Q These artworks present very different interpretations of the human body. How are they all connected?
A They are connected together in relationship with the main ideologies that emerged in the 1930s, which were supposed to give man a new form under the name of "the new man." All these ideologies were dreaming of creating a new man free from machination, free from poverty and so on. These ideologies were very influential on the ways artists represented this new body, so this is the main stream of the exhibition.
A On one side you have artists like the Surrealists, who were dreaming of man totally free to enjoy the pleasures of flesh and love, and who were dreaming of a body of "convulsive beauty," which means a body in a state of, so to speak, er, permanent orgasm.
On the other side you had the political man who was instead thinking of the new man as a kind of very strong, very severe-looking and very disciplined type of human, often involved in sport.
Another side was creating new body by social regeneration, which was a type of essentially Soviet ideology, to make a new man out of education, chastisement and purification.
And on another side, much more dangerous and criminal, was the Nazi ideology, thinking of creating a racially pure man.
A At the core of the exhibition are two large rooms filled with portraits of individuals, and these portraits are very deeply moving because they represent individuals confronting what is happening at the time. They are also, to me, the most beautiful portraits that were ever made in the art of painting.
If you're showing the plight of the individual, you are also showing something against the growing power of the masses. Because it was really the time when individuals were confronted by the growing power of masses like armies, political groups, sports teams, the 1930s are filled with images of masses parading in the streets or in stadiums, thousands of people that all look the same, like clones - very frightening. So the individual becomes an even more important presence than ever ... even if they feel more lonely than ever.
A I think what should interest people today is the biological undertone of these works. In the 1930s, some wanted men to grow like corn in the fields at time of harvest. Many theoreticians in the Soviet Union and in Germany were interested in breeding the human race like plants.
Now, we are living in a society where eugenics is still very powerful and the problems of eugenics are still very present. We are dreaming again of creating a new man, beautiful, pure and immortal. Illness, death and birth are burning questions again because of the current progress of medicine. This progress is excellent in many ways, but on the other side, we are turning to a new society of eugenics. It's very dangerous.
An accomplished rocket scientist has become the sole donor to the Pioneer Fund, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Since 2003, Walter P. Kistler — the founder of Kistler Aerospace, who in 1996 endowed in perpetuity the well-known Bellevue, Wash., science outfit Foundation for the Future — has given $200,000 to the Pioneer Fund. The fund is an organization that has bankrolled many of the leading Anglo-American race scientists of the last several decades as well as anti-immigration groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and Californians for Population Stabilization. Kistler told the Intelligence Report he would be happy to donate even more to the Pioneer Fund, which he considers "an institution that has courageously attempted to do research in the field of human differences."
Kistler's donations are the first substantial financial backing Pioneer has received since the Canadian race scientist J. Philippe Rushton took over in 2002 as the organization's president. (Rushton is best known for "research" supposedly showing an inverse relationship between brain and genital size, with blacks being larger in the latter.) Kistler said he holds Rushton "in high regard for the courage he demonstrates in pursuing research in the field of human differences." Prior to Rushton taking the job, the fund was slowly drawing down its resources.
The rise and rise of the New Malthusianism
Population is almost always linked to a problem of one kind or another. Historically, most societies regarded people as the source of economic and political power – so for them, the 'population problem' was often not having enough people to work on the land and fight against potential enemies. Consequently, most cultures were pro-natalist; they encouraged people to have large families. Since the emergence of modernity, however, such pro-natalism has been undermined by a new view of population growth as something we should dread. In the nineteenth century, the anti-natalist philosophy of Thomas Malthus inspired a powerful movement for curbing population growth.
Dominic Lawson: We're hiding from the truth: eugenics lives on
There's some good news and some bad news for 92-year old Dr Hans-Joachim Sewering. The good news is that he has just been awarded a medal for "unequalled services in the cause of the independence of the medical profession" by the German Federation of Internal Medicine (BDI). The bad news is that Der Spiegel magazine has not forgotten what it published 30 years ago about Dr Sewering: documents testifying that under the Nazis he had sent children with disabilities to a facility where they were killed as part of a systematic programme of exterminating the mentally and physically handicapped.
