[EDIT: Read through this before you accuse me of anything. I’m not as serious about “eugenics” as all that. 2014-02-06]
Eugenics could be a powerful tool if used properly, and there is no need for anybody to die, or become sterilized, or be restricted from mating. If you breed for desireable traits and act lassez fair towards what everyone else is doing, it may take longer, but those desireable traits should come through. Or at least that’s how I understand it.
Before you decide to hate me forever for suggesting such a thing, I just want to note that my interest in such an experimental program was first piqued by reading Heinlein, where everyone has the option (given enough money) to live as long as they wish through rejuvenation (and an ample supply of replacement parts from a personal, non-thinking clone). These aspects are most entertainingly approached in “The cat who walked through walls,” which has little social commentary that I am aware of besides the fact that it allows a small group of people to travel through time willy-nilly, albeit for the purposes of ‘good.’ But most of the book is good rip-roaring fun–and humorous as much as it contains action. I would highly recommend it. The one Heinlein I absolutely hate is “Stranger in a strange land,” called by some the best science-fiction novel ever written, but in my opinion does not ask the right questions about how to form the sort of Utopian society that Heinlein repeatedly advocates.
Back to my point on Eugenics. Positive eugenics would work by the repeated breeding of humans with genetic traits deemed desireable by whoever was running the experiment–in Heinlein the most important factor was originally longevity, as dictated by a group which was prepared to offer good money to members of the ‘families’ to marry and reproduce within a certain (extended) group of people whose ancestors had been long-lived.
Sadly, I doubt such an experiment would work in the real world, mostly because people are people, they often object to experiments such as this, love finds a way, and the important fact that such a long-term project would be inconceivable to most sources of funding.
I edited this post because I realized I was linked to (albeit incorrectly, sorry Rob) by Rob Loftis’ blog, and I decided he would not want me to write such a thing as I stated in the first paragraph without explaining my intentions further, so that there would be no chance of negative misunderstanding.
Articles on Eugenics and Darwinism, by the way, can be found in Steven Jay Gould’s book “Dinosaur in a Haystack”