Foundation for Fascism: the New Eugenics Movement in the United States, Patterns of Prejudice

Foundation for Fascism: the New Eugenics Movement in the United States, Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 23, no. 4. 1989 by BARRY MEHLER

Andrew Winston on Rushton  [link:]

At the January 1989 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science a little-known psychologist from the University of Western Ontario delivered a paper(1) at a symposium on evolution and political theory. That paper caused a major international uproar.(2) This article outlines the background to the paper's author and his connection to the right wing eugenic organizations, Mankind Quarterly and the Pioneer Fund [link:].

J. Philippe Rushton, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow with an impressive publication history, explained that data show Asians and whites to be different and, by implication, superior to blacks. Orientals and whites have evolved into races that are allegedly more intelligent, family oriented and law-abiding than Negroes. According to this explanation, the Negro race is, on the whole, smaller brained, slower to mature, less sexually restrained and more aggressive than its white and Asian cousins. Yet the use of a tripartite division of races into white, black and yellow has been widely discredited by biologists and anthropologists.(3)

David Peterson, the Premier of Ontario, called Rushton's work 'morally offensive' and 'destructive'.(4) The Urban Alliance on Race Relations in London, Ontario, called for Rushton's dismissal from the university and for an investigation of his activities. Indeed, the Ontario police initiated an investigation under the hate propaganda laws following numerous complaints about statements Rushton made on a radio phone-in show. As a result, Rushton had to cancel a planned speaking engagement before the Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform, an extremist anti-immigration group.(5) Instauration, a racist and antisemitic magazine, also embraced Rushton as a scientific source for its belief in the inferiority of Afro-Americans.(6)

Rushton's theories are a bizarre mélange of nineteenth century anthro-pometrism and twentieth century eugenics. Although there is no evidence showing different cranial sizes between races, Rushton has cited the genetic distance studies of Allen Wilson of the University of California to claim that /18/ Africans have smaller brains and are more primitive than whites and orientals, who evolved to cope with the more demanding northern climes.(7) Wilson commented: 'He is misrepresenting our findings'. These 'show that Asians are as closely related to modern Africans as Europeans are'. When asked if he was aware of any anthropological evidence at all that might support Rushton's claim, he replied, 'I'm not aware of any such evidence. The claim shocks and dismays me'.(8)

According to Rushton, the differences between the three races emanate from evolutionary differences in reproductive strategies. Rushton uses the r/K selection theory developed in the late 1960s(9) to explain differences between species in evolutionary development. Species that emphasize r-selected strategies, such as the cockroach, reproduce quickly and invest little in their offspring, many of whom die. The K end of this scale is best represented by humans who produce very few offspring but lavish great care upon them to ensure survival.

Rushton applies this theory to humans. At one extreme are blacks who are said to produce large numbers of offspring and offer little care. At the other extreme are Orientals and whites who have fewer children but lavish great care on them.(10) Rushton even suggests that grieving patterns are related to genetic investment. This suggests that black parents will grieve less upon the death of a child than white or Asian parents.(11)

Dr Mark Feldman, Stanford University Population Biologist and recognized authority on r/K selection theory, claims that r/K is 'absolutely inapplicable' to differences between humans. Feldman concluded that Rushton's work 'doesn't really classify as science . . . it has no content, it is laughable'.(12)

Rushton uses measurements of sixty different characteristics to put forward his case for blacks being less advanced in evolution. These include everything from family size to brain size, but the vulgarity of his racism is evident in his use of an inconsistent nineteenth century source described as 'anthro-porn',(13) from which Rushton claimed that black men not only have larger penises than other men, but that this accounts for promiscuity and large families.(14)

Despite academic opposition to Rushton, it seemed that precipitate action against a tenured professor might be regarded as damaging the fundamental principle of academic freedom.(15) Tom Collins, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Western Ontario, compared the calls to silence Rushton to the Ayatollah's death threat against British author Salman Rushdie, whose book The Satanic Verses offended Muslims.(16) A Toronto Star editorial chastised the University for not taking decisive action against Rushton, whose theories had been found 'without exception' to have 'no scientific basis'.(17) Western 'has shirked its responsibility', the editorial concluded. Yet calls for Rushton's dismissal only helped to obscure the dimensions of the problem.

