Social Darwinism

Social Darwinism is a name given to various theories of society which emerged in the United Kingdom, North America, and Western Europe in the 1870s, claiming to apply biological concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest to sociology and politics.[1][2] Social Darwinists argue that the strong should see their wealth and power increase while the weak should see their wealth and power decrease. Different social-Darwinist groups have differing views about which groups of people are considered to be the strong and which groups of people are considered to be the weak, and they also hold different opinions about the precise mechanisms that should be used to reward strength and punish weakness. Many such views stress competition between individuals in laissez-faire capitalism, while others were used in support of authoritarianism, eugenics, racism, imperialism, fascism, Nazism, and struggle between national or racial groups.[3][4][5]

As a scientific concept, Social Darwinism broadly declined in popularity following World War I and was largely discredited by the end of World War II, partially due to its association with Nazism and partially due to a growing scientific consensus that it was scientifically groundless.[6][7] Later theories that were categorised as social Darwinism were generally described as such as a critique by their opponents; their proponents did not identify themselves by such a label.[8][7]

Creationists have often maintained that social Darwinism—leading to policies designed to reward the most competitive—is a logical consequence of "Darwinism" (the theory of natural selection in biology).[9] Biologists and historians have stated that this is a fallacy of appeal to nature, since the theory of natural selection is merely intended as a description of a biological phenomenon and should not be taken to imply that this phenomenon is good or that it ought to be used as a moral guide in human society.[10] While most scholars recognize some historical links between the popularisation of Darwin's theory and forms of social Darwinism, they also maintain that social Darwinism is not a necessary consequence of the principles of biological evolution.

Scholars debate the extent to which the various social Darwinist ideologies reflect Charles Darwin's own views on human social and economic issues. His writings have passages that can be interpreted as opposing aggressive individualism, while other passages appear to promote it.[11] Darwin's early evolutionary views and his opposition to slavery ran counter to many of the claims that social Darwinists would eventually make about the mental capabilities of the poor and colonial indigenes.[12] After the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, one strand of Darwins' followers, led by Sir John Lubbock, argued that natural selection ceased to have any noticeable effect on humans once organised societies had been formed.[13] But some scholars argue that Darwin's view gradually changed and came to incorporate views from other theorists such as Herbert Spencer.[14] Spencer published[15] his Lamarckian evolutionary ideas about society before Darwin first published his hypothesis in 1859, and both Spencer and Darwin promoted their own conceptions of moral values. Spencer supported laissez-faire capitalism on the basis of his Lamarckian belief that struggle for survival spurred self-improvement which could be inherited.[16] An important proponent in Germany was Ernst Haeckel, who popularized Darwin's thought (and his personal interpretation of it) and used it as well to contribute to a new creed, the monist movement.

Origin of the term

The term Darwinism was coined by Thomas Henry Huxley in his March 1861 review of On the Origin of Species,[17] and by the 1870s it was used to describe a range of concepts of evolution or development, without any specific commitment to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.[18]

The first use of the phrase "social Darwinism" was in Joseph Fisher's 1877 article on The History of Landholding in Ireland which was published in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.[19] Fisher was commenting on how a system for borrowing livestock which had been called "tenure" had led to the false impression that the early Irish had already evolved or developed land tenure;[20]

These arrangements did not in any way affect that which we understand by the word " tenure", that is, a man's farm, but they related solely to cattle, which we consider a chattel. It has appeared necessary to devote some space to this subject, inasmuch as that usually acute writer Sir Henry Maine has accepted the word " tenure " in its modern interpretation, and has built up a theory under which the Irish chief " developed " into a feudal baron. I can find nothing in the Brehon laws to warrant this theory of social Darwinism, and believe further study will show that the Cain Saerrath and the Cain Aigillue relate solely to what we now call chattels, and did not in any way affect what we now call the freehold, the possession of the land.

— Fisher 1877.[20]

Despite the fact that Social Darwinism bears Charles Darwin's name, it is also linked today with others, notably Herbert Spencer, Thomas Malthus, and Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics. In fact, Spencer was not described as a social Darwinist until the 1930s, long after his death.[21] The social Darwinism term first appeared in Europe in 1880, and journalist Emilie Gautier had coined the term with reference to a health conference in Berlin 1877.[19] Around 1900 it was used by sociologists, some being opposed to the concept.[22] The term was popularized in the United States in 1944 by the American historian Richard Hofstadter who used it in the ideological war effort against fascism to denote a reactionary creed which promoted competitive strife, racism and chauvinism. Hofstadter later also recognized (what he saw as) the influence of Darwinist and other evolutionary ideas upon those with collectivist views, enough to devise a term for the phenomenon, "Darwinist collectivism".[5] Before Hofstadter's work the use of the term "social Darwinism" in English academic journals was quite rare.[23] In fact,

... there is considerable evidence that the entire concept of "social Darwinism" as we know it today was virtually invented by Richard Hofstadter. Eric Foner, in an introduction to a then-new edition of Hofstadter's book published in the early 1990s, declines to go quite that far. "Hofstadter did not invent the term Social Darwinism", Foner writes, "which originated in Europe in the 1860s and crossed the Atlantic in the early twentieth century. But before he wrote, it was used only on rare occasions; he made it a standard shorthand for a complex of late-nineteenth-century ideas, a familiar part of the lexicon of social thought."

— Jeff Riggenbach[1]


Social Darwinism has many definitions, and some of them are incompatible with each other. As such, social Darwinism has been criticized for being an inconsistent philosophy, which does not lead to any clear political conclusions. For example, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics states:

Part of the difficulty in establishing sensible and consistent usage is that commitment to the biology of natural selection and to 'survival of the fittest' entailed nothing uniform either for sociological method or for political doctrine. A 'social Darwinist' could just as well be a defender of laissez-faire as a defender of state socialism, just as much an imperialist as a domestic eugenist.[24]

The term "Social Darwinism" has rarely been used by advocates of the supposed ideologies or ideas; instead it has almost always been used pejoratively by its opponents.[8] The term draws upon the common meaning of Darwinism, which includes a range of evolutionary views, but in the late 19th century was applied more specifically to natural selection as first advanced by Charles Darwin to explain speciation in populations of organisms. The process includes competition between individuals for limited resources, popularly but inaccurately described by the phrase "survival of the fittest", a term coined by sociologist Herbert Spencer.

Creationists have often maintained that Social Darwinism—leading to policies designed to reward the most competitive—is a logical consequence of "Darwinism" (the theory of natural selection in biology).[9] Biologists and historians have stated that this is a fallacy of appeal to nature and should not be taken to imply that this phenomenon ought to be used as a moral guide in human society.[10] While there are historical links between the popularization of Darwin's theory and forms of social Darwinism, social Darwinism is not a necessary consequence of the principles of biological evolution.

