The eugenic temptation in socialism: Sweden, Germany, and the Soviet Union

Alberto Spektorowski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Alberto Spektrowski examines the "the eugenic temptation" in social-democratic Sweden by the light of comparison, examining the Swedish case in relation to the beginnings and destiny of eugenics in Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union. The benign nationalist socialism of Sweden rejected Marx's idea of class warfare and in its place created a technocratic welfare state with a state-led productivist tendency. Eugenics, wedded to Mendelian genetics, seemed to require dispassionate, technical intervention to end the reproduction of the unfit. The virulent, racist national socialism of Germany was also deeply committed to a strong version of Mendelian heredity as a force that environment was unable to change. In the Soviet Union, Stalin's promotion of Lysenko and a Lamarkian view of heredity being modified by acquired characteristics was better attuned to Marx's vision of human agency, and-at some cost to science-limited the influence of eugenics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-106
Number of pages23
JournalComparative Studies in Society and History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


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