ePub 版

whole nation in the upper strata and to leave the lower strata depleted of the finer qualities."

"This provides the leadership and ability required for the flourishing of national life in all its departments, and in so far is good and beneficial. But the working of the social ladder has further and less satisfactory results. The upper strata, which contain in concentration the best qualities of the nation, and which are capable of producing a far larger proportion of men fitted for leadership than the lower strata, become relatively infertile. The causes are varied and complex, and in the main psychological: late marriage, celibacy, and restriction of the family after marriage are the main factors. This is not a new phenomenon or peculiar to any one or a few countries. It is a well-nigh universal phenomenon. Roughly, it may be said to be due to the outstripping of instinct by intelligence in these favoured classes; for instinct cares for the race; intelligence, save in its most enlightened forms, for the individual. It is not confined to the topmost stratum. It begins there and descends through the strata immediately below. In Britain it has reached the skilled artisan class, the pick of the wage-earning class, and is displayed acutely in that class. Meanwhile the lowest strata continue to breed at a more normal rate; the birthrate remains highest among the actual mental defectives. The residue in the villages continue to be drained more completely of their best elements; the towns sift out the best endowed of these immigrants and pass them up the social scale to become sterilized by their success. The process tends to accelerate and accentuate itself as it continues. Thus, the increasing demands of a civilization of progressing complexity are for a time met by the operation of the social ladder. But it is a process which cannot continue indefinitely. There must come a time when the lower strata, drained of all their best strains, can no longer supply recruits who can effectively fill the gaps in the upper strata and serve as efficient leaders in all the arts and sciences of civilization. With increasing demands and diminishing supply, a point must be reached at which the supply falls short. That is the climax, the culminating point of the parabola of that people; when a people reaches that point, it stands at the height of its career, but it stands on the brink of the downward plunge of the curve" (pp. 158-160).

In this passage (which we have quoted in full because it so well conveys the gist of this portion of the argument) McDougall admits that we have here to do, not with any new sociological development or one that is confined to a few countries but with "a well-nigh universal phenomenon." This phenomenon is indeed only an aspect of Herbert Spencer's Antagonism between Individuation and Genesis (though McDougall's reference to Spencer in a foot-note fails to do justice to the latter's contribution to the subject). Since evolution, both at the human and infra-human stages, has thus manifestly gone on in spite of the universal tendency of more developed organisms to reproduce themselves less rapidly, it is clear that the relative infertility of the more able in modern civilized societies is not necessarily in itself fatal to progress; and this naturally gives rise to the question what are the specific circumstances, if any, that justify McDougall's gloomy prognosis in the present case. This problem is, in the opinion of the present reviewer, not envisaged with sufficient clearness, with the result that the strength of the argument at this point suffers somewhat in consequence.

The reason why a diminished fertility is often compatible with continued progress is, as Spencer has shown and as the writer of this review has recently

reiterated in the pages of this Journal ("On the Biological Basis of Sexual Repression," Medical Section, Vol. 1, p. 225), that the increased individual development correlated with this lessened fertility sometimes pays biologically, i.e. leads (through an increased survival rate) to an increase instead of a decrease of population. Before it can be shown that the lesser fertility of the more able strains constitutes a social danger, it must be shown that their lower birthrate is not compensated by a lower death-rate, and this essential portion of his task is only attempted by McDougall in a somewhat inadequate and halfhearted manner. In common with many other writers on sociology, McDougall concentrates too much on birth-rates and he treats with relative neglect the equally important questions connected with death-rates. This is illustrated by the fallacy implied in the following sentence: "the fact of the greater increase of the poorer classes (or, more generally, the inverse correlation of fertility with good social status) is abundantly established" (p. 188). The casual reader might here be led to assume unthinkingly that there existed some necessary correspondence between fertility and increase, whereas of course (as McDougall himself is naturally well aware in his more guarded moments) it is impossible to infer anything of importance as to the rate of increase from a knowledge of the birth-rate only.

There is indeed a certain amount of evidence brought forward to show that the lower birth-rate of the upper classes is "only very partially compensated by a lower death-rate." Thus we are told (in a quotation from Popenoe's and Johnson's Applied Eugenics) that in Pittsburgh the correlation between illiteracy and net increase is + 731; but there is very little attempt made to show how general this phenomenon is, nor how far it applies to racial as well as to class differences, all-important as this is for McDougall's argument.

