Number 10 refuses to engage with questions about Cummings’ ‘chillingly eugenicist’ comments

“[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:

“However, the spread of knowledge and education is itself a danger and cannot eliminate gaps in wealth and power created partly by unequally distributed heritable characteristics.”

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.

SKWAWKBOX view:

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.

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26 responses to “Number 10 refuses to engage with questions about Cummings’ ‘chillingly eugenicist’ comments

  1. The likes of Boris, Trump, Putin, Duterte and Erdoğan hold very similar views and have all convinced themselves that they have a divine right to their power and wealth.

    • You have made some foolish evidence free posts here in the past SteveH,but this is as bad as any.Just what evidence are you offering to support your assertion that the people you have listed “hold similar views and have all convinced themselves that they have a divine right to their power and wealth”Or are we just supposed to take your word for it?

  2. “Cummings’ Darwinian views appear to extend beyond education.”

    Excuse me is this some fundamentalist Christian/Muslim/Jewish blog?

    I thought we had accepted long ago that the “Origin of the Species” was an important work in bringing the world from superstition to rational thinking.

    Even in recent history, when the population of St. Kilda was evacuated in 1930 it was discovered that their toes were significantly longer than those of their mainland cousins. Conclusion: in a society that depends to a large degree for food on scaling cliffs and robbing birds nests of their eggs, those with short toes fall off quicker onto the rocks or into the sea. Those that remain are those are those with longer toes.

    As for Nietzsche, these are important musings, agree with them or not – but dissing them or censoring them without debate is on a par with censoring the music of Wagner, which has significantly more to offer the world than e.g. One Direction.

    As for Cummings: Cummings is a slime-ball shit-faced Tory arse who should be rubbed out at the earliest opportunity. There’s no need to drag Darwin or Nietzsche down to his level.

    • Labrebisgalloise – Your point is crucial.

      Cummings may indeed be a “a slime-ball shit-faced Tory arse” … but that isn’t the main import of this story.

      … which is that his pretensions to intellect (and the media’s complicity in this image) are a total con. He’s as thick as a pigshit if he thinks the implications of Darwin’s work are about eugenics. It is one of the oldest and most stupid misconceptions about one of the great 19th century scientists. The cod term ‘survival of the fittest’ has *nothiing* to do with the justification of social hierarchy.

      If he doesn’t know that, then we have proof positive of what we might already guess : the man is a pretentious (not to say dangerous) fraud with great ego but little knowledge.

      Of course, this much would already be known to anyone who watched the dim but pretentious duo of Journo Gove and Tosser Cummings trampling all over the education system i the recent past.

      The reduction of Nietzsche to an extract from “Philosophy for Utter Dimwits” is yet further proof of pretension rather than intellect.

    • Benmadigan…welcome nice to hear some common sense,obviously a constitution will make a big difference and must go hand in hand with a bill of rights.We can then remove the Royal prerogative from the Royalty and we then have somthing to build on……Nothing radical just change to a civilised democracy…….not even fenian or republican,just basic rights for a modern 21st century Britain…..simple!

  3. Is Cummings a 21stC born again Goebells?
    Certainly is a Right Wing Barbarian!
    Oh get ready for a £100m ‘Get Ready for Brexit’ Tory Govt. propaganda advertising campaign, shame after 3.5 years of Tory Dithering (because they were divided) the Tories AREN’T BLOODY READY!
    After all these wasted years they still haven’t done a Brexit Deal, time to ditch the Right Wing Neo-Liberal Tory Brexit Barbarians!
    This is all perhaps to get Remainers to spit blood and fall for the trap the Tories are setting – they want Remainers to go overboard so they can present them as sore losers and themselves as the champipns of the people (well 52%) against MPs.
    The question is are Remainers niaive enough to fall for the Tory Trap?
    Will they fall for the Tory narrative?
    We need to be calm and rational plus Unite Leavers and Remainers for democracy.
    In the end one side of the argument will prevail but it has to be done fairly and democratically.
    And I speak as a left wing democratic socialist who reluctantly voted Remain to try EC wide to break the EC Neo-Liberal chain but I accept the result and now upport Leave..
    And we can build internationalism via independent (hopefully left wing democratic socialist) nation states.
    Time to start dreaming again!
    Solidarity!

    • I see that several Leave supporters are now putting forward a similar argument to Boris and asserting that Remain will damage their cause if they complain too much about our democracy being subverted. One has to wonder where their loyalties really lie

  4. Darwin’s importance as a scientist is not at issue, here. What is being questioned, quite properly, is the suggestion that Darwin’s science justifies Cummings’ juvenile fascism. It doesn’t.
    The fact that the Ministry of Education-aka the taxpayer in an extremely regressive system- paid lots of money for these uneducated musings is a warning that the same sort of careless extravagance is likely to be routine under the Johnson regime.
    By the sounds of things, however, Cummings is just the sort of idiot one would like to be advising our political opponents. People, 90% are the object of Cummings’ insults, only have to understand what he is saying to form up in angry mobs.
    Does anyone know whether access to this “250 page essay” is open to the hoi poloi? I’m sure this sort of argument, which was discredited generations ago as crude racism, from the days before sociologists had worked out what elbows were, would make entertaining reading.
    As to Nietzshe, the poor misanthropic fellow was mad.