While the term has been applied to the claim that Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection can be used to understand the social endurance of a nation or country, Social Darwinism commonly refers to ideas that predate Darwin's publication of On the Origin of Species. Others whose ideas are given the label include the 18th century clergyman Thomas Malthus, and Darwin's cousin Francis Galton who founded eugenics towards the end of the 19th century.

The expansion of the British Empire fitted in with the broader notion of social Darwinism used from the 1870s onwards to account for the remarkable and universal phenomenon of "the Anglo-Saxon overflowing his boundaries", as phrased by the late-Victorian sociologist Benjamin Kidd in Social Evolution, published in 1894.[25] The concept also proved useful to justify what was seen by some as the inevitable extermination of "the weaker races who disappear before the stronger" not so much "through the effects of … our vices upon them" as "what may be called the virtues of our civilisation."


Herbert Spencer's ideas, like those of evolutionary progressivism, stemmed from his reading of Thomas Malthus, and his later theories were influenced by those of Darwin. However, Spencer's major work, Progress: Its Law and Cause (1857), was released two years before the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and First Principles was printed in 1860.

In The Social Organism (1860), Spencer compares society to a living organism and argues that, just as biological organisms evolve through natural selection, society evolves and increases in complexity through analogous processes.[26]

In many ways, Spencer's theory of cosmic evolution has much more in common with the works of Lamarck and Auguste Comte's positivism than with Darwin's.

Jeff Riggenbach argues that Spencer's view was that culture and education made a sort of Lamarckism possible[1] and notes that Herbert Spencer was a proponent of private charity.[1] However, the legacy of his social Darwinism was less than charitable.[27]

Spencer's work also served to renew interest in the work of Malthus. While Malthus's work does not itself qualify as social Darwinism, his 1798 work An Essay on the Principle of Population, was incredibly popular and widely read by social Darwinists. In that book, for example, the author argued that as an increasing population would normally outgrow its food supply, this would result in the starvation of the weakest and a Malthusian catastrophe.

According to Michael Ruse, Darwin read Malthus' famous Essay on a Principle of Population in 1838, four years after Malthus' death. Malthus himself anticipated the social Darwinists in suggesting that charity could exacerbate social problems.

Another of these social interpretations of Darwin's biological views, later known as eugenics, was put forth by Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, in 1865 and 1869. Galton argued that just as physical traits were clearly inherited among generations of people, the same could be said for mental qualities (genius and talent). Galton argued that social morals needed to change so that heredity was a conscious decision in order to avoid both the over-breeding by less fit members of society and the under-breeding of the more fit ones.

In Galton's view, social institutions such as welfare and insane asylums were allowing inferior humans to survive and reproduce at levels faster than the more "superior" humans in respectable society, and if corrections were not soon taken, society would be awash with "inferiors". Darwin read his cousin's work with interest, and devoted sections of Descent of Man to discussion of Galton's theories. Neither Galton nor Darwin, though, advocated any eugenic policies restricting reproduction, due to their Whiggish distrust of government.[28]

Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy addressed the question of artificial selection, yet Nietzsche's principles did not concur with Darwinian theories of natural selection. Nietzsche's point of view on sickness and health, in particular, opposed him to the concept of biological adaptation as forged by Spencer's "fitness". Nietzsche criticized Haeckel, Spencer, and Darwin, sometimes under the same banner by maintaining that in specific cases, sickness was necessary and even helpful.[29] Thus, he wrote:

Wherever progress is to ensue, deviating natures are of greatest importance. Every progress of the whole must be preceded by a partial weakening. The strongest natures retain the type, the weaker ones help to advance it. Something similar also happens in the individual. There is rarely a degeneration, a truncation, or even a vice or any physical or moral loss without an advantage somewhere else. In a warlike and restless clan, for example, the sicklier man may have occasion to be alone, and may therefore become quieter and wiser; the one-eyed man will have one eye the stronger; the blind man will see deeper inwardly, and certainly hear better. To this extent, the famous theory of the survival of the fittest does not seem to me to be the only viewpoint from which to explain the progress of strengthening of a man or of a race.[30]

Ernst Haeckel's recapitulation theory was not Darwinism, but rather attempted to combine the ideas of Goethe, Lamarck and Darwin. It was adopted by emerging social sciences to support the concept that non-European societies were "primitive", in an early stage of development towards the European ideal, but since then it has been heavily refuted on many fronts.[31] Haeckel's works led to the formation of the Monist League in 1904 with many prominent citizens among its members, including the Nobel Prize winner Wilhelm Ostwald.

The simpler aspects of social Darwinism followed the earlier Malthusian ideas that humans, especially males, require competition in their lives in order to survive in the future. Further, the poor should have to provide for themselves and not be given any aid. However, amidst this climate, most social Darwinists of the early twentieth century actually supported better working conditions and salaries. Such measures would grant the poor a better chance to provide for themselves yet still distinguish those who are capable of succeeding from those who are poor out of laziness, weakness, or inferiority.

Hypotheses relating social change and evolution

"Social Darwinism" was first described by Eduard Oscar Schmidt of the University of Strasbourg, reporting at a scientific and medical conference held in Munich in 1877. He noted how socialists, although opponents of Darwin's theory, used it to add force to their political arguments. Schmidt's essay first appeared in English in Popular Science in March 1879.[32] There followed an anarchist tract published in Paris in 1880 entitled "Le darwinisme social" by Émile Gautier. However, the use of the term was very rare—at least in the English-speaking world (Hodgson, 2004)[33]—until the American historian Richard Hofstadter published his influential Social Darwinism in American Thought (1944) during World War II.

Hypotheses of social evolution and cultural evolution were common in Europe. The Enlightenment thinkers who preceded Darwin, such as Hegel, often argued that societies progressed through stages of increasing development. Earlier thinkers also emphasized conflict as an inherent feature of social life. Thomas Hobbes's 17th century portrayal of the state of nature seems analogous to the competition for natural resources described by Darwin. Social Darwinism is distinct from other theories of social change because of the way it draws Darwin's distinctive ideas from the field of biology into social studies.

Darwin, unlike Hobbes, believed that this struggle for natural resources allowed individuals with certain physical and mental traits to succeed more frequently than others, and that these traits accumulated in the population over time, which under certain conditions could lead to the descendants being so different that they would be defined as a new species.