The BDI this week refused to respond to Spiegel's renewed claims about Dr Sewering, who now lives in comfortable retirement in the town of, er, Dachau. Dr Sewering continues to insist that he did not cooperate with the Nazis' programme of compulsory eugenic euthanasia. He admits that he was an active member of the SS, but claims that his membership of Hitler's most ruthless paramilitary wing was purely for "social reasons" – the sing-songs, the dressing-up, that sort of thing.
It wasn't necessary to be an enthusiastic Nazi to have some sympathy for the objectives of the campaign to rid Germany of "lebensunwertes Leben" – lives unworthy of living. Hitler had simply taken to a foully logical conclusion the views of then-fashionable eugenicists: after all, Winston Churchill, when Home Secretary in Asquith's Liberal Cabinet in 1910, proclaimed that "the unnatural growth of the feeble-minded and insane classes is a national and race danger which it is impossible to exaggerate. The source from which this stain of madness is fed should be cut off and sealed up before another year has passed."
Churchill, of course, was proposing compulsory sterilisation of what he termed "the feeble-minded", not their extermination. Well, that was almost a hundred years ago, people say, whenever his remarks are exhumed. Yet such attitudes survived long after the Nazis' eugenically-inspired crimes against humanity were revealed – and in the most unlikely countries: it was not until 1976 that Sweden abolished laws promoting the sterilisation of women for openly eugenic reasons.
Churchill was unsuccessful in his attempt to introduce such legislation in the UK, which is a cause for some national self-congratulation; but we should not delude ourselves into believing that our legal system, even today, is entirely free from eugenic prejudice. Remnants of it survive in our abortion laws.
Last week the House of Commons agonised over the legal time limits for abortion, in no fewer than 145 speeches on amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. Eventually Members of Parliament voted to retain the 24-week limit for legal abortions – the moment when the unborn child is thought to be viable outside the mother's womb.
This was not altogether surprising. When sailing in such turbulent moral waters, it is understandable that most MPs would grab at the rail of "viability"; otherwise there is little to stop the conscientious legislator from being tossed from one side of the boat – any abortion is the unconscionable ending of another's life – to the other: no constraint of any sort should be placed on a woman's "right to choose", right up to the moment when the umbilical cord is cut, whenever that happens to be.
In effect, MPs decided that up to 24 weeks the unborn child has no rights at all – but after that moment its rights are absolute, superseding any wishes the mother might have to terminate the pregnancy. It's a bit weird, if you think about it, but that's the logic of Parliament's decision.
Only there's a big hole in this logic, even on its own terms. The original Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, under Margaret Thatcher's government in 1990, passed into law the notion that if there was a substantial risk that an unborn child could be "seriously handicapped", then there was no limit on the period during which its life, in utero, could be terminated. And there you have it: such rights as are imputed to all "viable" unborn children are absolutely withdrawn if the child is not ... normal.
There was in fact one amendment to this aspect of the law, which was put to the vote last week. It merely stipulated that when such a diagnosis is made, the mother-to-be should be provided with an-up-to-date analysis of the prospects and treatments available for such a child, and details of help-lines run by organisations such as the Down's Syndrome Association (which represents far and away the most common – and most feared – form of congenital disability).
This amendment was conclusively rejected by MPs, by 309 votes to 173. Not only did the great majority support the notion that a disabled unborn child could be terminated right up until 40 weeks' gestation, they didn't even want there to be a legal requirement that such a decision is based on more than an understandable spasm of panic, or even horror.
Lindbergh's deranged quest for immortality
"Some people, even academics and science students, are still shocked when they hear about the contribution that the aviator Lindbergh made to developing life-saving cardiac machinery," says Friedman.
But there was a serious downside to what Friedman refers to as Lindbergh and Carrel's "daring quest" to live forever.
Carrel was a eugenicist with fascistic leanings. He believed the world was split into superior and inferior beings, and hoped that science would allow the superior - which included himself and Lindbergh, of course - to dominate and eventually weed out the inferiors.
He thought the planet was "encumbered" with people who "should be dead", including "the weak, the diseased, and the fools". Something like Lindbergh's pump was not intended to help the many, but the few.
Lindbergh himself sympathised with the Nazis.
"I wouldn't say Lindbergh was the philosophical partner of Himmler or Hitler," says Friedman. "But yes, he certainly admired the order, science and technology of Nazi Germany - and the idea of creating an ethnically pure race."
