Module 1: A Story Stranger than Fiction
The story that follows will shake you to the core and cause you to question your entire worldview. I am warning you—this story is not for the faint of heart. BUT, rest assured, there is a solution!
It’s important that you know that this story is intricately linked to another one of my research areas: the quest to control food on this planet.
I became interested in researching population control when I was introduced to a declassified US security memorandum. So, let’s begin our story by travelling back in time to April 24, 1974, when Henry Kissinger issued National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200) titled, Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.
Kissinger sent this memorandum to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), certain cabinet secretaries as well as other key agencies like the US Agency for International Development.
The significance of this document is that it is the first known instance in which Malthusianism became part of U.S. security policy.
Malthusian ideas are derived from Reverend Thomas Malthus’ economic and political thoughts. In 1798 Malthus wrote, An Essay on the Principle of Population. In this essay, Malthus explained his theory: whereas populations generally expand geometrically—the food supply only grows arithmetically. This then leads to periodic famine and death, thus, eliminating the “surplus” population. Of course, Malthus expected that these periodic famines would succeed in killing the weakest in society. Malthus believed that charity would only provoke more social problems. These ideas would later influence Social Darwinism in the late 1800s.
Social Darwinism is an idea that emerged in both England and the United States in the 1870s. This theory applied the Darwinian concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest to politics and sociology. Someone who believes in Social Darwinism generally argues that the strong should “inherit the earth,” that the elite should see their power and wealth grow while the weak should decrease in power and wealth. This concept has influenced laissez-faire capitalism, racism, eugenics, imperialism, fascism and Nazism.
Back to the Malthusian-based NSSM 200.
At the heart of NSSM 200 was the idea that population growth in developing countries posed a possible security threat to the United States. These countries were those in which the U.S. had strong political, economic and strategic interests (e.g. key natural resources).
NSSM 200 targeted 13 key countries (Brazil, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, Ethiopia, and Colombia) for a COVERT POPULATION REDUCTION PROGRAM.
Now, before I introduce you to the specific policy directives contained within NSSM 200, we must travel back in time to the mid-1880s. In order for you to understand NSSM 200 in its entirety, there are several other fascinating stories that need to be told. These stories are about how some very powerful people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean became obsessed with eugenics and population reduction.
These stories defy belief… stories that are still playing out today… stories upon which your very life depends!
In 1883, Sir Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin, coined the term eugenics in his work, Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development. Derived from the Greek language, eugenics is translated as “well-born.” Galton, inspired by Darwin’s theories on natural selection, hypothesized that humans could generate better offspring if talented/gifted people married only those with equal or greater endowment—breeding among the gifted and talented, if you will.
Eugenics is concerned with improving the human genetic pool via selective breeding and it includes the use of both positive and negative eugenics. In positive eugenics, those individuals with “desired traits” are encouraged to reproduce. In negative eugenics, people that possess “less-desired” or “undesired traits” are discouraged from reproducing. Historically, those who have espoused negative eugenics have resorted to 3 tactics:
- Sterilize the “unfit”
- Encourage those who are “unfit” to get abortions
- Exterminate those who are “unfit”
Dr. Paul Bowman Popenoe (a US Army venereal disease specialist during WWI and one of the most prominent members of the American Eugenics Society in the first half of the 20th century) gave us a window into this mindset when he made the following statement in Applied Eugenics, a textbook he co-authored:
From an historical point of view, the first method which presents itself is EXECUTION… It’s value in keeping up the standard of the race should not be underestimated.
<Source: Popenoe, Paul, and Roswell Hill Johnson. Applied Eugenics. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1918. E-book provided by The Project Gutenberg. Web. April 19, 2016. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19560/19560-h/19560-h.htm> (See page 184)>
Popenoe also discussed a form of natural selection he called “LETHAL SELECTION,” in which he advocated the importance of allowing nature to exterminate the “unfit” by, “some adverse feature of the environment, such as excessive cold, or bacteria; or by bodily Popenoe believed that between 50-66% of all deaths could be attributed to some form of natural selection (e.g. death as a result of overcrowding/overpopulation; starvation; disease; climate/environmental factors; bodily deficiency; reproductive issues). For Popenoe, these deaths were necessary—after all, the death of the so called “unfit” would improve the human genetic stock. As such, he lamented the fact that the “progress of medicine” would inevitably do much to diminish the death rate of the “unfit.”
