Superman Myth: The Coming Super Race
The myth of the Superman is based in the belief that humans are frail, that they are poorly designed, and that we can overcome these frailties and design flaws. One way to overcome our weakness is to find strength in numbers, to form collectives.
We have been doing that for as long as there has been recorded history. The ancient Greeks thought the basic human collective was the polis, the city. It is from this word that we get the English word politics. Humans are by nature political; that is, we try to form collectives to improve our chances of survival.
The dream of forming a super race is a variation of this political impulse. After the theory of evolution gained traction, futurists began to insist that humans need to take charge of their own evolution, and that means taking charge of human reproduction. Mankind, left to unplanned procreation, will continue to produce inferior individuals, and their genes will continue to be mixed in with the gene pool. Therefore, they argued, we need a program of planned procreation, of planned parenthood.
Francis Galton. The term "eugenics" was developed by Charles Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton. It is composed of two Greek words, "eu," which means "good," and "genics," which means breeding.
Here's what he said about the project in 1904 “The aim of eugenics is to bring as many influences as can be reasonably employed, to cause the useful classes in the community to contribute more than their proportion to the next generation.”
He argued that persistence is needed in setting forth the national importance of eugenics. "There are three stages to be passed through: (I) It must be made familiar as an academic question, until its exact importance has been understood and accepted as a fact. (2) It must be recognized as a subject whose practical development deserves serious consideration. (3) It must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion. It has, indeed, strong claims to become an orthodox religious, tenet of the future, for eugenics co-operate with the workings of nature by securing that humanity shall be represented by the fittest races. What nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly." (Francis Galton, The American Journal of Sociology, Volume X; July, 1904; Number 1 Read before the Sociological Society at a meeting in the School of Economies, London University, on May 16, 1904)
H. G. Wells. H. G. Wells, best known for his science fiction, also believed that some kind of eugenics program would be necessary as human society evolves with the help of technology and industry. The new society will have no place for humans who cannot adapt to new condistions. In 1902, he wrote, "Humanity has set out in the direction of a more complex and exacting organization, and until, by a foresight to me at least inconceivable, it can prevent the birth of just all the inadaptable, useless, or merely unnecessary creatures in each generation, there must needs continue to be, in greater or less amount, this individually futile struggle beneath the feet of the race."
". . . the commencement of the new movement has been marked at once by the appearance of this bulky irremovable excretion, the appearance of these gall stones of vicious, helpless, and pauper masses. There seems every reason to suppose that this phenomenon of unemployed citizens, who are, in fact, unemployable, will remain present as a class, perishing individually and individually renewed, so long as civilization remains progressive and experimental upon its present lines." (H. G. Wells, Anticipations Of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human life and Thought ,1902, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19229/19229-h/19229-h.htm.)
In another place, Wells suggests that the unemployable be put on the welfare roles for one generation with the stipulation that they remain childless. In that way, the undermen can be eliminated from among us (A Modern Utopia, 1905, Penguin Classics, 2005, 98).
George Bernard Shaw, in 1903, agreed and suggested that one day the government might have to take over planning. He says, "The only fundamental and possible Socialism is the socialization of the selective breeding of Man: in other terms, of human evolution. We must eliminate the Yahoo, or his vote will wreck the commonwealth."
He goes on, "That may mean that we must establish a State Department of Evolution, with a seat in the Cabinet for its chief, and a revenue to defray the cost of direct State experiments, and provide inducements to private persons to achieve successful results. It may mean a private society or a chartered company for the improvement of human live stock. But for the present it is far more likely to mean a blatant repudiation of such proposals as indecent and immoral, with, nevertheless, a general secret pushing of the human will in the repudiated direction; so that all sorts of institutions and public authorities will under some pretext or other feel their way furtively towards the Superman." (Bernard Shaw, The Revolutionist’s Handbook, in Man and Superman. A Comedy and a Philosophy, 1903)
J. B. S. Haldane. The concern about the imbalance in procreation was widespread prior to WW II. As Haldane put it, "Thus the unskilled workers are breeding much faster than the skilled classes, and, in view of the demands for intellectual and manual skill in modern civilization, this is an evil. The Eugenics Education Society have doubtless done good work in persuading a certain number of intelligent people that it is their duty to have more children" (J. B. S. Haldane, "Eugenics and Social Reform," Possible Worlds, 1927, p. 193)
Adolf Hitler. Sadly, Adolf Hitler took this agenda seriously. In Mein Kampf, 1924, he writes:
The progress of humanity is like climbing an endless ladder; it is impossible to climb higher without first taking the lower steps. Thus, the Aryan had to take the road to which reality directed him and not the one that would appeal to the imagination of a modern pacifist.
Blood mixture and the resultant drop in the racial level is the sole cause of the dying out of old cultures; for men do not perish as a result of lost wars, but by the loss of that force of resistance which is contained only in pure blood.
For Nature herself decides according to the rules of her inexorable logic. She leaves these diverse groups to compete with one another and dispute the palm of victory and thus she chooses the clearest, shortest and surest way along which she leads the movement to its final goal. (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1924, http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/index.html.)