Friday, October 31, 2008

Population Control Movement

In this review of a new book about the movement, it is apparent that denying their inherent dignity and respecting human beings own capacity to determine their family future by turning those decisions over to government, causes great and horrible damage; continuing today with the support of many public leaders who claim to be practicing Catholics while disregarding a major doctrine of the Church.

An excerpt from the review.

“When historians study hubris, they usually tell stories about the dazzling, cruel, or ill-fated exploits of specific people—presidents, dictators, revolutionaries. In Fatal Misconception, Matthew Connelly, an associate professor of history at Columbia University, looks instead at an idea: controlling human reproduction. Bold in its claims and wildly arrogant in its approach, the international population control movement of the 20th century provides a stark example of the harms that can occur in the name of benevolence. As Connelly describes in this meticulously researched and well-argued study.

“Scientists and activists organized across borders to press for common norms of reproductive behavior. International and nongovernmental organizations spearheaded a worldwide campaign to reduce fertility. Together they created a new kind of global governance, in which proponents tried to control the population of the world without having to answer to anyone in particular.”

“As Connelly tells it, the population control movement faced the perverse challenge of trying to reverse an extraordinary human achievement: "In the last century, humanity has experienced more than twice as great a gain in longevity as in the previous two thousand centuries, and more than four times the growth in population." But with rapid growth in population came fears of social disruption and food scarcity. The "misery and the fear of misery" caused by overpopulation that mathematician Thomas Malthus first described in 1798 remained a constant concern in Europe and the U.S. During the late 19th century, these anxieties fueled the drive to categorize and make systematic a world that seemed out of control; among the most popular ways of doing this was dividing the world up into different ethnic or racial groups, some deemed more favorable than others. In the United States, fears of "race suicide," an influx of immigrants from Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe, and concerns about the growth of the so-called feebleminded population at home led to the embrace of eugenics, the movement to improve the human race through better breeding practices.”