Friedman says Lindbergh considered himself a "superior being". "Let's not forget that, as a pilot, he felt he had escaped the chains of mortality. He had had a god-like experience. He flew amongst the clouds, often in a cockpit that was open to the elements. Flying was such a rare experience back then. In taking to the skies, he did something humans have dreamt of for centuries. So it is perhaps not surprising that he ended up trying to play god in a laboratory."
Eugenics American Style
The Associated Press reported on May 5, 2008 that an influential group of physicians has now recommended a sort of laundry-list of individuals who should not be given life-saving medical treatment, in the event of a pandemic. Made up of medical intelligentsia, the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security, this reporting body has fingered lives they now consider unworthy should the bottom drop out.
The average person expects that the government will contemplate the "ifs" when it comes to matters of national security and economic instability. But, did we ever expect that a body such as the Department of Homeland Security would consider the ifs in matters of healthcare crises? And, did any of us ever dream that such a department – one we associate with protecting our borders and national resources – would ever poke their collective nose into the business of making medical treatment decisions on the behalf of individual citizens?
Clearly, the government has completely given up any façade of attempting to protect our liberties or personal privacy. Things such as the USA Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the proposed Federal act, HR-1955 make it abundantly clear to anyone reading the news that the government has long since forgotten the benefits of liberty and its unalienable guarantee under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It would seem as though our own government is taking tremendous strides to own the lives, bodies and liberties of its citizenry through its brazen rewriting and indifference for our laws. And, though this report isn't exactly a written law, its message is incredibly ominous.
During the years-long struggle to protect the life of Terri Schiavo (a profoundly brain-injured Florida woman who received nourishment and hydration through a gastric tube), many nationally-known and legally-active disability rights groups argued that hers was a case of trampled privacy and personal liberty. They would contend that it was the state's Circuit Court – and not the Congress – that assaulted Terri's privacy by making medical decisions for her, based on laws passed years after she lost the faculty to consent to such actions. Some supporters of Terri's right to receive ordinary care have also pointed out that the court had ordered the removal of all nourishment and hydration – even if by mouth. This action is illegal under Florida's statutes and hints at the case law that may have been left behind in the wake of the Schiavo matter. In Florida, at least, the supposition seems to be that the state owns your life and your body. The secondary presumption is that the government knows what's best for you – irrespective of your own desires or needs.
By the time the mainstream media finished mangling the aspects of the legal battle and creating theatre of Terri's circumstances, the average viewer – knowing painfully little of the true Constitutional questions of Terri's case – were forced to decide that it was nothing more than folly.
It was a red carpet for the new age of aggressive eugenics.
Any government-sanctioned study or reporting means that would single out certain types of people for care-rationing should raise apprehension in all citizens who value their lives and their privacy. This is surely a injudicious and drunken step backwards into the eugenics the United States saw in the early 1900s and that the Third Reich embraced during their reign over Europe.
The pub-table or coffee-house exchanges that you have may take in the concept that living in a compromised position isn't what you deem a good quality of life. That's fine. Those decisions and opinions are yours. But, when the government encroaches those personally-held views and beliefs, we face the most vulgar demonstration of tyranny there could be. This, after all, embodies losing control of your life at the hands of people who cannot even fix our roads.
Eugenics and the Future of the Human Species
The eugenics debate is only the visible extremity of the Man vs. Nature conundrum. Have we truly conquered nature and extracted ourselves from its determinism? Have we graduated from natural to cultural evolution, from natural to artificial selection, and from genes to memes?
Does the evolutionary process culminate in a being that transcends its genetic baggage, that programs and charts its future, and that allows its weakest and sickest to survive? Supplanting the imperative of the survival of the fittest with a culturally-sensitive principle may be the hallmark of a successful evolution, rather than the beginning of an inexorable decline.
The eugenics movement turns this argument on its head. They accept the premise that the contribution of natural selection to the makeup of future human generations is glacial and negligible. But they reject the conclusion that, having ridden ourselves of its tyranny, we can now let the weak and sick among us survive and multiply. Rather, they propose to replace natural selection with eugenics.
But who, by which authority, and according to what guidelines will administer this man-made culling and decide who is to live and who is to die, who is to breed and who may not? Why select by intelligence and not by courtesy or altruism or church-going - or al of them together? It is here that eugenics fails miserably. Should the criterion be physical, like in ancient Sparta? Should it be mental? Should IQ determine one's fate - or social status or wealth? Different answers yield disparate eugenic programs and target dissimilar groups in the population.
