Anything But Social Darwinism

i-62441fcfb6318d55d076629ead2c0d34-darbuzz.jpg

On The Primate Diaries, Eric Michael Johnson deconstructs "social Darwinism" in order to "raise some questions about the usefulness of [the term] and the way it has been applied." The concept has little to do with Charles Darwin, but it has often been misapplied to his idea of natural selection. Instead, social Darwinism springs from the sociology of Herbert Spencer, the man who coined the term "survival of the fittest" and believed the poor should be left alone and not aided by the government. From there, things get even murkier--in the 20th century the term "social Darwinist" was applied not only to the laissez-faire Spencer, but also to the imperialist Teddy Roosevelt, the eugenicist Adolf Hitler, and a selection of other disparate individuals. As Johnson writes, social Darwinism "is a mere amalgamation of tenuously related ideas that do not form a unified structure," a theory that has been retroactively concocted and applied. Take some time to read through the series, which Razib Khan on Gene Expression calls "blogging as scholarship at its best."

Links below the fold.

More like this

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4   English sociologist Herbert Spencer coined the term "survival of the fittest" in 1852.As I pointed out in Deconstructing Social Darwinism, Part I scholars have begun to seriously challenge the usefulness of the term as a political theory. For example, Gregory…
Deconstructing Social Darwinism, Part IDeconstructing Social Darwinism, Part IIDeconstructing Social Darwinism, Part IIIHow Can Haiti Be Sustainable?Uniting Primates and Cetaceans Through PersonhoodBonobos and the Emergence of CultureCivility, Science Communication, and the White PatriarchyRobert…
It is a common argument by those who are opposed to evolution's implication for religious belief to label Darwin as a social Darwinist and a racist. Adrian Desmond and James Moore's book Darwin's Sacred Cause has gone a long way towards dispelling any claims that Darwin sought to justify black…
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4Social Darwinism is one of those concepts that everyone knows what it is but few can define. I myself have sometimes reflexively used the concept without fully knowing the history of the term or its use as a political theory. In this series it is my goal to raise…

I've thought for a while that "Social Spencerism" might be a better umbrella term.

And in this country those to whom the label 'social Darwinist' might be best applied are those, who are against teaching 'evolution' or 'Darwinism' in the schools. Go figure.