Guardians of the Gene Pool

Like any ed­u­cated denizen of the 21st cen­tury, you may have heard of World War II. You may re­mem­ber that Hitler and the Nazis planned to carry for­ward a ro­man­ti­cized pro­cess of evolu­tion, to breed a new mas­ter race, su­per­men, stronger and smarter than any­thing that had ex­isted be­fore.

Ac­tu­ally this is a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion. Hitler be­lieved that the Aryan su­per­man had pre­vi­ously ex­isted—the Nordic stereo­type, the blond blue-eyed beast of prey—but had been pol­luted by min­gling with im­pure races. There had been a racial Fall from Grace.

It says some­thing about the de­gree to which the con­cept of progress per­me­ates Western civ­i­liza­tion, that the one is told about Nazi eu­gen­ics and hears “They tried to breed a su­per­hu­man.” You, dear reader—if you failed hard enough to en­dorse co­er­cive eu­gen­ics, you would try to cre­ate a su­per­hu­man. Be­cause you lo­cate your ideals in your fu­ture, not in your past. Be­cause you are cre­ative. The thought of breed­ing back to some Nordic archetype from a thou­sand years ear­lier would not even oc­cur to you as a pos­si­bil­ity—what, just the Vik­ings? That’s all? If you failed hard enough to kill, you would damn well try to reach heights never be­fore reached, or what a waste it would all be, eh? Well, that’s one rea­son you’re not a Nazi, dear reader.

It says some­thing about how difficult it is for the rel­a­tively healthy to en­vi­sion them­selves in the shoes of the rel­a­tively sick, that we are told of the Nazis, and dis­tort the tale to make them defec­tive tran­shu­man­ists.

It’s the Com­mu­nists who were the defec­tive tran­shu­man­ists. “New Soviet Man” and all that. The Nazis were quite definitely the bio­con­ser­va­tives of the tale.