Reports of Rushton's theories spread throughout the United States, /19/ Canada and Britain, and Rushton even appeared on a popular US television show.(18) Most disturbing about the media-fest which surrounded Rushton was the lack of understanding of the context of academic racism and the resurgence of eugenics. Rushton was regularly depicted as a lone kook spouting nonsensical theories.(19) It was as if he had dropped out of the sky.

Mark Feldman commented that both the scientific and the lay community would quickly dispense with Rushton. 'There is no merit in any of his claims and it won't take a trained eye more than a microsecond to realize that.(20)

Rushton and the new eugenics movement

What was missed in the two-month debate was any sense of history. Where had Rushton come from? At forty-five years old, he is a tenured professor holding one of America's most prestigious fellowships (the Guggenheim). He has been publishing in prestigious journals in North America and Britain regularly for five years (21) and has coauthored articles with some of the most highly respected academics in the fields of psychology and sociobiology in the US, Canada and Britain;(22) he has even published an article containing all of the essential elements of his biological determinism - that individuals seek out genetically similar people for friendship, marriage and social and cultural organization - in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.(23)

It is only by examining Rushton in the context of his support and the large movement for which he speaks, that one begins to understand the significance of his work.

The publication of E. O. Wilson's Sociobiology: The New Synthesis in 1975 (24) allowed sociobiological concepts to be applied to an ideology of racial nationalism. Rushton has taken the 'new synthesis' and developed it into a full-blown naturalistic ethic.

He draws heavily on the work of Arthur Jensen, Hans Eysenck, Daniel Vining, R. T. Osborne and Richard Lynn. All these men are closely associated with each other and with Mankind Quarterly, which is the primary outlet for the new eugenics, and with the Pioneer Fund, which is the movement's major funding source.

The Mankind Quarterly

The Mankind Quarterly, dedicated to'race-science' and 'racial history', was established in 1960 by Professor R. Gayre of Edinburgh who believed that 'racial fundamentals' were 'all important' in human affairs. He maintained that scientific evidence proved blacks 'prefer their leisure to the dynamism which the white and yellow races show'.(25) Gayre's work owed a heavy debt to that of Hans F. K. Günther, a major Nazi race theorist. Indeed, Gayre's first important work, Teutotn and Slav, argued for improving the 'racial homogeneity' and 'Nordic' purity of the German nation.(26) Among the founders, early editors, advisory board members and contributors to the /20/ Mankind Quarterly one finds people who have supported apartheid and neo-Nazism, such as Donald Swan, Robert Kuttner [link:] and the South African, J. Hofmeyer.

In the late 1970s, control of the Mankind Quarterly - was transferred to Roger Pearson [link :] in Washington D.C. who came to the United States from Britain in the mid-1960s to work with Willis Carto, America's leading publisher of antisemitic literature. He became editor of Western Destiny, a neo-Nazi magazine, whose staff included Arthur Ehrhardt, former Waffen-SS officer and founder of the post-war Nation Europa; A. K. Chesterton, pre-war editor of Blackshirt (published by the British Union of Fascists); Fabrice Laroche, the pseudonym for Alain de Benoist, editor of Nouvelle Ecole; and Henry Garrett, Chairman of the Department of Psychology at Columbia University and champion of racial segregation in US schools [link:]. Pearson himself founded the Northern League in 1958 which brought together Nazi and neo-Nazi intellectuals from Europe to further the cause of post-war fascism. He has argued for a eugenic use of modern biological technology to produce 'a new super-generation'. The first nation to adopt this 'would eventually dominate the rest of the world'.(27)

