Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bertrand Russell: WBI

Bertrand Russell was born at Trellech in Monmouthshire and died almost one hundred years later in 1970 at Penrhyndeudraeth, Merionedd.

He is therefore a wondefully unlikely "Welsh Born Icon", even though personally I have always considered him foolish if not dangerous.

Here for example, is one of the early fruits of "his perpetual intellectual battle for eternal truths", his espousal of eugenics.

"In extreme cases there can be little doubt of the superiority of one race to another.... It seems on the whole fair to regard negroes as on the average inferior to white men, although for work in the tropics they are indispensible, so that their extermination (apart from questions of humanity) would be highly undesirable."
� Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals (1929)

Not a quote you would be likely to hear from a Russell admirer these days I'll warrant. "Extermination (apart from questions of humanity)" is a nice distinction that would only ever occur to an over clocked mind.

What a deadly danger eugenics was in the 1920s! H G Wells thought the weak should be killed by the strong, having �no pity and less benevolence�. The diseased, deformed and insane, together with �those swarms of blacks, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people � will have to go�. He envisioned a time when all crime would be punished by death because �People who cannot live happily and freely in the world without spoiling the lives of others are better out of it.�

From what I can gather, the cogent opposition to this sort of rubbish came from Chesterton and Belloc. You'd never guess that today from received opinion.

No comments: