Years from now, when they ask us, “were the signs there?” it is disappointing that it probably won’t even be worth bothering to recall that, well, I write a daily column on politics and Boris Johnson’s new government was only on its second working day when the national conversation turned to the subject of eugenics.
We are, naturally, in this place, because the first of Dominic Cummings’ “misfits and weirdos” appears to have entered No 10, a 27-year-old man named Andrew Sabisky. Sabisky’s misfit and weirdo status is confirmed by various comments made online, which include arguing for enforced long-term contraception for all teenagers, to prevent what he calls a “permanent underclass”. In other words, to prevent the wrong’uns from breeding.
We also learn of his fierce interest in how higher numbers of black Americans than white suffer from “intellectual disability”, and are “close to mental retardation”.
Then there’s some stuff about how “women’s sport is more comparable to the Paralympics than it is to men’s”.
So, a lot to unpack there. For a touch of added spice, it can’t be ignored that the first comment, regarding enforced mass, temporary sterilisation, was made in 2014, as a comment on the blog of one Cummings, so it’s nice to see a little flash of nepotism to go with the eugenics.
Cummings has a longstanding interest in genetics and education, an interest that was made public shortly before David Cameron moved Michael Gove on from the Department for Education, for no greater reason than he and Cummings had made almost all of the nation’s teachers united in their hatred of them, which had potential consequences for such mundanities as having to win elections.
Seven years ago, in a lengthy blog post (is there any other kind?), Cummings sought to impress upon the nation that “genetics outweighs teaching” in education, and outlined several ideas that were very rapidly debunked by people who had actually had any education in the subject in question.
The first thing to say about eugenics is the same first thing you can say about almost anything, and it’s this: Cummings doesn’t know anything about it.
Genetics and eugenics are one of the many disciplines that drops into the “self-taught” box on the Cummings curriculum vitae, right next to maths, which he likes to claim he has brought himself up to postgraduate level. To which the only response is, yes dear. Course you did. And when I was 15, I could occasionally be heard telling people I was “grade 8 standard” at the violin, though the certificates in the folder in the drawer at home still come to a mysterious halt at five.
Which is why, in 2013, when he began attracting the attention of the then very young but already entirely objectionable Sabisky, Cummings pieced together such remarkable thoughts as how it would be entirely possible to segregate, from the age of 13, the most intelligent 2 per cent of the population, and “give this 2 per cent a specialist education, including deep problem-solving skills in maths and physics”.
Of course, we can only wonder whether Cummings himself would have qualified for such an education, and whether it might have been of a higher quality than his own, self-taught one, and thus prevented him reaching such absurd, comprehensively debunked conclusions. Tragically, such a thing never happened, and so we just have to make do with a very enthusiastic amateur at the controls of a machine he doesn’t even remotely understand, and hiring straightforwardly objectionable people like Sabisky to turn his deranged dreams into the rest of our’s nightmares.
Naturally, Sabisky’s comments, on the biological superiorities and inferiorities between the races, have drawn forth the same old dreary arguments and dreary people. The ones who like to think they are not afraid to speak the truth, when what they’re actually not afraid of is speaking complete, well, bollocks.
We must again entertain the contribution of Richard Dawkins, who took it upon himself to offer this searing insight over the weekend:
“It’s one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political, moral grounds. It’s quite another to conclude that it wouldn’t work in practice. Of course it would. It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs and roses. Why on earth wouldn’t it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology.”
To which we must begin our discussions with the word, “work”.
Eugenics doesn’t work FOR cows or horses or pigs or dogs or roses. It works ON them. It works FOR the humans, who own them, control them, dominate them and enslave them for their own ends.
Which is why there is such righteously fierce resistance to even the tiniest sniff of a suggestion that it can be made to “work for humans”. Because, well, we’ve been here before, and it didn’t end well.
And however firmly you wish to believe that you’re just being brave enough to tell the truth, it categorically is not the case that eugenics would “work” for humans. It wouldn’t. It can’t. It’s a straightforward affront to everything humanity is. And that’s before we even get on to the unavoidably obvious fact that, well, it’s always the white guys who are brave enough to say it “works”, isn’t it? It’s never the black scientists who are brave enough to say that, it would “work” to selectively breed various types of people out of existence. How odd.
It’s all very simple. It isn’t a “well actually”. It isn’t a “nobody wants to hear this but”. It’s a straightforward no, no, no, no, no. And anyone who doesn’t have the brain to work that out is a very, very long way short of having anything to offer any government of a supposedly civilised country.