Sunday, May 28

Eugenics in LOTR????





eugenics!!!..ever heard of this term.. sounds pretty weird .. rite?..... recently i came across this term and when i did some diggin up via wiki and others a lot of interestin stuff hav come up... this thing was kinda lik the hottest thing in genetics till bout middle of twentieth century and then took a beatin to become one of most taboo things to be even talked about...

to quote wiki" Eugenics is a social philosophy which advocates the improvement of traits through various forms of intervention "... and its greek derivation would be "well born" or "good breeding"

now thts the literature.. now wat this thing really meant was tht in human race there are both better ones and the worse ones, and to improve human race as a whole selective breeding of humans must take place so that the new generation be better.... this was not only racist, but even within races it applied...this is very much lik the techinque adopted to make pedigreed dogs,where the ancestry is of great importance.....



This concept was first proposed by plato and this is what he said "The best men must have intercourse with the best women as frequently as possible, and the opposite is true of the very inferior".. even though this sounds very crude, this was pretty much the same methodology that the later proponents of this theory tried to take in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Modern eugenics as we know it was started by Sir Francis Galton in 1865. A surprisingly large number of famous thinkers , scientists, politicians of that time were ardent believers of this theory. The list ranged from George Bernard Shaw, Alexander Graham Bell to men like Winston Churchill and President Coolidge. The result of eugenics was devastating. In the liberal world of america it hit the worst.Its not surprising that KLU KLUX KLAN, the most infamous american group that preached white-supremacy and anti-Semitism was founded in 1866, the year after Galton proposed his eugenic theory. A broad-based social, political, and scientific movement, American eugenics reflected the fears of many whites that their once-great nation was threatened by demographic and economic change. Their understanding of the principles of genetic inheritance led eugenicists to conclude that genetically defective members of society -- including the "feeble-minded," criminals, the sexually wanton, epileptics, the insane, and non-white races -- were rapidly out-reproducing the "normal" members of society at an alarming rate, passing on their "inferior" genes at the expense of the "normal." The social cost of such a situation, they feared, would be devastating.



Galton defined eugenics as "the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage", but its doubtful that he could have foreseen the power the movement would accrue in America during the first half of the 20th century.The various eugenics soceities that came up lobbied hard and finally
in 1924, the Immigration Act was passed by majorities in the U.S. House and Senate. It set up strict quotas limiting immigrants from countries believed by eugenicists to have "inferior" stock, particularly Southern Europe and Asia. President Coolidge, who signed the bill into law, had stated when he was vice president, "America should be kept American. . . . Biological laws show that Nordics deteriorate when mixed with other races".This reduced the number of immigrants from abroad to fifteen percent from previous years, to control the number of "unfit" individuals entering the country. The new Act strengthened existing laws prohibiting race mixing in an attempt to maintain the gene pool.Eugenic considerations also lay behind the adoption of incest laws in much of the USA.

The result went further down the lane when proprnts arugues that the schools for the deaf and blind should be closed as boarding schools for the deaf could possibly be considered as breeding places of a deaf human race. Many blacks were made to undergo forced sterilization and in 1927 the US SUPREME COURT gave a ruling allowing the state of virginia to sterilize those it deemed "unfit". The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963 when over 64,000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United States.

The whole bubble got the prick in its ass during world war 2 when the nazis tortured and killed almost 6 million jews in the name of eugenics(even hitler's nazi germany followed only the policy of eugenics whereby they believed that the jews were the inferior race) . The only differnce between the nazi germany and americans was that since the americans used methods which were less cruel , public attention was not much diverted to them. But another thing we must understand is that both villains and heroes are created by man during the course of history. What i am saying is not that the nazis were the angels of earth but that the general notion of the axis powers being the bad guys and the allied powers being the good was just the result of who won the war. Probably if hitler had won the war, many of atrocities that was committed would have never come out and hitler would have been designated as a great emperor and compared to the likes of alexander and others.

hmm.. the topic has diverted quite a lt from what i wanted it to be. Actually i wil stop with eugenics as a subject and will go on to the real topic, ie eugenics in lotr. Now this is something that never occured to me while i was reading the book or watching the movies but suddenly struck like a lightning when i was reading about eugenics. The references are vague, but fundamental. We should keep in mind here the fact that LOTR was written by Tolkien in the late 1950's. This was the time when racism in America, in the aftermath of 2nd world war, was witnessing an unprecendented rise, with the KK Klan activities gettin more violent and anti black. The most blatant reference to racism is contained in the statement where all the good guys( men) are called the "THE MEN OF THE WESTERNEESE". Also hints about eugenic belief is given when Elrond and Gandalf talk about how "THE RACE OF MEN IS WANING, AND HOW LESSER MEN HAVE DESCENDED FROM GREATER SIRES"...