Aren't eugenic criteria liable to be unduly influenced by fashion and cultural bias? Can we agree on a universal eugenic agenda in a world as ethnically and culturally diverse as ours? If we do get it wrong - and the chances are overwhelming - will we not damage our gene pool irreparably and, with it, the future of our species?
And even if many will avoid a slippery slope leading from eugenics to active extermination of "inferior" groups in the general population - can we guarantee that everyone will? How to prevent eugenics from being appropriated by an intrusive, authoritarian, or even murderous state?
New Legislation Calls for Government Ownership of DNA
"We are considered guinea pigs, as opposed to human beings with rights," according to Twila Brase, president of the Citizen's Council on Health Care, a Minnesota based organization. "The Senate just voted to strip citizens of parental rights, privacy rights, patient rights and DNA property rights. They voted to make every citizen a research subject of the state government starting at birth," she said. "They voted to let the government create genetic profiles of every citizen without their consent."
Brase warned that the ultimate outcome of such DNA databases could spark the next wave of demands for eugenics, the science of improving the human race through the control of various inherited traits. The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, who brought us the message of "choice" about reproductive freedom, was one of the original advocates of eugenics to cull from the population people considered unfit.
In 1921 Sanger said that eugenics is "the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems". She later lamented "the ever increasing, unceasingly spawning of human beings who never should have been born at all".
Minnesota lawmakers recently endorsed a proposal that would exempt stockpiles of DNA information already collected from every newborn from any type of consent requirements. If approved, researchers would be able to utilize the DNA of more than 780,000 Minnesota children for whatever research project they have in mind, according to Brase.
The DNA of every newborn will be collected at birth and "warehoused in a state genomic biobank, and given away to genetic researchers without parental consent, or in adulthood, without the individual's consent. Already, the health department reports that 42,210 children have been subjected to genetic research without their consent," Brase told World Net Daily.
Although Brase works with Minnesota issues, similar laws, rules and regulations are already in use across the country. Lists of the various statutes or regulatory provisions under which the newborns' DNA is collected for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, can be found in The National Conference of State Legislatures.
These programs are the result of "screening" requirements for the detection of treatable illnesses. Senator Chris Dodd, D-Conn., wants to turn these programs into a consolidated national effort. "Fortunately, some newborn screening occurs in every state but fewer than half of the states including Connecticut actually test for all disorders that are detectable," according to Dodd who sees this legislation as providing resources for states to expand their newborn screening programs.
The problem of all this for Brase is that "researchers already are looking for genes related to violence, crime, and different behaviors... This isn't just about diabetes, asthma and cancer," she said. "It's also about behavioral issues. In England they decided they should have doctors looking for problem children, and have those children reported, and their DNA taken in case they would become criminals."
A senior police forensics expert believes that genetic samples should be studied because identification of potential criminals as young as age 5 may be identified, according to a UK published report. "If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large," according to Gary Pugh, director of forensics at Scotland Yard. "You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won't. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threats to society."
The UK database is already the largest in Europe with 4.5 million genetic samples, but activists want it expanded. Costs and logistics make it impossible right now to demand everyone provide a DNA sample, Pugh said.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is being suggested for targeted children from 5-12 in the UK, says the Institute for Public Policy Research. Pugh has suggested adding children to this database in primary schools, even if they have not offended.
Although Chris Davis, of the National Primary Head Teacher's Association, warns the move could be seen as "a step towards a police state", Pugh says the UK's annual cost of $26 billion from violent crime makes it well worth the effort.
Brase sees such efforts to study the traits and gene factors across the board as just the beginning. She wonders what could happen through subsequent programs to address such conditions. "Not all research is great," she said. "There is research that is highly objectionable into the genetic propensities of an individual. Not all research should be hailed as wonderful initiatives."
Story of evolution can be seen as comedy of errors (The Ancient Hiccup, Male Hernias, and more)
"Oh what a piece of work is man," wrote Shakespeare, long before Darwin suggested just how little work went into us. Somehow, that same process that gave us reason, language and art also left us with hernias, flatulence and hiccups.
Fishy news about hernias