Read The Pivot of Civilization by Margaret Sanger Online


Arguably her most important and influential book, this controversial work, first published in 1922 by pioneering birth-control advocate Margaret Sanger, attempted to broaden the still-radical idea of birth control beyond its socialist and feminist roots. Moving away from a single-minded focus on women's reproductive rights to the larger issue of the general health and econArguably her most important and influential book, this controversial work, first published in 1922 by pioneering birth-control advocate Margaret Sanger, attempted to broaden the still-radical idea of birth control beyond its socialist and feminist roots. Moving away from a single-minded focus on women's reproductive rights to the larger issue of the general health and economic prosperity of the whole human race, Sanger argued that birth control was pivotal to a rational approach toward dealing with the threat of overpopulation and its ruinous consequences in poverty and disease. Through this book Sanger hoped to persuade the medical establishment to assume control over contraceptive distribution, and thereby to lessen the religious, legal, and moral opposition that continued to restrict access to contraceptive information.However important this book is to the history of women's rights, it remains a very problematic work from our more scientifically informed perspective today. In arguing for population control Sanger made frequent reference to the then fashionable "science" of eugenics. She also adopted its rhetoric, using such callous phrases as "the feeble-minded" and the "unfit" and advocating birth control as a means of limiting the breeding of "defectives, delinquents and dependents." Although she incorporated views and terminology commonly held in respectable medical and scientific circles of the day, Sanger's writings on eugenics, and this book in particular, have become fodder for her critics both on the left and the right, who seek to diminish her achievements and obscure what is ultimately a powerful feminist message: when women gain greater control over their fertility, they will improve the human race. This unusual and historically significant book is complemented by a thoughtful and informative introduction by Peter C. Engelman, assistant editor of The Margaret Sanger Papers Project, who provides much insight by placing this work in the context of the age and Sanger's life....

Title : The Pivot of Civilization
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781591020585
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 312 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Pivot of Civilization Reviews

  • Loralie
    2019-05-22 08:56

    it was recommended to me to read this book as research on the current planned parenthood debate. I would recommend that more people read this document written by the founder of planned parenthood. Ms. Sanger did not promote abortion. she promotes birth control and women's health. she was a huge proponent for women's health and independence. she was a supporter of children being able to have every opportunity. she was not for having several pregnancies and not being properly cared for by parents who had no option of birth control. she felt it was wrong to have such a high infant mortality rate because of malnutrition and lack of parental care. all in all, a very interesting and enlightening read.

