The View From 1776
Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Darwin, Liberal-Progressivism And World War I
Charles Darwin’s theories (The Origin of Species - 1859 and The Descent of Man - 18871) are a major foundational element in the statist, collectivistic doctrine of liberal-progressive-socialism, which produced the barbarity of the 20th century’s wars that killed tens of millions of soldiers and civilians.
Darwin wrote that evolutionary survival of the fittest would lead the world’s superior races eventually to exterminate inferior races. His cousin, Sir Francis Galton, borrowed Darwin’s ideas in 1883 to found eugenics, premised on the need to expedite evolution by eliminating inferior individuals in order to prevent mongrelization of the human race.
In the first decades after publication of Darwin’s ideas, they gained wide support among European and American liberal-progressives. Karl Marx was delighted with Darwin’s evolutionary theories, which Marx hailed as supporting socialism’s ultimate triumph. Darwin’s most influential contemporary backer in England, Thomas Huxley, declared that there was no such thing as sin; there was only the struggle for survival. By 1886 Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil), influenced by the prevailing vogue for Darwinian evolutionary theory, declared that “God is dead.” Nietzsche’s conclusion remains the doctrine inculcated in our educational system today.
On the surface and in the popular press, the idea of progress in the late Victorian era was a reflection largely of the great strides in science and industry that were raising living standards everywhere. But the idea of evolutionary progress had darker implications: