How did the ideas of Charles Darwin lead to Social Darwinism?
Social Darwinism refers to modern theories that emerged from 1870s claiming that biological concepts in relation to natural selection and survival of the fittest can be applied to discuss politics and sociology. The theorists, also known as Social Darwinists, argue that strong species ought to experience their wealth and power enhance. Conversely, the weak should also witness their power and wealth decline. These theorists however differ in relation to views discussing the groups of people classified as either weak or strong. They also hold differing opinions on the mechanisms to be applied to promote strength and weakness in order to promote and punish the strong and weak respectively. Social Darwinism gained popularity and global usage after 1944. The creators of the term sought to affirm that Social Darwinism involves policies formulated and implemented to ensure weak persons perish, and the strong prosper in order to achieve a logical consequence. Thus, the term Social Darwinism evolved from the theory of natural selection in biology that was developed by Charles Darwin (Leonard 37).
Charles Darwin has greatly influenced science on political and economic aspects to describe and discuss natural selection. The concept of natural selection is based on the notion that some characteristics enhancing survival of species have enhanced qualities enabling them to continue increasing the population than others. This concept was applied widely in attempts to discuss and understand human relations. Thus, natural selection was applied to reinforce the already existing ideas and bigotry by complimenting them through scientific justification (Joe 1).
Types of Social Darwinism
Economic Social Darwinism
Economists have always relied on competition to achieve industrial growth and development even before Charles Darwin sailed to the Galapagos Island. During the 19th Century, middle class industrialists emerged. The class mainly comprised bankers who were eager to fight and win the battle against hereditary privilege. They believed it undermined powers of aristocracy. As a result, they argued their battle sought to permit individuals in a society to freely compete and emerge at the top through a fair process. They also believed the government had to be regulated in order to control how taxes were being spent (Joe 1).
This argument was allied to the line of thought that the government should utilize the taxes to help persons belonging to the lower economic class. This would encourage, motivate, and support lower economic class individuals to work hard and avoid engaging in the competitions. As a result, Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection would be seized proofing that fierce competition is a natural mechanism striving to improve the world. This led to creation of the term ‘survival of the fittest’, which became a slogan for ruthless and unrestrained economic competitors. Thus, the main goal and objective of economic Social Darwinists is to create a monopoly ceasing evolution and competition (Leonard 42).
Social Darwinism in relation to Racial Conflicts
It is established that Charles Darwin developed and explained natural selection as a way to ensure human beings and genes compete for the best in life and survival. Social Darwinists therefore applied the theory of natural selection to argue that nations and races are diverse, as they possess different qualities ensuring they survive in this earth. Thus, strong nations are always empowered as they have the resources to fight and destroy the enemies until they conquer the weak intruders. This further provides them with an opportunity to spread their superior high quality traits and characteristics. Social Darwinism however contradicts this notion. This is because economists argue that human beings should have the freedom to compete and acquire a position in the superior societies (Joe 1).
Superior societies are defined or distinguished by their high quality aspects in relation to organization and discipline. National selection theory gained popularity at the end of the 19th century when class animosities increased obscuring extreme nationalism. The nationalist upsurge resulted in the First World War during which warring populations gained the will and desire to put up with any pain and suffering in order to succeed being victorious. The Social Darwinism therefore applied a twisted version of the Charles Darwin theory in order to support the notion that supported beliefs had to be popular and convenient (Joe 1).
The colonial expansion experienced in the 19th Century ensured Europeans contacted several societies due to lower technological powers. For example, the African continent comprised local populations that were mainly slaves. Conversely, the American citizens and inhabitants face the risk of being exterminated. Both continents however struggled, fought, and suffered until they conquered. Thus, the theory of natural selection can be applied to affirm that the behaviors displayed by the two continents were perfectly natural and necessary as they ensured the fittest survived (Joe 1).
There are claims however arguing that some racial groups had not evolved fully in comparison to the European race. Thus, they were considered closer to apes than human beings. As a result, the Nazis engaged in perverse racial Darwinism during the 20th century. The Nazis claimed Aryans were the master race. Thus, other races had to prepare either being enslaved or destroyed by the master race or the Aryans. Comparing this argument to Charles Darwin theory of evolution, it is clear racial Darwinism also undermines such abominable doctrines as it emphasizes that all races belong to the same species as they share a common ancestor. This has further prompted genetic researchers to conduct intense studies with the aim of affirming that genetic variations among races are very little. More so, those variations that have been noticed cannot be linked to racial diversity (Leonard 49).
Social Darwinism in relation to Evolution of Human Beings
During the 20th century, human beings were accustomed to being regarded as products of evolution. However, a new concept developed in attempts to determine if the race hosting human beings was still evolving. It was crucial to determine the level and direction of the new evolution. The new concept mainly developed after strong, wealthy, and powerful human beings persistently refused to share with the weak and poor. They claimed utilizing their wealth was wastage as the weak and poor human beings were incapable of gaining wealth and improving due to genetic inferiority. It was also observed that weak and poor families comprised several children than rich families. Thus, this enhanced the proportion of inferiority characteristics within the human beings’ race (Joe 1).
The fact that workers and slaves were not as healthy and wealthy as human beings belonging to the middle and upper socioeconomic classes should have been appalling. The upper and middle class human beings should have utilized their wealth and power to improve their conditions. For example, they should have provided them with an opportunity to access healthcare in order to resolve their medical conditions and risks. This would also have encouraged them to seek healthcare mechanisms limiting the number of children through family planning to achieve fit reproduction process. More importantly, Social Darwinism should have discouraged discrimination, abuse, and killing of mentally unstable human beings. Such undertakings would have affirmed that the race human being was not evolving. Instead, it was growing and developing into a peaceful, supportive, and dignified group of individuals (Joe 1).
Social Darwinism has therefore led to creation of policies designed to ensure weak and strong people continue to perish and prosper respectively. The creators of Social Darwinism believed the fallacies involved in discussing this concept appealed to nature as the theory of natural selection aimed to describe biological phenomenon. Thus, Charles Darwin theory utilized to develop Social Darwinism should be utilized as a moral and theoretical guide within the human society to explain principles of biological evolution. As a result, Social Darwinism should not be utilized to promote and enhance discrimination or prejudice. Instead, Social Darwinism should be applied to improve global societies. For example, Social Darwinism should be applied to ensure socioeconomic differences are eliminated. This can guarantee human beings gain the ability, wealth, and power to afford and lead comfortable lifestyles. Consequently, Social Darwinism should be applied to prevent racial discrimination, abuse, and slavery. Human beings should acknowledge that they belong to the same human race. They should therefore treat each other with respect and dignity as they are equally worthy and valued. Ultimately, Social Darwinism should be applied to improve the world.
Joe, Walmswell. Charles Darwin and Evolution 1809-2009. 2009. Web 16th May 2015 http://darwin200.christs.cam.ac.uk/pages/index.php?page_id=e4
Leonard, Thomas. Origins of the Myth of Social Darwinism: The Ambiguous Legacy of Richard Hofstadter’s Social Darwinism in American Thought. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2009. Print.