The rules for the propagation of the race are as complex as the processes of generation and development. They are based on the peculiar characteristics of reproduction in the human species and on the needs of the young during their time of growth. They can be divided into three groups. The first deals with conception, the second with the birth of the child and its formation, the third with the environment indispensable to the material and spiritual life of the family.
The greater part of the hard task of carrying on the race falls on the woman. Yet she cannot abstain from this task without failing to fulfill the mission which is properly hers. That mission has been designated for probably more than a million years in her genital organs, her glands, her nervous system and in her whole mentality. To renounce motherhood is, for a woman, the gravest of errors. The outstanding sin of modern society has been to divert young girls from their proper function by giving them the same sort of physical, moral and intellectual education as boys. By doing so, it has implanted in them habits of life and thought which alienate them from their natural role.
To have a lucrative or brilliant career; to become an artist, doctor, lawyer, airwoman or schoolmistress is not a valid reason for violating the laws of propagation by means of contraceptive techniques. The more highly gifted the woman, physically and mentally, the more important it is that she should have several children. Furthermore, it is only through motherhood that she can attain her full organic and mental development. Motherhood is the only role in which she excels; in medicine, teaching, science, philosophy, aviation or business, she is nearly always man's inferior.
It is highly necessary that public opinion should not be indulgent toward couples who have too few children or none at all. It is still more important that women themselves should be conscious of their true role in society. We know, from the example of Italy, that neither taxes on bachelors and childless couples, nor economic and financial advantages given to large families, nor the protection of mothers and children, nor severe penalties for abortion and for birth-control propaganda stop the decline of the birth rate. Modern nations can only halt on the road to extinction through an awakening of conscience and understanding on the part of women themselves. The fate of the democracies lies in the hands of the girls of today.
How many children does the law of reproduction prescribe for each woman? Every woman should leave at least one daughter behind her to take her place. As all women are not fertile, and as many have a defective heredity, normal couples should have four or five children. The State should, for its own sake, give such couples very substantial financial help. To the others it should give none at all. We must guard ourselves from increasing the number of consum-tives, alcoholics, idiots and degenerates who will become a heavier and heavier burden on the community by thoughtlessly distributed family allowances.
A declining birth rate is a degenerative disease which has affected all civilizations. It caused the downfall of ancient Greece and of the Roman Empire. At the present time it is devastating modern nations. The English population, for example, will be reduced by half in ninety years' time if the birth rate and death rate do not vary during this period. The disease is not, however, necessarily incurable since it is due to economic and social conditions, to contraceptive practices and to abortion. Consequently, its cure depends on the will of the State and above all on the will of women. The saving of our civilization demands the procreation, not only of sufficient children, but also of children of good caliber. Husbands and wives should choose life companions of such a type that their children will have a good heredity. Wild animals can mate purely at the bidding of their sexual appetites without any danger of dysgenism for, thanks to natural selection, the diseased and defective do not survive. This is not the case with domesticated animals and men. Both are carriers of hidden or visible hereditary taints.
Neither mutual sexual attraction nor even love are, by themselves, sufficient reason for justifying marriage. It is essential that, besides sexual attraction or love, there should be good heredity. A certain eugenism is imposed on modern peoples. The protection given to the diseased and the defective; the development of hygiene, of sanatoria and hospitals; the general comfort and the ease of modern life have allowed many tainted individuals, whose existence is undesirable for the future of the race, to reproduce themselves. It will be necessary to add the light of commonsense to public charity and medical zeal.
The law of propagation commands some people to have several children and others to have none at all. In the case of individuals with bad pedigrees, marriage between first cousins or between uncle and niece constitute, like incest, extremely grave faults. On the contrary, these faults would become virtues in human groups which were absolutely free of hereditary taints. Adultery is reprehensible both because it breaks up the social group vitally necessary to the well-being of the children and because it risks the introduction of inferior blood into a good stock. It would be a wise measure on the part of the government to encourage the establishment of the pedigree of every child and to take account of this pedigree in distributing family allowances. The government should also ensure that young people have sufficient knowledge of the laws of heredity. Each one should know that to marry into a family afflicted with madness, mental deficiency, tuberculosis or alcoholism is a major transgression against the law of propagation and that this transgression involves the guilty in an endless series of sorrows and calamities.
The excellence of one's ancestors is not, however, sufficient to ensure that one's children will be of good caliber. The future parents themselves must not be syphilitics, drunkards or drug-fiends. The drunkenness of wife or husband at the moment of fecundation is a positive crime, for children conceived in such conditions often suffer from incurable nervous or mental taints. Generally speaking, parents who are rash enough to ignore the obligations of eugenism are automatically punished by their own children.