparatively much rarer than among the families which are poor or poorest in this blood. In the families with hereditary qualities above the average higher earnings and a rise in the social scale is the rule. It is the Nordic class that has had the greatest share in that increase of wealth which the Industrial Age has brought the Western peoples and America. But a slight increase in wealth is enough at once to send the birth-rate down. The leader-like qualities of the Nordic race, its longing for spiritual values, are the cause of the late marriages in the Nordic class. It is this class which, through its very capacity and daring, so often uses itself up in the service of its country. The characteristic of this class which makes it choose callings which are respected, but associated with comparatively small earnings, is the cause, when taken together with the Nordic foresight, of small families. The need of 'keeping up its rank,' which characterizes and does so much harm to this class, is a hindrance to marriage, and expresses itself in the married state by a check on births. The burden of taxation falls, as already stated, heaviest on the more Nordic and the most Nordic classes; it is they who have to keep on contributing the greatest part of the money which is used in the 'care' of persons with a useless and criminal hereditary endowment, and in their propagation. And it is just in 'social' charitable activities that we surprisingly often find healthy young women, rich in Nordic blood, who yet, if possible, remain unmarried.

This position -- the danger of decay -- is recognized here and there in Germany, but, above all, in North America. Eugenic research is beginning to make its way into the conscience of reflective men, and the Nordic ideal is stirring into life.

To Chapter XII

Back to Index

Footnotes for Chapter XI

1 G. Retzius, 'The So-called North European Race of Mankind,' Journ. Anthrop. Inst., vol. xxxix., 1909.

2 Geburtenrückgang u. Geburtenregelung, 1921.

3 Ploetz, 'Sozialanthropologie,' in the volume Anthropologie (in 'Kultur der Gegenwart,' Teil iii. Abt. v. 1923).

4 Flodström, 'Till frågan om rasskilnader . . .,' Ymer, Heft iii., 1915.

5 Op. cit.

6 Rassenhygienische Ubersichten, etc., 1921.

7 In the Jubiläumsausgabe, xxvii. 16.

8 Here we give an American example, which has its parallels in Europe: 'From one lazy vagabond nicknamed "Juke," born in rural New York in 1720, whose two sons married five degenerate sisters, six generations numbering about 1200 persons 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 almshouses a total of 2300 years; 440 physically wrecked by their own "diseased wickedness"; more than half the women fell into prostitution; 130 were convicted criminals; 60 were thieves; 7 were murderers; only 20 learned a trade, 10 of these in State prisons, and all at a State cost of over $1,250,000' (Popenoe and Johnson, Applied Eugenics). This was after an investigation into the Jukes in 1877. By 1915 the Jukes had reached the ninth generation, had spread far over other districts, and were now 2820 all told, of whom the half was living. They showed once more 'the same feeble-mindedness, indolence, licentiousness, and dishonesty, even when not handicapped by the associations of their family name, and despite the fact of their being surrounded by better social conditions' (Popenoe and Johnson). By now the cost to the State had risen to $2,500,000. Moreover, of some 615 feeble-minded Jukes, only three were in State institutions. 'All this evil might have been averted by preventing the reproduction of the first Jukes.' Grotjahn, the social reformer, in view of this, thus expresses himself as to degeneration among the European nations: 'The nation who should be first in the field to set all its hospitals and its institutions at work to weed out the bodily and the mentally worthless would win a start on all other nations which would increase from year to year' (Soz. Pathol., 3rd ed., 1923).

9 Grant, The Passing of the Great Race, 1923.

10 Cp. von Hoffmann, Die Rassenhygiene i. d. Ver. Staaten, 1913.

11 This is how the eugenic investigator Mjöen in Norway expresses himself.

12 Leitsätze zur sozialen u. generativen Hygiene, 1923.

13 Cp. Laughlin, 'The Legislative and Administrative Aspects of Sterilization,' Eugenic Records Office Bulletin, 10B, 1914.

14 Baur-Fischer-Lenz, op. cit.

15 Ploetz, op. cit.

16 Op. cit.

17 Social Classes in Post-War Europe, 1925.

18 Stoddard shows this very strikingly in his The Rising Tide of Colour against White World-Supremacy, 1923.

19 Cp. Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes, Section 15.

20 The strong preponderance of the Nordic race in the leading sections in North America is shown also by The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, a work in eighteen volumes, with hundreds of portraits.

21 Op. cit.