  • Wally
    2019-05-15 06:48

    Wow. Realllllly interesting read, especially in the era of Obama/Trump presidencies. I have no idea how to assign this book a certain number of stars, so I'm declining.Sanger, having been reduced to a one dimensional abortion machine by conservative Facebook posts, turns out to have a fascinating and complex perspective, equally horrifying and prescient. First of all, I have seen so many anti-abortion memes about Sanger, I always assumed she was an advocate of abortion. She has nothing, however, to say about abortion, but is discussing birth control. This was honestly, I'm embarrassed to say, news to me.It's also clear that those conservative memes about her advocating for eugenics are in no way an exaggeration. She is really profoundly offensive and disturbing, advocating for weeding out and eliminating the "unfit", the "feeble minded", and the lower classes. I don't know anything about the history of eugenics and what led it to be such an apparently-popular idea, but this was clearly something she was unapologetically advocating. (uhhhhh....I wish it was unnecessary, but it may be appropriate at this time to suggest a quick google search of "genetic fallacy", just for review, given how frequently and vehemently it is used on social media in re: Planned Parenthood)One of the most interesting aspects of reading this work almost a hundred years later is the familiarity of tone. There is an attitude that advocating for the elimination of the "unfit" classes requires a certain moral bravery that is unafraid to speak hard truths. In the current political climate, this carries the same tone as contemporary conservatives speaking with a creepy moral superiority about Muslims, and their attitude of "telling unpopular truths" to enact various prejudicial laws and policies. It's a tone that is arresting in its familiarity when Sanger uses it.It's also interesting to realize that Sanger would actually be quite popular with the same social conservatives who detest her, in her attitude toward social programs. Reading certain sections is not entirely unlike reading conservative criticism of "Obamacare" in how she belittles efforts to reach out to the struggling classes and improve their lot. Conservatives would find a kindred spirit in her exasperation with people who simply don't understand that the struggling classes simply need to fend for themselves or weed themselves out of the gene pool. And yet, all that being said, certain sections read like cutting edge progressive feminism. One of the most ironic elements of her ideas is that brith control is hard to implement because people are so damnably uncomfortable talking about sex. She argues we need to go beyond viewing sex as either a lustful release or a narrowly procreative behavior, and find in sex a spiritual expression - but we can't even begin discussing this until we get less squeamish about the whole thing. I mean, honestly, have we really progressed much? I suppose we've moved on some, but dang.....this is in many ways still a pretty valid criticism.She also lays out a really interesting critique of Marxism (another idea that was apparently all the rage 100 years ago but is now mostly in disrepair), noting that this - and all other - economic theories are focused on the interests and activities of men. Until economic theories incorporate the lives of women, including childbearing, they are incomplete and irresponsible. Wow. Again, I hope we've all made progress in this area over the past century, but again...this is still a pretty relevant concern in 2017.She pulls no punches in stating women need to say "Help us make the world a fit place for children. When you have done this, we will bear you children"..."the new morality will express this power and responsibility on the part of women". Given the contemporary debates about health insurance, the profoundly disturbing gender dynamics that emerged during the Hillary Clinton/Donald Trump presidential race, and cutting of public services, Sanger's voice rings out as....well, prophetic (!?).Her critique of the church is focused on Catholic restrictions on birth control, quoting Wm. Blake's poem "priests in black gowns walking their rounds, binding with briars my joy and desires". Modern opposition to family planning is more likely to take the form of the hipster protestant who has arbitrarily decided that birth control is now A-OK but that life has - again arbitrarily - begun at conception. This takes some of the punch out of her critique of religion's hostility to her ideas, but there remains a rich critique in the refusal of religious leaders to meaningfully address sex as it exists in people's lives.Overall, an absolutely fascinating read, being astride bitingly contemporary criticism and frighteningly outdated cruelty.

  • Ned
    2019-04-27 05:39

    In the spirit of "know thy enemy" I read this unpleasant book. Sanger comes from an anti-humanist, neo-Malthusian perspective, favorably referring to Malthus throughout the book. Of course, she would no-doubt bristle at being called anti-humanist, she merely wants the "right kinds" of humans, in sufficiently small quantities so as not to inconvenience those fine few of "good stock" with the pestilence of the common rabble. Sanger typifies the cold, psychopathic intellectual who provides foundational premises and intellectual cover for the necessary monsters who will actually carry out the business-end of her evil ideology. She often laments the fact that technology and civilization "prevents" the outworkings of natural Darwinian selection. Meaning that, through technology and human sympathy millions of "unfit" are permitted to infect global society by continued being. Technology and altruism artificially props up the weak you see, who would, and should, otherwise die out by the attrition of disease, starvation, and, if necessary, forced sterilization. She proposes that "each class must be divided into what are termed Gifted, Bright, Average, Dull, Normal, and Defective." This woman was truly soul-sick, and it is to its eternal shame that the political Left in America revere her. Sanger's book is also a cautionary tale of the consequences of scientism run amok, unbridaled by pesky "traditional" moral conventions which the left is always to eager to overturn. Good and evil are inverted and "shame" becomes society's new "sin."I turn now to the interesting but shameful implication of liberal so-called "Christian" theologians who became complicit in Sanger's evil ideology, even citing biblical support of her eugenics program by contorted "interpretation."Quote: "Dean Inge believes Birth Control is an essential part of Eugenics, and an essential part of Christian morality. On this point he asserts: "We do wish to remind our orthodox and conservative friends that the Sermon on the Mount contains some admirably clear and unmistakable eugenic precepts. `Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, neither can a good tree bring forth evil fruit. Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.' We wish to apply these words not only to the actions of individuals, which spring from their characters, but to the character of individuals, which spring from their inherited qualities. This extension of the scope of the maxim seems to me quite legitimate."Have you no shame, sir? At long last, have you no shame?

