Darwinism: Then and Now
by Erik G. Magro ©, Aug. 16th, 2005
The Victorian Age in England was a time of dramatic changes, new inventions, the Industrial Revolution, and an introduction to new ideologies, all of which would transform the way significant portions of society lived and thought of life forever. The overwhelming external changes in daily life during this period would match in intensity the nature of changes happening in the internal lives of the public. Charles Darwin, as a naturalist, helped usher in this change after a long voyage to the South Seas where he observed several widely unknown species. In 1859, a year after his return, he presented his observations in a book, The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. In it he deduced from their widely diverse natures a common thread that linked all species to a single ancestor; the Theory of Evolution as he called the phenomenon soon became a household word and stirred up massive controversy and debate, still resounding today. The implications of Darwin’s theory created a deep divide in culture, a conflict of natural versus supernatural order. Not only did it offer an alternate account of the genesis of life from the Old Testament, but it also gave a sense of moral freedom from the divine Creator and His judgment; it became a cause unto itself in society among leaders in political and industrial circles, effecting science and academia. Darwinism, as the collection of theories was called, changed the course of man’s history forever.
In the immediate aftermath of unleashing the evolution theory to the public, the common man was faced with a choice of how to look at life and live it. Among those exposed to these choices were some of the most important men in the business community, men who could, with their influence of wealth and power, determine the lifestyles of the middle class population by means of their product prices, work policies, and wages in the factories they owned. A staunch supporter of evolution, Herbert Spencer, developed the social application of Darwinism, which was highly influential on the practices of such powerful moguls. The ideology was known as Social Darwinism and made use of the models Darwin used to describe evolution in nature, namely, survival of the fittest and natural selection. These orders of development were the philosophical basis that publicly justified the methods factory owners were already applying in their businesses to stay competitive. As leaders of industry, they believed they had the right to impose whatever treatment they saw fit for those below them on the social ladder.
Social Darwinism reduced society to the rule of the jungle in a sense. Man became a commodity, a worker bee to be exploited by a stronger species – as opposed to a sacred being made in the image of God. Soon larger segments of society in Europe and America suffered brutal working conditions throughout most of the Industrial Revolution. Extremely long hours, puny wages, underage workers, little or no benefits, and broken spirits were the rule of the day. The strong words of activist Annie Besant give testimony of the desperate frustration during this time: “Oh if we had but a people’s Dante, to make a special circle in the Inferno for those who live on the misery, and suck wealth out of the starvation of helpless girls” (1717).
Once the tremendous hardships were no longer bearable, public attention eventually organized successfully to agitate reform in labor laws and would soon influence other industrialized countries around the world like America, Germany, and France, opening the door for further progress in the workplace effecting workers even today. Whether or not they were conscious of it, by the masses taking such actions they were in essence rejecting the precepts of Darwinism: a great instance of irony, as they were popular during this time.
Even as the materialism and dialectic principles were known and influential among the ruling and elite classes long before the Victorian Age, thinkers like Darwin, Malthus, and Spencer repackaged and updated them with new observations and analysis of the natural world and society, helping to popularize them among intellectual spheres and civilians. Once these widely shared worldviews were politicized, new forms of government emerged employing many of the perceived scientific principles described by evolutionists. Two very important shapers of political thought during this time were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They believed Social Darwinism provided a way to perfect mankind behaviorally and socially. Marx even offered to dedicate his first volume of Das Kapital to Darwin. Darwin’s book had given God’s presence “the death-blow,” he exulted to fellow socialist, Lassalle (Marx). By enhancing Socialism with Darwinism, Communism emerged as a powerful movement led by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, later wrenching control of Russia in the Revolution of 1917. All land, materials, and biological (including human) resources became property of the state. Lenin implemented social programs and began starving and slaughtering whole societies whom he regarded as herds of animals. He was encouraged by the deaths of millions and believed people would lose faith in God and turn more to socialism. To survive the famine, many turned to cannibalism. Lenin’s ideology was inspired by Darwin’s Origin of Species: “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of higher animals, directly follows” (Darwin 1886). As Darwinism spread throughout Europe, violence was legitimized under the “struggle for existence” theory. As Austro-Hungarian chief of staff, Franz Baron Conrad von Hoetzendorff wrote in his post-war memoirs: “It is in accordance with this great principle that the catastrophe of the World War came about as the result of the motive forces in the lives of states and peoples–” (qtd. in Joll 164).