So… where did this line of thinking come from and who, exactly, were the “unfit?”
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s—influenced by the theories of Sir Francis Galton (Eugenics), Thomas Malthus (Malthusianism), Charles Darwin (Theory of Natural Selection), Herbert Spencer (Social Darwinism) and Gregor Mendel (Laws of Inheritance)—eugenicists defined the “unfit” as the poor… the physically handicapped… the mentally handicapped… criminals… those of an Eastern or Southern European lineage… Jews… Hispanics… those belonging to the lower socio-economic classes and all non-whites. As Adele Clark documents in her book, Disciplining Reproduction: Modernity, American Life Sciences and the Problems of Sex:
Eugenic conceptions of fitness were deeply class- and race-based, focusing on increased reproduction among the Anglo-Saxon upper classes and decreased reproduction among the lower classes, both white (especially in England) and of color (especially in the United States and in British colonial regimes).
<Source: Clarke, Adele E. Disciplining Reproduction: Modernity, American Life Sciences, and the Problems of Sex. Berkely, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1998. Print. (See page 178)>
Few people understand the extent to which the eugenic ideology pervaded wealthy circles in Britain and America during the early 1900s. I wish I could say that this ideology died with the defeat of the Axis powers in WWII (Nazis are among the most infamous of eugenicists). But, on the contrary, eugenics merely went underground to become even more sinister than before. Today, often disguised with politically-correct terminology, it continues to infiltrate some of the most powerful circles in the world.
In this research area, I will highlight some of the more poignant moments in this astounding story. Welcome to another fascinating story in underground history.
In 1907, the British Eugenics Society was founded in order to advance eugenic policies and education. While eugenics originated in England in the late 1800’s, it was not very long before it began infiltrating American society. While the American Eugenics Society wasn’t founded until 1926, a number of substantial eugenics laws, policies and research initiatives were launched in America in the early 1900’s.
In 1902, Stanford University President, David Starr Jordan, hypothesized that human qualities and conditions, like talent and poverty, were hereditary in his series of publications, The Blood of a Nation: A Study in the Decay of Races by the Survival of the Unfit. For eugenicists—the “right” race; a high degree of intelligence; and wealth were all important indicators of “fit” individuals.
It’s no coincidence that I’ve decided to start this eugenics story in California with Stanford University’s president. By the early 1900’s the State of California had become a model eugenics state. In 1909 it passed a eugenics law stating that anyone who was “feebleminded” and anyone who was a mental patient would be sterilized before being discharged. Furthermore, any criminal found guilty of ANY CRIME 3 times could be forcibly sterilized at the discretion of the attending physician.
California is particularly noteworthy with regard to American eugenics history. Prior to WWII, almost 1/2 of all forced sterilizations were conducted in California. Even after WWII, California remained an epicenter for the American eugenics movement as it was responsible for up to 1/3 of all forced sterilization surgeries in America.
Compulsory sterilization laws were eventually adopted by over 30 US states. Incredibly enough, some states were still sterilizing individuals into the late 1970’s. By the late 1970’s, over 60,000 US individuals had been forcibly sterilized.
In 2002, Governor Mark Warner of Virginia formally apologized for Virginia’s role in the Supreme Court case Buck vs. Bell (1927) in which Virginia’s sterilization law was ruled constitutional. Upon being ruled constitutional, this Virginia law became the model eugenics law for other states. In Virginia alone approximately 7,450 people were forcibly sterilized between the years 1924-1979.