  • Ava Brightly ☕
    2019-05-18 01:45

    Project Guttenberg, you are my friend. I wouldn't have purchased this book anyway.Lots of thoughts but my take away was this: This woman is not a role model. She is evil personified, pivotal in founding the largest smoke screen with "the right" of birth control while in her words, "assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit." through negative eugenics. Unfit like disabled, blacks, poor, God-fearing, or mentally ill? "...the most urgent problem to-day is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon American society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupid, cruel sentimentalism."What. the. hell.

  • Jon
    2019-05-18 04:27

    This was pretty poor over all and I don't say that lightly because I've read Marx. Mathusian crack pot of the first degree. Sanger certainly has some valid criticisms, but of course history has shown how wrong she was about the 'problem' of overpopulation. Not only is the worlds population something like 6 times the size it was when she was writing, but people are almost universally better off today, again by several multiples. These bare facts stand in stark contrast to the world Sanger imagines she inhabits. As far as solutions go, Sanger is quick to repeat that she believes birth control should be voluntary. However, she completely evades the question of what to if individuals don't accept her 'solution.' More problematic is her constantly claiming to have the insight of science backing her even though she spends the latter part of the book discussing all the scientific research that NEEDS to be done that would actually demonstrate her beliefs. This is deductive reasoning, not inductive, and not science. Worst is her belief in the forced sterilization of the 'unfit.' Who gets to decide who is unfit?? A liberal fascist, Sanger,I imagine, would have fit right in with the ruling elite of the Nazi party had she been German. Nonetheless, a most instructive insight into the the thought processes behind the statist drives of the progressive golden era. Fascinating and thought provoking despite being completely wrong on nearly every major every point.

  • John Ellis
    2019-05-21 05:47

    Written by one of the most horrible human beings to have ever walked this planet. Don't believe me? Read this book.

  • Nancy
    2019-05-17 03:48

    Mrs. Sanger's book is not about feminism or even birth control. It is about eugenics and the role she feels birth control should have in it. She makes the same mistake that socialism (a very popular economic theory at the time) makes. Socialism is based on the idea that if everyone was equal economically, then there would be paradise on earth because everyone would give to their fullest extent and ability and take only according to their need. Obviously, this didn't happen and never will. The same is correct for Mrs. Sanger's ideas. She believed that if population growth could be controlled, especially among the deviant, dependent and delinquent classes, paradise on earth could be achieved because if people could indulge their desire for sex without the possible consequence of pregnancy then women would have power equal to that of men and mothers, motherhood and children would be cherished and not cheapened. She didn't account for human nature which generally seeks gratification of the self without regard to others or the world at large. Her ideas were naive and idealistic about how the better classes would act without the burden of the lesser classes and she lacked the moral grounding that illuminated the evilness of her thoughts toward the poor and uneducated. What makes this book so relevant 97 years after it was published is that the argument has not gone away. Medical "ethicists" still advocate killing those of the population who don't contribute and/or don't have "quality of life." Countries like Denmark and Iceland are proud of the fact that they have a nearly 100% abortion rate for those babies who tested positive for Down's syndrome in the uterus. France banned commercials portraying smiling children with Down's syndrome so that women who had aborted their Down's syndrome babies would be made to feel sad or guilty. The scariest thing of all is that Sanger and these ethicists is that they share a common view with none other than Adolf Hitler. This is an important book to read because this is what started Planned Parenthood and what its true purpose is.