However, Darwin felt that "social instincts" such as "sympathy" and "moral sentiments" also evolved through natural selection, and that these resulted in the strengthening of societies in which they occurred, so much so that he wrote about it in Descent of Man:

The following proposition seems to me in a high degree probable—namely, that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, the parental and filial affections being here included, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as in man. For, firstly, the social instincts lead an animal to take pleasure in the society of its fellows, to feel a certain amount of sympathy with them, and to perform various services for them.[34]

Nazi Germany

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-067-10, Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg in 1939

Nazi Germany's justification for its aggression was regularly promoted in Nazi propaganda films depicting scenes such as beetles fighting in a lab setting to demonstrate the principles of "survival of the fittest" as depicted in Alles Leben ist Kampf (English translation: All Life is Struggle). Hitler often refused to intervene in the promotion of officers and staff members, preferring instead to have them fight amongst themselves to force the "stronger" person to prevail—"strength" referring to those social forces void of virtue or principle.[35] Key proponents were Alfred Rosenberg, who was hanged later at Nuremberg. Such ideas also helped to advance euthanasia in Germany, especially Action T4, which led to the murder of mentally ill and disabled people in Germany.

The argument that Nazi ideology was strongly influenced by social Darwinist ideas is often found in historical and social science literature.[36] For example, the philosopher and historian Hannah Arendt analysed the historical development from a politically indifferent scientific Darwinism via social Darwinist ethics to racist ideology.[37]

By 1985, creationists were taking up the argument that Nazi ideology was directly influenced by Darwinian evolutionary theory.[38] Such claims have been presented by creationists such as Jonathan Sarfati.[39][40] Intelligent design creationism supporters have promoted this position as well. For example, it is a theme in the work of Richard Weikart, who is a historian at California State University, Stanislaus, and a senior fellow for the Center for Science and Culture of the Discovery Institute.[41] It is also a main argument in the 2008 intelligent-design/creationist movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. These claims are widely criticized.[42][43][44][45][46][47] The Anti-Defamation League has rejected such attempts to link Darwin's ideas with Nazi atrocities, and has stated that "Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry."[48]

Similar criticisms are sometimes applied (or misapplied) to other political or scientific theories that resemble social Darwinism, for example criticisms leveled at evolutionary psychology. For example, a critical reviewer of Weikart's book writes that "(h)is historicization of the moral framework of evolutionary theory poses key issues for those in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, not to mention bioethicists, who have recycled many of the suppositions that Weikart has traced."[45]

Another example is recent scholarship that portrays Ernst Haeckel's Monist League as a mystical progenitor of the Völkisch movement and, ultimately, of the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler. Scholars opposed to this interpretation, however, have pointed out that the Monists were freethinkers who opposed all forms of mysticism, and that their organizations were immediately banned following the Nazi takeover in 1933 because of their association with a wide variety of causes including feminism, pacifism, human rights, and early gay rights movements.[49]

Other Regional distributions

United States

Spencer proved to be a popular figure in the 1880s primarily because his application of evolution to areas of human endeavor promoted an optimistic view of the future as inevitably becoming better. In the United States, writers and thinkers of the gilded age such as Edward L. Youmans, William Graham Sumner, John Fiske, John W. Burgess, and others developed theories of social evolution as a result of their exposure to the works of Darwin and Spencer.

In 1883, Sumner published a highly influential pamphlet entitled "What Social Classes Owe to Each Other", in which he insisted that the social classes owe each other nothing, synthesizing Darwin's findings with free enterprise Capitalism for his justification. According to Sumner, those who feel an obligation to provide assistance to those unequipped or under-equipped to compete for resources, will lead to a country in which the weak and inferior are encouraged to breed more like them, eventually dragging the country down. Sumner also believed that the best equipped to win the struggle for existence was the American businessman, and concluded that taxes and regulations serve as dangers to his survival. This pamphlet makes no mention of Darwinism, and only refers to Darwin in a statement on the meaning of liberty, that "There never has been any man, from the primitive barbarian up to a Humboldt or a Darwin, who could do as he had a mind to."[50]

Sumner never fully embraced Darwinian ideas, and some contemporary historians do not believe that Sumner ever actually believed in social Darwinism.[51] The great majority of American businessmen rejected the anti-philanthropic implications of the theory. Instead they gave millions to build schools, colleges, hospitals, art institutes, parks and many other institutions. Andrew Carnegie, who admired Spencer, was the leading philanthropist in the world (1890–1920), and a major leader against imperialism and warfare.[52]

H. G. Wells was heavily influenced by Darwinist thoughts, and novelist Jack London wrote stories of survival that incorporated his views on social Darwinism.[53] Film director Stanley Kubrick has been described as having held social Darwinist opinions.[54]


Social Darwinism has influenced political, public health and social movements in Japan since the late 19th and early 20th century. Social Darwinism was originally brought to Japan through the works of Francis Galton and Ernst Haeckel as well as United States, British and French Lamarkian eugenic written studies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[55] Eugenism as a science was hotly debated at the beginning of the 20th century, in Jinsei-Der Mensch, the first eugenics journal in the empire. As Japan sought to close ranks with the west, this practice was adopted wholesale along with colonialism and its justifications.


Social Darwinism was formally introduced to China through the translation by Yan Fu of Huxley's Evolution and Ethics, in the course of an extensive series of translations of influential Western thought.[56] Yan's translation strongly impacted Chinese scholars because he added national elements not found in the original. Yan Fu criticized Huxley from the perspective of Spencerian social Darwinism in his own annotations to the translation.[57] He understood Spencer's sociology as "not merely analytical and descriptive, but prescriptive as well", and saw Spencer building on Darwin, whom Yan summarized thus:

Peoples and living things struggle for survival. At first, species struggle with species; they as [people] gradually progress, there is a struggle between one social group and another. The weak invariably become the prey of the strong, the stupid invariably become subservient to the clever."[58]

By the 1920s, social Darwinism found expression in the promotion of eugenics by the Chinese sociologist Pan Guangdan. When Chiang Kai-shek started the New Life movement in 1934, he

. . . harked back to theories of Social Darwinism, writing that "only those who readapt themselves to new conditions, day by day, can live properly. When the life of a people is going through this process of readaptation, it has to remedy its own defects, and get rid of those elements which become useless. Then we call it new life."[59]


Social evolution theories in Germany gained large popularity in the 1860s and had a strong antiestablishment connotation first. Social Darwinism allowed people to counter the connection of Thron und Altar, the intertwined establishment of clergy and nobility, and provided as well the idea of progressive change and evolution of society as a whole. Ernst Haeckel propagated both Darwinism as a part of natural history and as a suitable base for a modern Weltanschauung, a world view based on scientific reasoning in his Monist League. Friedrich von Hellwald had a strong role in popularizing it in Austria. Darwin's work served as a catalyst to popularize evolutionary thinking.[60]

A sort of aristocratic turn, the use of the struggle for life as a base of Social Darwinism sensu stricto came up after 1900 with Alexander Tilles 1895 work Entwicklungsethik (Ethics of Evolution) which asked to move from Darwin till Nietzsche. Further interpretations moved to ideologies propagating a racist and hierarchical society and provided ground for the later radical versions of Social Darwinism.[60]

