In 1960, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, vowed that she would leave the United States forever if that well-known defender of reactionary conservatism, John F. Kennedy, were ever elected to the presidency. Margaret was a fervent Marxist, a radical feminist, and, despite comical denials posted on Planned Parenthood’s website, a rabid eugenicist. According to her New York Times obituary, dated September 7, 1966, Sanger specifically recommended the practice of birth control to prevent procreation among those of the poor prone to producing heritably ‘subnormal’ children, and, in the early years of the 20th Century, the masthead of her Feminist-Socialist magazine, The Woman Rebel, defiantly proclaimed “No Gods! No Masters!” to its readership.
At first glance, one could hardly disapprove of Sanger’s attempts to promote better health practices among poor women, or seriously find fault with her call for legalized contraception as a means of reducing dangerous self-inflicted abortions. Fewer than 100 years ago, urban women still regularly succumbed to disease and died young, especially if they were poor and had repeatedly endured the physical hardships of pregnancy. In fact, Margaret’s own mother had died of tuberculosis, at 48, after bearing eleven children in rapid succession. Legend has it that it was her mother’s death, coupled with her experience as a maternity nurse among the indigent, which finally convinced Sanger to crusade for legalization of birth control in America. But Sanger was no mere social worker, and that particular legend omits quite a bit.
It was Sanger who actually coined the phrase “birth control”, and it was she who opened the first birth control clinic in the nation, circa 1916. Sanger also deliberately politicized her push for legalized contraception by founding the National Birth Control League in 1921, and, later, she presided over the founding of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Of course, her activism put her directly at odds with law-enforcement officials and the Catholic Church, but little discussed is the actual extent to which her early Marxism guided much of what she managed to achieve. In short, Sanger is, indeed, a hero to the women’s movement, but she was certainly no humanitarian.
Simply consider Sanger’s horrific contradictions. For Sanger and her generation of radicals, the success of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia largely validated Marx’s promise of a pending new world order. As a proponent of birth control, Sanger certainly sought to remedy specific health threats impacting the lives of poor women, but as a Marxist member of the Women’s Committee for the New York Socialist Party, she certainly anticipated the day when, as predicted, poor workers would rise up, kill off significant numbers of men, women, and children within the American middle class, and then fully seize the nation’s political and productive powers in efforts to establish a communist workers’ utopia. It is indisputable that such was the manifest plan for achieving the expected Marxist future.
Sanger’s own hybrid agenda actually led her to sharply criticize Marx for his monomaniacal focus on economic factors alone. Despite her party affiliation, she did not seriously believe that the coming revolution could subsequently live up to its promise of completely remaking mankind. “In pointing out the limitations and fallacies of the orthodox Marxian opinion,” Sanger penned in The Pivot of Civilization, “my purpose is not to depreciate the efforts of the Socialists aiming to create a new society, but rather to emphasize what seems to me to be the greatest and most neglected truth of our day: unless sexual science is incorporated …and the pivotal importance of birth control is recognized in any program of reconstruction, all efforts to create a new world and a new civilization are foredoomed to failure.”
Painfully aware that the miserable poor surrounding her were hardly the makings of a future political vanguard, Sanger sought to improve their revolutionary fitness by encouraging smaller families, and, of course, by seeking to reduce births among those deemed to be lowly intelligent. Because Marxists fundamentally believed that children were the property of society (and not that of their parents), Sanger and her followers apparently felt fully justified in demanding not only that poor families immediately begin controlling their own procreation, but also that governments step in, as well. In keeping with Sanger’s teachings, American communists eventually accreted the belief that it was selfish and counterrevolutionary to sire too many kids: children, especially ‘defective’ ones, interfered with the family’s ability to adequately respond to the needs of the party.
Sanger’s belief that the poor would someday soldier the future proletarian revolution in America is likely what led her to work almost exclusively on their behalf. Like all political agitators of the Marxist stripe, she also likely exploited the bourgeoisie for the benefit of the cause: wealthy women who supported Sanger’s efforts regularly organized their own social circles to provide funding and political influence, but, as Sanger and her colleagues well knew, such generous, heartfelt support would not ultimately spare them the tumbrel’s ride directly to the revolution’s gallows. In general, all non-Marxists were viewed as expendable non-persons to be cynically milked for whatever they could provide.
It could not, then, have been solely out of compassion for women that Sanger did what she did: her work was aimed at benefiting only a particular class of women, and, what is worse, it assisted a political ideology that, at last worldwide count, was shown to have deliberately murdered nearly 100 million innocent people. Sanger admitted that her activities were part-and-parcel of radical efforts calculated to upset the political, religious, and social orders of the day, and, collectively, all were intended to hasten the expected collapse of bourgeois America. As was typical of such radical agitation, most of what Sanger sought to accomplish was disingenuously cloaked beneath the mantle of humanitarianism and social justice. Clever lies, rationalized by dialectic sophistry, were always ingeniously employed to obscure the whole of the sordid truth.
Pol Pot, to take but one example, eventually achieved in Cambodia what Sanger and her Marxist friends apparently longed for in America, i.e., the deliberate extermination of millions within the middle class. Public awareness of these psychopathic hopes should alone suffice to bar Ms. Sanger from receiving any further posthumous accolades…that is, except from those in our midst who still believe as she once did.