Post Author: Bill Pratt
In parts 1 and 2, we looked at philosopher David Stove’s claims that Darwinism was coopted by both the National Socialists and the Marxists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both of whom brought mass murder to a scale the world had never before seen. But what of these ties? Could they not be merely accidental? In his book Darwinian Fairytales, Stove answers those questions:
It will perhaps be said, in defense of Darwinism, that many and enormous crimes have been committed in the name of every large and influential body of ideas bearing on human life. Whether that is true or not, I do not know. But even if it is, there are great and obvious differences, among such bodies of ideas, in how easily and naturally they amount to incitement to the commission of crimes.
Confucianism, for example, or Buddhism does not appear to incite their adherents to crime easily or often. National Socialism, by contrast, and likewise Marxism, do easily and naturally hold out such incitements to their adherents, and indeed (as is obvious) owe a good deal of their attractiveness to this very fact. It is impossible to deny that, in this respect, Darwinism has a closer affinity with National Socialism or Marxism than with Confucianism or Buddhism.
But why does Darwinism have a connection at all with Marxism and National Socialism? Stove explains:
Darwin told the world that a “struggle for life,” a “struggle for existence,” a “battle for life”" is always going on among the members of every species. Although this proposition was at the time novel and surprising, an immense number of people accepted it. Now, will any rational person believe that accepting this proposition would have no effect, or only randomly varying effects, on people’s attitudes towards their own conspecifics? No.
Will any rational person believe that accepting this novel proposition would tend to improve people’s attitudes to their conspecifics – for example, would tend to make them less selfish, or less inclined to domineering behavior, than they had been before they accepted it? No.
Quite the contrary, it is perfectly obvious that accepting Darwin’s theory of a universal struggle for life must tend to strengthen whatever tendencies people had beforehand to selfishness and domineering behavior towards their fellow humans. Hence it must tend to make them worse than they were before, and more likely to commit crimes: especially crimes of rapacity, or of cruelty, or of dominance for the sake of dominance. These considerations are exceedingly obvious.
But Darwin defenders routinely express frustration at Darwinism being tied to these kinds of crimes. Do they have a leg to stand on?
There was therefore never any excuse for the indignation and surprise which Darwinians and neo-Darwinians have nearly always expressed, whenever their theory is accused of being a morally subversive one. For the same reason there is, and always was, every justification for the people, beginning with Darwin’s contemporaries, who made that accusation against the theory.
Darwin had done his best . . . to separate the theory of evolution from the matrix of murderous ideas in which previously it had always been set. But in fact, since the theory says what it does, there is a limit, and a limit easily reached, to how much can be done in the way of such a separation. The Darwinian theory of evolution is an incitement to crime: that is simply a fact.