To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first eugenics conference, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation put on a family planning conference this summer.
The conference, which began on 11 July and was co-hosted by the UK Department for International Development, included among its coalition partners such organizations as Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes International, and the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA).
From Hard Eugenics to Soft Eugenics
The original conference that Bill Gates wished to commemorate was titled The First International Eugenics Congress. It was convened in London from 24-29 July, 1912, and was presided over by Leonard Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin. The conference was dedicated to Charles Darwin’s half-cousin Francis Galton (1822–1911). Galton invented the term Eugenics to describe his theory that man could be perfected through strategic breeding. His ideas that certain races are genetically superior to other races had a profound impact on later Nazi theorists.
The 1912 conference included an exhibit by the American Breeders’ Association, whose former president, Harry Laughlin, proposed to eradicate the “inferior” members of society through compulsory sterilization. The conference featured a presentation from Bleeker van Wagenen, who gave a report on the progress of sterilization laws in the United States and advocated compulsory sterilization as a means for improving the human gene pool.
Early 20th century Eugenics theory was often accompanied by the notion that economics can be improved by decreasing the surplus population. Such ideas were based on the theories of Thomas Malthus (1766 –1834) who suggested that the poor were draining the world’s recourses. One of Malthus’s solutions for reducing the surplus population was to introduce policies specifically designed to bring death to large numbers of peasants. For example, he encouraged poor people to move near swamps, because he knew that they would catch diseases there and begin dying off.
The conference that the Gates Foundation put on to commemorate The First International Eugenics Congress included no calls for forced sterilization, but Bill and Malinda Gates did pledge hundreds of millions of dollars to improve access to contraception in the developing world. Following in the footsteps of early 20th century social engineering theory, they echoed Malthus by suggesting that we have an economic responsibility to ensure that there are fewer people. Wendy Wright has rightly called this the “latest effort to blame children for poverty and women’s troubles.”Continue Reading on atgsociety.com