From Sir Srthur Keith's "Evolution and Ethics:
The Behavior of Germany Considered from an Evolutionary Point of View in 1942
VISITORS TO GERMANY IN 1934 FOUND AN emotional storm sweeping through masses of the people, particularly the more educated. The movement had much in common with a religious revival. The preacher in this case was Adolf Hitler; his doctrine was, and is, tribalism; he had stirred in the emotional depths of the German people those long-dormant tribal feelings which find release and relief in mutual service; men and women who had been leading selfish lives or were drifting aimlessly were given a new purpose in life: service to their country the Third Reich. It is worth noting that Hitler uses a double designation for his tribal doctrine National Socialism: Socialism standing for the good side of the tribal spirit (that which works within the Reich); aud Nationalism for the ethically vicious part, which dominates policy at and outside the German frontiers.
The leader of Germany is an evolutionist not only in theory, but, as millions know to their cost, in the rigor of its practice. For him the national "front" of Europe is also the evolutionary "front"; he regards himself, and is regarded, as the incarnation of the will of Germany, the purpose of that will being to guide the evolutionary destiny of its people. He has brought into
modern life the tribal and evolutionary mentality of prehistoric times. Hitler has confronted the statesmen of the world with an evolutionary problem of an unprecedented magnitude. What is the world to do with a united aggressive tribe numbering eighty millions!
We must not lose sight of the purpose of our visit to Germany; it was to see how far modern evolutionary practice can provide us with a scientific basis for ethical or moral behavior. As a source of information concerning Hitler's evolutionary and ethical doctrines I have before me Mein Kampf, extracts from The Times covering German affairs during the last twenty years, and the monthly journal R.F.C. (Racio Political Foreign Correspondenee), published by the German Bureau for Human Betterment and Eugenics and circulated by that bureau for the enlightenment of anthropologists living abroad. In the number of that journal for July 1937, there appears in English the text of a speech given by the German Fuhrer on January 30, 1937, in reply to a statement made by Mr. Anthony Eden that "the German race theory" stood in the way of a common discussion of European problems. Hitler maintained his theory would have an opposite effect; "it will bring about a real understanding for the first time." "It is not for men," said the Fuhrer, "to discuss the question of why Providence created different races, but rather to recognize that it punishes those who disregard its work of creation." I may remark incidentally that in this passage, as in many others, the German Fuhrer, like Bishop Barnes and many of our more intellectual clergy, regards evolution as God's mode of creation. God having created races, it is therefore "the noblest and most sacred duty for each racial species of mankind to preserve the purity of the blood which God has given it." Here we have expounded the perfectly sound doctrine of evolutionary isolation; even as an ethical doctrine it should not be condemned. No German must be guilty of the "greatest racial sin" that of bringing the fruits of hybridity into the world. The reproductive "genes" which circulate within the frontiers of Germany must be kept uncontaminated, so that they may work out the racial destiny of the German people without impediment. Hitler is also a eugenist. Germans who suffer from
hereditable imperfections of mind or of body must be rendered infertile, so that "the strong may not be plagued by the weak." Sir Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics, taught a somewhat similar evolutionary doctrine namely, that if our nation was to prosper we must give encouragement to the strong rather than to the weak; a saving which may be justified by evolution, but not by ethics as recognized and practiced by civilized peoples. The liberties of German women are to be sacrificed; they must devote their activities to their households, especially to the sacred duty of raising succeeding generations. The birth rate was stimulated by bounties and subsidies so that the German tribe might grow in numbers and in strength. In all these matters the Nazi doctrine is evolutionist.
Hitler has sought on every occasion and in every way to heighten the national consciousness of the German people or, what is the same thing, to make them racially conscious; to give them unity of spirit and unity of purpose. Neighborly approaches of adjacent nations are and were repelled; the German people were deliberately isolated. Cosmopolitanism, liberality of opinion, affectation of foreign manners and dress were unsparingly condemned. The old tribal bonds (love of the Fatherland, feeling of mutual kinship), the bonds of "soil and blood," became "the main plank in the National Social program." "Germany was for the Germans" was another plank. Foreign policy was "good or bad according to its beneficial or harmful effects on the German folk now or hereafter." "Charity and humility are only for home consumption" a statement in which Hitler gives an exact expression of the law which limits sympathy to its tribe. "Humanitarianism is an evil . . . a creeping poison." "The most cruel methods are humane if they give a speedy victory" is Hitler's echo of a maxim attributed to Moltke. Such are the ways of evolution when applied to human affairs.
I have said nothing about the methods employed by the Nazi leaders to secure tribal unity in Germany methods of brutal compulsion, bloody force, and the concentration camp. Such methods cannot be brought within even a Machiavellian system of ethics, and yet may be justified by their evolutionary result.
Even in that result we may harbor a doubt: can unity obtained by such methods be relied on to endure?