Social Darwinism came to play a major role in the ideology of Nazism, where it was combined with a similarly pseudo-scientific theory of racial hierarchy in order to identify the Germans as a part of what the Nazis regarded as an Aryan or Nordic master race.[61] Nazi social Darwinist beliefs led them to retain business competition and private property as economic engines.[62][63] Nazism likewise opposed social welfare based on a social Darwinist belief that the weak and feeble should perish.[64] This association with Nazism, coupled with increasing recognition that it was scientifically unfounded, contributed to the broader rejection Social Darwinism after the end of World War II.[6][7]

Criticism and controversy

Multiple incompatible definitions

Social Darwinism has many definitions, and some of them are incompatible with each other. As such, social Darwinism has been criticized for being an inconsistent philosophy, which does not lead to any clear political conclusions. For example, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics states:

Part of the difficulty in establishing sensible and consistent usage is that commitment to the biology of natural selection and to 'survival of the fittest' entailed nothing uniform either for sociological method or for political doctrine. A 'social Darwinist' could just as well be a defender of laissez-faire as a defender of state socialism, just as much an imperialist as a domestic eugenist.[65]

Nazism, Eugenics, Fascism, Imperialism

Social Darwinism was predominantly found in laissez-faire societies where the prevailing view was that of an individualist order to society. As such, social Darwinism supposed that human progress would generally favor the most individualistic races, which were those perceived as stronger. A different form of social Darwinism was part of the ideological foundations of Nazism and other fascist movements. This form did not envision survival of the fittest within an individualist order of society, but rather advocated a type of racial and national struggle where the state directed human breeding through eugenics.[66] Names such as "Darwinian collectivism" or "Reform Darwinism" have been suggested to describe these views, in order to differentiate them from the individualist type of social Darwinism.[5]

Some pre-twentieth century doctrines subsequently described as social Darwinism appear to anticipate state imposed eugenics[5] and the race doctrines of Nazism. Critics have frequently linked evolution, Charles Darwin and social Darwinism with racialism, nationalism, imperialism and eugenics, contending that social Darwinism became one of the pillars of fascism and Nazi ideology, and that the consequences of the application of policies of "survival of the fittest" by Nazi Germany eventually created a very strong backlash against the theory.[48][41]

As mentioned above, social Darwinism has often been linked to nationalism and imperialism.[67] During the age of New Imperialism, the concepts of evolution justified the exploitation of "lesser breeds without the law" by "superior races".[67] To elitists, strong nations were composed of white people who were successful at expanding their empires, and as such, these strong nations would survive in the struggle for dominance.[67] With this attitude, Europeans, except for Christian missionaries, seldom adopted the customs and languages of local people under their empires.[67]

Peter Kropotkin – Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution

Peter Kropotkin argued in his 1902 book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution that Darwin did not define the fittest as the strongest, or most clever, but recognized that the fittest could be those who cooperated with each other. In many animal societies, "struggle is replaced by co-operation".

It may be that at the outset Darwin himself was not fully aware of the generality of the factor which he first invoked for explaining one series only of facts relative to the accumulation of individual variations in incipient species. But he foresaw that the term [evolution] which he was introducing into science would lose its philosophical and its only true meaning if it were to be used in its narrow sense only—that of a struggle between separate individuals for the sheer means of existence. And at the very beginning of his memorable work he insisted upon the term being taken in its "large and metaphorical sense including dependence of one being on another, and including (which is more important) not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny." [Quoting Origin of Species, chap. iii, p. 62 of first edition.]

While he himself was chiefly using the term in its narrow sense for his own special purpose, he warned his followers against committing the error (which he seems once to have committed himself) of overrating its narrow meaning. In The Descent of Man he gave some powerful pages to illustrate its proper, wide sense. He pointed out how, in numberless animal societies, the struggle between separate individuals for the means of existence disappears, how struggle is replaced by co-operation, and how that substitution results in the development of intellectual and moral faculties which secure to the species the best conditions for survival. He intimated that in such cases the fittest are not the physically strongest, nor the cunningest, but those who learn to combine so as mutually to support each other, strong and weak alike, for the welfare of the community. "Those communities", he wrote, "which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring" (2nd edit., p. 163). The term, which originated from the narrow Malthusian conception of competition between each and all, thus lost its narrowness in the mind of one who knew Nature.[68]

Noam Chomsky discussed briefly Kropotkin's views in a July 8, 2011 YouTube video from Renegade Economist, in which he said Kropotkin argued

