For a number of years now I've been quipping here and there about the eerie similarities between modern statists--especially the self-declared "progressives", but really statists of all stripes, left and right, soft- and hard-core, whatever the label--and the eugenics movement of the early 20th century.
You know, that movement that so many trendy, well-to-do social planning types were sooo excited about, up until that little Austrian fellow with the silly mustache went and ruined it for the mainstream by...taking it to its perfectly logical conclusion. It's not like Hitler was the only one who...actualized the practice--the core thinking is behind every genocide you can name, and arguably every state-sanctioned atrocity in general--but boy, did he document it well, and so it kinda went dormant for a while, with even the more ardent social engineering types leery of being associated with the name.
Well, it's back in the mainstream now. The psychology of viewing variously-sized collectives commonly definable as the Not-Like-Us, as somehow inferior on a level so deep as to inhere in the individuals who make up the collective, is alive, well, and on the rise. "The Left" does it with their religious-quality Crusades against gun owners, proponents of voluntary markets and individualists in general..."The Right" does it with its own Crusades against "Occupiers", "Greenies", "Hippies", "Anti-Patriots", and anyone else that it perceives as taking an "unfair" slice of "their" pie. And so on. The dismissive, ad-hominem tirades feature dehumanizing phrases and terms like "their kind", "people like that", "idiots/imbeciles/morons/stupid/retarded", ethnic or other collective epithets ("gun nuts", "wackjobs", "fudgepackers", "wingnuts", "pansy peaceniks", disease terms like "parasites", animal terms like "sheep", religious terms like "zealots", etc.), and even terms specifically hijacked for the purpose of more socially-acceptable exploitation of The Other: "racist", "extremist", "immigrant" (talk about a word that has been exploited by nearly all "sides"!), etc.
Looking at the world in this polarized, fundamentally exclusive way has become so common--again--that I suspect that even those who pay careful attention to avoiding it can still find it lurking in their language (I'm certainly not free of guilt in this regard, and it bugs me). And it makes a certain sense; frustration is so high, because of all the not-listening-to-each-other, that it is all too easy to...deliberately exclude those Not-Like-Us. But we need to remember that what ends with boxcars, begins innocuously, by viewing some group of others as inherently inferior. We can do that even in the very act of calling out atrocity elsewhere.
This isn't a call to abandon principle--oh hell no. But let's not become what we behold, either. Mike's references, here, are nuts-on. This embedded quote is from Oliver Wendell Holmes:
“We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives,” Holmes wrote. “It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices [ i.e., forced sterilization], often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”
"better for all the world" my ass. We'll end up there again, if we don't remember what happened before. Let's make damn sure we're not a part of it.
Thank you, Mike, for the reminder.