There were simple aims to genetic modiﬁcation and enhancement but there always seemed to be a directly proportional relationship between the intended beneﬁts and undesirable side-effects.
Genetic bending was largely illegal and thus the greatest advances were made by countries external to the World Union (WU), which only placed the limit of ‘doing something useful’ on scientiﬁc investigation.
So in an effort to do something productive for these second class countries, many ingenious traits were accentuated and ampliﬁed. Unfortunately,due to the complexity of natural interaction, the side-effects were unpredictable: bizarre enlargement or foreshortening of limbs, conjoined creatures and other distinct features.
The most curious results of genetic experimentation were on non-human fauna and ﬂora, which we shall look at in the garden.
Plate 11: When cataclysmic pollution levels swamped the planet and its populace with health problems, scientists desperately tried to create a human with a much higher chemical and radiation tolerance. But what is accelerated in the tomato becomes preposterous in the human.
While this direction became redundant on Earth after SIB* control was implemented, this breed has done well on planets like Mars where a thinner atmosphere lets in more cosmic radiation.
* Superior Intelligence Being
Eugenics, Eugenetics and You
Words, words, words. In my lifetime I have ﬁnally swallowed the hollowness of words, or perhaps I mean the weakness of them.
Debate never ceases to rage over what is right and wrong, good and evil, etc. – but manipulating what is deemed legal or criminal serves in no way to change the behavior of people, only the classiﬁcation of such.
Laws and condemnation do little to sway the human animal. All attempts to curb destructive inclinations and acts deemed negative are, by and large, ﬂawed unless they confront the basic factors of inﬂuence. Unfortunately I can only extrapolate from personal observation and say that we are guided by example, etiquette and tradition, though emotion and need can effectively bypass our normal modus operandi.
The debate over manipulation, especially in the areas of breeding and genetic modiﬁcation (since they have the highest ‘failure’ rate), has only served to push these practices underground, making conditions for the experimented even worse, not to mention that off-world policing has proven quite impossible – if you don’t like the rules on Earth, there are only ﬁnancials stopping you going elsewhere. My earlier belittling of words aside, they can become abnormally powerful if they get dirty. And here I come to talk about eugenics, a word so dirty it was practically wiped from the records (which could happen more often than we think since there would be no proof of a successful wiping). Eugenics itself was practiced world-wide before the Nazis* made it a dirty word, and as such all references were changed; textbooks rewritten, scientiﬁc journals renamed, and strong denials echoed all around. With our incorruptible belief in miracles, humanity convinces itself that uncomfortable concepts can be bypassed simply by changing the words used to describe them. I’m not convinced: I believe in calling a spade a spade, if not a dirty old shovel.
At its origins, eugenics was the study of the self-determination of human evolution. By whatever means, with whatever parameters or aims, the 20th century attempts were both monstrous and clumsy. Still hung up on ‘ideal’ concepts of humanity, governments tortured their populations with voluntary and involuntary sterilization, mating restrictions, segregation and extermination. There were some noble aims such as eliminating certain hereditary diseases, but the strange dogma of the time considered that race-mixing led to ‘impurity,’ and that civilization itself, by looking after its weakest members, was going against the evolutionary goal of only the ﬁ ttest surviving (which wasn’t how Darwin originally phrased it).
Eu-genetics, the modern counterpart, quickly branched off from its ancestor, not just in scientiﬁc method but in its aims. Eu-genetics does not divide its categories into positive and negative (which are socially and culturally determined), nor does it aim for homogeneity. Rather it encourages diversity as the real strength of the species.
As a privatized industry, it also lacks the coercion of national schemes and is motivated by individual competition and the desire to give one’s progeny all the advantages money can buy. Here, of course, it reinforces the economic divide as the rich can afford to make their children far ‘superior.’
The current rhetoric of ‘conscious evolution’ – as well as claims that it is merely technically assisted evolution – seem eerily similar to the sales points attached to the original eugenics, but to them I ask: What’s the rush? Where do we think we are going anyway?
* Nazis, or Nazism succeeded the failing Weimar Republic. Largely deﬁned by the ideology of Adolf Hitler who led Germany into the second World War, and slaughtered people on the pretense of superiority.
Every museum and history has a section dedicated to Örj, and we were no exception. Örj the Consumer, Örj the Great Descendant, Örj the Inheritor and Örj the eater of his own progeny.
Beginning as an academic, Örj was a great believer in the path of evolution, with a particular fascination for some Lamarckist* notions. His self-experimentation sullied the ideal of technological enhancement for over a century as his attempts at self-improvement went far past stimulated changes – he also aimed to make those improvements hereditary.
Knowledge is power and power corrupts, as they say. His followers were many, sweeping down from Norway in hideous forms to promote, if not enforce, his new gospel.
Örj sired a great many children, with and without the consent of the host mothers (many of whom suffered fatally from the abominations gnawing inside their wombs).
Plate 13 shows how successful he was in creating children in his own image. Kyla Örj was an excellent chef who invigorated Scandinavian cuisine by perfecting the re-creation and cooking of the native reindeer.
Though only a small percentage of his offspring survived gestation, and even less the early years of childhood, a good ﬁve thousand reached adulthood whereupon the Örjian tradition of combative evolution pitted them against their own father and any other who sought to climb the food chain.
Luckily, few survived*. The Örj rule of thumb was that the son must better the father, or die trying, thus increasing the level of competition and strengthening the gene-pool, supposedly leading to the betterment of mankind. Humbug.
I, of course, dispute such ‘thinking.’ By focusing on competitive evolution one simply makes more emulous and violent creations, and discounts the evolution of civilization as a whole – which is where the real progress has always been.
Perhaps I should have slotted Örj and his ideas into the following exhibit on attempted evolution control, but he always exempliﬁ ed the motivations of eugenics despite the artiﬁ cial enhancements. His methods were similar.
Distinctions and classiﬁcations are arbitrary creations, forever changing and shifting with the whim of the observer. So in the spirit of splitting hairs, ‘attempted evolution control’ is more about changing the nature of evolution itself, rather than its results.
* Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck (1744 – 1829), French naturalist. ** There hasn’t been such a monopolization of the gene-pool since Genghis Khan, so it was ‘good’ that so few remained to spread his opinions of humanity.