WHAT *SHOULD* WE BE WORRIED ABOUT?
China has been running the world’s largest and most successful eugenics program for more than thirty years, driving China’s ever-faster rise as the global superpower.
I worry that this poses some existential threat to Western civilization.
Yet the most likely result is that America and Europe linger around a few hundred more years as also-rans on the world-historical stage, nursing our anti-hereditarian political correctness to the bitter end.
Deng Xiaoping liberalized markets, but implemented the one-child policy — partly to curtail China’s population explosion, but also to reduce dysgenic fertility among rural peasants.
Throughout the 1980s, Chinese propaganda urges couples to have children “later, longer, fewer, better”—at a later age, with a longer interval between birth, resulting in fewer children of higher quality. With the 1995 Maternal and Infant Health Law (known as the Eugenic Law until Western opposition forced a name change), China forbade people carrying heritable mental or physical disorders from marrying, and promoted mass prenatal ultrasound testing for birth defects.
Deng also encouraged assortative mating through promoting urbanization and higher education, so bright, hard-working young people could meet each other more easily, increasing the proportion of children who would be at the upper extremes of intelligence and conscientiousness.
Chinese biopower has ancient roots in the concept of “yousheng” (“good birth”—which has the same literal meaning as “eugenics”). For a thousand years, China has been ruled by a cognitive meritocracy selected through the highly competitive imperial exams. The brightest young men became the scholar-officials who ruled the masses, amassed wealth, attracted multiple wives, and had more children.
The current “gaokao” exams for university admission, taken by more than 10 million young Chinese per year, are just the updated version of these imperial exams—the route to educational, occupation, financial, and marital success.
With the relaxation of the one-child policy, wealthier couples can now pay a “social fostering fee” (shehui fuyangfei) to have an extra child, restoring China’s traditional link between intelligence, education, wealth, and reproductive success.