Richard Lynn, [link:] Professor of Psychology at the University of Ulster and the leading proponent of the oriental superiority theory, has been associate editor of Mankind Quarterly for over fifteen years.(28) In 1987, he invited Rushton to contribute an article which elaborated on the political and social consequences of his biological determinism.(29) In that article, Rushton found the causes of 'ethnic conflict and rivalry' to be rooted in the genetic differences between groups, and warned that the white majority in the United States and the Soviet Union was 'unlikely to maintain their position' as the dominant group' given the differential birth rate' between the white and non-white populations.(30)

This raised a problem which Rushton recognized as a paradox in his own theory. If we are all out to advance our own genes, why have whites adopted ideologies which 'discourage nationalist and religious beliefs' reflecting their interest in outbreeding blacks and Hispanics? 'Why are European populations throughout the world currently experiencing negative growth while allowing extensive immigration from genetically less similar gene pools? Clearly ideologies can arise which have the paradoxical effect of dramatically decreasing fitness.(31) Rushton speculated that this is the key to why civilizations decay. The ruling group, either a class or race, fails to reproduce itself, How to solve the 'fertility paradox' will 'herald a quantum jump in understanding the nature of gene-culture coevolution.'(32)

The implications of this new biological determinism (spelt out in detail by Raymond B. Cattell) [link:] are that nations should recognize themselves as biological entities.(33) Immigration should be discouraged and the genetically superior stocks should be encouraged to have large families."(34) People are poor largely because they are unintelligent, according to Cattell, and progressive taxation is thus unethical because it is dysgenic - i.e. it helps the poor to reproduce. This apocalyptic vision demands that society recognize /21/ that extinction of the unfit is the only path to progress, since ignoring the laws of nature will destroy civilization.

The Pioneer Fund

Behind this resurgent fascism stands the Pioneer Fund. Established in 1937 by textile machinery millionaire, Wickcliffe Draper, the Pioneer Fund has a long connection with Nazi and neo-Nazi race theories, and for many years has been funding a small, tightly knit group of people who cite each other's work, review each other's books and acknowledge each other in their books. When scandal emerges, these people invariably deny knowing anything of the Pioneer fund's nefarious history, even though many scandals have broken into national prominence and articles about the fund have appeared for over three decades.

The Pioneer Fund was incorporated in 1937 by two American scientists: Harry Laughlin, who received an honorary doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1936 in honor of his contribution to Nazi eugenics, and Frederick Osborn, who wrote in 1937 that the Nazi sterilization law was 'the most exciting experiment that had ever been tried'.(35)

The fund had two purposes. The first, modeled on the Nazi breeding program, was aimed at encouraging the propagation of those 'descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States and/or from related stocks, or to classes of children, the majority of whom are deemed to be so descended'. Its second purpose was to support academic research and the 'dissemination of information, into the 'problem of heredity and eugenics' and 'the problems of race betterment'.(36)

Among the first projects discussed for 1937 was the distribution of two Nazi eugenic propaganda films to 'high schools, colleges, clubs [and] churches'." (37)

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Pioneer Fund aligned itself with the American right fighting Brown v. Board of Education.(38) Draper  [link] also worked with the House Un-American Activities Committee to prove "that the Negro race is genetically inferior and that American Negroes ought to be 'repatriated' to Africa", and was regarded by several academics as 'a racist of the usual type'.(39)

Ralph Scott [link:] (alias Edward P. Langerton), Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Northern Iowa,"' received over $40,000 from the Pioneer Fund in the mid-1970s. This included a $6,000 grant to test 'Anglo-Saxon' schoolchildren in a study directed by Donald Swan, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. When Swan was arrested in 1966 for mail fraud, authorities found Nazi paraphernalia, swastika flags, weapons, pictures of Swan with members of George Lincoln Rockwell's American Nazi Party and hundreds of anti-semitic, anti-black and anti-Catholic pamphlets in his home."

