The Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre in “Brave New World” is a disturbing vision of all human life being grown outside the womb, conditioned in a way that is suitable for the needs of the society. 20th century eugenics serve as a precursor to such activities: as many of the most progressive minds of that age taught that some human beings should not be allowed to reproduce due to inferior behaviour/genetics. The did not have the biotechnological power that we possess, but the history of eugenics is, in my view, the closest large-scale real life approximation to what genetical engineering may lead to. While many instinctively think of Nazis as the prime perpetrators of eugenic crimes, the practice was widespread around the world in the past century. Sweden alone had around 60 000 people sterilised between the 1930s and 1970s, and other countries such as USA, Canada, and UK did not lag behind. The US and UK alone had over 60000 sterilisations performed by 1936, when the practice started to be widely condemned.
The progressives saw eugenics as a means for social improvement, as a greater good for the society. In light of social Darwinism, it was pushed as a means of improving the well-being of the society in generalWhat was accepted as a fact, a common sense of that time, had in fact little evidence behind it. Eventually, eugenics was pushed out of the popular culture, as “individual human rights mattered far more than those sanctioned by the science, law, and perceived social needs of the era.” It still managed to provide us with evidence of what grand-scale social engineering, powered up by scientific claims and run by few intellectuals who seldom had to bear responsibility for those claims, can result in.