In Defense of Social Darwinism: No Escape from Evolution
Social Darwinism is the application of the evolutionary concept of natural selection to human society. The term itself emerged in the 1880s, and it gained widespread currency when used after 1944 by opponents of these ways of thinking. The majority of those who have been categorized as social Darwinists did not identify themselves by such a label. (—the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article “Social Darwinism”)
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most responsive to change. —Charles Darwin
It may be, for all I know, that absolutely everything in this universe is the result of evolution, in accordance with some sort of Darwinian natural selection. Even the subatomic particles that compose all matter, even the so-called laws of physics, even the very structure of space-time itself (plus whatever other dimensions there are), may have been naturally selected through a kind of trial and error during the first moments after the Big Bang. I suppose theoretical physicists would agree that there are potentially an infinitude of possible, potential particles, but that most of them are extremely unstable and last only an infinitesimal fraction of a second. Also there may be an infinitude of possible physical laws; yet only a limited number of combinations of them would form a stable system. So during the seething chaos of the first moments of our universe (with a small u, not the big-U Universe which contains all limited universes) any number of potential configurations of particles and rules by which those particles exist and coexist could have been “tried,” with the one we wound up with being stable enough to last this long—possibly one stable system out of many possible ones.
Evolution in the organic, biological sense of the word, which is the more usual sense, of course didn’t begin until life itself began, which on our planet occurred almost as soon as the primordial earth cooled down enough to allow it, allegedly some four billion years or so ago. The orthodox scientific theory is that all the living organisms on earth evolved from a kind of primeval protoplasmic organic soup through the standard Darwinian processes of, in Darwin’s own words, “multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die,” or, as his disciples more famously described it, as “the survival of the fittest.” This began at the molecular level first, producing the building blocks of life, and later at the level of individual organisms. This evidently has been the only, or at least the predominant, form of biological evolution until we animals became intelligent enough to develop some form of culture—which is relatively recent, apparently occurring more or less exclusively in the more intelligent mammals and birds. (If any of you are skeptical that birds have culture, one obvious example is that many birdsongs are not purely instinctive, but must be learned by young male birds by listening to older ones. It is like spoken language in us humans: we are biologically evolved and genetically designed to speak, although the precise language that we do speak is non-hereditary and largely arbitrary.)
We humans have by far the most elaborate non-hereditary behavior patterns (=culture) of any species of animal; so much so that many anthropocentric scientists and other intellectuals have assumed that we are devoid of instinct and entirely programmed by artificial cultural constructs—an idea that I mock quite a lot in my writings, especially on this blog. We humans have continued to evolve, to adapt biologically to our various environments, even after attaining the status of Homo sapiens, as well as developing cultures which have also evolved in accordance with a more or less Darwinian survival of the fittest. In fact these two phenomena, biological, genetic evolution and cultural evolution, have interacted and conditioned one another. For example the invention of agriculture, which resulted shortly thereafter in the invention of walled towns and municipal governments, resulted in biological adaptations in our ancestors, with continued adaptations continuing today. We have evolved over the past ten thousand years to better metabolize a high-carbohydrate agricultural diet, for example, and are very likely less biologically and psychologically geared towards aggression, considering that we are now living in highly coordinated urban social groups unknown to our pre-agricultural ancestors. I have read that once central governments were devised, and in the earlier millennia of this it was often under sociopathic alpha male kings and warlords, our species evolved in much the same way domesticated animals evolve, towards greater neoteny, docility, and probably reduced native intelligence, since kings and governments have treated people in much the same way as farmers treat their livestock. Although modern medical technology prevents many of the least fit from falling by the evolutionary wayside, and allows them to breed to propagate their less fit alleles, still evolution continues to occur, as we evolve more and more to be docile sugar-eaters. Still, people have reduced success at reproduction if they are severely diabetic, or excessively violent, for example; so we continue to adapt to life in a more or less artificial urban environment and a high intake of starchy carbohydrates.