Although Scott is not a geneticist, he also used Pioneer funds to study /22/ 'forced busing and its relationship to genetic aspects of educability',(42) and to organize anti-busing conferences, out of which grew the National Association for Neighbourhood Schools.(43) Scott defended his acceptance of Pioneer funds, even when the organization was exposed as racist.(44)

Eugenicists have successfully legitimated and integrated themselves with the Reagan right. In 1985 Scott was chosen as the chair of the Iowa Advisory Commission on Civil Rights by Clarence Pendelton, Reagan administration appointee to the US Civil Rights Commission.(45) The Pioneer Fund also is currently closely associated with Jesse Heim's [link:] multi-million dollar high-tech political machine. The fund's president, Harry F. Weyher, is lead counsel for Fairness in Media (FIM), the group that attempted to take over the CBS television network. Thomas F. Ellis, Helm's political strategist and FIM founder, served as a director of the Pioneer Fund.(46) Despite Roger Pearson's connections through the World Anti-Communist League with people such as Earl Thomas, former American Nazi Party storm trooper, and Giorgio Almirante, former leader of the Italian MSI, who served in Mussolini's government, he has also developed successful relationships with the conservative mainstream. In 1982, he distributed a letter from President Reagan praising Pearson's substantial contribution to 'promoting and upholding' those 'ideals and principles that we value at home and abroad'. In 1984 the Wall Street Journal [link:] embarrassed the White House into asking Pearson to stop sending the letter out but it refused to repudiate the letter.(47)

The current focus for many scientists is the IQ question. A recent survey of 661 scholars working on this issue showed that the campaign to legitimate the work of the racist scholars connected to the Pioneer Fund is having a profound effect. The survey revealed that the single most compelling reason convincing scholars of the genetic component to IQ was the recent 'barrage of studies on identical twins reared apart'.(48)

The source of this 'barrage' is Thomas Bouchard's Minnesota Twins Study Project. Although only a few articles on personality and character traits have been published in refereed journals, the Minnesota group has announced 'conclusions' and generated massive publicity about the heritable nature of personality traits. In order for the scientific community to have an opportunity to evaluate the twin study a book-length monograph is needed. Such a monograph was promised by 1987. The twin project is now entering its second decade and a full-length study has still not appeared.(49)

It is possible that Bouchard's survey is methodologically rigorous, but few bodies save the Pioneer Fund would back a study which has not been published in a reputable academic journal. Until such time, 'a decade of media coverage will have made its impression',(50) and ideas generated by right wing eugenicists heralding all end to white civilization might have become acceptable and commonplace.


1. J. Philippe Rushton, 'Evolutionary Biology and Heritable Traits (With Reference to Oriental-White-Black Difference)'. Paper presented at the Symposium on Evolutionary Theory, Economics and Political Science, AAAS Annual Meeting (San Francisco, CA, 19 January 1989).

2 Chronicle of Higher Education, 20 January 1989; San Francisco Tribune; 20 January 1989; Houston Chronicle, 20 January 1989; St. Louis Post Dispatch, 22 January 1989; Detroit Free Press, 24 January 1989; Toronto Star, 28 January 1989, 1; Independent, 8 March 1989, Sunday Telegraph, 12 March 1989.

3 See S. Molnar, Races, Types and Ethnic Groups: the Problem of Human Variation (Englewood Cliffs 1975). Rushton does not define his racial categories. See Rushton, 'Race differences in behavior: a review and evolutionary analysis'; for criticism see M. Zuckerman and N. Brody, 'Oysters, rabbits and people: a critique of "Race differences in behavior" by J. P. Rushton'; see also Rushton's reply to Zuckerman, 'The reality of racial differences: a rejoiner with new evidence', all in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 9 (1988) 1009, 1025-33, 1035-40; see also F. Weizmann, et. al., 'Evolutionary biology, psychology and scientific racism: the strange case of differential-K theory', York University Department of Psychology Reports (March 1988), 54.