There are other aspects of Nazi policy which raise points which may be legitimate subjects of ethical debate. In recent years British men of science have debated this ethical problem: an important discovery having been made a new poison gas, for example is it not the duty of the discoverer to suppress it if there is a possibility of its being used for an evil purpose? My personal conviction is that science is concerned wholly with truth, not with ethics. A man of science is responsible for the accuracy of his observations and of his inferences, not for the results which may follow therefrom. Under no circumstances should the truth be suppressed; yet suppression and distortion of the truth is a deliberate part of Nazi policy. Every anthropologist in Germany, be he German or Jew, was and is silenced in Nazi Germany unless the Hitlerian racial doctrine is accepted without any reservation whatsoever. Authors, artists, preachers, and editors are undone if they stray beyond the limits of the National Socialist tether. Individual liberty of thought and of its expression is completely suppressed. An effective tribal unity is thus attained at the expense of truth. And yet has not the Church in past times persecuted science just in this Hitlerian way? There was a time, and not so long ago, when it was dangerous for a biologist to harbor a thought that clashed in any way with the Mosaic theory of creation.
No aspect of Hitler's policy proclaims the antagonism between evolution and ethics so forcibly as his treatment of the Jewish people in Germany. So strong are the feelings roused that it is difficult for even science to approach the issues so raised with an unclouded judgment. Ethically the Hitlerian treatment of the Jews stands condemned out of hand. Hitler is cruel, but I do not think that his policy can be explained by attributing it to a mere satisfaction of a lust, or to a search for a scapegoat on which Germany can wreak her wrath for the ills which followed her defeat of 1918. The Church in Spain subjected the Jews to the cruelty of the Inquisition, but no one ever sought to explain the Church's behavior by suggesting that she had a
lust for cruelty which had to be satisfied. The Church adopted the Inquisition as a policy; it was a means of securing unity of mind in her flock. Hitler is an uncompromising evolutionist, and we must seek for an evolutionary explanation if we are to understand his actions. When the Huguenots fled to Germany they mingled their "genes" with those of their host and disappeared as an entity. The Jews are made of other stuff: for two thousand years, living amid European communities, they have maintained their identity; it is an article of their creed, as it is of Hitler's, to breed true. They, too, practice an evolutionary doctrine. Is it possible for two peoples living within the same frontiers, dwelling side by side, to work out harmoniously their separate evolutionary destinies? Apparently Hitler believes this to be impossible; we in Britain and in America believe it to be not only possible, but also profitable.
It must not be thought that in seeking to explain Hitler's actions I am seeking to justify them. The opposite is the case. I have made this brief survey of public policy in modern Germany with a definite object: to show that Dr. Waddington is in error when he seeks to place ethics on a scientific basis by a knowledge of evolutionary tendencies and practice.
Human Life: Its Purpose or Ultimate End
IN THE COURSE OF GATHERING INFORMATION concerning man's morality and the part it has played and is playing in his evolution, I found it necessary to provide space for slips which were labeled "Life: Its Ultimate and Proximate Purposes." Only those who have devoted some special attention to this matter are aware of the multitude of reasons given for the appearance of man on earth. Here I shall touch on only a few of them; to deal with all would require a big book. The reader may exclaim: Why deal with any of them! What has ultimate purpose got to do with ethics and evolution! Let a man with a clearer head and a nimbler pen than mine reply. He is Edward Carpenter, who wrote Civilization: Its Cause and Cure (1889).
It is from the sixteenth edition (1923) I am to quote, p. 249:
If we have decided what the final purpose or Life of Man is, then we may say that what is good for that purpose is finally "good" and what is bad for that purpose is finally "evil."
If the final purpose of our existence is that which has been and is being worked out under the discipline of evolutionary law, then, although we are quite unconscious of the end result, we ought, as Dr. Waddington has urged, to help on "that which tends to promote the ultimate course of evolution." If we do so, then we have to abandon the hope of ever attaining a universal system of ethics; for, as we have just seen, the ways of national evolution, both in the past and in the present, are cruel, brutal, ruthless, and without mercy. Dr. Waddington has not grasped the implications of Nature's method of evolution, for in his summing up (Nature, 1941, 150, p. 535) he writes "that the ethical principles formulated by Christ . . . are those which have tended towards the further evolution of mankind, and that they will continue to do so." Here a question of the highest interest is raised: the relationship which exists between evolution and Christianity; so important, it seems to me, that I shall devote to it a separate chapter. Meantime let me say that the conclusion I have come to is this: the law of Christ is incompatible with the law of evolution as far as the law of evolution has worked hitherto. Nay, the two laws are at war with each other; the law of Christ can never prevail until the law of evolution is destroyed. Clearly the form of evolution which Dr. Waddington has in mind is not that which has hitherto prevailed; what he has in mind is a man made system of evolution. In brief, instead of seeking ethical guidance from evolution, he now proposes to impose a system of ethics on evolution and so bring humanity ultimately to a safe and final anchorage in a Christian haven.