It might shock you to discover that it was American eugenics laws and ideology that inspired NAZI GERMANY’S MANDATORY STERILIZATION PROGRAM. This program led to approximately 350,000 sterilizations and, eventually, to the HOLOCAUST. We’ll get into this part of the story later. But now, let’s return to the early 1900’s… to the beginning of a dark plot.
Believe it or not, the idea of a Nordic master race was not originally Hitler’s although he would adopt it to devastating consequences. The idea of a blond-haired, blue-eyed master race actually originated with the eugenics movement in the United States. It’s a little acknowledged piece of American history, but American eugenicists published booklets touting the sterilization of the ‘unfit’ and distributed them to German scientists and officials in the decades leading up to WWII.
It might actually surprise many of you to discover that Hitler actually studied American eugenics laws. In The Secret History of the War on Cancer, Dr. Devra Davis documents a conversation between Hitler and a fellow Nazi:
“I have studied with great interest,” he told a fellow Nazi, “the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock.”
<Source: Davis, Devra. The Secret History of the War on Cancer. New York: Basic Books, 2007. Print. (See pg. 52)>
Hitler’s admiration for the American brand of eugenics is a matter of public record. On one occasion, he even admitted to being a fan of Madison Grant, an American eugenics leader. Hitler wrote a fan letter to Grant in which he proudly stated that Grant’s book, The Passing of the Great Race, was his “Bible.”
I was shocked to discover that US connections to Nazi Germany ran very deep—too deep to thoroughly cover in this work. Nevertheless, you will get a slight glimpse into this aspect of underground American history.
Two institutions are of particular importance when highlighting US eugenics connections to Nazi Germany—the Carnegie Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation. In the 1920s, eugenics scientists at the Carnegie Institute had strong professional and personal ties with many German eugenicists. But, it was the Rockefeller Foundation that was particularly instrumental in the rise of eugenics in Nazi Germany. A little bit further in this story, we’ll discuss how the Rockefeller Foundation’s donations to eugenics research in Germany were so vast that the foundation actually steered eugenics research in Germany during the 1920’s.
For now, let’s travel back in time and pick up where we left our story in the early 1900s….
In 1910, one year after California passed its sterilization law, a sinister plan was hatched at Cold Springs Harbor, New York, with the advent of the Eugenics Record Office—an initiative of Charles Davenport under the auspices of the Carnegie Institute. The 3 primary funders were Mary Harriman (widow of Edward Henry Harriman, the railroad magnate); John D. Rockefeller Jr.; and the Carnegie Institute.
The Eugenics Record Office would become responsible for developing eugenic policies which would eventually lead to the sterilization of thousands of Americans. At its founding, the office asserted that 10% of the American population were “defectives,” and, that the office’s ultimate goal would be to sterilize 14-15 million Americans.
But, that’s not even the most shocking thing associated with the Eugenics Record Office.
In 1911, one year after its founding, the Eugenics Record Office embarked on a eugenics venture with the Carnegie-funded American Breeders Association—to conduct a study on the Best Practical Means for Cutting off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population. The committee’s intentions, in their own words, were the following:
It is the purpose of the committee to investigate all phases of the problem of CUTTING OFF THE SUPPLY OF DEFECTIVES, and to publish from time to time data which will, we trust, aid the student of social affairs in weighing any particular phase of the problem that may present itself. The committee will therefore study the facts in reference to the numbers of and the rate and manner of increase of the SOCIALLY INADEQUATE. It will strive to analyze the factors of heredity and environment in the production of the social unfitness observed. It will report first-hand facts concerning the drag that these classes entail upon the general welfare, and will review the first-hand studies in human heredity that have been made by careful study of the problem. And finally the committee will point out what appears as a result of study to be ‘THE BEST PRACTICAL MEANS,’ so far as the innate traits are a factor, OF PURGING THE BLOOD OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE OF THE HANDICAPPING AND DETERIORATING INFLUENCES OF THESE ANTI-SOCIAL CLASSES.