4 Toronto Star, 3 February 1989, 1.

5 Don Hughes and Howard Goldenthal, 'White-rights supporters draw close to controversial Western professor', Now Magazine, Toronto, 16-22 March 1989.

6 'Crime model', Instauration, vol. 14, no. 2 (January 1989), 36. See also vol. 14, no. 10 (September 1989), 31.

7 Dr Loring Brace, Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan, interview with John Ingram, host of Quirks and Quarks (CBC Radio, 18 February 1989). The arguments come directly from the eugenics movement 1900-30. See B. Mehler, 'A History of the American Eugenics Movement, 1921-1940', Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois 1988, 187-92.

8 Interview with John Ingram, CBC Radio, 18 February 1989.

9 First articulated in R. H. MacArthur and E. 0. Wilson, The Theory of Island Biogeography (Princeton 1967).

10 Rushton first presented this view publicly at the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Behavior-Genetics Association in Bloomington, Indiana. J. P. Rushton, 'Do "r" and "k" apply to individual differences in humans?'

11. Christine Littlefield and J. P. Rushton, 'When a child dies: the sociobiology of bereavement', Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 51, no. 4 (October 1986), 797-802.

12 CBC Radio, 18 February 1989.

13 The source, A French Army Surgeon, Untrodden Fields of Anthropology (Paris 1896), examined by Neil Wiener in F. Weizmann et al., 28-30.

14 J. P. Rushton and Anthony F. Bogaert, 'Race differences in sexual behavior: testing an evolutionary hypothesis'. Journal of Research on Personality, 21 December 1987, 536; F. Weizmann et al., 28-9.

15 Comments made to Frank Koller by Glen Caldwell, Western's Vice- President for Research on Sunday Morning, CBC Radio, 27 February 1989.

16 Tim Jones, Detroit Free Press, 7 March 1989.

17 Toronto Star, 9 March 1989, 28.

18 Geroldo, 8 March 1989.

19 See David Ansley, San Francisco Tribune, 20 January 1989, syndicated by Knight-Ritter Newspapers; St Louis Post Dispatch, 21 January 1989, 15A.

20 Quirks and Quarks, 18 February 1989.

21 Such as the British Journal of Psychology, British Journal of Social and clinical Psychology, Psychological Reports, Journal of Personality, European Journal of Social Psychology, American Psychologist, Developmental Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology, American Psychologist, Developmental Psychology, Personality and Individual Differences, Behavior Genetics and The Proceedings of the American Academy of Science.

22 Rushton has coauthored Hans Eysenck, editor of the Journal of Personality and Individual Psychology. He has published dozens of articles and review and his work has been favorably commented upon by a host of academics. Among those he has co-authored with are N. P. Emier, J. Shapeland, Anne C. Campbell, Paul J. Barber, Janet Wiener, J, E. Grant, N. S. Endler, Goody Teachman, H. L. Roediger, F. F. Strayer, S. Wareing, Christine Littlefield, Mary Wheelwright, C. Winick, G. Cynthia Fekken, Douglas N. Jackson, Sampo V. Paunonen, S. Meltzer, Richard M. Sorrentino, Charles J. Brainerd, Michael Pressley, N. J. Allen, Robin J. H. Russell, Pamela A. Wells, Stephen Erdle, Harry G. Murray, David W. Fulker, Michael C. Neale, David K. B. Nias, Philip A. Vernon, Karen L. Horner, Ian R. Nicholson, P. F. K. Chan and Anthony F. Bogaert.

23 Rushton, Littlefield and Lumsden, 'Gene-culture coevolution of complex social behavior', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 83 (October 1986), 7340-3. The publication acknowledges the support of the Pioneer Fund.

24 E. 0. Wilson, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis (Cambridge, Mass. 1975).

25 Quoted in Michael Billig, Chapter 5, 'Race science: the contribution of psychology', 3 of the English manuscript, published in French as L'Internationate Rasciste (Paris 1978) and in German as Die Rassistische Internationale (Frankfurt 1978). The quote is from Gayre's testimony at the 1968 trial of the Racial Preservation Society.

