In this year of Darwinian celebrations, Verso publishes The Pure Society, André Pichot’s polemical history of the dark side of evolutionary theory.
In this book, Pichot, a prominent French historian of science, exposes the connection between Darwinian biology and social oppression, as a supposedly objective scientifically-themed ideology was used to justify and extend projects of eugenics and racism. The success of Darwinism in science is in fact due to the usefulness of Social Darwinism to those in power.
The New Humanist has just carried a positive review of this extensively-researched book:
“Eugenics, argues Pichot, was not the work of a few cranks and Nazi ideologists, it was the mainstream and its opponents were the intellectual “eccentrics”…Pichot’s work is a salutary warning. As he notes, the malignant ideologies of eugenics have not disappeared, but are now privatised with the pressure of the market, the media and medicine encouraging us to breed our own “perfect” offspring. The key question The Pure Society poses is how we can defend human beings against being reduced to mere raw material, or animals fit for breeding, without relying on the usual religious models of the sacred inviolability of human life.”
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Praise for the French Edition:
“This book is terrifying and sends shivers down one’s spine…With a methodical, surgical but also indignant pen, André Pichot painstakingly tracks these ordinary crimes [of eugenics]…One of the great merits of his work is that it calls on us for a spirit of critical vigilance” Télérama
“André Pichot is an excellent historian…Pichot analyses [this complex history of eugenics] with finesse. He destroys the false ideas, the “fables” which were completely invented to justify a priori ideas. A very rich book, which is based on abundant documentation.” Études