Anniversary Post: Lebensborn

LebensbornExactly 80 years ago, in 1935, Lebensborn was founded by the Nazi SS for the purpose for getting more Aryan babies born. Like racists everywhere, the Nazis were very concerned that the “lesser races” were breeding too much. Walk around California and you will hear people say the same thing about Latinos. Of course, there is something to this. Immigrants tend to be the people who are scapegoated. Immigrants tend to be younger. Younger people tend to have babies. It’s the perfect situation for racists.

Anyway, what I think is interesting about Lebensborn is that it is based on a kind of thinking that is very common among middle class white liberals. It is the idea that what we really need to do to help the poor is to stop them from having babies. I’m pretty old and I’ve never had any children. So I don’t think it is necessary to have children to have a fulfilling life. But that was my choice. I don’t think that’s true of most people.

But we have this attitude that unless someone has money, they shouldn’t be able to be parents. Why do we do that?! Why is it that as liberals, we think the poor have a right to food and housing, but not parenthood? I think it is mostly because we’ve never thought about it. We are still operating with conservative notions — very much linked to racism and eugenics. And we need to stop doing this. It is one thing to make birth control easy to get. It is great to help people avoid pregnancies that they don’t want. But let’s not get confused and try to stop the poor from having children because we might think that it is a good idea.

18 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Lebensborn

  1. In a way this reminded me of Iran’s forced sex-reassignment surgery for gays.

    It is one thing to allow something, another thing to force it.

  2. I can imagine some middle class liberals are myopically projecting their own experience onto poor women. In a Brooksian fashion they might think “how could you even think of having kids until you’ve passed the bar, spent a year in Europe and worked at a blue stocking firm for a decade.” More often, however, it is probably a case of knowing that teenagers, who are functionally children themselves, cannot raise a kid very well.

    Women from all socioeconomic backgrounds, who have kids in their teens and early 20’s, tend to impose a heavy burden on someone. If you are privileged, you have familial wealth and support. If you are poor, you do not have as many resources and the mother and child suffer as a result.

    In a better world, we would have a social democracy and there will be no child growing up in poverty. Even in such a world, having a baby when you are in high school would still be a stupid decision.

    • I accept that. But the truth is that if everyone waited until they were ready to have children, we would soon run out of people. When I was a young man, I was paranoid about getting girlfriends pregnant. I thought my life would be functionally over. But everything is connected. You let people grow up in poverty, go to terrible schools, and so on, you shouldn’t be surprised that they act in ways that are not like the ways the children of the rich act. The problem is the system, not that the people are any different. (I know you aren’t suggesting that.) So our focus should be on eliminating poverty from the outside and not putting the onus on the poor in the Brooksian fashion. (I love that term! Just the same, does he really deserve it? He’s just an upper class snob looking down on the poor. That’s been a type for thousands of years.)

      • I think you kind of get why the push is to avoid the poor having kids while in high school or early twenties-as with any social issue there are multiple prongs to resolution.

        So you can work on improving the system overall at the macro level so if a woman does get pregnant at 19 she is able to easily handle the baby while at the same time at the micro level trying to ensure that 19 year old never gets pregnant until she is settled enough to manage despite the father deciding to disappear on her.

        The goal is to have every child a wanted, loved and cared for child. It is harder to get that way if the system is not supportive so why not help ensure that she can wait?

        • The important word there is “can” and not “has to.” I quite agree. I don’t want children having children. But it is usually pushed as a way to save money. “If we can just stop these poor people from having kids, we can start another war!” Well, not that exactly. But I understand where the concern starts. It is just that it often ends in some liberals saying things that really are awful.

          • Maybe we have different sets of liberal friends. Out here I rarely run into anyone male or female who is in favor of required birth control of the poor.
            They do favor programs like the one in Colorado where teenage girls can get the IUD however they don’t want them to be mandatory.

            • It’s not people I know. I don’t know that many people. It’s liberal pundits. But no one is talking about forced IUDs or whatever. They aren’t conservatives!

              • oooooooooooooooooooooooh, now I understand. I suppose I could see why it would sound that way but I don’t read that intent in the articles I read by people like Amanda Marcotte. YMMV though since you read different pundits then I do.

                • But it’s also part of trying to change the broader conversation. We should care about the poor having complete and fulfilling lives.

                  • There is a nasty strain in both sides that the poor are supposed to be miserable because they are poor. It is like they think unless the poor live like Oliver Twist, they are not being punished enough for being poor.

                    • And the poors shouldn’t be fucking. That’s a privilege which should be reserved for the privileged. Beautiful rich people getting it on after dinner/drinks at the swankiest social hot spots, who deserve the right to sex because they made the proper choices (from a list of options which included innumerable check-the-box decisions poor people aren’t privy to.)

                      These are the same shitheads condemning poor people in foreign countries we ceaselessly bomb. “Hey, Girl X who wants to escape from war is wearing a headscarf! Quite clearly, she’s not down with our advanced civilization! Who can redeem these savages? Not us!”

                    • Yes, sex feels nice to everyone except certain persons on here who shall remain nameless…so naturally the wealthy-including liberals-think that the poor should not have any sex unless they are severely punished for having a nice thing without having “earned” it.

                      Which leads to the woman in Tennessee trying to self abort and getting charged with attempted first degree murder.

                    • Yeah. On the left, I think it is largely because they haven’t thought about it. We are pretty used to the idea of white privilege. But there are other kinds of privilege that blind us.

                    • Class itself is absent. In general, we don’t want to admit to it.

  3. As far as Brooks is concerned, I do not think his target audience is actually the 1%. The members of the 1%, who I know at least, are either aware that money begets more money or they are the psychopaths in finance, who believe that they are indeed Randian supermen and they need no reassurance from some dork at the NYT’s.

    Brooks and Murray speak to white folks who are modestly affluent. They tell soothing stories to people who have some privilege but not so much that they can totally separate from the hoi polloi. The folks who believe, or want to believe, that wealth and poverty hinge on how often you go jogging are the people who really enjoy reading Brooks and Friedman and Murray.

    So no, there is no excuse for David brooks thinking what he thinks. Although, I doubt that he actually believes the crap that he writes.

    • First, what is up with “hoi polloi”?! I’ve been reading it and hearing it everywhere this last week. This is weird.

      That’s a very good point. I have an article coming out tomorrow that touches on this. In it, I discuss why it is we have these articles about the rich being different — they are smarter, they are frugal, they work harder. It is part of a system of social control. It’s especially important that the middle class — or maybe better to say, the liberal class — accept this. It’s all about saying, America isn’t unjust; everyone gets what they deserve!

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