by John G. West
Evolution News and Views

While the establishment media look to fundamentalist Christianity and various right-wing sources to explain the ideology of Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik, they have completely ignored his virulent scientific fundamentalism and Social Darwinism, including a far-ranging proposal for a revival of eugenics inspired by Princeton University evolutionary biologist Lee Silver.

In his 1518-page “European Declaration of Independence,” Breivik reveals himself as an unapologetic champion of modern biology and the scientific worldview. Indeed, despite his right-wing views in some areas, he does not believe that the progress of science can be left to private enterprise. Instead, it requires lavish and permanent support by the state. He argues that 20% of government spending must be devoted to scientific research (pp. 1188, 1386), and he insists that funding science is more important than government help for the poor. “Welfare expenditure should not take precedent over the 20% fixed sum dedicated to science/technology, research and development.” (p. 1195)

Science also trumps religion according to Breivik: “As for the Church and science, it is essential that science takes an undisputed precedence over biblical teachings.” (p. 1403)

Breivik lists Darwin’s Origin of Species as one of the “important” books he has read (p. 1407), and Social Darwinism is never far from the surface in his discussions of social policy. At one point he laments that “Social-darwinism was the norm before the 1950. Back then, it was allowed to say what we feel. Now, however, we have to disguise our preferences to avoid the horrible consequences of being labeled as a genetical preferentialist.” (p. 1227) Breivik’s vision for “a perfect Europe” also involves Social Darwinism, which he identifies with “logic” and “rationalist thought”: “‘Logic’ and rationalist thought (a certain degree of national Darwinism) should be the fundament of our societies.” (emphasis added, p. 1386)

Breivik’s Social Darwinism rears its ugly head yet again in his discussions of global ecology and overpopulation. He argues that “radical policies will have to be implemented” to reduce the human population by more than half, or 3.8 billion people. (p. 1202) He writes that if “second and third world countries” cannot curb their production of human offspring, “nature will correct their suicidal tendencies as they are unable to feed their populations.” (p. 1202) He further argues that Western countries should not interfere in this natural process, even if it results in mass starvation. “If starvation threatens the countries who have failed to follow our [population control] guidelines we should not support them by backing their corrupt leaders or send any form of aid.” (p. 1202) Indeed, “[f]ood aid to 3rd world countries must stop immediately as it is the primary cause of overpopulation.” (p. 1203)

Perhaps the most blatant example of Breivik’s Social Darwinism is his endorsement of “reprogenetics,” a form of “positive” eugenics to allow human beings to take control of their evolution and produce better humans through genetic engineering. According to Breivik, “[t]he never-ending collective pursuit for scientific evolution and perfection should become the benchmark and essence of our existence.” (p. 1199) He explains further:

The Nazis destroyed the reputation of “eugenics” by combining it to scientific racism and mass extermination. But seeking biological perfection is still a logical concept and I don’t see why we should abandon it. We just have to make sure that we offer it as a voluntary option to everyone or at least start by legalising it (promotional voluntary reprogenetics or private reprogenetics). We should legalise reproductive technologies that will allow parents to create off spring with biological improvement (reprogenetics). This must be a non-coercive form of biological improvement which will be predominantly motivated by individual competitiveness and the desire to create the best opportunities for children. (p. 1200)

Breivik advocates “[t]he commercialisation and state/media encouragement of reprogenetics favoring the Nordic genotype” and “[t]he usage of large scale surrogacy facilities as a secondary reproduction option for countries to compensate for non-sustainable fertility rates. The donors of eggs and sperm will then exclusively carry the Nordic genotypes.” (p. 1192)

Breivik is clearly a madman and/or a moral monster, and his Social Darwinism did not “cause” his murderous rampage. Nor am I trying to suggest that modern Darwinists are somehow responsible for his heinous acts. Of course they aren’t.

But Breivik’s call for a new eugenics–as opposed to his murders–is another matter. The most disturbing thing about Breivik’s eugenics proposals is that they are not simply inspired by his own private demons. Instead, they largely spring from “mainstream” Darwinists, past and present.

The part that comes from the past is Breivik’s obsession about the preservation of the “Nordic” race, which he believes features “rare characteristics that have been acquired through an evolutionary process which has taken more than 1 million years.” (p. 1158) Breivik claims that new cultural attitudes toward “race-mixing” are leading people of Nordic ancestry to act unnaturally and undo what a million years of evolution has produced. Here Breivik is echoing the concerns of leading Darwinian eugenists from the early twentieth century like Madison Grant, who is cited by name in Breivik’s manifesto. (pp. 1152-1153)

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