<Source: Laughlin, Harry H. Bulletin No. 10A: Report of the Committee to Study and Report on the Best Practical Means of Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the American Population. National Information Resource on Ethics and Human Genetics, The Joseph and Rose Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Georgetown University Library Online, Feb. 1914. Web. 19 April. 2016. <https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/556985/Bulletin10A.pdf?sequence=1> (See pg. 6)>
Astounding isn’t it?! This committee intended to investigate the best means for wiping out entire bloodlines in order to “purge” the American population of “defective” hereditary traits. The committee’s conclusions are equally horrifying.
The committee concluded that they would take a long-term approach in which segregation and sterilization would form the core of their strategy. So… for approximately 34 years the Eugenic Record Office gathered millions of index cards cataloguing the bloodlines of ordinary Americans in order to plan for the future elimination of entire bloodlines that were deemed inferior. The office planned on exposing these bloodlines to lifelong SEGREGATION and STERILIZATION in order to, “KILL THEIR BLOODLINES.”
It remains inconceivable to me, nevertheless, the people that espoused these kinds of ideas weren’t the outcasts of society—these were some of the richest most powerful people within American and British circles:
- Andrew Carnegie
- Carnegie Institute
- Rockefeller Institute
- John D. Rockefeller Jr.
- John D. Rockefeller III
- Ford Foundation
- Harriman Family
- Clarence Gamble (Heir to the Proctor and Gamble soap company fortune)
- Alexander Graham Bell (Board of Scientific Advisors, Eugenics Record Office)
- President Theodore Roosevelt
- P. Morgan Jr.
- Mary Duke Biddle (of the tobacco family)
- John Harvey Kellogg (from the breakfast cereal)
- British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill
- Economist John Maynard Keynes
- Arthur Lord Balfour
- Julian Huxley (the first Director of UNESCO)
- And many more….
Even President Theodore Roosevelt was a eugenicist! And, he wouldn’t be the last president. But, we’ll get to that story later. For now, consider what President Roosevelt said in 1913 (4 years after he left office) in a letter to his friend, Charles B. Davenport. Davenport was a Harvard professor, an avowed eugenicist, and the man who campaigned for and first founded the Eugenics Record Office under the auspices of the Carnegie Institute:
My dear Mr. Davenport: I am greatly interested in the two memoirs you have sent me. They are very instructive, and, from the standpoint of our country, very ominous. You say that these people are not themselves responsible, that it is “society” that is responsible. I agree with you if you mean, as I suppose you do, that society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind. It is really extraordinary that our people refuse to apply to human beings such elementary knowledge as every successful farmer is obliged to apply to his own stock breeding. Any group of farmers who permitted their best stock not to breed, and let all the increase come from the worst stock, would be treated as fit inmates for an asylum. Yet we fail to understand that such conduct is rational compared to the conduct of a nation which permits unlimited breeding from the worst stocks, physically and morally, while it encourages or connives at the cold selfishness or the twisted sentimentality as a result of which the men and women ought to marry, and if married have large families, remain celebates or have no children or only one or two. Some day we will realize that the prime duty the inescapable duty of the good citizen of the right type to leave his or her blood behind him in the world; and that we have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type.
<Source: “Creative Commons Theadore Roosevelt letter to C. Davenport about ‘degenerates reproducing’” by Theodore Roosevelt is license under CC Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Web. April 19, 2016. <https://www.dnalc.org/view/11219-T-Roosevelt-letter-to-C-Davenport-about-degenerates-reproducing-.html> Image 1242 American Philosophical Society Library, Permission Necessary for Reproduction. The Outlook 287 Fourth Avenue New York Lawrence F. Abbott President William B. Howland Treasurer Karl V.S. Howland Secretary Lyman Abbott Editor in Chief Hamilton W. Mable Associate Editor Theodore Roosevelt Contributing Editor January 3rd 1913. This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.>
A few years later a new eugenics campaign was launched. This initiative would have far-reaching repercussions. But, that is a story for our next module.
Stay tuned for the next module where we will continue with this fascinating story in underground US history.