So there are two main ways in which our species is evolving, genetically and culturally (plus maybe spiritually, although that’s a little more metaphysical of an idea than I’m inclined to wrangle with here); and as I’ve already mentioned, they condition each other. But it is easier for me to discuss them separately, and I will start with good old-fashioned Darwinian natural selection and the organic, genetic descent of species.
The very fact that different groups of people living in different parts of the world look obviously different from each other is itself some pretty plain evidence that human beings have continued to evolve since becoming human beings. Not only do different ethnicities look different, they have different susceptibilities to diseases and other ailments, have different physical qualities (for example people of west African ancestry have leg muscles more adapted than most for high-speed sprinting—which does much to explain why so many of them make such good sprinters), and they also have different innate psychological qualities, this last being so politically incorrect of an observation that progressives may go full-blown hysterical upon hearing such claims, referring to them as “hate speech.” Nevertheless, inherent psychological differences among various ethnicities are some of the most important differences to understand for the average member of a multiracial society, as these differences help to account for different positions in society toward which different ethnicities gravitate, and different problems that various ethnicities experience.
As I’ve discussed in greater detail elsewhere, black people in the United States, in general, have not been able to compete very effectively with other ethnicities, especially European whites, Ashkenazi Jews, and East Asians. The three latter groups have a much higher average income, for example, do better in school, and are much less likely to wind up in prison, especially for violent crimes. This is very probably the result of both kinds of evolution discussed above, genetic and cultural. Genetically, black people tend to be less sophisticated with regard to certain cognitive skills that are conducive to material success in an urban, highly technological society, and this has been very extensively documented regardless of its political incorrectness. (On the other hand, they do excel at certain other skills, especially physical ones and some which favor emotional spontaneity, like music.) Also, black males have much higher testosterone levels, and a higher susceptibility to certain alleles that have been associated with impulsive and aggressive behavior. Culturally the difficulties come more from a black subculture that promotes children being born into fatherless homes, dropping out of school and joining a more or less criminal gang culture, and generally holding a dim view of the mainstream, associated with ethnic outsiders. Also, presumably, there are lingering, vestigial cultural effects of past slavery and “white privilege.” But I’ve discussed this issue elsewhere, so I’ll move onto something less hysteria-inducing.
Advances in medical technology, and an increase in the common person’s access to it, have caused some people to suppose that the human race is not only not evolving—that is, becoming better adapted to our environment—but that we are actually devolving, and becoming less genetically fit as a species. When people with relatively severe genetic defects are kept alive by technology and allowed to reproduce, then certainly our species’ adaptation to our environment will be hindered to some degree; yet still we are evolving in other ways, as was mentioned above. The most violent and the most sickly continue to fail to reproduce enough that they suffer an evolutionary disadvantage, even if only a slight one. A possible strategy for reducing such “devolution” is eugenics, which has been favored by governments and private organizations in the past, including Planned Parenthood in the United States; although it has fallen from favor in polite society, largely due to association with Nazism and ethnic cleansing, and also the liberal idea that even people with serious genetic abnormalities should have the right to reproduce. Our best bet as a species to accelerate our evolution in the direction of supermen might be the colonization of space, in which only the best of the best would be qualified to participate (no stupid people allowed, for example, because they might push the wrong button and let out all the air), or possibly the collapse of civilization and a return to a much more obviously Darwinian Law of the Jungle. Despite liberal ideals to the contrary, the continued genetic evolution of the human race is a good idea, and less risky than the god-playing of technological genetic engineering. Then again, the technological singularity might render human issues like this totally irrelevant.