... the exact opposite [of Social Darwinism]. He argued that on Darwinian grounds, you would expect cooperation and mutual aid to develop leading towards community, workers' control and so on. Well, you know, he didn't prove his point. It's at least as well argued as Herbert Spencer is ...[69]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Riggenbach, Jeff (2011-04-24) The Real William Graham Sumner, Mises Institute
  2. ^ Williams, Raymond (2000). "Social Darwinism". In John Offer (ed.). Herbert Spencer: Critical Assessment. London ; New York: Routledge. pp. 186–199. ISBN 9780415181846.
  3. ^ Gregory Claeys (2000). The "Survival of the Fittest" and the Origins of Social Darwinism. Journal of the History of Ideas 61 (2):223-240.
  4. ^ Bowler 2003, pp. 298–299
  5. ^ a b c d Leonard, Thomas C. (2009) Origins of the Myth of Social Darwinism: The Ambiguous Legacy of Richard Hofstadter's Social Darwinism in American Thought Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 71, p.37–51
  6. ^ a b "Social Darwinism". Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  7. ^ a b c Bannister, Robert C. (2000). "Social Darwinism". Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000.
  8. ^ a b Hodgson 2004, pp. 428–430
  9. ^ a b Paul, Diane B. in Gregory Radick (5 March 2009). The Cambridge Companion to Darwin. Cambridge University Press. pp. 219–20. ISBN 978-0-521-71184-5. Like many foes of Darwinism, past and present, the American populist and creationist William Jennings Bryan thought a straight line ran from Darwin's theory ('a dogma of darkness and death') to beliefs that it is right for the strong to crowd out the weak
  10. ^ a b Sailer, Steve (October 30, 2002). "Q&A: Steven Pinker of 'Blank Slate'". UPI. Archived from the original on December 5, 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  11. ^ Bowler 2003, pp. 300–01
  12. ^ Adrian Desmond and, James Richard Moore (2009). Darwin's Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  13. ^ Eddy, Matthew Daniel (2017). "The Politics of Cognition: Liberalism and the Evolutionary Origins of Victorian Education". British Journal for the History of Science. 50 (4): 677–699. doi:10.1017/S0007087417000863. PMID 29019300.
  14. ^ Claeys, Gregory (2000). "The 'Survival of the Fittest' and the Origins of Social Darwinism". Journal of the History of Ideas. 61 (2): 223–40. doi:10.1353/jhi.2000.0014.
  15. ^ Spencer, Herbert (1852). "4"A Theory of Population, Deduced from the General Law of Human Fertility". Westminster Review. 57: 468–501.
  16. ^ Bowler 2003, pp. 301–02
  17. ^ Huxley, T.H. (April 1860). "ART. VIII. – Darwin on the origin of Species". Westminster Review. pp. 541–70. Retrieved 2008-06-19. What if the orbit of Darwinism should be a little too circular?
  18. ^ Bowler 2003, p. 179
  19. ^ a b Fisher, Joseph (1877). "The History of Landholding in Ireland". Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. V: 228–326. doi:10.2307/3677953. JSTOR 3677953., as quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary
  20. ^ a b Fisher 1877, pp. 249–50
  21. ^ Hodgson
  22. ^ Ward, Lester F (1907). "Social Darwinism". American Journal of Sociology. 12: 709–10.
  23. ^ Hodgson 2004, pp. 445–46
  24. ^ McLean, Iain (2009). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Oxford University: Oxford University Press. p. 490. ISBN 9780199207800.
  25. ^ Benjamin Kidd, Social Evolution, Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2007, 400 pages, ISBN 978-0548805237, p. 47.
  26. ^ Spencer, Herbert. 1860. 'The Social Organism', originally published in The Westminster Review. Reprinted in Spencer's (1892) Essays: Scientific, Political and Speculative. London and New York.
  27. ^ Paul, Diane B. (2003). The Cambridge Companion to Darwin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-521-77197-9.
  28. ^ Paul, Diane (2006). "Darwin, social Darwinism and eugenics" (PDF). In Hodge, Jonathan; Radick, Gregory (eds.). The Cambridge companion to Darwin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 230. ISBN 9780511998690.
  29. ^ Barbara Stiegler, Nietzsche et la biologie, PUF, 2001, p. 90. ISBN 2-13-050742-5. See, for ex., Genealogy of Morals, III, 13 here [1]
  30. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, §224
  31. ^ Scott F. Gilbert (2006). "Ernst Haeckel and the Biogenetic Law". Developmental Biology, 8th edition. Sinauer Associates. Archived from the original on 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2008-05-03. Eventually, the Biogenetic Law had become scientifically untenable.
  32. ^ Schmidt, Oscar; J. Fitzgerald (translator) (March 1879). "Science and Socialism". Popular Science Monthly. 14: 577–91. ISSN 0161-7370. Darwinism is the scientific establishment of inequality
  33. ^ but see Wells, D. Collin (1907). "Social Darwinism". American Journal of Sociology. 12 (5): 695–716. doi:10.1086/211544. JSTOR 2762378.
  34. ^ Descent of Man, chapter 4 ISBN 1-57392-176-9
  35. ^ cf. 1997 BBC documentary: "The Nazis: A Warning from History"
  36. ^ E.g. Weingart, P., J. Kroll, and K. Bayertz, Rasse, Blut, und Gene. Geschichte der Eugenik und Rassenhygiene in Deutschland (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1988).
  37. ^ Arendt, H.: Elements of Totalitarianism, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: New York 1951. pp. 178–179
  38. ^ "CA002.1: Social Darwinism". TalkOrigins Archive. 2003-09-26. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  39. ^ Jonathan Sarfati (2002) "Nazis planned to exterminate Christianity" Creation 24:3 p27ff.
  40. ^ Jonathan Sarfati (1999) "The Holocaust and evolution" Creation 22:1 p4ff.
  41. ^ a b Weikart, Richard (October 10, 2004). "Senior Fellow Richard Weikart responds to Sander Gliboff". Center for Science and Culture. Retrieved 2008-05-17.
  42. ^ Zimmerman, Andrew (April 2005). "Richard Weikart. From Darwin to Hitler". The American Historical Review. American Historical Review. 110 (2): 566–567. doi:10.1086/531468.
  43. ^ Roll-Hansen, Nils (December 2005). "Richard Weikart: From Darwin to Hitler". 96 (4). Isis. pp. 669–671. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
  44. ^ Gliboff, Sander (September 2004). "Review: Richard Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler". H-German. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
  45. ^ a b Judaken, Jonathan (June 2005). "Review: Richard Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler". H-Ideas. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
  46. ^ Taylor Allen, Ann (March 2006). "Book Review of From Darwin to Hitler". The Journal of Modern History. pp. 255–257. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
  47. ^ Avalos, Hector (2007). "Creationists for Genocide". Talk Reason. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
  48. ^ a b "Hitler & Eugenics". Expelled Exposed. National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  49. ^ Weikart, Richard (2002). "Evolutionäre Aufklärung"? Zur Geschichte des Monistenbundes. Wissenschaft, Politik und Öffentlichkeit: von der Wiener Moderne bis zur Gegenwart. Wien: WUV-Universitätsverlag. pp. 131–48. ISBN 3-85114-664-6.
  50. ^ The Project Gutenberg eBook of What Social Classes Owe To Each Other, by William Graham Sumner. 2006-06-16. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  51. ^ "A careful reading of the theories of Sumner and Spencer exonerates them from the century-old charge of social Darwinism in the strict sense of the word. They did not themselves advocate the application of Darwin's theory of natural selection." The Social Meaning of Modern Biology: From Social Darwinism to Sociobiology
  52. ^ "At least a part—and sometimes a generous part" of the great fortunes went back to the community through many kinds of philanthropic endeavor, says Bremner, Robert H. (1988). American Philanthropy (2nd ed.). p. 86. ISBN 978-0-226-07324-8.
  53. ^ "Borrowing from Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, social Darwinists believed that societies, as do organisms evolve over time. Nature then determined that the strong survive and the weak perish. In Jack London's case, he thought that certain favored races were destined for survival, mainly those that could preserve themselves while supplanting others, as in the case of the White race." The philosophy of Jack London Archived 2005-10-27 at the Wayback Machine
  54. ^ Herr, Michael (2000). Kubrick. Grove Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-8021-3818-7. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  55. ^ Otsubo, S.; Bartholomew, J. R. (1998). "Eugenics in Japan: some ironies of modernity, 1883–1945". Sci Context. 11 (3–4): 545–65. doi:10.1017/S0269889700003203. PMID 15168677.
  56. ^ Jonathan D. Spence. The Search for Modern China". W.W. Norton, 1990, p. 301.
  57. ^ Jin, Xiaoxing (2019). "Translation and transmutation: The Origin of Species in China". The British Journal for the History of Science. 52: 117–141. doi:10.1017/S0007087418000808. PMID 30587253.
  58. ^ Ibid.
  59. ^ Ibid., 414–15.
  60. ^ a b Puschner, Uwe (2014). Sozialdarwinismus als wissenschaftliches Konzept und politisches Programm, in: Gangolf Hübinger (ed.), Europäische Wissenschaftskulturen und politische Ordnungen in der Moderne (1890-1970) (= Schriften des Historischen Kollegs, Kolloquien 77), München 2014, pp. 99–121 (in German). Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. ISBN 9783110446784.
  61. ^ Baum, Bruce David (2006). The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race: A Political History of Racial Identity. New York City/London: New York University Press. p. 156.
  62. ^ Barkai, Avaraham 1990. Nazi Economics: Ideology, Theory and Policy. Oxford Berg Publisher.
  63. ^ Hayes, Peter. 1987 Industry and Ideology IG Farben in the Nazi Era. Cambridge University Press.
  64. ^ Evans, Richard J. (2005). The Third Reich in Power. New York: Penguin Books. p. 483–84. ISBN 978-0-14-303790-3.
  65. ^ McLean, Iain (2009). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Oxford University: Oxford University Press. p. 490. ISBN 9780199207800.
  66. ^ Leonard, Thomas C. (2005) Mistaking Eugenics for Social Darwinism: Why Eugenics is Missing from the History of American Economics History of Political Economy, Vol. 37 supplement: 200–233
  67. ^ a b c d Perry, Marvin; Chase, Myrna; Jacob, Margaret; Jacob, James; Daly, Jonathan W.; Von Laue, Theodore H. (2014). Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society. Volume II: Since 1600 (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. pp. 634–635. ISBN 978-1-305-09142-9. LCCN 2014943347. OCLC 898154349. Retrieved 2016-02-01. The most extreme ideological expression of nationalism and imperialism was Social Darwinism. In the popular mind, the concepts of evolution justified the exploitation by the 'superior races' of 'lesser breeds without the law.' This language of race and conflict, of superior and inferior people, had wide currency in the Western nations. Social Darwinists vigorously advocated empires, saying that strong nations—by definition, those that were successful at expanding industry and empire—would survive and others would not. To these elitists, all white peoples were more fit than nonwhites to prevail in the struggle for dominance. Even among Europeans, some nations were deemed more fit than others for the competition. Usually, Social Darwinists thought their own nation the best, an attitude that sparked their competitive enthusiasm. ...In the nineteenth century, in contrast to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Europeans, except for missionaries, rarely adopted the customs or learned the languages of local people. They had little sense that other cultures and other peoples deserved respect. Many Westerners believed that it was their Christian duty to set an example and to educate others. Missionaries were the first to meet and learn about many peoples and the first to develop writing for those without a written language. Christian missionaries were ardently opposed to slavery....
  68. ^ Kropotkin, kniaz' Petr Alekseevich. "Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution".
  69. ^ Chomsky, Noam (July 8, 2011). "Noam Chomsky – on Darwinism".

