Eugenics and The Spectator

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Bath is essentially a science university with a strong eye to ensuring as many Bath graduates as possible make good money in their chosen discipline. It's astonishingly effective in this respect, with an enviable reputation for graduate destinations and salaries.

Consistent with this Bath students, like many students although this seems too rarely reported, seem broadly Conservative (footnote) Another too-rarely mentioned thing, at least in the media, is that authentic conservatism is radical: It seeks to conserve the demonstrable good while ensuring weakening ideas and models give way to stronger ones. In theory, anyway.

But whatever, there's a lot of value judgements made along the way. That seems for the good since that's what gives us intellectual vibrancy. No? So on that note, here's a fairly recent Spectator podcast about 'new eugenics'.

In it, The Spectator's associate editor, Toby Young, argues for the less well-off to be given NHS-funded genetic-editing assistance to produce cleverer offspring. Fraser Nelson, his editor, on the other hand takes a very different line. It feels like Nelson's is the Conservative one.

Young's implied idea, though, seems plausible. Society seems to be trending towards atomising individualism at the moment. So on the one optimistic side, the environment's in the news. Suitably balanced by JOBS. But on the other, where it feels like the money is, the genetic manipulation of future humans is...not so much.


Footnote: Link is to a 2015 survey. This week, around 2000 Bath students voted just 4-3 to support the UCU industrial action. Allowing for a higher turnout amongst the politically-motivated, what seems quite high anti-action sentiment might support the notion that Bath students continue to be broadly Conservative. 


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  • "Since Louise Brown was conceived in a laboratory 38 years ago — the world’s first IVF baby — the treatment has become mainstream, sought by 100 women a day in Britain." This line is the medical fulcrum on which the Spectator's horribly instrumental argument balances. In my view Louise is good example of what is best in our universities, the NHS and the UK's research community- a more caring science and a social good. Helping individual mothers or their babies should not be conflated quite so casually with ideas of ethical and/or physical superiority. Is there an ethical gene? Can it be added, I don't think so but if it could rich people might want to select the option of removing it if they chose banking as future career for their child?
    Of course we will always need new social policies but allowing wealthy private individuals to determine the social medicine is not good idea i would suggest. It would be an instrument of market forces and the power for social change would be transferred out of the normal institutional structure to wealthy individuals like, well... Geoffrey Epstein and that would be a right royal fuck up.