Medical technology is not the only factor contributing to a retardation of human evolution. Another is socialism or the welfare state, which of course includes universal medical care to a nation’s citizens, and increasingly even to illegal migrant non-citizens. Capitalism is itself a manifestly Darwinian affair, in which the strong prosper and the weak do not; and regardless of ethical issues it does move human society towards greater adaptation to whatever environment it finds itself in. In a situation like socialism or cultural Marxist “victim culture” the strong and successful may actually be vilified and the weak and dysfunctional glorified. This encourages dysfunction, which becomes downright fashionable, with large numbers of people even trying to be victims, or at least to appear as such. This is another case in which the evolutionary impact is both genetic and cultural, although it is more obviously cultural. But the fact is, and will always be, that Darwin was right, and that the fittest are more likely to survive and flourish, regardless of whether it is or is not politically correct. A culture that does not emphasize fitness but actually encourages dysfunction is just not going to be able to compete with a system that encourages strength, and punishes or penalizes weakness. Entire civilizations are just as subject to Darwinian survival of the fittest as are species, or individuals, or elementary particles in the primordial cosmic blast.
Modern and postmodern liberalism are consequently heading towards a Darwinian dead end, and for very physical reasons: secular liberals do not reproduce enough to maintain their numbers. I heard recently that, in the USA, conservative Christian women are approximately 30% more fecund than liberal secular ones—that is, they have 30% more children. Thus with a hypothetical 50/50 balance of conservatives and liberals, all else being equal, the balance after one generation would be 60/40 in favor of the conservatives, after two generations 75/25, and after two hundred years the liberals would amount to only 1% of the population. This greater fecundity of conservative women is caused partly by liberal women being more likely to imitate men by pursuing a professional career instead of raising a family, and also because liberal women are more sexually hedonistic, putting off “settling down,” and having their fun when not working, again resulting in fewer children, with accidental pregnancies more likely to be aborted by them than is the case with less liberal females.
These examples of Darwinian forces acting upon an entire society have both genetic and cultural elements, although the cultural element is easier to see; so I suppose I should try to explain the newer, artificial form of evolution that has become more important in affecting our lives and determining which civilizations survive, and which die.
Evolution of humanity has sped up drastically since we humans developed a highly cultural way of life, based heavily on language as a means of conveying information from one person to another and from one generation to another. Every aspect of human culture—languages themselves, technologies, political and economic systems, religions, philosophies, styles and schools of art, architecture, music, and drama, hair and clothing fashions, entire civilizations, really everything—mutates and evolves in accordance with Darwin’s “multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.” A language, for example, changes over time as it is adapted to better fit the changing needs of the people who use it, and if it doesn’t succeed in this adaptation it may die out and be replaced by a language which works better. Same goes for alphabets and writing styles. Christianity in the west, to give another example, has mutated and adapted to the needs of the people who profess it, to the point that two thousand years after its inception it is radically different from what the earliest apostles of Jesus were following. Christianity, like every other aspect of human civilization, underwent a kind of natural selection, and did so successfully enough that it is not yet extinct; in fact recently it appears to be making a comeback. Just as organic evolution creates new species through modifications of genes, so cultural evolution creates new technologies and traditions through modifications of what Richard Dawkins called memes.
The trouble nowadays in the west is that the inescapable law of the God-Emperor Charles Darwin is being ignored or even denied, sometimes denied in a state of raging hysteria, by so-called “progressives” who want the world to be more compassionate and just, yet who do not realize that compassion and justice (or what hysterical leftists may identify as such) may simply not have survival value, and may very well lead any civilization that rejects Darwin in favor of, say, Marx, or Boas, to failure and extinction. Social engineering, as opposed to a capitalistic free market, attempts to replace the universal law of Survival of the Fittest with ideals, often with manifestly impractical ones, and this is a primary reason why socialism and an all-regulating central government is so inferior to capitalism and classical liberalism—the former retards cultural evolution by retarding competition, whereas the latter accelerates the evolution of civilization. A society that refuses to reproduce, to give an example already mentioned, or which deliberately weakens itself for the sake of righteousness, or which penalizes the most fit and rewards the weak, will die out no matter how compassionate and just it may happen to be. The law of the jungle cannot be escaped. This is a harsh, ugly truth, but it is truth nevertheless.