Tag Archives: Population Control

The Impact of Science on Society, Part 3 – Population Control and the Scientific Breeding of Humans

Population Control and the Scientific Breeding of Humans

Originally Posted January 28, 2008

“If there is not to be an endless succession of wars, population will have to become stationary throughout the world, and this will probably have to be done, in many countries, as a result of governmental measures. This will require an extension of scientific technique into very intimate matters.” – Bertrand Russell, 1952 (p38)

Bertrand Russell in his 1952 book The Impact of Science on Society* describes a variety of methods that have been and could be used to reduce the population of the world to a more manageable size. Another very interrelated concept of a managed population size is the practice of eugenics. To be more precise, the practice of dysgenics for the commoners and eugenics for the aristocracy. Commoners will be bred to create a “submissive and docile disposition” while the aristocracy will be bred for much different qualities. “Gradually, by selective breeding the congenital differences between rulers and ruled will increase until they become almost different species.”

Solutions to Overpopulation

From The Impact of Science on Society:

“But bad times, you may say, are exceptional, and can be dealt with by exceptional methods. This has been more or less true unless the increase in population can be enormously diminished. At present the population of the world is increasing at about 58,000 per diem. War, so far, has had no very great effect on this increase, which continued throughout each of the world wars.” [emphasis mine] – 115

“There are three ways of securing a society that shall be stable as regards population. The first is that of birth control, the second that of infanticide or really destructive wars, and third that of general misery except for a powerful minority.” – 117

“The nations which at present increase rapidly should be encouraged to adopt the methods by which, in the West, the increase of population has been checked. Educational propaganda, with government help, could achieve this result in a generation.” [emphasis mine] – 116

“… a scientific world society cannot be stable unless there is a world government… unless there is a world government which secures universal birth control, there must from time to time be great wars, in which the penalty of defeat is widespread death by starvation… Unless, at some stage, one power or group of powers emerges victorious and proceeds to establish a single government of the world with a monopoly of armed forces, it is clear that the level of civilization must decline until scientific warfare becomes impossible – that is until science is extinct.” [emphasis mine] – 117

“If raw materials are not to be used up too fast, there must not be free competition for their acquisition and use but an international authority to ration them in such quantities as may from time to time seem compatible with continued industrial prosperity. And similar considerations apply to soil conservation.” [emphasis mine] – 124

“To deal with this problem [increasing population and decreasing food supplies] it will be necessary to find ways of preventing an increase in world population. If this is to be done otherwise than by wars, pestilence, and famines, it will demand a powerful international authority. This authority should deal out the world’s food to the various nations in proportion to their population at the time of the establishment of the authority. If any nation subsequently increased its population it should not on that account receive any more food. The motive for not increasing population would therefore be very compelling. What method of preventing an increase might be preferred should be left to each state to decide.” [emphasis mine] – 124

Eugenics and Dysgenics – The Scientific Breeding of Humans

biology, physiology and psychology are likely in the long run to affect human life quite as much as physics and chemistry.” [emphasis mine] – 38

“In any case, it is pretty certain that scientific technique will very soon effect great improvements in the animals and plants that are useful to man.

When such methods of modifying the congenital character of animals and plants have been pursued long enough to make their success obvious, it is probable that there will be a powerful movement for applying scientific methods to human propagation. There would at first be strong religious and emotional obstacles to the adoption of such a policy. But suppose (say) Russia were able to overcome these obstacles and to breed a race stronger, more intelligent, and more resistant to disease than any race of men that has hitherto existed, and suppose the other nations perceived that unless they followed suit they would be defeated in war, then either the other nations would voluntarily forgo their prejudices, or, after defeat, they would be compelled to forgo them. Any scientific technique, however beastly, is bound to spread if it is useful in war – until such time as men decide that they have had enough of war and will henceforth live in peace. As that day does seem to be at hand, scientific breeding of human beings must be expected to come about.” [emphasis mine] – 39

“Scientific societies are as yet in their infancy. It may be worthwhile to spend a few moments in speculating as to possible future developments of those that are oligarchies.

Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.

A totalitarian government with a scientific bent might do things that to us would seem horrifying. The Nazis were more scientific than the present rulers of Russia, and were more inclined towards the sort of atrocities that I have in mind. They were said – I do not know with what truth – to use prisoners in concentration camps as material for all kinds of experiments, some involving death after much pain. If they had survived, they would probably have soon taken to scientific breeding. Any nation which adopts this practice will, within a generation, secure great military advantages. The system, one may surmise, will be something like this: except possibly in the governing aristocracy, all but 5 per cent of males and 30 per cent of females will be sterilised. The 30 per cent of females will be expected to spend the years from eighteen to forty in reproduction, in order to secure adequate cannon fodder. As a rule, artificial insemination will be preferred to the natural method. The unsterilised, if they desire the pleasures of love, will usually have to seek them with sterilised partners.

Sires will be chosen for various qualities, some for muscle others for brains. All will have to be healthy, and unless they are to be the fathers of oligarchs they will have to be of a submissive and docile disposition. Children will, as in Plato’s Republic, be taken from their mothers and reared by professional nurses. Gradually, by selective breeding the congenital differences between rulers and ruled will increase until they become almost different species. A revolt of the plebs would become as unthinkable as an organised insurrection of sheep against the practice of eating mutton. (The Aztecs kept a domesticated alien tribe for purposes of cannibalism. Their regime was totalitarian.)

To those accustomed to this system, the family as we know it would seem as queer as the tribal and totem organisation of Australian aborigines seems to us… The labouring class would have such long hours of work and so little to eat that their desires would hardly extend beyond sleep and food. The upper class, being deprived of the softer pleasures both by the abolition of the family and by the supreme duty of devotion to the State, would acquire the mentality of ascetics: they would care only for power, and in pursuit of it would not shrink from cruelty. By the practice of cruelty men would become hardened, so that worse and worse tortures would be required to give the spectators a thrill.” [emphasis mine] – 61


A very important auxiliary technique involved in creating the “submissive and docile disposition” is education. Bertrand Russell’s views on education will be discussed in the following article, entitled Mass Psychology and Education .

*Quotes from Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society (1952). ISBN0-41510906-X