26 Ibid., R. Gayre, Teuton and Slav on the Polish Frontier (London 1944).

27 Roger Pearson, Eugenics and Race (London 1966), 35-40. For Pearson's antisemitism see his Blood Groups and Race (London 1966), 26. Pearson has also edited or published the journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies and the Journal of Indo-European Studies.

28 See, e.g. R. Lynn, 'The intelligence of the Mongoloids: a psychometric, evolutionary and neurological theory', Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 8, no. 6 (1987) 813-44. His work has gained a good deal of attention. See, for example, Chris Brand, 'British IQ: keeping up with the times', Nature, no. 328, 27 August 1987, 761; Bryan Silcock, Sunday Times, 13 March 1977; 'The land of the rising IQ, comment in New Scientist, 27 March 1982, 550. Many other citations could be listed.

29 Invitation of article confirmed in personal conversation with Rushton, 17 February 1989-, J. P. Rushton, 'Evolution, altruism and genetic similarity theory', Mankind Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 4 (Summer 1987), 379-95.

30 Ibid., 392. 31 Ibid.

32 Ibid., 393.

33 Raymond B. Cattell, Beyondism: Religion from Science (New York 1987).

34 For similar arguments, see Lloyd Humphreys, 'Intelligence: three kinds of instability and their consequences for policy', in Robert L. Linn (ed.), Intelligence Measurement, Theory, and Public Policy (Urbana 1989).

35 See H. Laughlin to C. Schneider, I I August 1936, Harry Laughlin Papers, Northeast Missouri State University; Frederick Osbori-i, 'Summary of the proceedings' of the Con- ference on Eugenics in Relatioii to Nursing, 24 February 1937, American Eugenics Society Archives.

36 'Outline proposed foc the first year's work of the Foundation'. See also 11. Laughlin to Draper. 15 March 1937 and 9 December 1938. All in Harry Laughlin Papers.

37 Ibid.

38 The Supreme Court ruling which declared segregated schooling unconstitutional.

39 Ronald W. May, 'Genetics and subversion', Nation, vol. 190, no. 20 (14 May 1960), 420-2.

40 Peter Leo,Evening Journal, 14 June 1976, 3.

41 Robert Walsh, New York Daily News, 6 April 1966, 5; Jewish Telegraphic Agency News Bulletin, 7 April 1966, 4.

42 Grace Lichtenstein, New York Times, 11 December 1977.

43 Jeffrey A. Raffel, The Politics of School Desegregation: The Metropolitan Remedy in Delaware (Philadelphia 1980) 156-7.

44 Evening Journal, 21 October 1977, 3. See also St Louis Post Dispatch, 11 December 1977, 60.

45 B. Mehler, 'Ralph Scott's curious career: rightist on the rights panel', Nation, 7 May 1989, 640-1.

46 Thomas B. Edsall and David A. Vise, Washington Post, 31 March 1985, A 16.

47 Wall Street Journal, 28 September 1989. Other connections to the administration are shown by membership of the right wing University Professors for Academic Order (president, Roger Pearson) of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education in the Department of Education, C. Ronald Kimberling. He was in charge of over $400 million per annum in federal education grants. Pearson was succeeded as president of the UPAO by Ralph Scott.

48 Daniel Seligman, 'Measureing intelligence', Commentary, vol. 87, no. 3(March 1989), 70-2, in Mark Snyderman and Stanley Rothman, The IQ Controversy: The Media and Public Policy (New Brunswick, NJ 1989).

49. Clare Mead Rosen, 'The eerie world of reunited twins', Discover, September 1987, 36-46; Robert Bazell, 'Sins and twins', New Republic, 21 December 1987.

50. Val Dusek, 'Bewitching science', Science for the People, vol. 19, no. 6 (November/December 1987), 19-22.