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Herbert Spencer, a 19th century philosopher, promoted the idea of Social Darwinism. Social Darwinism is an application of the theory of natural selection to social, political, and economic issues. In its simplest form, Social Darwinism follows the mantra of "the strong survive," including human issues. This theory was used to promote the idea that the white European race was superior to others, and therefore, destined to rule over them.

At the time that Spencer began to promote Social Darwinism, the technology, economy, and government of the "White European" was advanced in comparison to that of other cultures. Looking at this apparent advantage, as well as the economic and military structures, some argued that natural selection was playing out, and that the race more suited to survival was winning. Some even extended this philosophy into a micro-economic issue, claiming that social welfare programs that helped the poor and disadvantaged were contrary to nature itself. Those who reject any and all forms of charity or governmental welfare often use arguments rooted in Social Darwinism.

After the President’s recent meetings with representatives from both parties from the Congress to try to get some bipartisan agreement on the so called Deficit Crisis, most commentators concluded that there were clear ideological differences between the two parties. Duh! The problem is that these differences extend to the whole nation as well and the split is pretty close to 50-50. The Democrats see Medicare, Social Security, universal health care and other social safety net programs as a necessity while the Republicans see them as a an excess in government spending. The conservative ruling base of this political party represents a large portion of this nation who truly believe that they do not have an obligation to take care of the basic needs of their fellow citizens to survive.

Thus, Social Darwinism. It’s based on the first rule of true capitalism Those businesses who make the most profits survive and prosper. Those who fail, go bankrupt, close up shop and fall to the wayside. That is what competition is all about. Winners and losers. Thus, those fellow citizens who are not smart enough, assertive enough or fortunate enough to provide for their own physical well being are undeserving bankrupt losers who have no right to drain the resources of the country in order to thrive. Let them go “cap in hand” to philanthropists to ask for what they need.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Social Darwinism. (5+ / 0-)

      I recently read Atlas Shrugged - it was an ordeal. At the end of the book, she claimed that the only philosophical debt she owed was to Aristotle. Isaac Newton once said that he had "stood on the shoulders of giants", and his contributions to science were far greater than her contributions to philosophy. But the greats will admit their debts, and the hacks insist that they are totally original.

      She owes some major debts. She borrowed from Nietzsche the idea of the superman, and the idea of the strong being oppressed by the weak. Her philosophy is a rehash of Malthus and Spencer. She also borrows from Descartes: Descartes "I think therefore I am" was an attempt to prove the existence of God by starting with a premise which could not be doubted. Similarly, she keeps saying "A=A", as if you could build anything off of it. Descartes failed in his attempt to build a belief system free of room for doubt, and do did Rand. She of course did not believe in God, but uses the same method as Descartes. There also are similarities between Ayn Rand and Calvinism, but consider wealth to be a sign of virtue. Perhaps that is why the religious right and the followers of Ayn Rand get along so well.

      When Ayn Rand says "check your premises", count your fingers. People will often claim that the invisible hand will make everything a paradise, but when you get down to people like Spencer and his imitators, they don't care about any invisible hands, and really believe that the poor (for them "undeserving poor" is redundant) ought to be just left to die.

      The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

      by A Citizen on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 10:29:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They see government as something separate (4+ / 0-)

    from themselves, something imposed on them by others and designed to rob them of their wealth and liberty.

    We see government as being the manifestation of the collective will and power of we, the people.

    They don't see it that way because "we, the people" includes many they want nothing to do with. Black people, gay people, immigrants from non-white countries, the disabled, etc.

  •  "Social Darwinism" was based on a complete (7+ / 0-)

    misunderstanding, and possibly deliberate misinterpretation, of what Darwin had actually written. Evolution does not mean that "the strong survive", but that those best adapted to current or (especially) changing conditions are more likely to have more offspring with similar well-adapted traits. Just that. Only that.

    Social Darwinism is just another Big Lie.

    If it's
    Not your body
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    AND it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 10:18:49 PM PDT

    •  It also overlooks that Darwin wrote about how (4+ / 0-)

      cooperation among the species contributed to successful advancements in evolution. This is not discussed much if ever.

      We don't live in a democracy . . . we live in a capitalist oligarchy, with some democratic representation…Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage, or labor unions?… The capitalist oligarchy …were forced to accept them…Howard Zinn

      by jim d on Sat Jul 09, 2011 at 11:11:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The right wing philosophy that conflates the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jim d, peachcreek, yaque

    interest of the rich with the ignorance of the roughly 50% of the nation that's influenced by the legacy of puritanism is based on Social Darwinism and eugenics.

    Their world view is highly influenced by people like Leo Strauss, and Ayn Rand.

    In that world view, piety and hard work lead to blessing and riches, and sin and laziness and moral turpitude leads to poverty and misfortune.  

    Therefore goodness and industry is manifested o the rich by the fact that they are rich, and therefore if people just work hard and are pious, they will also be rewarded with blessings.

    Any interference to help the poor is therefore frown upon; it interferes with God's plan.

    This all leads to the conditions that's fertile for the establishment of a corporatist theocracy, or what I call a neo-fascist system; that's where we are heading to right now.

  •  The split is*NOT* 50-50 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jim d, peachcreek, yaque, Calamity Jean

    An overwhelming vast majority of the nation wants  Medicare and Social Security to continue essentially in the same capacity as the past 50 years.

    The idea there is anything close to a 50-50 split in public opinion on these issues is sheer concocted false equivalence spewed out by the corporate-pawn MSM.

    •  Social Darwinism (0+ / 0-)

      The recent polls support your first sentence but it was about 50% of the voting public that elected that Republican House of Representatives and those Republican Governors and State Representatives.

      They only got upset when the Republicans began to first make noises about "their" "Medicare and "their " Social Security. I'd venture a good guess that some of those teachers in Wisconsin that are demonstrating like crazy voted for that Republican Governor.

  •  what true capitalism (0+ / 0-)

    US leads the world in  hyper-predatory capitalism feeding off own citizens determined by bottom-line-profit-spread-sheet;

    Don’t come to me if you vote Republican you’re on your own. ~ VP Joe Biden

    by anyname on Sun Jul 10, 2011 at 06:44:58 AM PDT

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