Primary sources

Secondary sources

Further reading

External links

19th-century philosophy

In the 19th century, the philosophies of the Enlightenment began to have a dramatic effect, the landmark works of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau influencing new generations of thinkers. In the late 18th century a movement known as Romanticism began; it validated strong emotion as an authentic not of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror and terror and awe. Key ideas that sparked changes in philosophy were the fast progress of science; evolution, as postulated by Vanini, Diderot, Lord Monboddo, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Goethe, and Charles Darwin; and what might now be called emergent order, such as the free market of Adam Smith within nation states. Pressures for egalitarianism, and more rapid change culminated in a period of revolution and turbulence that would see philosophy change as well.

Anthropological criminology

Anthropological criminology (sometimes referred to as criminal anthropology, literally a combination of the study of the human species and the study of criminals) is a field of offender profiling, based on perceived links between the nature of a crime and the personality or physical appearance of the offender. Although similar to physiognomy and phrenology, the term "criminal anthropology" is generally reserved for the works of the Italian school of criminology of the late 19th century (Cesare Lombroso, Enrico Ferri, Raffaele Garofalo). Lombroso thought that criminals were born with inferior physiological differences which were detectable. He popularized the notion of "born criminal" and thought that criminality was an atavism or hereditary disposition. His central idea was to locate crime completely within the individual and utterly divorce it from the surrounding social conditions and structures. A founder of the Positivist school of criminology, Lombroso opposed the social positivism developed by the Chicago school and environmental criminology.


In biology, an atavism is a modification of a biological structure whereby an ancestral trait reappears after having been lost through evolutionary change in previous generations. Atavisms can occur in several ways; one of which is when genes for previously existing phenotypic features are preserved in DNA, and these become expressed through a mutation that either knocks out the overriding genes for the new traits or makes the old traits override the new one. A number of traits can vary as a result of shortening of the fetal development of a trait (neoteny) or by prolongation of the same. In such a case, a shift in the time a trait is allowed to develop before it is fixed can bring forth an ancestral phenotype. Atavisms are often seen as evidence of evolution.In social sciences, atavism is the tendency of reversion. For example, people in the modern era reverting to the ways of thinking and acting of a former time. The word atavism is derived from the Latin atavus—a great-great-great-grandfather or, more generally, an ancestor.

Evolutionary ethics

Evolutionary ethics is a field of inquiry that explores how evolutionary theory might bear on our understanding of ethics or morality. The range of issues investigated by evolutionary ethics is quite broad. Supporters of evolutionary ethics have claimed that it has important implications in the fields of descriptive ethics, normative ethics, and metaethics.

Descriptive evolutionary ethics consists of biological approaches to morality based on the alleged role of evolution in shaping human psychology and behavior. Such approaches may be based in scientific fields such as evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, or ethology, and seek to explain certain human moral behaviors, capacities, and tendencies in evolutionary terms. For example, the nearly universal belief that incest is morally wrong might be explained as an evolutionary adaptation that furthered human survival.

Normative (or prescriptive) evolutionary ethics, by contrast, seeks not to explain moral behavior, but to justify or debunk certain normative ethical theories or claims. For instance, some proponents of normative evolutionary ethics have argued that evolutionary theory undermines certain widely held views of humans' moral superiority over other animals.

Evolutionary metaethics asks how evolutionary theory bears on theories of ethical discourse, the question of whether objective moral values exist, and the possibility of objective moral knowledge. For example, some evolutionary ethicists have appealed to evolutionary theory to defend various forms of moral anti-realism (the claim, roughly, that objective moral facts do not exist) and moral skepticism.

German colonial empire

The German colonial empire (German: Deutsches Kolonialreich) constituted the overseas colonies, dependencies and territories of Imperial Germany. Unified in the early 1870's, the chancellor of this time period was Otto von Bismarck. Short-lived attempts of colonization by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but crucial colonial efforts only began in 1884 with the Scramble for Africa. Claiming much of the left-over colonies in the Scramble for Africa, Germany managed to build the third largest colonial empire after the British and French, at the time. Germany lost control when World War I began in 1914 and its colonies were seized by its enemies in the first weeks of the war. However some military units held out for a while longer: German South West Africa surrendered in 1915, Kamerun in 1916 and German East Africa at the end of the war, the defenders of which having been engaged in a guerrilla war with British and colonial forces, as well as the Portuguese. Germany's colonial empire was officially confiscated with the Treaty of Versailles after Germany's defeat in the war and the various units became League of Nations mandates under the supervision (but not ownership) of one of the victorious powers. The German Colonial empire officially existed until 1919. Plans to regain their lost colonial possessions persisted through WW2, some people at the time suspecting that was the goal of the Third Reich all along. Despite not being around for a very long time, Germany's colonial ventures changed the places and people they came into contact with. The Germans participated in medicinal and scientific research in Africa, as well as attempting to build up an infrastructure there.