Also eugenic belief is blatantly shown through the character of Aragorn, who is the only one left of the Numeroean blood. His race is referred to as the "race of kings"... and in the story the line of kings falls apart through the ages as a result of which the rule of Gondor falls into the hands of "lesser mortals", ie the stewards of gondor. Also the numoreans are shown to have longer life with Aragorn's age said to be 87!... These maybe subtle things , but it does point towards tolkiens belief in a superior race, one thats born to rule, one thats better than others and one thats waning with time.

Actually there are a couple more references in LOTR , but i will leave it at this.. Go through LOTR carefully and u will find the rest, but coming back to how eugenics got suppressed and was wildly discarded after the 2nd world war, no doubt the full credit goes to the nazis.Many pre-war eugenicists engaged in what they later labeled "crypto-eugenics," purposefully taking their eugenic beliefs "underground" and becoming respected anthropologists, biologists and geneticists in the post-war world.Many scientific societies released their own similar "race statements" over the years and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, developed in response to abuses during the second World War, was adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and affirmed "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family." SO>>>>>>to end with...........



HEIL HITLER!!!

10 comments:

sam said...

History is always written by the men who win. Looking at it closely all countries that follow protectionist measures in turn follow eugenics. The US and Canada happen to have the largest no of naturalized citizens in the world..Other countries don't have to face that problem...ie the problem of immigration isn't as ramapant.

Mathew said...

very nice, varun. informative!!!

wolverine said...

@sunil...

yes man... u r spot on... this is exactly what happens during immigrations to US and canada... the only difference is that they don look into physical characterictcs...

@mathew...

thanx man... i did do a helluva lot of research on this stuff...!

Mahesh Mahadevan said...

I read that DNA fingerprinting was forced on all immigrants to US last year. It was repealed of course, because of the large numbers, especially across the Southern border. Regarding the Eugenics and racism of the 50s/60s, you can check out any of the Looney Toons. Mr. Chuck Jones was a racist, and many of his characters were based on Blacks. In LOTR, counter-arguments may be put, stating that in a world where there are many 'races' - I can't use the word races in the context of what exactly Mr. Tolkien has written, because it is better told by the word, species. Races are minor variations in the same species predominantly because of geographical differences eg: Caucasians - the reason they are called so is because their ancestors were from the Caucasus mountain range and its foothills - also tells you more about the inherent fair complexion. Coming back to LOTR, it could have been Eugenics, but looking at the 'races' as species, the idea is clear. There are many species, among whom disparity has to exist - that IS evolution.
I share my sympathies for Hitler. Of course he was a bad man in the absolute scale, he was better compared to the rest of his time. What Sam
said is true. History is alway written by the men who win.

wolverine said...

@ mahesh...

in LOTR i didn mean to the diferen species..obviously tolkien has gone about citing a hell lot of creaturs in there and its stupid to compare their traits... i meant the diff races within man, man and elfs are diff species ....... but the numoreans and the stewards of gondor are diff races!

Mohan K.V said...

Hmm, interesting read. Does Eugenics 'work' for pedigree dogs? as in, does it really achieve its purpose?

wolverine said...

hmm... i guesss it does work in case of pedigreed dogs.. like i dunno for sure, but such dogs certainly LOOK much better and are generally more mingling with humans( almost civilized in a way!!)

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Nil said...

"...but the numoreans and the stewards of gondor are diff races!" - Wolverine

Sort of. Numenoreans are actually more of mutts - half-elves, actually. Elrond is a half-elf that takes after the elven side - his siblings were mortal, but still rather blessed as compared to humans.

Looking at it that way, it still can be considered eugenics... just with a more exaggerated reason. Every generation has more human and less elf blood (until Arwen and Aragon have little kids, I suppose).

Make of it what you will.