  5. I thought the wealthy are there because they framed laws to steal the land many years agi and they legally nick the surplus labour of working people.
    But everything is dead, machines, computers, buses, trains etc until you add one magic ingredient – working people, we really create the wealth and we make societies work.
    Soneone once called shopping malls “Cathedrals of capitalism” but they were built and designed by working people, they are staffed by working people, and stock products made by working people.
    Time to crush with arguments the likes of Dominic ‘Dr Goebells’ Cummings and his co-Right Wing Neo-Liberal barbarians or in language the little right wing political imbecile would understand – the right wing fecking steaming turd!

  6. When will the Aryan race set up the sterilisation stations for those who are genetically inferior.

  7. The inbreds tell themselves and their kids they have good genes but their inheritance was privilege, money and membership of ‘the club’.
    Genes do contribute to one’s life chances but not as much as the above three factors and luck – often the most important factor.

    I’ve met very few rich people who didn’t claim (usually within minutes) to have “worked very hard for what I have”.

  8. For decades politicians have told us the economy is beyond democratic control – like a force of nature that can lay waste to entire communities and we just have to grin and bear it.

    But it’s not true. Through voting, through democracy, we can change in whose interests the economy works

  9. All very interesting and the links educational,Johnson’s regime has unintentionally,set in motion the move for a true democracy that reflects the will of the people.This will of the people will be high up on the list.. for any government after the Johnson regime has committed self destruction. IT will not be easey but we CANNOT allow this political outrage again .. Democracy now!

  10. A ‘class eugencist’, eh? No surprise, the underdeveloped little runt. He always had an air of the himmler about him, has cummings.

    Darwin was about ‘survival of the fittest’ and NATURAL selection .Take a good long look at cummings (And the obnoxious little shit, toby young while you’re at it, another with the wannabe himmler gait and conceitedness about him).

    Just WHO would they be capable of triumphing over in a ‘trial by combat’ – as happens in the natural world?

    Not very many. They hate those they couldn’t triumph over and despise those they could so much that they take out their inadequacies upon them. (The disabled & poor in particular)

    And you’ll note that all these self-appointed ‘elitists’ are good are starting wars. Never see them (Or THEIR kids) on the front line, though. As a method of population control it’s the lower class’ fault for actually going out to fight THEIR wars, in my opinion, so their methods do work occasionally.

    Nor would you ever see them on a building site ‘on the hod.’

    But that’s what the elitists NEED. They OUGHT to be brought down several pegs. Only THAT would teach these pricks a lesson they’d understand.

  11. I’m quite pleased with Cummings’s outburst. Not because it shows him up as a ‘Nazi’ – which is to indulge in the same sort of simplicities – but because it vividly illustrates the myth of his much-vaunted ‘intellect’.

    Anyone who can go from genetics to a justification of social hierarchy is seriously lacking in the basic understanding department.

    It’s not that genetic influences are a myth – they clearly aren’t, and the best current scientific estimates are that DNA accounts for about half the differences between people on any defined trait.

    But that leaves (on *average*) half of such differences *undefined* by DNA inheritance, as well as *not* explaining complex interactions.

    Beyond that, there is the sheer statistical complexity (impossibility?) of working out the precise contributions of DNA and environmental factors in determining social behaviour and outcomes. The whole thing is a hideously complex interactive process.

    So – to jump to the concept that social hierarchy is an expression of ‘natural’ hierarchy is a leap that only a dimwit with little basic scientific/statistical understanding would make. Quod erat … That’s the definition of Cummings – not ‘Nazi’ (although he does indeed share their level of stupidity. And stupidity is dangerous).

    The real problem is that this moron has been let loose in the kitchen to practice his poisonous recipes.

    We have plenty anecdotal evidence that even in the most basic observational terms, the ‘inheritance’ thesis as an explanation of social and educational status doesn’t work. Just think : Cameron, May, Johnson, Cummings. All have Oxbridge degrees.

    Isn’t it time the police frog-marched him out as being a public hazard in contempt of parliament.

  12. The nonsense spouted by the regimes think tank is dangerous and an awful reminder of genocidal logic in the extreme right wing.I remember the Queens cousins locked up in the Earleswood mental hospital Surrey.Basically 2backward girls locked away to die inside the hospital to save embarrassment for the Royal family…..I worked their for a time and always found them to be happy and well cared for….but never visited by any Royals in the 2 years l worked there The family likeness to the Queen was remarkable,but they were always to be the ones we were not to mention…..I wonder what HRH thinks regarding genetics and the attitude to the lower classes?

  13. It seems Johnson is poised to lead a fascist takeover of our democracy. Hitler found it quite easy with a compliant people. Is our parliamentary constitution and advanced education system able to resist it?

    • How about “What is your point?” (In terms of Cummings’s theory of social hierarchy)

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