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ARISTOTLE AND TOTALITARIANISM
QUOTATIONS FROM WORLD PHILOSOPHY ON TOTALITARIANISM:
EUGENICS: HUMAN INEQUALITY &
STATE CONTROL OVER HUMAN BREEDING
“[1254a] These considerations therefore make clear the nature of the slave and his essential quality: one who is a human being belonging by nature not to himself but to another is by nature a slave, and a person is a human being belonging to another if and if being a man he is an article of property, and an article of property is an instrument for action separable from its owner. But we must next consider whether or not anyone exists who is by nature of this character, and whether it is advantageous and just for anyone to be a slave, or whether on the contrary all slavery is against nature. And it is not difficult either to discern the answer by theory or to learn it empirically. Authority and subordination are conditions not only inevitable but also expedient; in some cases things are marked out from the moment of birth to rule or to be ruled.”
“[1334b] Inasmuch therefore as it is the duty of the lawgiver to consider from the start how the children reared are to obtain the best bodily frames, he must first pay attention to the union of the sexes, and settle when and in what condition a couple should practice matrimonial intercourse. In legislating for this partnership he must pay regard partly to the persons themselves and to their span of life, so that they may arrive together at the same period in their ages, and their powers may not be at discord through the man being still capable of parentage and the wife incapable, or the wife capable and the man not (for this causes differences and actual discord between them), and also he must consider as well the succession of the children, for the children must neither be too far removed in their ages from the fathers (since elderly fathers get no good from their children's return of their favors, nor do the children from the help they get from the fathers ), [1335a] nor must they be too near them (for this involves much unpleasantness, since in such families there is less respect felt between them, as between companions of the same age, and also the nearness of age leads to friction in household affairs); and in addition, to return to the point from which we began this digression, measures must be taken to ensure that the children produced may have bodily frames suited to the wish of the lawgiver.
These results then are almost all attained by one mode of regulation. For since the period of parentage terminates, speaking generally, with men at the age of seventy at the outside, and with women at fifty, the commencement of their union should correspond in respect of age with these times. But the mating of the young is bad for child-bearing; for in all animal species the offspring of the young are more imperfect and likely to produce female children, and small in figure, so that the same thing must necessarily occur in the human race also. And a proof of this is that in all the states where it is the local custom to mate young men and young women, the people are deformed and small of body. And again young women labor more, and more of them die in childbirth; indeed according to some accounts such was the reason why the oracle was given to the people of Troezen, because many were dying owing to its being their custom for the women to marry young, and it did not refer to the harvest.
And again it also contributes to chastity for the bestowal of women in marriage to be made when they are older, for it is thought that they are more licentious when they have had intercourse in youth. Also the males are thought to be arrested in bodily growth if they have intercourse while the seed is still growing, for this also has a fixed period after passing which it is no longer plentiful. Therefore it is fitting for the women to be married at about the age of eighteen and the men at thirty-seven or a little before--for that will give long enough for the union to take place with their bodily vigor at its prime, and for it to arrive with a convenient coincidence of dates at the time when procreation ceases.
Moreover the succession of the children to the estates, if their birth duly occurs soon after the parents marry, will take place when they are beginning their prime, and when the parents' period of vigor has now come to a close, towards the age of seventy. The proper age therefore for union has been discussed; as to the proper times in respect of the season we may accept what is customary with most people, who have rightly decided even as it is to practise marital cohabitation in winter. And people should also study for themselves, when their time comes, the teachings of physicians and natural philosophers on the subject of the procreation of children; the suitable bodily seasons are adequately discussed by the physicians, [1335b] The particular kind of bodily constitution in the parents that will be most beneficial for the offspring must be dwelt on more in detail in our discussion of the management of children; it is sufficient to speak of it in outline now. The athlete's habit of body is not serviceable for bodily fitness as required by a citizen, nor for health and parentage, nor yet is a habit that is too valetudinarian and unfit for labor, but the condition that lies between them. The bodily habit therefore should have been trained by exercise, but not by exercises that are violent, and not for one form of labor only, as is the athlete's habit of body, but for the pursuits of free men. And these arrangements must be provided alike for men and women. And pregnant women also must take care of their bodies, not avoiding exercise nor adopting a low diet; this it is easy for the lawgiver to secure by ordering them to make a journey daily for the due worship of the deities whose office is the control of childbirth. As regards the mind, however, on the contrary it suits them to pass the time more indolently than as regards their bodies; for children before birth are evidently affected by the mother just as growing plants are by the earth.
From Politics: [1335B]
As to exposing or rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared; but on the ground of number of children, if the regular customs hinder any of those born being exposed, there must be a limit fixed to the procreation of offspring, and if any people have a child as a result of intercourse in contravention of these regulations, abortion must be practiced on it before it has developed sensation and life; for the line between lawful and unlawful abortion will be marked by the fact of having sensation and being alive.