Heaven Sent (Scorpion Wind album)

Heaven Sent is a collaboration between Boyd Rice, Douglas P. (of Death in June) and John Murphy (of The Associates), recording under the name Scorpion Wind, released in 1996 on NER. The album consists of Boyd Rice's spoken-word lyrics on subjects ranging from Social Darwinism to alcohol with backing music in various styles, including lounge and neofolk.

Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was an English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era.

Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. As a polymath, he contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics, religion, anthropology, economics, political theory, philosophy, literature, astronomy, biology, sociology, and psychology. During his lifetime he achieved tremendous authority, mainly in English-speaking academia. "The only other English philosopher to have achieved anything like such widespread popularity was Bertrand Russell, and that was in the 20th century." Spencer was "the single most famous European intellectual in the closing decades of the nineteenth century" but his influence declined sharply after 1900: "Who now reads Spencer?" asked Talcott Parsons in 1937.Spencer is best known for the expression "survival of the fittest", which he coined in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also made use of Lamarckism.

John Brown (biography)

John Brown is a biography written by W. E. B. Du Bois about the abolitionist John Brown. Published in 1909, it tells the story of John Brown, from his Christian rural upbringing, to his failed business ventures and finally his "blood feud" with the institution of slavery as a whole. Its moral symbolizes the significance and impact of a white abolitionist at the time, a sign of threat for white slave owners and those who believed that only blacks were behind the idea of freeing slaves.

Du Bois highlights the moment in Brown's childhood when he first became radicalized against slavery:

But in all these early years of the making of this man, one incident stands out as foretaste and prophecy—an incident of which we know only the indefinite outline, and yet one which unconsciously foretold to the boy the life deed of the man. It was during the war that a certain landlord welcomed John to his home whither the boy had ridden with cattle, a hundred miles through the wilderness. He praised the big, grave and bashful lad to his guests and made much of him. John, however, discovered something far more interesting than praise and good food in the landlord's parlor, and that was another boy in the landlord's yard. Fellow souls were scarce with this backwoodsman and his diffidence warmed to the kindly welcome of the stranger, especially because he was black, half naked and wretched. In John's very ears the kind voices of the master and his folk turned to harsh abuse with this black boy. At night the slave lay in the bitter cold and once they beat the wretched thing before John's very eyes with an iron shovel, and again and again struck him with any weapon that chanced. In wide-eyed silence John looked on and questioned, Was the boy bad or stupid? No, he was active, intelligent and with the great warm sympathy of his race did the stranger "numerous little acts of kindness," so that John readily, in his straightforward candor, acknowledged him "fully if not more than his equal."

It was this moment that Brown pledged to destroy slavery. Du Bois describes Brown as a biblical character: fanatically devoted to his abolitionist cause but also a man of rigid social and moral rules. Du Bois simultaneously describes Brown as a revolutionary, prophet and martyr, and declares him to be "a man whose leadership lay not in his office, wealth or influence, but in the white flame of his utter devotion to an ideal."Du Bois showcases his studies on socialism and social Darwinism as well in this work, a continuation on his examination of the genealogy of blacks outlined in The Philadelphia Negro (1899) and The Souls of Black Folk (1903) that refutes the biological differences between blacks and whites.

As Du Bois draws out this biographical representation of John Brown, Brown was a man who based his reasoning for fighting against slavery not on social Darwinism, but on his personal morals.

La raza cósmica

Published in 1925, La raza cósmica (The Cosmic Race) is an essay written by Mexican philosopher, secretary of education, and 1929 presidential candidate José Vasconcelos to express the ideology of a future "fifth race" in the Americas; an agglomeration of all the races in the world with no respect to color or number to erect a new civilization: Universópolis.

As he explains in his literary work, armies of people would then go forth around the world professing their knowledge. Vasconcelos continues to say that the people of the Iberian regions of the Americas (that is to say, the parts of the continent colonised by Portugal and Spain) have the territorial, racial, and spiritual factors necessary to initiate the "universal era of humanity".

Claiming that Social Darwinism and racialist ideologies are only created to validate, explain, and justify ethnic superiority and to repress others, Vasconcelos attempts to refute these theories and goes on to recognize his words as being an ideological effort to improve the cultural morale of a "depressed race" by offering his optimistic theory of the future development of a cosmic race.

List of things named after Charles Darwin

Several places, concepts, institutions, and things are namesakes of the English biologist Charles Darwin:

PlacesCharles Darwin National Park

Charles Darwin Foundation

Charles Darwin Research Station

Charles Darwin University

Darwin College, Cambridge

Darwin, Falkland Islands

Darwin, Northern Territory

Darwin Glacier (California)

Darwin Guyot, a seamount in the Pacific Ocean

Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands

Darwin Island (Antarctica)

Darwin Sound (Canada)

Mount Darwin (California)

Mount Darwin (Tasmania)Things named after Darwin in relation to his Beagle voyageCordillera Darwin

Darwin's finches

Darwin's frog

Darwin Sound

Mount Darwin (Andes)Scientific names of organismsSome 250 species and several higher groups bear Darwin's name; most are insects.

Darwinilus, a rove beetle

Darwinius, an extinct primate

Darwinopterus, a genus of pterosaur

Darwinula, a genus of seed shrimp

Darwinivelia, a water treader genus

Darwinysius, a seed bug

Darwinomya, a genus of flies

Darwinella, a sponge genus

Darwinsaurus, a dinosaur

Darwinhydrus, a diving beetle

darwini (multiple species)

darwinii (multiple species)

Ingerana charlesdarwini, a frogPhilosophiesDarwinism

Social DarwinismOtherDarwin, a unit of evolutionary change

Darwin, an operating system

Darwin (ESA) (a proposed satellite system)

Darwin Awards

Darwin Medal

Darwin fish

Division of Darwin, a former electoral division in Australia

1991 Darwin, a stony Florian asteroid

Darwin (lunar crater) a lunar crater

Darwin (Martian crater) a martian crater

Might Is Right

Might Is Right, or The Survival of the Fittest, is a book by pseudonymous author Ragnar Redbeard. First published in 1890, it heavily advocates egoist anarchism, amorality, consequentialism and psychological hedonism. In Might Is Right, Redbeard rejects conventional ideas of human and natural rights and argues that only strength or physical might can establish moral right (à la Callicles or Thrasymachus). The book also attacks Christianity and Democracy. Friedrich Nietzsche's theories of master–slave morality and herd mentality serve as a clear inspiration for Redbeard's book written contemporaneously.Individualist Anarchist historian James J. Martin called it "surely one of the most incendiary works ever to be published anywhere." This refers to the controversial content such as the viewpoint that weakness should be regarded with hatred and the strong and forceful presence of Social Darwinism in the text. There are also controversial parts of the book that deal with race and male–female relations, claiming that the woman and the family as a whole is the property of the man and proclaiming the innate superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race. The book also contains many strong anti-Semitic statements.