Following in Lenin’s footsteps, Stalin took control of Soviet Russia. Earlier in life, right before Stalin became a priest he read Origin of Species, and his life quickly changed; he became atheist and joined the Bolsheviks. As dictator, he executed scientists who rejected evolution and the projects developed from it, like soaking seeds in cold water for long periods of time expecting them to adapt to the low temperatures in Russia. As a result, 9 million starved to death and cannibalism once again turned humans into wild savages. During Stalin’s reign, 40 million died at his hands, more than the 25 million that died fighting Nazi Germany. The system of Communism paved the way for other disciples of Marxist-Leninist-Darwinism to rise to power in Asia, such as Mao Zedong. After Darwin’s work was translated in 1895 into Chinese, many believed constant violence was how evolution occurred. Under Mao, 40 million starved in his Great Leap Forward social program, 78 million in general. Communism eventually spread into surrounding North Korea, North Vietnam, and Cambodia, dragging America into strung out bloody guerilla wars with the terrorist regimes. Today, these ideologies still exist – effecting world politics in no small measure – and make Evolution mandatory learning in the education system, force families apart premised on views that humans as advanced apes do not need them, or religion and ethics, and instead must show loyalty only to the state as the highest authority.
Fascist forms of government indoctrinate the same concepts of Darwinism as Communist governments. Mussolini and Hitler were great advocates of Darwin and Spencer’s work. Hitler’s National Socialist German Worker’s (Nazi) Party combined their deep mystical beliefs with Darwinism to inspire a grandiose vision of world conquest, leading the globe into a new age of enlightenment. Anyone who did not conform to Hitler’s ideas of the model citizen were rounded up and executed as inferior races that were holding back the rest of society from evolving. Professor of modern European History, Richard Weikart reviewing his book, From Darwin to Hitler, says “Darwinism played a key role not only in the rise of eugenics, but also in euthanasia, infanticide, abortion, and racial extermination, all ultimately embraced by the Nazis” (Weikart).
Every major war and revolution from the Victorian Age onward has its catalyst rooted in the dialectical-materialism philosophy known as Evolution. Today these concepts are found in Communist regimes and the western world. In the US, Communist activism broke out on the streets and college campuses during the 60s and 70s in war protests, and in general counter-culture movements under the cloak of various civil rights movements such as feminism and often with the radical motives of breaking up families. In the 1950s, Senator Joe McCarthy exposed many high-level Communists working in various posts in Washington D.C. Many of the accusations were false, but many were supported, including the allegation that elements within the US were funding Mao’s regime. Professor Antony Sutton exposed the false dichotomy of Capitalism versus Communism by documenting how Wall Street and centralized banks created the Soviet superpower threat (Sutton). Neoconservatives such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Rove fill key positions in the current US administration, and Irving Kristol, a disciple of Leon Trotsky (one of Lenin’s top officers), founded Neoconservatism in the 1980s. Kristol explains: “Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a neo-something: a neo-Marxist, a neo-Trotskyist, a neo-liberal, a neo-conservative;” (“New York”). On top of this, national archives in the US detail how Wall Street banker, senator, and grandfather of George W. Bush, Prescott Bush, underscored the Nazi war machine and several major US corporations were contracted to build it (Aris and Campbell). Yale’s secret society, Skull and Bones, was founded in 1832 by W. Russell, a member of a Germanic cult linked to the Thule Society, later morphing into the Nazi party (Sawyer). From Prescott to George W., the Bushes have been members of S&B, a.k.a. the Death’s Head – death as the means to advance man’s evolution through “struggle for existence”. The ideologies of Fascist-Communism, thus, Social Darwinism, grip the US establishment today.
The long-winding path of Darwinism has an unmistakable imprint on the course of history since the Victorian Age and affects the globe today. The conflict of the natural evolution versus the supernatural creation of man will continue as long as the ideas do. Whether the world’s remaining free peoples will abandon the laws of God and acquiesce under the mantras and slogans of socialist shills depends on the success of transnational corporations and the revolving door into the highest world councils that they co-opt. This global plutocracy via world banking and the IMF directs world governments, economies, mass media, education, resources, religion, and planetary conflict to push for the next step in man’s evolution: a New World Order.
- Aris, Ben, and Campbell, Duncan. “How Bush’s Grandfather Helped Hitler’s Rise to Power.” Guardian Unlimited 25 Sept. 2004. 18 Mar. 2005.
- Besant, Annie. “The ‘White Slavery’ of London Match Workers.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Seventh ed. Vol. 2. Eds. M. H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. 1715-17.
- Darwin, Charles. “From Origin of Species.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Seventh ed. Vol. 2. Eds. M. H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. 1679-86.
- Joll, James. Europe Since 1870: An International History. Middlesex, Lnd: Penguin Books, 1990.
- Marx, Karl. Letter. Marxist Internet Archive. 1942. International Publishers. 16 Mar. 2005.
- “New York Intellectuals.” 1999. PBS Online. 18 Mar. 2005.
- Sawyer, Roy. “Skull and Bones, Bush’s Nazi Link.” Fathermag.com. 4 Jan. 2002. 18 Mar. 2005.
- Sutton, Antony. Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution. Cutchogue, NY: Buccaneer Books, 1974. 18 Mar. 2005.
- Weikart, Richard. “Dustjacket Blurb.” From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany. 17 Dec. 2004. CSU. 16 Mar. 2005.