Eugenics and Socialist Thought in the Progressive Era: The case of James Medbery MacKaye

Fiorito, Luca and Foresti, Tiziana. 2018. Eugenics and Socialist Thought in the Progressive Era: The case of James Medbery MacKaye. Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 40(3), pp. 377-388. ISSN 1053-8372 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The aim of this essay is to assess James Medbery MacKaye’s contribution to socialist thought during the Progressive Era. Largely forgotten today, MacKaye proposed a special version of socialism, which he called “Pantocracy,” based on a peculiar blend of utilitarian and eugenic assumptions. Specifically, MacKaye held that biological fitness mapped to the capacity for happiness—biologically superior individuals possess a greater capacity for happiness—and saw the eugenic breeding of “a being or race of beings capable in the first place of happiness” as a possibility open by the advent of Pantocracy. Incidentally, this essay provides further evidence that the influence of eugenic and racialist beliefs upon the American Progressive Era political economy was so deep-rooted and pervasive that it did cut across traditional ideological boundaries.

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(c) 2018, The History of Economics Society. This is the version of record of an article published in the Journal of the History of Economic Thought. Reproduced here in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.

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Institute of Management Studies


18 June 2018Published Online
September 2018Published

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13 Sep 2019 14:41

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12 Mar 2021 12:06

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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