This deficiency is emphasized here, not because the present reviewer is inclined to disagree with McDougall's opinion that the lower birth-rate of the desirable strains is only partially compensated by a lower death-rate, but because it is disappointing to see a writer of McDougall's calibre tending to fall into the common error of confusing fertility with increase and because it is desirable to draw attention to the very real eugenic importance of the question of survival-rates. There is no doubt that a thorough statistical study along these lines would be of the greatest value. We must, however, content ourselves here to note in passing that the figures for London (1905-9, shown by the L.C.C. at the Japan-British Exhibition of 1910) agree with McDougall's contention in showing a survival rate of the 'richest' districts of 9.4 per thousand as against 15.8 per thousand for the 'poorest' districts; while, on the other hand, those for Paris in 1906 do not agree, since here the average rate of increase in the poor districts with birth-rates of 22 to 24 per thousand is no greater than that of the rich Elysée quarter with a birth-rate of only 11 per thousand (Annuaire Statistique, 1909, p. 429).

In so far as McDougall is right in this matter-and, so far as class differences go at any rate, he probably is right, though he has not taken the trouble to prove his position at all adequately-the cause of the greater increase of the less able is to be found very largely in the operation of the humanitarian sentiments and the effects of socialistic legislation. In a state of nature the more individuated but less fertile organisms are at liberty to derive the full advantage of their greater individuation, so that their diminished fertility may often be easily compensated by their greater aptitude for individual survival. In our present western societies, on the other hand, the more indi

vidually developed and less fertile classes have to bear a double burden; they not only have to maintain themselves against their less individuated but more fertile competitors, but are compelled at the same time to contribute to the maintenance of a portion of these competitors. The dysgenic effects of this arrangement are sufficiently obvious and have often been pointed out by writers on eugenics. Socialistic tendencies in legislation often lead not only to a higher birth-rate and survival-rate among the relatively inefficient and undesirable members of the community than would otherwise exist (because they are to some extent supported at the expense of the more efficient) but also to a lower birth-rate among the more efficient classes (since here, as McDougall points out, the voluntary restriction of the birth-rate is largely determined by the desire not to fall below a certain standard of comfort, and the difficulties of maintaining this standard are increased when a portion of the available income is devoted to the maintenance of the poor). McDougall rightly insists that eugenic considerations such as these should be borne in mind in our evaluation of all social institutions, and there can be little doubt that the undue piling of burdens upon the abler classes of western communities is a factor of prime importance-possibly the most important factor in the production of the lower rate of increase in these classes which McDougall deplores.

But even though we accept to the full McDougall's position with regard to the slower increase of the desirable elements in a community, there remains another point raised by his treatment which calls for some comment. In the passage quoted above from p. 160 we are told that, in spite of the relative infertility of the abler stocks and individuals, "the ability at the head of the nation may for a time keep pace with the increasing demands of civilization by means of the social ladder": that is, the poorer classes are for a time able to make good the losses incurred by the nation through the infertility of the richer classes; these latter classes are, through the working of the social ladder, constantly being recruited by the abler strains from the poorer classes; these strata, in their turn becoming "sterilized" by their success, are again replaced from below, and so on. Now it is contended by McDougall that "with increasing demands and diminishing supply a point must be reached at which the supply [of sufficiently able individuals] must fall short," and further that "it is highly probable that several of the great nations are approaching or have reached that point."

There are here, it would seem, three points of importance that are worthy of further consideration. In the first place, are all the demands made by civilization upon the individual really increasing as fast as McDougall seems to think? This itself is a big question which would be well worth detailed treatment at the hands of the sociologist. It is probable that the mechanical inventions of the last 150 years have in certain respects made our lives easier instead of more difficult; it is very possible, for instance, to carry on certain industrial occupations of an automatic character with a minimum of intelligence, and with the increasing perfection of mechanical apparatus the number of such occupations may be considerably increased. Even in the hard professions such as McDougall has specially in mind, medicine for instance (which is taken by him as an example), the increasing difficulties caused by the accumulation of scientific knowledge may to a large extent be counterbalanced by the tendency to increasing specialization of those who adopt these professions. The same holds true, to some extent, of the great tasks of organization in industry, commerce, war, etc.

Secondly, is the supply of sufficiently able individuals from the poorer classes necessarily diminishing? It is at any rate theoretically conceivable that, in virtue of the natural variability of the race (a variability that is probably increased as an indirect result of the modern facilities for travel) there will continue to be a sufficient number of able individuals produced from the poorer classes to fill up the places left vacant by the relatively low fertility of the rich. This is perhaps the more likely in view of the fact that under present conditions the absolute size of populations is constantly increasing in most western countries, so that there tends to be an ever enlarging field from which able individuals can be selected. This factor would of course only be of advantage if the necessary proportion of able individuals to the total population is tending to become smaller. McDougall would probably be inclined to deny this, but in view of the increasing specialization and mechanization of much of the world's work, such a relatively decreasing need of able individuals seems by no means impossible.

