Social Darwinism

Essay by recklessraveUniversity, Bachelor's October 2004

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"This law of organic progress is the law of all progress. Whether it be in the development of the Earth, in the development of Life upon its surface, the development of Society, of Government, ..., this same evolution of the simple into the complex, through a process of continuous differentiation, holds throughout."

Herbert Spencer

Social Darwinism is a theory of the 19th century it was developed by the British scientist and naturalist Charles Darwin. Social Darwinism states that social policy should allow the weak and unfit to fail and die, and that this is not only good policy but morally right. It is Herbert Spencer's application of Darwinian Theory to human society. It is most often used as a justification for political, economic, and social elitism. It is an argument that justifies ones relative upper status while maintaining the relatively lower status of others. The argument for social Darwinism is similar to the principles of Darwin's theory because it says in the very beginning that the nations are in a struggle for survival, the advanced people will prosper, while the weaker ones will eventually die off.

The influence of Social Darwinism has been seen throughout history through Fascism, Communism, and Nazism. Karl Marx used the book On the Origin of Species by Darwin as a basis for Marxist Communism. The three things that most influenced Marx from the theory of Darwinism were an atheistic explanation for the origin of the Cosmos, the struggle for existence and the progressive development and improvement of man. The similarities between Marxism and Darwinism continues to show in the currently popular theory that says that evolution occurs by sudden leaps forward, separated by long periods of no change. Benito Mussolini, who brought fascism to Italy, was greatly influenced by Darwinism. He thought that Social...