STATE CONTROL OVER EDUCATION
“[1336a] When the children have been born, the particular mode of rearing adopted must be deemed an important determining influence in regard to their power of body. It appears from examining the other animals, and is also shown by the foreign races that make it their aim to keep up the military habit of body, that a diet giving an abundance of milk is most suited to the bodies of children, and one that allows rather little wine because of the diseases that it causes. Moreover it is advantageous to subject them to as many movements as are practicable with children of that age. To prevent the limbs from being distorted owing to softness, some races even now employ certain mechanical appliances that keep the bodies of infants from being twisted. And it is also advantageous to accustom them at once from early childhood to cold, for this is most useful both for health and with a view to military service. Hence among many non-Greek races it is customary in the case of some peoples to wash the children at birth by dipping them in a cold river, and with others, for instance the Celts, to give them scanty covering. For it is better to inure them at the very start to everything possible, but to inure them gradually; and the bodily habit of children is naturally well fitted by warmth to be trained to bear cold. In the earliest period of life then it is expedient to employ this or a similar method of nursing; and the next period to this, up to the age of five, which it is not well to direct as yet to any study nor to compulsory labors, in order that they may not hinder the growth, should nevertheless be allowed enough movement to avoid bodily inactivity; and this exercise should be obtained by means of various pursuits, particularly play. But even the games must not be unfit for freemen, nor laborious, nor undisciplined. Also the question of the kind of tales and stories that should be told to children of this age must be attended to by the officials called Children's Tutors. For all such amusements should prepare the way for their later pursuits; hence most children's games should be imitations of the serious occupations of later life. The legislators in the Laws forbid allowing children to have paroxysms of crying, but this prohibition is a mistake; violent crying contributes to growth, for it serves in a way as exercise for the body, since holding the breath is the strength giving factor in hard labor, and this takes place also with children when they stretch themselves in crying.
The Tutors must supervise the children's pastimes, and in particular must see that they associate as little as possible with slaves. For children of this age, [1336b] and up to seven years old, must necessarily be reared at home; so it is reasonable to suppose that even at this age they may acquire a taint of illiberality from what they hear and see. The lawgiver ought therefore to banish indecent talk, as much as anything else, out of the state altogether (for light talk about anything disgraceful soon passes into action)--so most of all from among the young, so that they may not say nor hear anything of the sort; and anybody found saying or doing any of the things prohibited, if he is of free station but not yet promoted to reclining at the public meals, must be punished with marks of dishonor and with beating, and an older offender must be punished with marks of dishonor degrading to a free man, because of his slavish behavior. And since we banish any talk of this kind, clearly we must also banish the seeing of either pictures or representations that are indecent. The officials must therefore be careful that there may be no sculpture or painting that represents indecent actions, except in the temples of a certain class of gods to whom the law allows even scurrility; but in regard to these the law permits men still of suitable age to worship the gods both on their own behalf and on behalf of the children and women. But the younger ones must not be allowed in the audience at lampoons and at comedy, before they reach the age at which they will now have the right to recline at table in company and to drink deeply, and at which their education will render all of them immune to the harmful effects of such things.
For the present therefore we have merely mentioned these matters in passing, but later we must stop to settle them more definitely, first discussing fully whether legislation prohibiting the attendance of the young is desirable or not, and how such prohibition should be put in force; but on the present occasion we have touched on the question only in the manner necessary. For perhaps the tragic actor Theodorus used to put the matter not badly: he had never once allowed anybody to produce his part before him, not even one of the poor actors, as he said that audiences are attracted by what they hear first; and this happens alike in regard to our dealings with people and to our dealings with things--all that comes first we like better. On this account we ought to make all base things unfamiliar to the young, and especially those that involve either depravity or malignity.
But when the five years from two to seven have passed, the children must now become spectators at the lessons which they will themselves have to learn. And there are two ages corresponding to which education should be divided--there must be a break after the period from seven to puberty, and again after that from puberty to twenty-one. For those who divide the ages by periods of seven years are generally speaking not wrong, [1337a] and it is proper to follow the division of nature, for all art and education aim at filling up nature's deficiencies. First therefore we must consider whether some regulation in regard to the boys ought to be instituted, next whether it is advantageous for their supervision to be conducted on a public footing or in a private manner as is done at present in most states, and thirdly of what particular nature this supervision ought to be.”
STATE CONTROL OVER SIZE OF POPULATION
“[1265a] [In Plato’s Laws] it is also strange that although equalizing properties the writer does not regulate the number of the citizens, but leaves the birth-rate uncontrolled, on the assumption that it will be sufficiently leveled up to the same total owing to childless marriages, however many children are begotten, [1265b] because this seems to take place in the states at present. But this ought to be regulated much more in the supposed case than it is now, for now nobody is destitute, because estates are divided among any number, but then, as division of estates will not be allowed, the extra children will necessarily have nothing, whether they are fewer in number or more. And one might think that restriction ought to be put on the birth-rate rather than on property, so as not to allow more than a certain number of children to be produced, and that in fixing their number consideration should be paid to the chances of its happening that some of the children born may die, and to the absence of children in the other marriages; but for the matter to be left alone, as it is in most states, is bound to lead to poverty among the citizens, and poverty produces sedition and crime.”
“[1270a] It is better for a state's male population to be kept up by measures to equalize property. The law in relation to parentage is also somewhat adverse to the correction of this evil. [1270b] For the lawgiver desiring to make the Spartiates as numerous as possible holds out inducements to the citizens to have as many children as possible: for they have a law releasing the man who has been father of three sons from military service, and exempting the father of four from all taxes. Yet it is clear that if a number of sons are born and the land is correspondingly divided there will inevitably come to be many poor men.”