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Richard Cleminson

4 From neo-Malthusianism to eugenics as a ‘revolutionary conquest’, 1920–1937 Introduction Reflecting on some sixty years of debate on sterilization, C. P. Blacker, the British psychiatrist and former secretary (1931–1952) of the Eugenics Society, recognized in 1962 that despite the ‘promising climate’ of the early 1930s, enthusiasm for such a measure had all but evaporated by the end of the decade.1 The reasons for this decline in fortune were diverse. Among them were the situation in Germany and the awareness of the questionable political and racial uses of

in Anarchism and eugenics
An unlikely convergence, 1890–1940

This book focuses on the apparently surprising convergence between anarchism and eugenics. By tracing the reception of eugenic ideas within five different anarchist movements –Argentina, England, France, Portugal and Spain – the book argues that, in fact, there is ample evidence for anarchist interest in, and implementation of, some form of eugenics. The author argues that this intersection between anarchism and eugenics can be understood as an emanation from anarchism’s nineteenth-century legacy, which harnessed science as a means to change the social world and an ideological commitment to voluntarism as a political praxis. Through the articulation of interest in birth control, ‘neo-Malthusianism’, freedom to choose for women and revolutionary objectives, many anarchists across these five countries provided the basis for the creation of ‘anarchist eugenics’ in the early twentieth century.

Richard Cleminson

highly contested set of ideas, both internally and externally. One of the major divisions operating in the eugenics movement centred on a disagreement over the relation between the ‘quality’ and quantity of offspring. In the years following 1919, pro-natalist Nordic and German opposition to one-child families, among other issues, set in train a collision course with those eugenics societies, or certain sectors within them, that harboured strong arguments in favour of limiting family size under E arly discourse on eugenics 61 the banner of birth control or neo-Malthusianism

in Anarchism and eugenics
The paradoxes of sustainability and Michel Houellebecq’s The Possibility of an Island
Hannes Bergthaller

, and engage in forms of hyperbole and imaginary amplification which help clarify what the actual stakes are. After discussing the troubled relationship between sustainability and neo-Malthusianism in the next section, I will turn to a text which does precisely this, namely Michel Houellebecq’s The Possibility of an Island. The novel, I argue, can be read as an instance of satire in the Juvenalian mode of Swift’s A Modest Proposal, which pushed the utilitarian logic underlying England’s colonial policy in Ireland to a horrific extreme so as to expose its cruel

in Literature and sustainability
A British–French comparison
Caroline Rusterholz

pronatalist campaigning fuelled by anxieties around depopulation. After 1920, a radical minority mostly comprised of anarchists and neo-Malthusians continued to promote birth control; some of these activists, such as Eugène and Jeanne Humbert and Madeleine Pelletier, were arrested as a result. While the French context, compared to the British one, was repressive in terms of access to information and contraception, women's place within society also differed drastically. British women aged over 30 who met specific qualifications obtained suffrage in 1918, and this right to

in Women’s medicine
Tanya Cheadle

, energy and expertise were being usurped by mere ‘side issues’.5 Aesthetic improvements to the urban environment were far better left to the municipal authorities, she argued, with the work funded out of the public purse. Instead, Geddes should redirect his private resources towards the only effective solution to the chronic social conditions they were currently surveying: ‘The connection of biology with economics’, or the espousal of neo-Malthusian arguments on birth control.6 Indeed, Clapperton asserted, this was something Geddes had got wrong in The Evolution of Sex

in Sexual progressives
The constitutive terrain of anarchist eugenics
Richard Cleminson

una manera armónica, espléndida, deslumbradora’ (Human progress must take place, therefore, by means of the instigation of anarchy in a harmonious, wondrous and scintillating manner). 28 Science, revolution and progress 25 Despite this common ground, the reception of eugenics by anarchism was not preordained, uniform or unstintingly positive. In some cases, such as in Spain, eugenics was hotly debated and even vilified in 1913 in the Catalan neo-Malthusian review Salud y Fuerza. In France, Paul Robin’s Universal League for Human Regeneration managed to fuse

in Anarchism and eugenics
Richard Cleminson

to the years of maximum strength of both anarchism and eugenics. The last ten years of the nineteenth century represent the dissemination of eugenic ideas from their development in England in the 1880s and their intersection and interaction with different varieties of hereditarian thought, emerging doctrines such as birth control, so-called neo-Malthusianism, and concerns about the ‘quality’ of the population.6 The 1890s also saw the consolidation of anarchism under various guises, whether individualist, collectivist or communist, across the continents. The late

in Anarchism and eugenics
Marriage, birth control and sexual morality
Laura Schwartz

intensity. Elements raised two issues in particular that were already of great importance to the Freethought movement – a critique of the institution of marriage and Neo-Malthusian support for birth control. Freethinking feminist attacks on marriage stretched back to the early decades of the nineteenth century, when Richard Carlile published What is Love? (1826) and formed a moral union with Eliza Sharples in

in Infidel feminism
Open Access (free)
Caroline Rusterholz

circulation of scientific knowledge between Britain and France. Taking a transnational perspective on issues related to sexuality and reproduction involves simultaneously considering two levels of analysis, while trying to address their relationships: both national and international. 18 The history of birth control is intrinsically linked with that of population control movements, and has already attracted considerable attention, whether from a eugenic, neo-Malthusian, birth control, or family planning perspective

in Women’s medicine