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Social Darwinism as meant here is perhaps best embodied by Andrew Carnegie when he wrote "Wealth," which is available online at http://www.furman.edu/~benson/docs/carnegie.htm This probably should be required reading for every American if they want to understand the assumptions under which many of their laws were created.


I am familiar with the term SocialDarwinism, as I am familiar with Andrew Carnegie's views on using whatever wealth one acquires for philanthropic purposes. The latter is summarized in the article you referenced; the former has nothing to do with it.

Social Darwinism is, at best, a bastardization of Charles Darwin's theories of human evolution which purports to validate scientific racism, but scientific racism is nothing new. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the words, "all men are created equal" was a strong believer in the inherent inferiority of black people, a claim which he attempted to validate using scientific "evidence."

In striking contrast, Carnegie (in the very essay that you referenced) stated:

This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of Wealth: First, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community -- the man of wealth thus becoming the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.

In sum, Andrew Carnegie did not believe in the dubious virtues of scientific racism, or in the perpetuation of wealth in the landed class, going so far as to say, "I would as soon leave to my son a curse as the almighty dollar." Rather, Carnegie believed that wealthy capitalists had a duty to use their wealth to help those less fortunate than themselves. -- DavidPrenatt


What about those souls (I suspect they're out there somewhere) who don't believe in any theory of racial superiority but do believe in "survival of the fittest". Perhaps they believe in some other-than-genetic fitness. Are they social darwinist or something else? Anyone think they'd be something more along the lines of CompassionateConservatism??


Right or wrong, the concept of "survival of the fittest" has been inextricably linked with genetics by the advocates of SocialDarwinism. The idea of linking "survival of the fittest" to non-genetic factors ignores the fact that nepotism and racial bigotry are inextricably linked to genetic factors. The success of the rare individual who belongs to an oppressed social class but is able to "pass" for being a member of the ruling social class demonstrates that genetics would be irrelevant if it were not accompanied by superficial external markers. In other words, genetic "superiority" is a reified concept that is the result of bigotry. -- DavidPrenatt

Having arrived here by link about class (and not being American), I don't find much here that contributes to my concept of a class war. Survival of the genes of the fittest has something to do with it, I suppose. But evolution deals with the species concept, doesn't it? Remind me of the criterion for a species - something to do with couples being able to produce fertile offspring? As as surrogate for dealing with clusters of genomes?

Since 'survival of the fittest' is Herbert Spencer anyway, and laissez-faire capitalism isn't eugenic theory (though some people may find it equally detestable), I feel there are enough straw men here to constitute a fire hazard.

See WikiPedia:Social_Darwinism for more.

--CharlesMatthews


Why does SurvivalOfTheFittest? in the genetic sense lead to racism? Let's say my parent has some killer gene; I may inherit it where my brother may not. In that case, my brother is fittest genetically but I doubt anyone would say he is of a different race than I.

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