  • Xenophon Hendrix
    2019-05-16 04:53

    I have noticed that certain words have become enders of intelligent discussion. Among these words are racist, fascist, Nazi, and eugenicist. Once they are wielded, intelligent discussion ends and the hurling of invective begins. Such words are so potent that they even are capable of ending intelligent thought. They have the power of taboo.Margaret Sanger broke taboos, and her writing has always been found shocking by various sectors of our society. For instance, she was staunchly opposed by the Roman Catholic Church. In addition, she began her life's work well before the establishment of our modern taboos. Today, those most under their burden will find her writing shocking in ways completely different from Sanger's contemporaries.Was Margaret Sanger a eugenicist? Yes, she was. The Pivot of Civilization proves it beyond all reasonable doubt. She took pride in it.Does this imply that she was a fascist or a Nazi? No, it does not. She was neither of those things. In her day, she was most closely aligned with the Progressive Movement. Whereas it's true that progressives and fascists have some things in common, they aren't actually the same thing.How about a racist? In 1922, the copyright of the book, most persons were somewhat racist by our standards. I detect no more racism than the average of her day.The Pivot of Civilization is an interesting, sometimes heartrending, historical document. Its readers can learn a lot about the United States of roughly one hundred years ago. The author makes clear that even as late as 1922 the "good old days" were still rotten. Child labor was common. Hard labor and malnutrition in early childhood resulted in permanently stunted adults, as was shown by the World War One draft. Sixth grade was the average level of education. Infant mortality was high. Even while having large families, many women worked outside the home in factory jobs.Worse, we are still fighting some of the same battles from circa a century ago: sex education, tracking by ability in school, treating education as a magic solution to social problems, illiteracy, the contribution of heredity to behavior, standards of education, sexually transmitted infections, the care of the insane, social welfare programs, and so on. Fortunately, Ms. Sanger could never be mistaken for a writer of today. She was too blunt, unapologetic, and vigorous.Margaret Sanger's life's work was the promotion of birth control – not just contraception, but also family planning and "social hygiene." She endeavored to teach women how to have fewer but healthier children, to control the population, to stop the birth of unwanted children, and, yes, to promote eugenics, including negative eugenics.Therefore, I'm reasonably sure that The Pivot of Civilization will horrify a large percentage of modern persons who read it. Margaret Sanger, the hero of Planned Parenthood, is therein promoting the sterilization of those she forthrightly terms "defectives." "O my God!" the modern reader exclaims, "She was an inspiration to the Nazis!"Eh, maybe, but so was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. If you don't believe me, look it up for yourself. I suggest those interested in the 1920s, the history of the Progressive Movement, of eugenics, the Women's Movement, Planned Parenthood, sexuality, birth control, and related subjects read it anyway. If you aren't already an expert, you will learn something. If nothing else, it will give you a look at the early twentieth century from the inside.Please do beware of the author's medical pronouncements. They are, of course, out of date. For instance, she declares that insanity is primarily hereditary. In her day, a large amount of insanity was caused by syphilis. In our day, the jury is still out on the primary causes of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the two most severe mental illnesses. Other flaws of the book are that it is often polemical and repetitive. It could have been advantageously cut.Note that the copyright of this book has expired, so it's easily found online.

  • Aja
    2019-05-08 05:44

    Rough. If you are looking for pc, this is most definitely not it. Glad I read it, but like I said, rough.

  • Charles
    2019-05-20 02:57

    This is an important book for anyone who cares about the dignity of human life. Sanger lays out her eugenic agenda for Planned Parenthood. It's not mistake that PP clinics abound in poor and black communities. These are the people that Sanger doesn't want to be born, along with anyone who has any sort of mental defect or comes from a poor family. But don't take my word for it, read the book. She'll tell you.

  • Jeff Kukuk
    2019-05-07 03:35

    A must read for anyone who wants to know about the person who founded Planned Parenthood. A chilling insight into the murderous organization of PP and the views of the founder. You only think you know about Planned Parenthood. I've given the book 2 stars only b/c of the vile contained within the pages. Still something I would recommend that people read only for awareness sake.