Thursday, January 19, 2006

Darwin, Capitalism, and Survival of the Fittest

No matter what your position might be about Charles Darwin and Evolution, you can't escape the fact that Darwin "theory" has been promoted with such a vengeance that if you are critical of the science and the theory you are branded and ostracized from the "legitimate" community of thinkers and scholars.

Many are not aware that Charles Darwin was among the wealthiest men in the world and had the audience and commitment of royalty and the wealthiest financiers. "Natural selection" and "survival of the fittest" became the rallying point for fierce and often brutal displays of competition.
A review of the writings of several leading "robber baron" capitalists shows that many of them were influenced by the Darwinian view that the strong eventually will overcome the weak. Their faith in Darwinism helped them to justify this view as morally right and completely natural. As a result, they thought that their ruthless (and often unethical or even illegal) business practices were justified by science, and that Darwinist concepts and conclusions were an inevitable part of the "unfolding of history," and for this reason were justified.
Darwin's Influence on Ruthless Laissez-Faire Capitalism
by Jerry Bergman, Ph.D.
What has disturbed me is that the emergence of "winning at all costs" has become the prevailing value pushed by the media, and the notion of caring for and protecting the unfortunate has become more of an obligation for those fortunate celebrities to do some fund-raising in order to justify their own exploitation of modern values. Underlying this is our embracing of Darwin's theory as science, as an expression of the reality of existence and an inevitable, irresistible force that moves toward "perfection of the species."
After Darwin's 1859 Origin of Species, he twelve years later wrote a second book that was read and gasped at in the drawing rooms of Boston and New York and, really, all over the world. What Darwin said in Descent of Man was simply this: that if the good breeding stock, which was really a small fraction of everybody, crossbred with the common breeding stock – 'the evolutionary dead ends' – what would happen is evolution would march backwards into the swirling mists of the dawnless past. ...when I hear the term '‘social Darwinism'’ ...I know that I'm in the presence of a whitewash created by a number of powerful academic voices who wish to leave Darwin off the hook. The greatest and first of all the social Darwinists was Darwin himself. Rather than being a ‘scientist', Darwin was one of a handful of the wealthiest men on planet Earth. How come not a single book bothers to mention it? Darwin was supremely wealthy, and he associated with kings and princes and people of substance. So when Darwin spoke, it wasn't like a professor raising his squeaky voice at an ed. conference. He was talking to people who had control of societies under their hands. And Darwin was the one who said it would be immoral to allow this evolutionary dead end stock to crossbreed with the good stuff.

An Interview With John Taylor Gatto on The Weekend Interview Show with Philip Dru, Administrator September 6, 2003
Seeing this new value emerge in the media with "survivor" and other so-called reality shows and underscored by the media's obsession with sports and the glorfication of champion athletes as the emergence of a new superior species has been disconcerting, especially since there seems to be no cultural awareness or concern of this fundamental shift in human values.

Certainly, I think most of us resonate with Darwin's theory of evolution because we perceive in our own growth and development our personal adaptation to difficulties encountered. We see our own spiritual journey in terms of a personal evolution, a romanticization of the tale told by Darwin.

It is indeed "a brave new world." But can we survive ourselves, or is this best strategy to create the best of all possible societies? It would seem to me that this notion of "survival of the fittest" has become the driving principle behind the greatest and smallest conflicts confronting us today.

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