“[W]e won’t be offering any comment” on praise of Nietzsche, comments linking wealth and class to better genes and description of greater access to education and knowledge as ‘a danger’
10 Downing Street has declined to comment on ‘eugenicist’ comments written by Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings – not even to assure voters that Cummings’ ideas will not influence government policy.
The comments, in a 237-page essay written by Cummings in 2013, were featured by the Guardian long before Cummings was the Downing Street string-puller who recently sacked one of Chancellor Sajid Javid’s advisers without even giving Javid notice of his intention.
However, Cummings was not without influence in the Tory party – he was a close adviser to then-Education Secretary Michael Gove:
Cummings’ essay ranges over a number of areas but, as the Guardian noted at the time, one of the areas closely examined – and featuring again in Cummings’ concluding page – was the topic of genetics and ‘heritable’ characteristics as decisive in education.
In Cummings’ worldview, spreading education and knowledge represented a threat to human progress and resilience – or at least to its ‘evolutionary’ winners. He wrote in his conclusion:
Cummings’ document appears to indicate that he views attempts to equalise opportunity among rich and poor as misplaced at best – because those who are wealthy or occupy a higher social class are there because of their superior genes:
differences in educational achievement are not mainly because of ‘richer parents buying greater opportunity’ and the successful pursuit of educational opportunity and ‘social mobility’ will increase heritability of educational achievement.
Cummings goes on to criticise a leading sociologist because:
In a paper about class and wealth across generations, he ignores genetics
entirely. However, using parent-offspring correlations as an index of ‘social mobility’ is fundamentally flawed because the correlations are significantly genetic – not environmental.
Cummings even adds a footnote that:
144 The conscientiousness necessary to engage in thousands of hours of practice is itself a heritable characteristic.
Cummings’ Darwinian views appear to extend beyond education. He praises Friedrich Nietzsche – often associated with Nazism because of his concept of the übermensch or superhuman – as “probably the last of the line of recognisable great philosophers” and approvingly quotes Nietsche’s ‘disgust’ at the:
animalisation of man to the pygmy animal of equal rights and equal pretensions
before seeming to conclude that humanity can only achieve its best progress by casting aside the ‘equality of rights’ and ‘sympathy for all that suffers’ that Nietzsche despised.
‘Evolution’ and derived words appear 149 times through the document, while ‘Darwin’, ‘Darwinian’ and ‘Darwinism’ occur on a further 17 occasions, giving a further indication of the direction of Cummings’ thoughts.
A senior Labour source to whom the SKWAWKBOX showed Cummings’ comments reacted with horror:
These views are appalling. They are chillingly eugenicist and the thought that they might influence public policy is frightening. Boris Johnson must act if the public is to have any confidence at all that their children are not going to be victims of even more deeply entrenched privilege and discrimination.
However, when the SKWAWKBOX contacted Number 10 to ask whether Boris Johnson would act to distance himself from Cummings and his comments, the response was a refusal to even engage with the question:
Thank you for contacting us but we won’t be offering any comment.
A follow-up to clarify whether Johnson would even offer any assurances to the public that Cummings’ views would not influence public policy received no response at all.
Dominic Cummings was contacted for comment.
The Labour source’s assessment will be echoed by many and rightly so.
Even more concerning – while depressingly unsurprising – is the refusal of Boris Johnson and his office to even engage with the issues raised by Cummings’ Darwinian-Nietzschian views on inequality and the desirability of reducing it, let alone to offer any assurances that they will not be at the heart of government policy.
It should deeply worry everyone – and especially the vulnerable, the disadvantaged and their families, who have already endured the horrors of more than nine years of Tory government.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.