Social Darwinism, The “Science” of Racism

From a societal standpoint, natural selection had a huge historical impact on the world. I would like to focus on one of those aspects, as I have had somewhat of a personal experience with it. When Darwin proposed the idea of natural selection, he theorized that the animals more fit to survive in a certain environment would be the ones that would out compete their rivals. It was natural therefore, for more fit animals to drive less fit animals to extinction. Darwin’s theory was published in November 22, 1859 but his ideas were widespread among noted scientists as early as 1836, the year he arrived home from his trip to the Galapagos islands.

Unfortunately, some individuals took this a little bit too far and applied Darwin’s theories to the human race as well. They concluded that if one race was able to “out compete” another,  it was the way nature had intended it to happen. This philosophy wasn’t one of Darwin’s branichildren. In fact, the term “Social Darwinism” is attributed to Joseph Fisher, when he used in a paper published in 1877. Social Darwinism became the scientific theory behind racism.

In the book “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race” the author argues toward the beginning of the book that racism came to be right about the time that Darwin had developed his theory of natural selection.  Previous to that, discrimination was based on different methods of thought (such as religion, culture, politics, caste or class divisions) rather than race. But as Social Darwinism became more and more prevalent, and as more influential individuals became believers in the idea, racism started to grow as well. Eventually it grew into the rational reason behind slavery.


One thought on “Social Darwinism, The “Science” of Racism

  1. Pingback: 42 « Hakuna Matata

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