Some have suspected that the work is at least partly intended to be a satire of Social Darwinism. It has also been characterised as "proto-fascist white power manifesto".

Might makes right

Might makes right is an aphorism with several potential meanings (in order of increasing complexity):

The idea associated with the phrase connotes that a society's view of right and wrong is determined, like its perspective on history, by those currently in power. The term can be used in the descriptive, rather than prescriptive way, in the same sense that people say that "History is written by the victors". Because every person labels what they think is good for themselves as right, only those who are able to defeat their enemies can push their idea of what is right into fruition. The phrase is most often used in negative assessments of expressions of power.

According to Montague, kratocracy or kraterocracy (from the Greek κρατερός krateros, meaning "strong") is a government by those who are strong enough to seize control through the threat or use of force, coercive power, social persuasion, psychological manipulation or deceptive cunning. The term was used by Kropotkin in Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, but is now rarely seen. In terms of Master morality, those who are the strongest will rule others and have the power to determine both right and wrong, and what constitutes "the greater good". By this definition, the phrase manifests itself in a normative sense. This meaning is often used to define a proscriptive moral code for society to follow, as well as while discussing social Darwinism and Weberian themes of the authority of the state (e.g. Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft).

Otto Seeck

Otto Karl Seeck (2 February 1850 – 29 June 1921) was a German classical historian who is perhaps best known for his work on the decline of the ancient world. He was born in Riga.

He first began studying chemistry at the University of Dorpat but transferred to the University of Berlin to study classical history under Theodor Mommsen. Seeck earned his doctorate from the University of Berlin in 1872 after writing his thesis on the Notitia Dignitatum, a document enumerating the roles and responsibilities of administrative officials of the later Roman empire c. 400 AD. He habilitated under Mommsen in Berlin in 1877 and, with the help of Mommsen, secured a post at the University of Greifswald in 1881, where he taught Roman History and Archaeology. There he met Karl Julius Beloch. In 1907 he went to the University of Münster where he continued teaching and writing.

Seeck wrote many influential works on late antiquity and social Darwinism. He was widely published in such academic journals as the Deutsche Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft (German Journal of History), Hermes, Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte (Journal of Church History), and the Zeitschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte (Journal of Social and Economic History). Some of his monographs, including his influential 6-volume Geschichte des Untergangs der antiken Welt (History of the Decline of the Ancient World)—which set forth his beliefs concerning social Darwinism, later influencing Oswald Spengler—are still in print today.

Richard Hofstadter

Richard Hofstadter (August 6, 1916 – October 24, 1970) was an American historian and public intellectual of the mid-20th century.

Hofstadter was the DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University. Rejecting his earlier communist approach to history, in the 1950s he came closer to the concept of "consensus history", and was epitomized by some of his admirers as the "iconic historian of postwar liberal consensus." Others see in his work an early critique of the one-dimensional society, as Hofstadter was equally critical of socialist and capitalist models of society, and bemoaned the "consensus" within the society as "bounded by the horizons of property and entrepreneurship", criticizing the "hegemonic liberal capitalist culture running throughout the course of American history".His most widely read works are Social Darwinism in American Thought, 1860–1915 (1944); The American Political Tradition (1948); The Age of Reform (1955); Anti-intellectualism in American Life (1963), and the essays collected in The Paranoid Style in American Politics (1964).

He was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize: in 1956 for The Age of Reform, an analysis of the populism movement in the 1890s and the progressive movement of the early 20th century; and in 1964 for the cultural history Anti-intellectualism in American Life.

Social Darwinism in European and American Thought 1860-1945

Social Darwinism in European and American Thought 1860-1945 (ISBN 052157434X) is a book by Mike Hawkins published in 1997. It deals with the rise of Darwin's ideas and their applications to the individual and society following the publication of The Origin of Species. The subject of the book deals with the exploration of Darwin's principles across the political spectrum, from fascism and its well documented usage of Darwinism to the usage by anarchists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It attempts to give a firm definition to what Darwinism was and is. Social Darwinism also deals with the modern consequence of Darwin in the form of Sociobiology and Evolutionary Psychology.

Social effects of evolutionary theory

The social effects of evolutionary thought have been considerable. As the scientific explanation of life's diversity has developed, it has often displaced alternative, sometimes very widely held, explanations. Because the theory of evolution includes an explanation of humanity's origins, it has had a profound impact on human societies. Some have vigorously denied acceptance of the scientific explanation due to its perceived religious implications (e.g. its implied rejection of the special creation of humans presumably described in the Bible). This has led to a vigorous conflict between creation and evolution in public education, primarily in the United States.

Survival of the fittest

"Survival of the fittest" is a phrase that originated from Darwinian evolutionary theory as a way of describing the mechanism of natural selection. The biological concept of fitness is defined as reproductive success. In Darwinian terms the phrase is best understood as "Survival of the form that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations."

Herbert Spencer first used the phrase, after reading Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, in his Principles of Biology (1864), in which he drew parallels between his own economic theories and Darwin's biological ones: "This survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called 'natural selection', or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life."Darwin responded positively to Alfred Russel Wallace's suggestion of using Spencer's new phrase "survival of the fittest" as an alternative to "natural selection", and adopted the phrase in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication published in 1868. In On the Origin of Species, he introduced the phrase in the fifth edition published in 1869, intending it to mean "better designed for an immediate, local environment".

William Graham Sumner

William Graham Sumner (October 30, 1840 – April 12, 1910) was a classical liberal American social scientist. He taught social sciences at Yale, where he held the nation's first professorship in sociology. He was one of the most influential teachers at Yale or any other major school. Sumner wrote widely within the social sciences, with numerous books and essays on American history, economic history, political theory, sociology, and anthropology. He supported laissez-faire economics, free markets, and the gold standard. He adopted the term "ethnocentrism" to identify the roots of imperialism, which he strongly opposed, and as a spokesman against it he was in favor of the "forgotten man" of the middle class, a term he coined. He had a long-term influence on conservatism in the United States.

Émile Gautier

Émile Jean-Marie Gautier (19 January 1853 – 1937) was a French anarchist and later a journalist. He coined the term "social Darwinism".

Social theories
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