In the third place, even if we grant with McDougall that "there must come a time when the lower strata, drained of all their best strains, can no longer supply recruits who can effectively fill the gaps in the upper strata," it still remains to be proved that this time is approaching or has come. McDougall considers it 'highly probable' that this point has been reached, but the evidence in favour of this view is vague and insufficient, depending as it does chiefly upon the failure of the nations involved in the Great War to bring forth men adequate to their needs. It is interesting to note however that the Great War has been triumphantly claimed by others to have definitely disproved the supposed moral degeneracy of our race. Even if in this case (as seems probable) these latter persons are thinking rather of the rank and file while McDougall is thinking of leaders, the circumstances certainly appear to demand a more elaborate proof of his contention than is attempted by McDougall and do not seem to justify him in pouring scorn upon the "fatuously complacent utterances" of a writer in The Times who holds the contrary opinion that "we may have complete confidence in the capacity of the English stock to respond to all the needs of the future." Neither the one view nor the other is adequately proved at present; but in the absence of sufficient evidence on the question it is certainly wiser to admit the possible correctness of McDougall's gloomy outlook than to place one's faith too liberally in the more optimistic opinion of The Times. Indeed, we have raised all three of the lastmentioned points, not necessarily because we believe McDougall to be wrong but rather to emphasize the interest, importance and complexity of the questions at issue and to indicate the extreme desirability of collecting further evidence with reference to them.

Readers who follow McDougall's somewhat alarming train of thought to its conclusion, will be disappointed to learn that he does not regard the suggestion of possible remedies for the evils that he prophesies as part of his task in the present study, which aims only at directing the reader's attention to the significance and magnitude of the problem of eugenics and of the desirability of judging and evaluating "every wide measure of social legislation, every custom and social institution...with reference to its bearing on this problem." In spite of this, however, McDougall does offer certain practical suggestions, both in the introductory "Phantasy of a Foolish Philosopher" which we have already outlined and in an Appendix entitled "The New Plan." In view of the title of the Introduction and of the general disclaimer

that precedes the Appendix, it is difficult to criticize these practical suggestions, as they are apparently put forward in a casual and purely tentative manner without any claim whatsoever to exhaustiveness. A brief description of these suggestions and a few comments on them must, however, be inserted here in order to give some degree of completeness to this critical review.

The New Plan is based on the idea that the more desirable individuals might be encouraged to reproduce themselves more rapidly by guaranteeing a suitable increase of income for each additional child-this addition to bear some proportion (1, or rather more, of the earned income is suggested) to the financial resources already at the disposal of the parents. In this connection he refers to his "Practical Eugenic Suggestion" already published in Sociological Papers, Vol. II, 1909, in which he proposed that the State and the Municipalities, which employ a large number of selected servants, should introduce remuneration on this plan into their services. Furthermore, he reminds us that since his paper was written some small steps have already been taken in this direction, viz.: (1) the small remissions of income tax made by the British Government on account of children of persons of small incomes, and (2) the separation allowances paid to soldiers by the British and other governments during the war; in the British army these allowances were made larger in proportion to the number of children and to the rank and pay of the soldier, though, unfortunately, this scheme was not consistently applied to officers, thus indicating, as McDougall thinks (probably quite rightly), that there was no realization of its possible eugenic significance in the minds of those who framed or applied it.

McDougall recognizes difficulties in the way of supposing that the same plan might be universally or widely adopted by private employers or by bodies not supported by taxation. To meet these cases he suggests the creation of a national fund to be raised either by taxation or by private munificence or both, and proposes further that in the first instance such a scheme might be applied to one highly selected class, such as teachers in Colleges and Universities. It is unfortunate that he gives no further hints as to the financial aspects of this highly interesting "new plan."

It will be observed that both in this more practical Appendix and in the more fanciful Introduction McDougall's proposals follow the lines of Positive rather than of Negative Eugenics, thus departing considerably from the more recent tendencies of most British eugenists, who have of late laid more and more stress upon the negative aspects of Eugenics. It is this change of emphasis by McDougall that the present writer, in company perhaps with many other readers, feels most inclined to criticize, though aware that criticism is to some extent disarmed by McDougall's method of introducing his practical proposals. It is true that in one place there is a favourable reference to the employment of sterilization and institutional segregation as a means of dealing with "that eminently urgent evil, the high birth-rate of the admittedly and grossly unfit." But McDougall seems to hold out little hope for the eugenic application of the milder and far more generally utilizable method of birth-control. Thus, in reference to Professor Dunlap's hope that a further diffusion of knowledge concerning contraceptive methods will solve the "Negro Problem" of America, he says: "It is to be feared that it will have, among the coloured people, only the positively dysgenic effects which it already produces on so great a scale in the white population; that among both white and coloured people it will be put into practice only by the more far-sighted, prudent, and self-controlled;

« 上一頁繼續 »