Join the Society on June 26th for a discussion of Chesterton's groundbreaking work, Eugenics and Other Evils, from 1922.
The book is can be read online, is available for purchase in various formats, and can also be accessed in a free audiobook version. There are also additional resources available to those wishing to dig a bit deeper, below the jump...
Members might find interesting the Eugenics Archives project from Canada which traces the history and legacy of eugenics, particularly from a Canadian perspective. Notably, the project has an entry specifically on the publication of this book by Chesterton and its influence on the public discourse and even on practical policy.
Cited by the Archive entry, and worth checking out, is an essay by Russell Sparks published originally in The Chesterton Review, Vol. 25, entitled, "The Enemy of Eugenics," which very usefully presents Chesterton's book in its historical context and provides revealing insights into how this issue for Chesterton was no passing concern:
Chesterton's campaign was a success, as a normally supine Parliament began to question the new law. The Independent Member of Parliament, Josiah Wedgewood stressed the threat to civil liberties. Churchill had moved on to the Admiralty, so the measure had less support in the Home Office. After much criticism, the Mental Deficiency Act was passed in July, 1913 in a severely watered-down form. The attempt to prevent the pro-creation of the unfit was abandoned. Sterilisation was not even mentioned, nor was there compulsory segregation of the mentally deficient. The only real new power was to take the illegitimate children of paupers into care. In the 1930s, new eugenics bills were submitted to Parliament, but sentiment had so turned against the idea that they did not even make the first stage of becoming law. Chesterton always kept an eye on eugenics, and was one of the first to note their introduction in Germany once Hitler had come to power. As he wrote in 1934 in "The Fallacy of Eugenics": "It is as well to repeat our unanswered answer to the creed behind such barbarous tricks; for they are not confined to the curious commonwealth of Mr. Hitler."
Finally, a couple of talks from past years' annual Chesterton conferences on this subject might be worth your time, and are available for purchase from the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton:
As the month of June might bring a major change to the American legal landscape related to an issue closely linked with eugenics, this topic is very timely indeed and will no doubt provide for fruitful discussion. Please join us, and bring a friend!
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We aim to provide fellowship and fun in the Philadelphia area as we gather and honor the personal and literary legacy of G.K. Chesterton.
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