Help me understand these sentences written in English

Hi Everyone

So I am reading the book “From Darwin to Hitler”, and these lines below are from the chapter where the author talks about fit people should produce children, and less fit people should not, and how these “eugenicists” are trying to save and improve the human race etc…

I provided the whole lines, and put the sign (((( )))) on the statements I want to understand:

Leading radical feminists found Ploetz’s and other eugenicists’ opposition to neo-Malthusian birth control incomprehensible. Adele Schreiber,a close colleague of Stocker’s in the League for the Protection of Mothers who later became a socialist (SPD) member of parliament, was fully committed to eugenics and highly recommended reading works by Ploetz and Raclin. However, she was disappointed at the negative attitude many eugenicists displayed toward neo-Malthusianism. She considered the goals of eugenics unattainable without the ready availability of birth control, ((((((((((((“with whose help alone upward breeding and selection, the elimination of worthless and bad elements, [and] the creation of a society free from the oppressive burden of the unfit of various kinds, can be achieved.”))))))))))))

This is my take on it.

The sentence phrasing is a bit old fashioned and awkward.

“with whose help alone” refers to birth control.

The phrase “upward breeding and selection,” probably refers to something like this:

“The upward evolutionary spiral continued until the end of the Ice Ages, resulting in the Cro-Magnon man who was superior physically, and perhaps intellectually (judging from his larger brain), to anything we know today.
With the dawn of the Neolithic era and the coming of the agricultural economy, natural selective pressures eased, and sentiment began to interfere with a rigid pruning of inferior human material. Inevitably, while technology and social organization advanced, the quality of our ancestors imperceptibly began to decline.”

“the elimination of worthless and bad elements,” would be people eugenicists thought were too insignificant or unworthy to share food or breathing space with.

“[and] the creation of a society free from the oppressive burden of the unfit of various kinds,” suggests that eugenicists may have viewed, for instance, taking care of a disabled child as more of an unwelcome hardship and tribal strain than a strengthening of the tribe as it expresses the virtues of commitment and loving kindness by caring for all its members.

Ridding the world of bad elements “can be achieved” only with the ready availability of birth control.

Thank you very much. I now got the gist of the meaning.

Can you paraphrase the sentence “upward breeding and selection”? = Does it mean “through breeding and selection”?

And is breeding here = reproduction?

Thank you again

In this instance, I believe breeding is meant to be understand as ‘the act of controlling the mating and production of human offspring.’

“upward breeding and selection”? = Does it mean “through breeding and selection”?

You raise a very interesting question. In the referenced sentence, “the ready availability of birth control” definitely applies to “the elimination of worthless and bad elements.”

Ordinarily, “upward breeding and selection” would mean “through breeding and selection.”

But here, I believe, Adele Schreiber is adding some color to the meaning and asserting that “upward breeding and selection” is also dependent on “the ready availability of birth control.”

Prehistorically, let’s say, birth control would hinder “upward breeding and selection.” But in this sentence “upward breeding and selection” depends on birth control.

Now it is very clear my friend. I thank you very much for the invaluable time that you gave me. Without your help I won’t be able tog et this old fashioned sentence, and it seems to be an important one in the book.

Thank you Xuanfu, I appreciate that very much!

“birth control, with whose help alone” - only birth control can lead to the three outcomes that are about to be listed…

  1. “upward breeding and selection” refers to artificially making the human race better through the use of eugenics.

  2. “elimination of worthless and bad elements” - elimination of people the author considers worthless and bad.

  3. “the creation of a society free from the oppressive burden of the unfit of various kinds” - the unfit are the people referred to above, who the author views as worthless and bad. the author is saying their existence is oppressive.

a simpler reading of the whole sentence:

“birth control alone can help us achieve a stronger human race, fewer bad people, and less social problems created by the bad people.”


I thank you very much Sir, you made it even clearer for me. I am grateful!